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Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho: I voted for the "editorial" changes

I voted for the "editorial" changes to the Social Contract. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do.

I considered writing a rant about the lack of supporting information for the GR. There was no published rationale that I could find, nobody advocated either side, as far as I could see, and there was not even a diff indicating the changes. Well, I soon found out myself that a diff would have been mostly useless, as the wording changes were fairly thorough. It did not help me make my mind.

Of course, I could have read mail archives of the vote mailing list. My past experience told me not to bother. It was likely that I could not find the relevant pieces of information I sought for without investing too much time to it.


I wrote the above about a hour ago and was interrupted by having to catch the bus. Now I noticed that there was a request for discussion on devel-announce about a month ago. It is clear that I could have participated in the discussion, but I had faith in all the sides being represented in the discussion without my involvement, and I assumed that rationales and advocacy would be present and easily locatable when the voting time came. When the actual call for votes appeared, I no longer remembered that mail. It seems I was not the only one.

I made my decision based on reading the proposal, comparing it to the current wording and not noticing the bomb. Nobody pointed the bomb out to me, either. I assumed that a GR marked "editorial" would really be editorial, not intended to change the meaning of the document. As we have seen, this assumption was faulty.

What we should learn from this incident is, in my opinion, that all general resolutions should be accompanied with an official rationale document (similar to DPL election platforms) with rebuttals from people who oppose the change. Campaigning should be more visible.

I do not agree with Joey Hess's assessment that GRs are not a good idea for Debian. I would not have had (did not have) the time to participate in a discussion seeking a consensus, and thus it cannot be assumed that all of the 200 or so developers who voted would have participated.

The problem with respect to the low number of voters is in my opinion that the issue being decided seemed to me (and thus probably many others) uncompilcated and void of any disagreement. There was even no counterproposals! I would assume that many people did not vote because they believed that it would pass anyway. All of our other general resolutions have enjoyed more voters; I believe the reason is that they were considered more controversial by many and hence many more felt the need to make their voices heard.

2004-04-27T09:48+0300 - /en/debian


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