Voting process for PEP 308 (was: PEP 308: Alternative conditional operator forms)

Erik Max Francis max at
Wed Feb 12 03:30:08 CET 2003

Bengt Richter wrote:

> Why don't we just set up a web page with all the alternatives listed
> and checkboxes [-1] [-0] [+0] [+1] to click for each, ...

The technical process of tallying the votes is really a minor issue;
it's easy to do, and quite frankly will not require much work even
building a voting system up from scratch (I would prefer an email-based
solution myself).

If I were to conduct the vote (note the clever use of the subjunctive
there), I'd simply set up a form that people could fill out and send to
a dedicated email address (which will go away when the vote is
complete), and then declare that the voting process starts when the form
is distributed and ends at some certain time (perhaps a week after
initially posted).  All mail to the address would be gated to a mailbox,
then I'd use a Python (well, duh :-) script to process each mail
received and tally up the votes for all alternatives.  Then the results
would be posted (with mangled email addresses so people don't get mad
:-) for everyone to see so that full accounting is possible.  (The
script that tallies the votes would also be made available, too.)

I'm really inclined toward Andrew Koenig's suggestion for "approval
voting," where every conceivable option (including one for "I want no
change") is listed, and voters are encouraged to vote for as many or as
few as they wish.  Not only does this reduce everything to one vote, but
it allows people to vote for multiple syntaxes they would accept, and
even allows for the ability to vote for things like, "Well, I really
don't want it, but if we _have_ to have it, I'd want _this_ syntax." 
And, for the abstainers, you could simply not select any choices.

NOTE:  At this point, no one has nominated me to do the vote, nor have I
been asked to do it, nor have I been tasked to do it by anyone with
authority.  I'd be happy to do it (and would even offer to abstain from
the voting process myself if it helped put people at ease), but as of
right now I won't be involved in the actual votetaking in any way.

I'm slightly concerned with Aahz -- who it seems that people have
accepted as the votetaker even though it hasn't really been discussed --
being so hostile to the proposal from the very beginning.  I'm more
concerned with the voting _process_ that he initially proposed, which
seemed (to me) very specifically designed to undermine the PEP passing
(he seemed to acknowledge my objections, but I didn't get a good
indication whether or not that actually changed the way he intended to
conduct the vote).  I am, however, downright terrified of his threats of
voting against the proposal (votetaker or not) based on the actions of a
third party.  Someone who is threatening to vote one way or the other
simply out of spite should _not_ be involved with a votetaking process
of any kind, in my (perhaps not so) humble opinion.

 Erik Max Francis / max at /
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