Closure Mechanism - Time Limit and Communal Vote (Shaw-Barseghyan-2019)

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This is an answer to the question Workflow - Closure Mechanism that states "The verdict on a suggested modification should be decided by a communal vote that will follow the discussion period."

Closure Mechanism - Time Limit and Communal Vote was formulated by Hakob Barseghyan and Jamie Shaw in 2019.1

Scientonomic History

Acceptance Record

This theory has never been accepted.

Suggestions To Accept

Here are all the modifications where the acceptance of this theory has been suggested:

Modification Community Date Suggested Summary Verdict Verdict Rationale Date Assessed
Sciento-2019-0007 Scientonomy 22 December 2019 Accept that the verdict on suggested modifications is to be decided by a communal vote that will follow the discussion period. Have a communal discussion and decide as to what percentage of votes it should take for a modification to be accepted - a simple majority (50% +1), or supermajority of three fifths (60%), two thirds (67%), or three quarters (75%). Also discuss to decide as to how long the discussion period and the voting period should be. Accepted Prior to the 2023 workshop, Ameer Sarwar argued against the modification. First, he noted that voting is not an appropriate mechanism in science where the goal is to unearth truth.c1 Second, it is unclear how we can ensure informed voting given that some members of the community could be inactive for several years. He thus suggested that we should keep this modification open and wait until after the resolution of modifications 2019-0002 and 2019-0003 that suggest alternative ways to increase participation. During the workshop, the modification was generally well received. Before voting, there was some concern about our voting process – who can vote and when can they vote? – voiced by Josh Allen and Paul Patton. Additionally, Deivide Garcia and Amirali Atrli raised concerns about who are “allowed” to function as part of the scientonomy community. Patton also suggested introducing quorum in addition to the 2/3rds stipulation to avoid potential modifications to the scientonomic body of knowledge introduced by a small number of participants. Gregory Rupik along with Jamie Shaw indicated that while quorum makes perfect sense for larger decision-making bodies, our capacity to vote should not hinge on who is absent, but rather on who is present. It was also determined that even though there is always a risk of a small group of people making big changes, or with people being unsatisfied with a modification they were not allowed to vote on, the iterative nature of our process ensures that there are easy solutions here; in addition, as Spenser summarized, most people in academic environments can be trusted to self-police. Rupik also highlighted the need to formalize the acceptance mechanism in the encyclopedia explicitly: i.e. without 3 comments with unanimity, the modification will be discussed at a workshop, and it is possible that it will remain open after the workshop, in which case we will wait until the next workshop to further discuss and modify it. Notably, since this proposal represents an attempt to formalize a voting system and closure mechanism, and itself was not subject to a specific voting system, it was decided by those present that we would accept this modification with a minimum of 2/3rds assent. The modification was accepted with overwhelming support. 25 February 2023

Question Answered

Closure Mechanism - Time Limit and Communal Vote (Shaw-Barseghyan-2019) is an attempt to answer the following question: How should verdicts on suggested modifications be achieved? If modifications are accepted as a result of a communal consensus, then what constitutes such a consensus?

See Workflow - Closure Mechanism for more details.


To ensure that a suggested modification is properly evaluated and a verdict is reached, the community should be given a certain time period to discuss the modification, after which a communal vote should be taken. This vote should be offered to all members of the community, who should be given a short timeframe to decide.

In principle, this strategy should contribute to the transparency and inclusivity of the workflow by involving larger amounts of the community into the workflow. Since voting doesn't require a great deal of effort, this approach also addresses the problem of lack of commenting. As stated by Shaw and Barseghyan:

In a sense, this proposal would look like an election where there are two main phases. In the first phase, arguments will be made but no particular line of action will be taken. In the second phase, the vote will take place and a decision will be made by the will of the people. In addition, this strategy has the advantage of overcoming the problem of masked objections. People can vote anonymously, expressing their view and approval or dissatisfaction with a proposed modification, without fear of any sort of reprisal. One disadvantage is that a vote is not always grounded in good reasons. Community members may ignore important considerations and vote without being informed on the topic, thus leading to a less-than-ideal consensus. As we are witnessing in the world around us, the will of the people does not always pick out the best choice.1p. 11


No reasons are indicated for this theory.

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Questions About This Theory

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  1. a b  Shaw, Jamie and Barseghyan, Hakob. (2019) Problems and Prospects with the Scientonomic Workflow. Scientonomy 3, 1-14. Retrieved from