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cacert-policy - Re: PoP: easy linking - frontpage - main website ? ( RE: Vote on p20130223 - Several minor changes to PoP to vote to DRAFT (was: improving p20100306 - minor changes to PoP)=

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Re: PoP: easy linking - frontpage - main website ? ( RE: Vote on p20130223 - Several minor changes to PoP to vote to DRAFT (was: improving p20100306 - minor changes to PoP)=

Chronological Thread 
  • From: Ian G <iang AT>
  • To: cacert-policy AT
  • Subject: Re: PoP: easy linking - frontpage - main website ? ( RE: Vote on p20130223 - Several minor changes to PoP to vote to DRAFT (was: improving p20100306 - minor changes to PoP)=
  • Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2013 12:39:57 +0300

On 25/02/13 11:49 AM, Bernd Jantzen wrote:
Hi Alex,

I agree with you that policies which are binding on the community must be 
to find". In principle, it is clear to all of us, I think, that the version 
of a
policy which is binding must the be one in which
is linked from the front page. So, whenever a policy is voted to DRAFT or 
status, the current version must be moved to this official location as fast as
possible. I don't really think that we need to clarify this in PoP, though I 
not against doing so.

The point here is that PoP makes it very clear what the process of a binding clause is, and how to decide if something has transitioned to Binding status, by means of a decision.

It is recognised that the existence of a binding status is not sometimes clear to the wider community, but it is rather difficult to resolve that, and it is actually quite pointless to attempt to resolve it by some simple mechanical means, because whatever mechanism you come up with (e.g., "publish on website") will be totally ignored by readers anyway, and also subject to much complaint and gnashing of teeth, sysadm problems, publication dates and so forth. It is for this reason that PoP (in the past) deliberately ignored things like the website for binding purposes; otherwise we'd be slave to delays and grumbling.

(And, literally PoP was born out of being slave to the publisher of policies, as that publisher declined to publish. Therefore PoP is its own master. We annoint no kings here.)

The other question is (thanks, Alex, for pointing this out), from which date 
a new version of a policy gets binding, especially when a dispute arises close
to the change date of a policy by which it is affected.

   * The header of the policies mentions the dates of the policy-group motions
     (p...). Does this mean that the policy is binding from the date when the
     motion is posted? This cannot be, because the decision about the policy 
     comes later, when the motion is carried (usually about two weeks later).
   * The date, when the motion is "carried" as marked on ? But this date is not so
     straightforward to find for outsiders of the policy group.
   * Or is the policy only binding from date when it appears at the official
     location in ? This would somehow be ;
     to some state law being in effect from the moment on when it has been
     published officially, and not from the date on when it has been voted in
     parliament or when it has been signed by the president.

In view of recent questions and disputes, maybe it would now be the time to
clarify this.

So what we do here is to create a regime whereby the process is defined in PoP, and if ever a date comes into question, what we then we provide the recording of the decision, including starting and ending dates.

But PoP *does not* nail down a date of effect, deliberately.

You'll notice that there are indeed two dates - the starting date of the decision's motion being posted, and closing date the vote. Either could be the date of effect. You'll probably wonder why we don't resolve that. Again, it's deliberate. The issue of the precise date of effect of a decision is left to the Arbitrator. The bureaucrats may thump the desk and say this isn't good enough ... but this is again a signal to us of what's important and what's not...

We can note sometimes with amusement that laws typically have the same problem. They tend to come into effect on "signing dates" or "gazette publication dates" all of which are for all practical purposes inaccessible to the public. For example, the debacle over CAcert Inc directors ... we knew it was coming for about 2 years. We were told by OFT that we'd have lots of notice of the date of effect, and it would be "in 6 months or so," and there would be a grace period. Then suddenly, it was done, and we were suddenly not in compliance with the law, and we heard about it in the wider media.

That's "signing dates" for you, a lottery with your assets...

What is clear in our process is this: PoP states what the process of a decision to Binding is. Practice is that we record the date of decision, start and end, but the reason for recording is more to do with capturing the votes in order to clarify rough consensus.

