[EM] {Process} Collective ordering of SW standards

Steve Eppley seppley at alumni.caltech.edu
Mon Mar 4 18:29:07 PST 1996

[I've inserted {Process} into the subject line.  I'll try to be
disciplined enough to always do this for messages about the process
to be used in election-methods, and I encourage others to do so.]

Mike O. wrote:

>I emphatically urge that we just cover single-winner methods in
>this FAQ & recommendation project, which is a SWC project.

I'm willing to narrow the scope to SW.  If we succeed, we can try MW
afterward.  I think we'd be doing a valuable service to the movement
if we can show CVD and elections-reform, to name a few, how
important SW reform is.

Does anyone who intends to participate in this document production
process disagree about SW first?

>PR is too different from SW methods & issues. They can't be dealt
>with in one project. PR is more straightforward & uncontroversial.

Funny, I have the opposite view-  SW reform seems less controversial
since it's about improving a method, not restructuring the govern-
ment.  PR algorithms (thresholds, fractional transfers, hybrid
systems, etc.) are more complex than MPV, Condorcet, Approval, etc.
And there are energetic advocates for each of a variety of PR systems 
whose emergent properties are richly complex, affecting the nature of 
the government.

>Yes, I like the idea of voting among the SW standards, for the
>purpose of creating a collective ordering of them, and then
>using the standards in that order, to evaluate & compare methods
>by each standard.

That goes beyond what I suggested.  We don't need to vote on each
standard's importance, or how well each method serves each standard,
until the end.  If earlier votes are needed, they're only about
what subtopic to write about next.  These agenda votes don't need to
be very accurate or well-reasoned since any subtopic which loses is
really just being postponed awhile.

>The alternative would be to just have a free-form discussion where
>each person could name standards & tell why a method does or doesn't
>meet that standard. But this would mean everyone talking on different
>subjects, not dealing with other standards. The procedure of dealing
>with 1 standard at a time puts each standard before everyone, gives
>everyone an opportunity to deny that their method fails a particular
>standard. It would always be possible to say "Then why didn't you
>speak up when we were discussing that standard & it was said
>that your method failed it?"

Those aren't the only two alternatives.

This appears to call for overly restricted discussion; I don't think
my brain is that disciplined.  My answer to that last question would
be "I just now thought of such-and-such".  Someone else might answer
"I just subscribed" and these should be legit answers--the document
needs to be alive for amendment and expansion.

I'm also not comfortable with this proposal of advocacy.  I expect
advocates of a method to fully criticize the method, not depend on
others to do so.  Those who rank a method low should still point out
its merits.

Though it makes sense to try to focus on one standard at a time, it
won't derail us if we deviate some.  Messages can (should!) include
links to the standards and methods that they address, such as:
   {{Majority Rule {{Plurality {{oxymoron
so we can easily find them later when discussion eventually focusses
there by searching for "{{Majority Rule {{Plurality".

The "oxymoron" keyword (or keyphrase) named the argument being
discussed.  We're likely to want to search old messages for
arguments too.

I'm using "{{" to denote "keyword:", but one of you can probably 
suggest a smarter syntax.

We'll have to maintain a list of accepted keyphrases to name the
Standards and the Methods, and maybe also the Arguments.  This
should be easy to maintain.  We can rotate this secretarial duty
among volunteers.  (Don't everyone stand up at once...  :-)

Rob has written about hypermail.  Maybe he can suggest how we can 
structure our messages to take advantage of it.

>I prefer Condorcet's method for our voting method.

We have two distinct voting needs.  If our rankings of the Standards 
and how well the Methods serve each is performed at the end, as I 
think it must be, then we don't need to address this voting need 
until late.

The other voting need, as I mentioned above, is to schedule the
subtopics for discussion.  I don't see a need for a complex method
for this, since discussion of the 2nd and 3rd place subtopics would
follow soon after the winning subtopic anyway.  How about if we
occasionally hold an approval vote on the remaining subtopics
(approval means "ok to focus on this subtopic next"), and discuss
the top few in order?  If there's a tie we can use luck, or the 
chronological order the subtopic was appended to our outline.

We should also allow messages about previously discussed subtopics to
be injected at any time, to keep our rules simple and our process

One other thing I'd like to add to the project: we should include
our raw votes on the rankings of Standards and Methods, and each try
to explain them.  This would be voluntary, of course.  Our reasoning
could be helpful to the larger community--they can discount some of
our votes if our reasons don't make sense to them (or aren't
provided), and we can help to inform their own ranking process. 


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