Wiktionary:Votes/2019-03/Defining a supermajority for passing votes

Defining a supermajority for passing votesEdit

Voting on: Adopting the following policy:

A vote passes if the ratio of supports to the sum of supports and opposes reaches 2/3 or more. A vote where that ratio does not reach 50% should be closed as "failed"; a vote that has at least 50% but less than 2/3 should be closed as "no consensus". Abstentions, votes by ineligible users, and votes cast after closure do not count toward these ratios. This concerns votes proper and does not apply to straw polls, RFD and RFV discussions, and anything not on a vote page.

Administrative notes: This vote has no effect on any vote that starts before it is closed, or the results of any vote closed in the past. Any future vote can override these rules by specific community consensus concerning that vote.


  • Vote starts: 00:00, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Vote ends: 23:59, 19 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Vote created: —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 00:21, 12 March 2019 (UTC)



  1.   Support Tom 144 (𒄩𒇻𒅗𒀸) 02:44, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
  2.   SupportSGconlaw (talk) 03:05, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
  3.   Support -Stelio (talk) 09:11, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
  4.   Support - TheDaveRoss 12:17, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
  5.   SupportΜετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 16:06, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
  6.   SupportPanda10 (talk) 19:16, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
  7.   Support - Droigheann (talk) 23:54, 21 March 2019 (UTC)
  8.   Support - Having been a "victim", I appreciate having this matter clarified. DonnanZ (talk) 09:22, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
    But surely, having a matter clarified is alone not a desideratum good enough that it overrides all other considerations. A matter needs to be codified well enough in terms of policy impact, not merely codified. Ease of administration and application is far from being the only desideratum of rules. Put differently, lack of clarity and certainty is not the most intolerable state of affairs or else there would have never been the Anglo-Saxon common law that stands in contrast to continental way of doing things. --Dan Polansky (talk)
    I would have appreciated a 45%-55% threshold in the EU referendum, so it would have ended with no consensus. At the moment we have to put up with all the Brexit hoo-ha. DonnanZ (talk) 12:20, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
    Would you have wanted the threshold for Brexit to be as high as 66% rather than, say, 60%? And should that be the threshold for joining the EU in the first place, and therefore, should Sweden and Finland never have joined the EU? --Dan Polansky (talk) 12:38, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
    No, I think 55% either way would be decisive enough for a referendum, more decisive than the 51%-49% actual result in 2016, I don't know what happened in Finland and Sweden. I am happy to support the hitherto de facto 66% we use here. DonnanZ (talk) 12:53, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
    As for "de facto" in the English Wiktionary, we have some votes that were closed as passed with less than 2/3 of support. --Dan Polansky (talk) 13:13, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
    (In the name of accuracy, sources tell me that "The UK has voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%", and that matches my memory; I don't know where the above 51%-49% figure comes from.) --Dan Polansky (talk) 13:16, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
    That is due to rounding the figures up, it was actually 51.9%, less than 52%. DonnanZ (talk) 13:29, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
    Ok, you've made a rounding error. All right. --Dan Polansky (talk) 14:12, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
    Just a little. The point I am trying to make is that on Wiktionary we don't need the controversy caused by narrow winning margins such as this; the British government has got itself in an unholy mess trying to enforce Brexit. DonnanZ (talk) 16:28, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
    Frankly, I think Brexit has almost nothing to do with the proposal voted on. As for the proposal, I do not see anyone making an argument in support of the statement that 60% is not enough given large participation. 60% is the constitution-changing supermajority in multiple European countries; UK has no constitution-changing supermajority at all, from what I understand. --Dan Polansky (talk) 16:45, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
