I'd like to contribute to the reform of the election primary and this paper sets out my thoughts.
I see three opportunities for improvement to the existing election primary which is basically to end the current practices of:
- Negative Voting
- Voting rights for Members with low level of activity
- Publishing the Voting in Real Time
Some candidates were practically lynched in the election primary. Although in all elections regardless of their nature there are winners and losers, the effect was exacerbated by the possibility of voting negatively in the election primary.
Most candidates are aware that to present themselves as candidates in an election will spark negative opinions about them. In this case, the negative vote had a greater symbolic impact, because the fact of having only 5 votes compared to 100 for another candidate is really different than having -95 compared with 100. In both cases, the same voters have expressed their opinion, but the current voting system reinforces an unnecessary sense of negativity in the election primary. Voting against someone is not the same as just not voting for them, although ultimately the same effect is achieved in most cases.
If we analyze the results from the primaries we can see that removing the negative voting would not have affected the ranking so much except for the 2 last candidates.
| Candidate | Up & Down | Up Only | Down Only |
| SLak | 710 | 810 | 100 |
| Robert Harvey | 641 | 680 | 39 |
| Lasse V Karlsen | 528 | 570 | 42 |
| Michael Mrozek | 492 | 533 | 41 |
| Justin "jinguy" Nelson | 480 | 525 | 45 |
| Tim Post | 476 | 512 | 36 |
| Kev | 394 | 449 | 55 |
| Dave DeLong | 300 | 390 | 90 |
| Paul Dixon | 274 * | 311 | 37 |
| George Stocker | 259 * | 321 | 62 |
Voting Rights Members with Low Level of Activity
The current rule allows any user with 150 Reputation points to vote for a moderator. While this can prevent any attempt to influence elections by opening fake accounts, there is still a problem.
With the current system, a user of a community can get 100 reputation points simply by linking his account. In addition the system of question migration allows someone from community A to obtain reputation in the community B without even taking part explicitly. The remaining 50 points are not complicated to get in a very short period.
Where it is problematic is when a candidate is very popular in community A, presents themselves to act as a moderator in community B. A large number of users that are not active or only very slightly active in a community will be able to influence the vote!
I have proposed the creation of a new badge called Citizen . The definition of the badge is as follows:
Citizen — Has posted at least a question, answer or comment with at least one upvote 20 times a month for the last 6 months.
In order to get votes from real participants in the community, I recommend that we limit voting to the owners of the Citizen badge.
Published voting in real time during the election primary
In my humble opinion, this is the most serious problem. A public vote in real time is problematic because it promotes two types of negative behaviour that militates against good results in the election primary.
- The Herd Instinct
- Strategic Late Voting
You will see that it is for this reason that the publishing voting in real time is virtually unused anywhere.
The only case I know personally where it is used is during TV games where television viewers have the opportunity to vote for candidates who appear on screen. The show producers decide from time to time to publicize the intermediate results -if they don’t fit the editorial line set. That why some television shows publish these interim results, and sometimes not.
The Herd Instinct
The first objection is related to the herd instinct. A nice humorous illustration of this effect may be viewed in this very old hidden camera video.
People behave like sheep: the judgement of the mass is influenced by the votes already in place. Consciously or unconsciously, voters identify with the candidates and their current score. Many people choose to vote where there is the least risk, that is to say vote for the most popular. Other types of personalities identify with rather less popular candidates, for pity or out of a contrary spirit.
You can see this type of behaviour over many years simply by observing the answers to questions in the community. In absolute terms, in organizing elections we are interested in finding out the opinions of unbiased individuals and this is not achieved where voting is influenced by how the election is proceeding.
Strategic Late Voting
The late voters are rewarded by their late participation; they have more information than others and can act accordingly. Early voters have not seen the real impact of their vote.
Late voters can influence by voting strategically regardless of their view of one candidate’s competence compared with another’s. For example, they may think that their preferred candidate has no chance of winning and use their vote for a different candidate – this type of voting becomes self fulfilling prophecy. This effect is heightened by the possibility of a negative vote in the election primary: a voter might be tempted to put his vote against all candidates too close to his favourite.
This type of strategy has nothing to do with expressing a preference.
The negative vote has no useful function in the election primary, only the negative perception attached to it remains. I therefore propose that this feature is removed from the election primary before the next election.
I propose that we limit the voting to true members of the community.
It appears obvious that the only solution to eliminate the effect of herd instinct and the advantage of late voting in the election primary is not to announce any results until the counting has closed in the election primary.
These adjustments will allow the community to get candidates elected on a solid foundation, as in any system whose base is democratic.