Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-project (783 mails)

< Previous Next >
[opensuse-project] What you vote, and what you DON'T vote on - openFATE feature 306967, KDE default
  • From: "Christian Jäger" <christian.jaeger@xxxxxx>
  • Date: 5 Aug 2009 14:26:14 +0200
  • Message-id: <1249475174.4713.162.camel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

please excuse me, but as a political scientist I have to butt in here
and say my piece. ;-)

The problem here is a misapprehension of what a majority vote can and
can not do.

The question at hand (default desktop) is very comparable to a conflict
between two rivaling ethnicities living in the same country. As
democratic decision-making does and should not take into account
ethnicity, there will always be core-issues that
_must_remain_unresolved_ if such a country is to exist for any length of

These are issues which directly correlate to contradicting interests of
one or the other ethnic community (i.e. zero-sum games). If one of the
ethnic communities (as it usually is the case) is bigger than the other
one it could easily decide such critical issues continuously to their
advantage and to the disadvantage of the smaller community. A majority
decision here would not be the result of a decision-making process or
bargaining, which are prerequisite to any meaningful democratic
decision, but would simply represent the bigger party pushing its
interests at the expense of the smaller party, which would be
detrimental to the system as a whole.

Here purely democratric decision-making fails. A majority vote will in
the end result in disintegrating the country.

Majority decisions are NOT a fair solution to solve problems involving
two persistent interest groups. The belief that voting is a fair
solution to EVERY problem is simply wrong; the theory of democracy
suggests otherwise.

Reliance on majority votes alone is 'not democratic' in our modern
understanding of the word because when we talk about democracy we don't
mean majority vote but a system which in addition to that also respects
the right of the individual and the interests of minorities. This is why
our political systems are NOT democracies but 'liberal
democracies' (liberalism is a necessary component that prevents the
abuse of majority influence).

Coming back to my analogy of two ethnicities living in the same country,
there are two ways such a situation can go:
a) a split of the country, which brings a whole new set of problems
b) ways of decision making other than majority-based are set in place
and unresolvable questions (=zero-sum games) are made a taboo

These are also the options for the opensuse-distribution, translating
a) discontinue the DVD-releases and only put out Live-CDs, thus avoiding
the issue (a mild kind of split, as I don't think anybody would really
want 'KopenSUSE' and 'GopenSUSE'...)
b) treat both communities equally by NOT defaulting to a specific
desktop (the zero-sum game is made a taboo)

and there is always
c) declare it someone else's problem (as in 'let Andreas decide' ;))

'c)' is not really an option because the new decision maker be it a
maintainer of whoever - would face the same problems and consequences.

But with a vote on a) or b) I think we would have it down to two
meaningful, non-destructive options which don't align with the borders
of the two 'camps'.

a) would mean KDE fans get their petty little victory, as they don't
have to see GNOME at the top of that alphabetic list anymore. For GNOME
fans nothing would change. The decision would go at the expense of those
serious users who actually NEED the DVDs.
b) would mean everyone has to either accept that the openSUSE community
as a whole is more important than their feelings about a specific
desktop, or they'd have to adjust their perception as to view the
Live-CD releases as the main form of distro-release. Perhaps we could
make that easier for them by hiding the DVD download-option somewhere

These are IMHO the only options that could realistically be voted upon
without making the vote a zero-sum game - because the options to decide
on don't represent the persistent interests of the interest groups that
decide on it (option A: KDE, option B: GNOME).

Again, you CAN'T make default desktop choice a majority vote and call it

I am frankly quite amazed by the nonchalance with which a KDE-team
member has brought up this explosive issue on the very questionable
pretext that a default desktop would bring less confusion and attract
more developers, with utter disregard to what this aggravating
discussion would entail for the community. The correct way to go about
it would have been starting a discussion on this ML. Bringing this up
topic as a 'feature request' represents a serious abuse of openFATE IMHO
and should have been rejected outright.

The gains of this whole discussion are close to zero, the damage has
already been done and could potentially be serious if the majority of
KDE-proponents on the ML continues to push its agenda. I feel sad about
it, I would have expected the openSUSE community to behave in a more
adult fashion.

Chris Jäger

To unsubscribe, e-mail: opensuse-project+unsubscribe@xxxxxxxxxxxx
For additional commands, e-mail: opensuse-project+help@xxxxxxxxxxxx

< Previous Next >