When I go into the voting booth in real life, I am not presented with speeches next to each name. I'm presented with a list of names.

While scrolling through the list to find the candidates I was looking for, I realized that one of them had a very, very small speech, only 3 paragraphs, while others made my poor scroll wheel so upset with me it threatened to go on strike before getting through the whole post...

I feel the election should be a ballot of names, no more, no less. Each candidate, in a random order as it already is. I would be okay with a link to their stump speech, and maybe even there just collapsed and hidden by default, expandable if desired. But to have the whole thing there is just more to scroll through. If you really need the campaign speeches to decide who you're voting for, you shouldn't be on the voting page yet anyawy; you should be researching the candidates to determine who you're going to vote for.

Occupy SO Election page: because 1% of candidates shouldn't have 99% of the screen!

tl;dr remove the speeches from the election page. Make it a list of names with small amounts of fluff.

  • 6
    The comparison with a voting booth is not 100% perfect: In real live, they start talking of the election candidates months before the elections start. That is not what happens with SE elections, where you know the candidates right in the moment the first step of the elections is started.
    – apaderno
    Nov 19, 2011 at 0:02
  • Just for the record, if you go here, you get that for free, and lots more!
    – Benjol
    Nov 23, 2011 at 5:56
  • @Benjol That seems pretty nifty, although I didn't see it in action during an election to properly evaluate it. If achieved my objectives here as you say, and it was what was linked to on the main page, I would consider the issue resolved. :-)
    – corsiKa
    Nov 23, 2011 at 6:30
  • Re: "others made my poor scroll wheel so upset...". I got tired of the same problem, so I made "a userscript for that". :) Nov 24, 2015 at 4:17
  • I request that this question/request be edited with a comparison to the current election interface. There are still autobios and a question-answer section for each candidate, but I expect that they used to not be collapsible and were more freeform.
    – owengall
    Mar 9 at 14:35

5 Answers 5


This kinda bugs me too. But rather than removing them, I'd rather see them collapsed down to a paragraph or two, with the option to expand - scrolling through the list would be a lot easier, and I'd still have the option of reading the full spiel if I wanted to.

  • 2
    Was about to propose this myself. Having an "expand all/collapse all" link would make the elections page much more navigable.
    – nhinkle
    Nov 19, 2011 at 3:39
  • I do recognize this is a more popular opinion than flat out removing. It's also noted in my original revision that I'd consider this a win :-)
    – corsiKa
    Nov 19, 2011 at 5:01
  • This is a thing now, so it only makes sense to throw a green checkmark at it lol
    – corsiKa
    Mar 21 at 8:10

I disagree - I'm much in favour of seeing the speeches because they serve as a reminder of each candidate's position. It also helps remember what was discussed in each candidate's comments section.

The speeches are all roughly the same size except casperOne's, which IMO is definitely tl;dr. Instead of removing them altogether, I'm in favour length limiting the speeches. That limit can be pretty stringent - but some more information than just the names should be there.

  • 4
    I agree with the length limit. It would force the candidates to put what really matters into their 'speeches.'
    – jjnguy
    Nov 18, 2011 at 23:17
  • 1
    I am one of the candidates and I approve this suggestion. Nov 18, 2011 at 23:20
  • @pekka I respect your position, but I feel that if you need the reminder, you may not have done enough research to cast a quality vote. That being said, I would be totally willing to compromise for a short, limited length summary.
    – corsiKa
    Nov 18, 2011 at 23:37
  • 3
    @glowcoder Each election stage lasts a few days. I can see how it could be easy to forget some of the details if you vote early in the primary and don't come back till the election proper, for example.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Nov 18, 2011 at 23:41
  • @Anna none of the information is erased, though. I'm not suggesting the information should be erased from the primaries page. I'm just saying I feel that the ballot is not the place for them, just like in a real life voting booth. I'm okay if I'm in the minority on that :-)
    – corsiKa
    Nov 18, 2011 at 23:54
  • @jjnguy If only we could edit them... I wanted to put a more concise "speech" in but edits are locked. Nov 19, 2011 at 0:02
  • 9
    Rather than removing the speeches, it could be better to make them collapsable, and collapsed by default.
    – apaderno
    Nov 19, 2011 at 0:04
  • 1
    Seriously, looking back, aren't you glad I did it? =P
    – casperOne
    Dec 23, 2012 at 3:13

As a post-mortem, I did a little analysis of the election results to see if length of nomination statement played a role in the final results. The following is a ranking of the final candidates based on the OpenSTV results Michael Mrozek tabulated, the number of words in the candidate's profile, and the ranking based on votes in the primary round:

