[Foundation-l] PD in Israel

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Tue May 8 08:23:39 UTC 2007

Erik Moeller wrote:

>On 5/8/07, Florence Devouard <Anthere9 at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>A recent example for me was the DVD key issue. I got several emails of
>>people requesting a Foundation feedback during the night. When I got
>>online, more requests on irc and by skype. Request was made to
>>immediately provide the position of the Foundation on the DVD matter.
>We should not comment on such day-to-day policy and editorial
>processes unless there is a critical need to do so (legal action and
>sometimes threats, for example). Rather, we need to help the community
>to fix its problems on its own. The question to answer is: Where do
>community decision making processes get stuck and why? The project
>closure issue is a good example.
It's a tough situation because I can see where there are people who 
would drive the Board in two opposing directions.  Some people cannot 
function without rules, while others have the maturity to apply common 
sense to the situation at hand.  Being able to depend on the security of 
a rule relieves the burden of having to make hard decisions.  Of course, 
those who most want the rules also want them to reflect their own 
preconceptions.  The crew of the Enterprise needs to remain fully 
conscious of the Prime Directive.  The communities MUST be free to solve 
their own problems, and make their own mistakes; without that they are 
not learning communities. 

The Foundation should avoid deciding for and interfering with the 
communities in other than the most strictly defined circumstances.  Even 
when legalities are involved the communities need to find their own 
levels of comfort in the extent to which they will accept legal risks.  
With the DVD key issue the Foundation should resist the temptation to 
step in and say, " _this_ will be the rule."   It absolutely needs to 
respond to proper legal demands; it must not let itself become the 
flotsom of legal speculation. 

>Relying on consensus-building alone tends to lead to decisions by
>attrition or no decisions at all in controversial cases. We should be
>more open about letting the community vote, or applying the model of
>"weighted arguments" used in other processes (community discussion
>with closure by a self-selected sample of highly trusted individuals).
I wouldn't6 want to be tied down to the "voting is evil" mantra.  
Nevertheless, voting can have the effect of polarizing a discussion, and 
excluding the middle.  Decisions by attritionare no better because they 
shut out the more contemplative approach to a problem.  Much of 
decision-making tends to be dominated by people who can't live without 
rules; that's just another variation on the same theme played by those 
who insistt on the board making these decisions.  Putting the final 
decision in the hands of a self-selected group of elders comes with it's 
own problems.  It requires a very high degree of trust, and, as Danny's 
request for adminship showed, we do not lack in people who are willing 
to put their own petty vindictiveness ahead of the common good.  As a 
society we have learned not to trust.  We have learned this through 
implicit and not explicit lessons.  When the most visible public models 
are indecisive, incompetent, self-serving or corrupt we learn mistrust, 
and anticipate similar behaviours in everyone.  We cease to assume good 
faith, and build structures that are primarily designed to deal with the 
undesireable.  Exuberant youthful impatience only compounds the problem.

If we could solve the problems of the decision making process, it could 
be an even greater accomplishment than our encyclopedia.  This requires 
accepting change as a constant.  It also requires accepting that the 
voice of newbies is just as important to yesterday's decisions as it is 
to tomorrow's

>How can the Commons discussion on this particular copyright issue be
>closed in a fair manner _by the community_, rather than by means of a
>top down prescription from the Board?
Give the community time to solve it.  Don't expect an immediate 
solution.  As long as there is no immediate and credible legal threat it 
might take a few weeks to fix the problem, but that's all right.  All 
the panic, alarms and doomsday scenarios that come out of such issues 
are just that.

>We (Board) have many high level problems to think about. And helping
>the community to govern itself is exactly one of them.
OK, not only helping it to govern itself, but letting it govern itself.


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