User talk:Denny/Thoughts Board Election 2015

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I agree with this summary 100%! And also am not a huge fan of this voting system. I'd be interested to see a variety of options, including looking at how each can be influenced by systemic bias & gaming. Perhaps if a standing election committee is set up, it will have a bit more time to consider such things. SJ talk  04:41, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

Or, you know, the election committee and board could have listened to experts in electoral systems. As a friend says, it's quite absurd that wikimedians put so much work in studying references for articles but then neglect to study at least some book or paper for their "job" (e.g. running a chapter). --Nemo 12:50, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
You are making an interesting assumption that we did not talk with experts in electoral systems, or that none of us has professional experience with non-Wikimedia elections. The system we selected was intentional and based on feedback and after discussing various methods. However, I agree the method deserves more than the time that the committee was able to give it this year (about 4-5 days). As such, a standing committee discussing and researching it more seems very logical to me. Also, I do not think that the board should be involved in deciding the specifics of how the elections are run, for many reasons. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 01:28, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
And you are putting things in my mouth. I never said "or that none of us has professional experience with non-Wikimedia elections", because I don't think that's relevant. For instance, I had experience in multiple sides of multiple electoral processes but I certainly don't consider me an expert in electoral systems. --Nemo 06:33, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
If you had those roles and no exposure or consultation with experts - isn't that hypocritical? It seems you are putting implications in my mouth as my point was that many of us have discussed these issues with experts before even this election - which I do find relevant to your point - not that we are ourselves "electoral experts". --Varnent (talk)(COI) 07:18, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
I think that the problem with the currently used system is not really in its mechanics (which electoral experts can comment on; btw I'm wondering how diverse, in terms of geographical diversity, their composition was?), but rather in its cultural imbalance. Simply put, different cultures and societies are more or less averse to negative votes (and in the current mechanics a vote against a candidate has nearly 10 times more weight than a positive one). This hypothesis can be verified on the data you have as a committee - if indeed there are significant differences in terms of negative votes average popularity per project, then it would make sense to alter it (as, in other words, different communities may have different ways of expressing support, but mean the same thing). Pundit (talk) 11:26, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
Varnent, again what makes you think that I had "no exposure or consultation with experts"? Of course I had, we tried to use the best available in the country (though the result is always disputable). If the committee received scientific advice, that would be useful to report. --Nemo 13:27, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
I am glad that you listened to experts, many of us have talked with experts about these issues in the past. Folks did not make the decision in an information vacuum. There is also this free online encyclopedia with loads of info we checked out. My point about your work is that I see you do not like it when people make assumptions either, so I would suggest not making them about others in the future. ;) Assuming that no expert advice was considered was a poor assumption to make IMHO. All of that aside, as I said originally (and more to the point of moving this topic forward), I certainly agree it should be reviewed more thoroughly than this year's committee had a chance to do, and strongly suggest a standing committee to do just that. In the meantime, the S/N/O system seems to represent well the community's attitudes and allows for the complexities of the Wikimedia community better than say ranking (which has had very bad feedback when used in the past) or strictly picking three people. Is it the best system? Probably not. Is it better than the alternatives I've heard so far? I believe so, yes. I cannot speak for why others on the committee agreed, but for me, it was based on past experiences, conversations with electoral experts about international online community elections, and reviewing notes from "experts" and the community to past elections committee. I think we made an informed decision, you are welcome to disagree with the decision obviously, but assuming we made it without any thought or input simply because you disagree with it is a very bad place to start the conversation as it's full of false assumptions, and as evidence here, we have spent more time talking about that false statement than the actual issue at hand. It is also possible that a new system may require changes to SecurePoll - which would require several weeks notice. But again, I do not think it is the board's role to make those decisions, I think that is best left to the community, in this situation represented by the Elections Committee - who this year had all of a few days to decide. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 17:57, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
Well, according to our regulations, Three of the ten Board members are selected by the Wikimedia community. The Board determines the dates and rules for their selection, as well as who is qualified to vote :) After all, the Board can be held responsible, while an advisory committee cannot. I seriously doubt if the Board would not follow reasonable advise from community-driven elections committee. Pundit (talk) 18:45, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
Being overall responsible for something and directly deciding it are rather different things. The board is also responsible for the organization's finances, but that doesn't mean I expect them to act as our accountants. Should the board have oversight of the process? Yes, certainly, as you said, legally the buck has to stop with someone. However, should they therefore get involved with the actual decisions? No, I don't think so. I think their responsibility here is to appoint the right people. The voting method alone is a good example of why they shouldn't micromanage the elections. At least one of the suggested methods I've heard over the past few months tends to favor incumbents, and a number of the other decisions could be done in a way that advantages the existing board. Leaving the actual decision making to a more neutral group presents many advantages, but yes, legally, the responsibility for MANY things must ultimately reside with the board. As such, I think we should manage our expectations a bit better. I think it is a much better use of their time on this topic to discuss things like a standing committee, get out the vote efforts, cultivating candidates, etc. Things like how the questions are done, or what method is used they should absolutely be giving input on - they have a unique perspective - but I would be more comfortable personally with them overseeing the decision making process and not conducting it themselves. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 20:38, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
There is a fine line between a committee that is delegated to, to make suggestions for the Board, and a committee that actually makes decisions. It would seem that the Board actually is responsible for setting the rules of election, there is not much flexibility there in terms of a final setting. After all, hypothetically, if the election committee had some really obviously bad idea, it would still be the Board who would be responsible. That's why even high level and expertise committees (such as the FDC or AffCom) only make recommendations to the Board. I agree with you that it is not that important to focus on technicalities though. One of the problems, possibly, is the lack of passing knowledge and learnings from the elections committee to the community at large (you've mentioned consulting experts, discussing nuances of methods, etc. - all this is really useful, important, and should deserve a separate space, also so that the community can read and comment). Definitely, a standing committee would make a lot of sense (even to start organizing the learnings, and there are plenty), and we've had a number of good ideas on how to present the Q&As. Pundit (talk) 20:55, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
I agree mostly. :) More info on the process will be coming both in our post mortem and an upcoming blog post next week. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 21:34, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm not assuming anything. You said it yourself: you had some contact with experts "in the past". Unless you're using some really obscure grammar construction I'm not aware of, you've not consulted any expert specifically about the electoral system to pick for this election. I'm not sure what's the point of all these words running in circles. --Nemo 06:58, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

