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Some Pigs are more equal than others. Or, as Heinlein thought (and presented in his book, Starship Troopers), in order to lead a system, you should show yourself subservient of that system. Serving in the armed forces (among other things) was the way you earned your vote. There is a sort-of similarity in America, where if you prove your lack of subservience to the system by committing and being convicted of a felony, you lose your right to vote.

Heinlein would probably have used words like "service" and "duty" instead. In Starship Troopers military or civil service was required to become a "citizen" and be eligible to vote or hold office. One interesting part of the book was that citizenship was widely considered a waste of time, especially by powerful people in business. This may be close to the modern/popular disdain for "politics".

In an article a few years ago I read some advice for people who can't decide how to vote. It said a good thing to do then is to find someone that you respect who has an opinion on the matter, and vote the same way they do. This has the effect of giving their vote extra weight. (Often one hears about "cancelling" the votes of idiots (by voting opposite them), but idiots may choose the right person for the wrong reason.)
In most of the US felons can vote (after completing their sentences). From the StraightDope? mailbag on "Why can't felons vote?" [1]:

Specifically, while only four states allow felons to vote while they are in prison, 18 allow felons to vote while they are on parole and 21 allow them to vote while on probation. Only 10 states permanently disenfranchise all felons and another handful do so to some ex-offenders or restore the ability to vote after a time limit.

The most valuable result of a vote is to convince the losing side that they have "fairly" lost, and should concede the disputed issue. WeightedFranchise can lead to conflicts over whether a side has "fairly" lost if the weighted result is much different than the unweighted result, and especially if the losing side did not explicitly agree to the weighting procedure beforehand.

Similar "weighting" issues are very important in the US presidential elections due to the "Electoral College" system of voting. Since the 2000 US elections are forecasted as very close, it seems possible that these weighting issues could be decisive. (The "winner-take-all" system used in 48 states is probably a bigger factor, but it is a well-known and mostly accepted quirk of the election system.)

In three US presidential elections the winner received fewer total votes than a single opponent. Twice in the early years of the US the election was sent to the US legislative branch, which votes in an even more non-proportional manner. In that event each state would get 1 vote: California (with over 30 million people) would have the same influence as Wyoming (with about 500,000 people). See [2] for a brief FAQ, and [3] for a longer discussion with historic commentary.

It should be noted that the people who actually own the site must have more weight than the rest of the community for the single, yet overpowering reason that they are legally, fiscally, technically and ultimately responsible for it. A lot of people don't appreciate this, stating something lame like "I have the right to do such-and-such here." Instead, they merely have the privilege. For instance, it would be a disaster for someone to claim freedom of speech and then post pirated software which resulted in the operator being arrested, losing her equipment, money, time and possibly being convicted. Furthermore, the community is a reflection of its owners: if the community degrades into a porn swap, it looks very bad for the owners.

Of course, that being said, a big day-glo orange sign warning of constructing a GodKingdom needs to be erected.

In many cases an absolute veto power for the owner works well, as it accurately reflects the real power of the site owner(s) to "pull the plug" on the whole site. Such a veto may even be better than a highly-weighted vote, as it effectively removes the owner from most day-to-day decisions. The owner might lobby for a particular action, but they wouldn't have extra formal influence.

In the specific case of usemod.com (host of Meatball as of October 2000), I could erase the entire site in minutes, or (more likely) make it unavailable to all while handing it over to a new owner. (Even in the worst case I can imagine I would give Sunir a full copy of the DB and a link from the old location.) I really would like Sunir and others to feel very free to do things I might not think are best (within wide limits like legality and *my* hosting site's policy). For instance, I can imagine someday that a new version of UseModWiki might not fit the needs of the Meatball community--in that case I am very willing to maintain a "classic" wiki for that community. (Indeed, Sunir originally didn't want the UseMod:SubPages feature for Meatball, and I accepted that decision. Now I've come to agree that subpages would not be best for this community.)

ViewPoint should eventually take this kind of community freedom even further. (I see ViewPoint as very much separate from Meatball.) All contributions to ViewPoint (at least the usemod.com incarnation) will be OpenContent or possibly even freer from copyright restrictions. People who disagree with a particular view will be free to copy its content and edit it as a different view (within very broad limits). Any group or individual who severely disagrees with the local ViewPoint policy will be completely free to copy the entire database and set up their own site. (Think of the content as "open source" code, and the copying like a project/code fork.) --CliffordAdams (the site owner who graciously allows Sunir to sit on the Meatball throne ;-)



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