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straw polls, voting, and close world assumptions [was: Telecon Minutes ...]

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: 28 Mar 2003 12:44:17 -0600
To: Jos De_Roo <jos.deroo@agfa.com>
Cc: Nick Gibbins <nmg@ecs.soton.ac.uk>, WebOnt Working Group <www-webont-wg@w3.org>, www-webont-wg-request@w3.org
Message-Id: <1048877057.15078.160.camel@dirk.dm93.org>

On Fri, 2003-03-28 at 12:20, Jos De_Roo wrote:
> [as an aside about cwa]
> 
> > (didn't finish reading minutes yet; might send more later.
> > No closed world assumptions, please ;-)
> 
> in telecon of last week there was just
> an asking for "opposed" and "abstain"
> and in the strawpoll

Calling for abstentions in a straw poll is a bug,
in my book.

>  I couldn't find
> justification for opposition, so I
> abstained while in the vote I couldn't
> justify an abstention so I said nothing
> which is not the same as "in favor" ;-)

There's no closed world assumption when taking
a straw poll. The idea is to get a general sense
of whether there's substantial agreement, not a
precise enumeration of who or even how many hold
which position. Those who respond aren't binding
themselves to anything, let alone those who don't
respond.

In contrast, putting the question is (1) a
signal from the chair that s/he observes substatial
agreement, so that it's cost-effective to
ask only those who don't agree to speak up,
(2) a signal that the chair decided that further
discussion isn't cost-effective, (3) a call
for all present to register their position
for the record, after which the chair instructs
the scribe to record whether the question carried
or not.

There should never be a need to "justify" an abstention;
you should feel free to abstain any time a question
is put that you don't support. The only cost to the
group is that the question might fail to carry due
to an insufficient number of 'aye' votes if too
many people abstain. But that's part of the process;
it means the chair guessed wrong about the level
of support and/or the cost-effectiveness
of further discussion when s/he put the question.


I'm sure this is all in Robert's Rules of Order
somewhere.

I don't think we ever had a case of a question
being put and not carried, though we came close,
due to lots of abstentions, a few times. When
we closed 5.26 over my objection last week,
there were sufficient abstentions that I was
tempted to ask for an explicit enumeration
of the 'aye' votes. But then we could have
gotten into the issues of quorum, 2/3rds
majority, and all that, which we had managed
to avoid so far. I'm glad I kept my mouth
shut, because things have worked themselves
out since then.



> -- ,
> Jos De Roo, AGFA http://www.agfa.com/w3c/jdroo/
-- 
Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
Received on Friday, 28 March 2003 13:44:20 GMT

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