Thumbs up from me, too. These are valuable observations. --Pgallert (talk) 12:54, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

  • Good summary, perhaps a little too verbose, but points to important issues. Ranking order of candidates would be much better, and perhaps a system in which answers are listed in chronological order. Pundit (talk) 13:48, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
I didn't have the time to write a short text, sorry. ;) --denny (talk) 20:09, 1 June 2015 (UTC)


Personally, on the missing personal questions you expected, I can say that I didn't ask any because I already knew the answer for all of them; on the missing questions you feared or desired, I think none would tell me anything about what a person could achieve once elected.

The Q&A process as a whole is not really the way to engage or inform the mass of the (eligible) voters nor to elicit productive discussion in our community. A better selection or other constraints might make it more helpful for the casual voter, but I wouldn't put too much hope in that. I'd rather accept that the Q&A pages give us a catalog of issues found interesting by at least two persons (the asker and the answerer) and a zeitgeist of current thinking about said issues. Then anyone picks what they want from them.

Producing discussion, engagement and constructive thinking is the candidates' job. If I knew how to do it, maybe I'd stand as a candidate. ;) --Nemo 12:50, 3 June 2015 (UTC)


I like your thoughts on Q&A (though I have to say, responding to off-topic questions is a part of the job too :) ). One twist: maybe the candidates should spend more time asking (non-duplicative) questions of each other? (or maybe even questions from the current board to candidates?) I would love to get all of the candidate's thoughts on specific things, like the annual plan (budgeting for engineering vs community grantmaking, say). Not just for election purposes, but because the election represents a focused 20-30 hours of focused strategic thinking from 10-20 motivated people who care about the WMF and are thinking about leading it. That's valuable to capture. -- phoebe | talk 18:40, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

We could use a standard set of questions for all candidates. However, I don't think it would be appropriate for current Board members to have the right to ask questions to the candidates, if these Board members are re-running. Candidates asking questions of each other is something I'm definitely doubtful of - for obvious reasons, it would be difficult not to run this without a agenda. Pundit (talk) 18:46, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
The agenda is part of the point! What issues are important to candidates -- so important they want to know what everyone else thinks? Not everything has to be neutral :) -- phoebe | talk 19:37, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't think that everything is neutral even now :) I'm not strictly opposed to this, but I'm concerned that running candidates against each other may not be exactly the best idea. Not the worst one, necessarily, neither. All in all I think the real problem with Q&As is rather that they are lengthy and inaccessible to voters. Pundit (talk) 19:46, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

Meek STV for Persian Wikipedia[edit]

Hey folks, I read this post mortem and its talk page and found both of them really insightful. Thanks for all of the great works you've done so far! I expressed my concerns about this issue with the original author at his talk page. Any other feedback is welcome! 4nn1l2 (talk) 10:05, 29 October 2015 (UTC)