PEP 308: Alternative conditional operator forms

Erik Max Francis max at
Tue Feb 11 10:01:47 CET 2003

Laura Creighton wrote:

> When you are taking a poll to find out what the community thinks about
> something, it matters a great deal if the results come out 48% for,
> 42% against, 10% abstained/undecided/don't care or if you get 6% for,
> 4% against 90% abstained/undecided/don't care.  You mustn't take a
> vote with the assumption that 'only people who care matter'.  Those
> that do not care have not automatically lost their franchise.

I feel I should point out that in Usenet CFVs, abstensions carry no
weight whatsoever and never affect the voting outcome.  The point is
particularly important for Usenet CFVs, but I think it applies here too.
I mean think about it, when someone posts a vote for
rec.pets.gardening.babylon5 or some other specialized newsgroup, the
vast majority of Usenet readers simply don't care.  You can never
measure their numbers, but you can rest assured that they will vastly
outnumber the piddly numbers of people who vote for the proposal.  So
voting Abstain in a CFV has no weight whatsoever, just like all those
thousands of people who didn't care about the group and didn't bother

There's an analogy with Python here, although within the Python
community, obviously, the ratio of "don't cares" to "cares" will
probably be much lower.  My point is, you can never measure the "don't
cares," so having a "don't care" on the ballot seems guaranteed to
produce unreliable results.  Only the don't cares that actually _do_
care about their not caring will vote, if you catch my meaning.

 Erik Max Francis / max at /
 __ San Jose, CA, USA / 37 20 N 121 53 W / &tSftDotIotE
/  \ I always entertain great hopes.
\__/ Robert Frost
    REALpolitik /
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