    I quoted the referendum, not Brexit, as an example. And if I'm not mistaken, the UK doesn't have a constitution to amend. DonnanZ (talk) 17:17, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
    The Brexit referendum has almost nothing to do with the proposal voted on. And yes, as far as UK has no expressly designated constitution to amend, changes to UK law that in some other countries would require a supermajority in the UK only require a plain majority. By contrast, the voted proposal is to require 2/3 (66.6...%) supermajority even for proposals that are rather a matter of taste. --Dan Polansky (talk) 17:23, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
  9.   Support Clearly a 2/3rd threshold is going to cause more "no consensus" results than one of 60%, but I don't think having a few more votes fail to pass is that much of a problem. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 10:39, 23 March 2019 (UTC)
    If it is not that much of a problem, but still a problem, the proposal of the vote could be amended to the effect of Wiktionary_talk:Votes/2019-03/Defining a supermajority for passing votes#Alternative proposal, and still achieve the main objective. I think there is in fact a problem: too big a bias toward status quo ante leads people to try to avoid voting altogether to get their way. --Dan Polansky (talk) 10:54, 23 March 2019 (UTC)
    Well, it's a sliding scale, isn't it? You'd also want the minimum majority for determining a consensus to be large enough to be meaningful. I don't think the small difference between 60% and 2/3 is a very pressing matter now. If it turns out to be too cumbersome it can still be changed. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 14:51, 23 March 2019 (UTC)
    As for whether it can be changed: what if there is a 64% supermajority that supports using 60% as the threshold? Then, if you hardwire 2/3 for all votes, that 64% supermajority will no longer stand a chance. As for what is pressing matter right now: codifying 2/3 as hardwired is not a pressing matter; so far, we managed reasonably well without having this codified, we have a precedent vote that modifies EL and was closed as approved at 2/3 without anyone complaining, and therefore, the common law method can continue to work. Where is the rush to have something probably suboptimal codified? --Dan Polansky (talk) 15:09, 23 March 2019 (UTC)
    Such scenarios can be devised for any definition for a supermajority that is meaningfully different from an absolute majority. Perhaps thresholds of 60%, 58% or 50.5% could also never be altered by vote later, who knows? But none of these nor the current proposed threshold are obviously too high, so it makes little sense to fret about it. ←₰-→ Lingo Bingo Dingo (talk) 12:14, 26 March 2019 (UTC)
    My point is that "If it turns out to be too cumbersome it can still be changed" does not seem to be entirely true. And the difference between 66.6% and 60% is rather significant. --Dan Polansky (talk) 19:56, 29 March 2019 (UTC)
    As for whether 60% can also not be altered subsequently: possibly not, but the logic of numbers dictates that 60% hardwired threshold is much easier to alter than 66.6% hardwired threshold. --Dan Polansky (talk) 20:04, 29 March 2019 (UTC)
  10.   Support*i̯óh₁n̥C[5] 21:15, 23 March 2019 (UTC)
  11.   Support [ זכריה קהת ] Zack. — 00:51, 25 March 2019 (UTC)
  12.   Support Allahverdi Verdizade (talk) 16:55, 28 March 2019 (UTC)
  13.   SupportVorziblix (talk · contribs) 00:32, 9 April 2019 (UTC)
  14.   Support --Daniel Carrero (talk) 10:08, 9 April 2019 (UTC)
    If this vote passes, I assume we will add the voted text in Wiktionary:Voting policy, most likely in the section "Closing the vote" that already exists. But it's not clear if this will be added to the policy as well: "Any future vote can override these rules by specific community consensus concerning that vote." --Daniel Carrero (talk) 06:57, 12 April 2019 (UTC)
    Community consensus can change any rule; I don't think that needs stating for specific rules. Equinox 14:22, 12 April 2019 (UTC)
    @Daniel Carrero: I don't even know for sure what that "administrative note" means. Does it mean that a future vote can pass with less than 2/3 support if voters in that vote agree that it is enough for that vote? Or does it mean that the present vote is overridable with future votes? If it means the latter, it does not need stating. If it means the former, how is it a mere "administrative note" rather than part of the policy proposed in this vote? For reference, I mean this note: "Any future vote can override these rules by specific community consensus concerning that vote." --Dan Polansky (talk) 09:54, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
  15.   Support - seems reasonable SemperBlotto (talk) 10:09, 9 April 2019 (UTC)
  16.   SupportEru·tuon 19:02, 11 April 2019 (UTC)
  17.   Support - I think a decision on quorum also needs to be made after this proposal. Gazamp (talk) 17:03, 18 April 2019 (UTC)


