The questionnaire is a great part of the election process, but during my first (first-hand) experience with an election, over on Code Golf, I've found that the timing of the questionnaire is a bit unfortunate. Others have noted that too in the election chat, so I'm quite surprised that this hasn't been brought up before (at least I can't find anything about it).
The issue is the questionnaire goes up at the same time as the nominations end. If you're lucky, you'll get primaries, "which aren't that important" (maybe...), so it's not so bad if people start voting before the questionnaire results are in. But still, it seems like people who answer the questionnaire quickly might have an advantage in the primaries, because many people will likely visit the election only once, and not check back once the results are in.
This is a lot worse when primaries are skipped. In that case the actual, final voting begins at the same time that the questionnaire is published, so many people will cast their really important votes before any answers are in. I feel like this sort of defeats the purpose of the questionnaire and could lead to the worst incarnation of the FGITW effect anywhere on SE.
Would it be possible to improve the election process in that regard, such that the candidates have a chance to write up their answers before any voting begins?
I see two obvious solutions:
- Stop the collection of questions for the questionnaire a few days into the nomination phase, such that the last few days of the nomination phase can already be used to answer the questionnaire. Not ideal, because it gives less time to collect the questions, but it would probably already be an improvement.
- My preferred solution: start collecting the questions a week before the election starts and put up the questionnaire post when the nomination phase starts. This lets people post the answers at the same time as their nomination, and it makes it much easier for voters to consider the candidates before doing any voting. I imagine the post something like "Hey guys, we'll be holding an election starting next week. You can now suggest questions for the questionnaire... [usual blurb]". This would have the additional advantage that people would know about the election in advance, which would make it less likely that someone misses the nomination phase because they happen to be on holiday that week.