Name                Rank    Nom. Words  Primary Rank
Anna Lear           1       441         1
BoltClock           2       837         2
casperOne           2       2175        7
NullUserException   4       352         6
OMG Ponies          5       78          4
Justin 'jjnguy' Ne. 6       339         5
Brad Larson         7       405         3
awoodland           8       462         9
George Stocker      9       182         8
Stu Thompson        10      144         11
Jeremy Banks        11      453         12
ircmaxell           12      317         10

casperOne's nomination statement certainly seemed to help him in the final election (coming from 7th in the primaries), and BoltClock's second-longest statement didn't hurt him any. Beyond those with the longest statements, the three shortest nomination statements lost rank from the primaries to the final election twice and gained rank once.

The extra visibility of the longest statements does seem to have given the candidates an advantage, so perhaps having a click-to-expand option to display statements would provide a more even playing field for the next election.

Otherwise, if I run in the next election I'm going to type until my hands bleed.

Interestingly, after I wrote this I came across this old answer I gave for the last election primary, where it looked like the candidates with the shortest nomination statements racked up the most downvotes at that stage. In general, it appears that writing a longer nomination statement helps you in all aspects of these elections.

  • To notice that the candidates were shown in random order during the elections; this means that the candidate who used a longer text could be shown in first position, in the last position, or any position between.
    – apaderno
    Dec 17, 2011 at 15:35
  • 1
    @kiamlaluno - True, but I've heard from people who didn't notice that there were other statements on that page when the two longer ones loaded near the top, because they didn't scroll all the way down past them. I know I had trouble finding a couple of people I wanted to vote for. Statistically, this gives the longer statements an edge because they aren't harmed by appearing last, but they do suppress statements appearing after them by reducing their visibility. A collapsed-by-default layout for these statements would eliminate this for future elections, as others have suggested here. Dec 17, 2011 at 16:54
  • I am not against the collapsible speeches (in fact, I suggest it in a comment for an answer here). In your answer, you seemed to correlate the rank in the election with the length of the speeche, as if who was ranked second in the primary phase was always shown second in the list, in the election phase.
    – apaderno
    Dec 17, 2011 at 17:04
  • 2
    The extra visibility of the longest statements does seem to have given the candidates an advantage is founded. Correlation does not imply causation, and your sample size is very small. Alternative explanations are ignored and the statistics are simplistic and selective.
    – user154510
    May 2, 2012 at 15:41

As one of the candidates up to the end of the primary, I also disagree. I am not in favour of running this sort of thing as a popularity contest, nor do I approve of Facebook campaigns etc, it should be strictly on the merits of the candidate and the speech they wrote and the questions they answered.

To illustrate my point a different way, can you answer this: who is slugster? I don't expect you to know because I don't go round cultivating a fan base. This means I need to introduce myself to you and you can formulate a yes/no answer based on what I've told you.

If you eliminate or hide the speeches you will get a different problem:

  • people won't vote because they don't know who you are
  • people will vote based on the visual cues they do have which is rep count and badges1
  • people will vote randomly (usually for the candidates at the top of the list). Even if you frequently change the order of the list random voting isn't good or productive

If you hide or eliminate the speeches on the main election page then I believe you run the risk of random or uninformed voting. You need to make it as easy as possible for users to get the information they should have, you cannot rely on them seeking it out for themselves (a lot of people are inherently lazy and won't search out the info they need. As evidence of this, how many new users do you see who have obviously never read the FAQ before posting?). Without those speeches being readily available, only the most popular (or well known) candidates will ever have a chance of being elected, which lead to not so well known candidates either not bothering, or building their popularity/personal brand in other less desirable ways on the site.

I am in favour of length restrictions though. But you could also think about it this way: an overly long speech can actually count against a candidate. It's all up to you, the voter. At least with the information at your fingertips you can make the most informed choice possible.

1 While these can be reasonably good indicators, they aren't always. And often there is no reason why someone with a lower rep and fewer badges won't also make a good mod. Moral of the story: badges and rep should not be used as the main measurement of suitability.

  • 1
    Would you agree there's a difference between having the information at my fingertips and having the information shoved in my face?
    – corsiKa
    Nov 19, 2011 at 4:59
  • 2
    But it in many ways, this is a popularity contest! Nov 19, 2011 at 17:26

At a minimum, I would like to see the candidate's name in a title field at the top of their post. I did remember the names of the candidates that I selected in the primaries. And I had already read their platforms.

Perhaps an option would be to hide the speeches for those users that voted in the primaries.

I like click-to-expand in any case.

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