Occasionally a "feel" for consensus is not enough. Sometimes we need to have a measurable consensus. For example, when voting in new committers or to approve a release.
Before calling a vote it is important to ensure that the community is given time to discuss the upcoming vote. This will be done by posting an email to the list indicating the intention to call a vote and the options available. By the time a vote is called there should already be consensus in the community. The vote itself is, normally, a formality.
Once it is time to call the vote a mail is posted with a subject starting with "[VOTE]". This enables the community members to ensure they do not miss an important vote thread. It also indicates that this is not consensus building but a formal vote. The initiator is responsible for the vote. That means also to count the votes and present the results. Everyone has 1 vote.
The notation used in voting is:
+1 (means I vote positive) -- You can say why you vote positive but it's not a must-have.
0 (means vote abstention and nothing else)
-1 (means I vote negative because of the following reason) You must support your objection and provide an alternative course of action that you are willing and able to implement (where appropriate).
Address: private@ Subject: [VOTE] Jan Doe should become a regular committer Text: "I would like to propose to vote in Jan Doe as committer. Jan has showed in the last months that they have the skills and oversight for improving things (think about the last UI change of the "Find" dialog)." +1 (means I vote for Jan) 0 (means vote abstention) -1 (means I vote against Jan because of the following reason: Voting time frame is finished 72 hours from now until June 30, 12:00 PM UTC.
Text: +1 I like their work and want them to stay and to go on with their good improvements.
Subject: [VOTE][RESULTS] Jan Doe should become a regular committer Text: Vote started Thu, Jun 27, 2011 at 12:00 PM UTC, voting is now closed. Voting results: --- Numbers --- +1: 12 0: 0 -1: 0 --- Details --- +1 Patricia +1 Marc +1 David +1 Erica +1 Steve +1 Christine +1 Stefan +1 Carla +1 Andrea +1 Karl +1 Simon +1 Greg