What is not clear is the date of effect. There is some leeway between the motion start and end dates. This leeway is deliberately left to the Arbitrator's decision.

Leeway is important because if a precise date is important, then we are in danger of being rushed into decisions; instead let us make the decision on the merits, not in a rush. Leeway is also important because there is a tendency to elect a sovereign who signs. That way lies madness.

E.g., what about DRP now: The current draft version should be the one voted in
p20130116, motion carried 20130131, but still the version published at is the one from
p20121213. Probably this is due to the ongoing change from .php to .html for 
policies, see or ;.
So which version is the binding one now, today? or ;?

The thing is, *versions* aren't important. Clauses are. There is no "one true document" but there are defined decisions (for this, refer to the way courts agree on what a contract is - discovery and stipulation).

The process in PoP relates to decisions, and that's why Ulrich has added a clause "A record of decisions shall be maintained." Experience has shown that we need that decision recorded, with starting and ending dates. The reason for this is that the decision may become a turning point for any Arbitration. So we need the decision clearly recorded so when it turns up in Arbitration, the thing can be judged as soundly made. Imagine us in court one day where the whole framework is being challenged -- the one thing that will win our case for us is that we made our decisions *purposefully* and we can show that we made our decisions *purposefully*.

(Note that this creates an somewhat contradictory perspective on "rough consensus" which we in CAcert have therefore finessed and modified and evolved -- our "rough consensus" is distinct again to IETF's concept.)

For example, DRP as approved at a meeting in Pirmasens, 2007. But, it was in "practical use" before that. When did it come into effect? The precise decision of some of these documents like OAP were not well recorded, so we had to redo the OAP in policy group after Pirmasens. DRP now has some changes, such as the famous dropping of board for appeal. However, that change was in parallel with a filed dispute for appeal, with the board as party. So, policy group made the decision to drop the board, but policy group remained silent on whether any current appeal should be impacted by that decision. That's for the Arbitrator to consider.

Also, remember, that any confusion over a date of effect will (a) be very rare, and (b) before the hands of the Arbitrator, who is quite capable of reading the policies and making a decision. In practice, there has only been that one, out of 6 years of resolving and hundreds of cases.

QED -- This is a non-problem.


Best regards,

Alex Robertson, 25.02.2013 00:46:
I specified "easy to find" rather than requiring a direct link - there has
been a lot of arguments about how valid the changes published by this group
are as they stand at the moment - they certainly mark the intent, but at
what point do they actually become policy - hence I perceive a need for an
easy to find link (direct or otherwise!) also possibly referencing the
decisions made here as well as the formal policy documents. The method this
forum uses to record decisions is not referenced  anywhere as a formal point
of change!


-----Original Message-----
From: Bernd Jantzen 
[mailto:web AT]
Sent: 24 February 2013 18:58
cacert-policy AT
Subject: Re: PoP: easy linking - frontpage - main website ? ( RE: Vote on
p20130223 - Several minor changes to PoP to vote to DRAFT (was: improving
p20100306 - minor changes to PoP)=

I would even say that already "published on the CAcert website" implies
there is a (direct or indirect) link from the front page to the document,
otherwise it could not be called "published".

Also I would not specify that there must be a (direct) link from the front
this is not even realized now: There is a link "policies" which leads to a
list of
links to the policies. But there is no direct link.

Best regards,

-----Original Message-----
From: Alex Robertson 
[mailto:alex-uk AT]
Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2013 12:26 AM
cacert-policy AT
Subject: RE: Vote on p20130223 - Several minor changes to PoP to vote to
DRAFT (was: improving p20100306 - minor changes to PoP)

-----Original Message-----
ulrich AT
[mailto:ulrich AT]
      5.4 POLICY documents are published on the CAcert website
          in plain HTML. Change control must be in place.
Perhaps a slight change here ....

      5.4 POLICY documents are published on the CAcert website
          in plain HTML with an easy to find link from the front page of
         the main website. Change control must be in place.


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