  1.   Oppose I nearly support the proposal, and I think 2/3 is not too bad a default, although perhaps a bit too high. However, having it inflexibly hardwired for every single vote and voter behavior situation is both dangerous and generally suboptimal. The only remedy I see is that the supporters do not intend to treat it as inflexible should an analogue of a security incident arise.

    It is dangerous since voting in general is vulnerable: the voter eligibility requirements can be worked around: an army of attackers can start editing by making trivial yet non-harmful edits, reach the required edit count, and then start impacting votes. As for the argument that the English Wiktionary is not as big as Wikipedia and is not exposed to these kinds of problems: 1) it is exposed in principle, especially since this vote has no date of expiry and creates exposure in the indefinite future, and 2) it seems unwise for a wiki to adopt a meta-policy (which this is) that does not scale to other existing wikis.

    It is suboptimal since for many types of votes, 2/3 is too high a threshold and 60% should be enough. For votes that are analogues of constitution-changing votes, 2/3 may be too low a threshold.

    On another note, having the threshold hardwired and inflexible finally codifies the principle that whether a vote counts does not depend on the kind of comment the voter left in the vote at all, which I find problematic. Admittedly, we do usually no more than count votes, and it is not too bad, but I am not sure this is ideal. It would be preferable if the English Wiktionary votes were a little bit more like Wikipedia's requests for comments in that votes cast would reveal at least to some extent what the voters were thinking when voting. This very vote is depressing in that regard: there are 8 support votes and none of them has a iota in the way of comment or deliberation. Since concerns were raised on the talk page, the votes should ideally have addressed these concerns as part of their cast vote; did they even read the talk page? I don't know.

    On a minor note, I have no confidence I understand the sentence "Any future vote can override these rules by specific community consensus concerning that vote", and I do not know whether voters are voting on that sentence. --Dan Polansky (talk) 09:03, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

    A late note on quorum: the English Wiktionary has not quorum specified, and therefore, technically, 4:2 would be a pass as per the voted on proposal. I would be uneasy with 4:2 being a pass, but usually not with 8:4. This is another deficiency of the proposal. --Dan Polansky (talk) 17:38, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
    Not a deficiency of this proposal, but rather a deficiency in our voting rules in general. It's a tangential topic to this particular vote and deserves a discussion and vote of its own. -Stelio (talk) 09:17, 15 April 2019 (UTC)
    It is not a deficiency in our voting rules in so far as, for the most part, do not have voting rules. We can discuss the closure of particular votes based on ad hoc reasoning. This vote is reducing that ad hoc-iness. --Dan Polansky (talk) 07:03, 19 April 2019 (UTC)
  2.   Oppose "Any future vote can override these rules by specific community consensus concerning that vote." I don't know what this means. DTLHS (talk) 17:36, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
  3.   Oppose (changed vote) per most of the above, though I don't agree that any good-faith vote should be ignored based on the vote closers' subjective interpretation of the quality of their comment. פֿינצטערניש (Fintsternish), she/her (talk) 12:52, 23 March 2019 (UTC)
    @פֿינצטערניש (Fintsternish): Could I ask you to be more specific? Like, do you consider 2/3 to be about right in general? Too high? Too low? --Dan Polansky (talk) 14:24, 23 March 2019 (UTC)



17-3-0, passed. The implementation can be discussed now; for now, I added the line (apart from the last sentence which should already be implied based on where the line was added) under the "Closing the vote" of the voting policy, as seen in this diff. — surjection?⟩ 10:30, 22 April 2019 (UTC)