Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Ranked voting system

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Complete the move to a single transferable vote system, already used previously to appoint affiliate-selected seats, which is designed to best capture voters’ preferences.

Prior contributor elections have used a voting system based on three options: Support / Neutral / Oppose. When multiple candidates are elected, this system tends to favor the election top contributors popular among big communities. In comparison, candidates from smaller communities with general but more scattered support are in disadvantage.

Ranked voting systems are designed to better capture multiple levels of support among multiple candidates. The Single Transferable Vote counting method is designed to resemble proportional representation through multiple constituencies. This should make it a good fit for the Wikimedia Movement, composed by multiple communities with very diverse perspectives.

Since a 2014 resolution, the Affiliate-Selected Board Seats process uses the Single Transferable Vote system with Droop quota to decide which candidates receive most support from Wikimedia affiliates.

Summary of ongoing feedback[edit]

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the main report.

Across multiple conversations there has been clear interest and curiosity in trying a ranked voting system to help increase the diversity of winning candidates. The majority of participants were not familiar with specific ranked voting systems or didn’t have a strong opinion for a specific method. There was a short discussion on Meta-Wiki about Single Transferable Vote or a Condorcet method. There were concerns about a new voting system being confusing, dissuading people from voting or making them vote wrongly by mistake. Some participants mentioned that the current Support / Neutral / Oppose system gives too much weight to Oppose votes. A few participants said that for them the possibility to oppose certain candidates was important.

Positives

  • There is overall interest in improving the current system based on Support / Neutral / Oppose votes by using a ranked voting system instead. Reasons expressed by multiple people in multiple conversations:
  • The current system doesn’t support the goal of diversity because it gives too much weight to “Oppose” votes.
    • One former candidate said that in the 2017 election, about four Support votes were needed by candidates to overturn one Oppose vote.
  • Ranked systems can promote candidates with more general, “centered” support.
  • Ranked systems can improve the representation of the minorities of our movement.
  • Some participants showed appreciation of this method because it allows for a more nuanced vote and allows defining preferences in a better way.
  • One participant using the anonymous feedback form strongly advised to choose a ranked voting system due to its broad use in many organizations such as the OpenStreetMap Foundation.

Negatives

  • The 2019 ASBS facilitators and some other volunteers disagree with the idea of the Board deciding a voting system for community elections and say this decision belongs to the community, and ultimately the Elections Committee.
  • Some people from very different communities expressed a concern that a voting system perceived as more complex could reduce participation in elections. Some volunteers from emerging Wikimedia communities were concerned about this risk impacting their region specially.
  • One ASBS 2019 facilitator said that a ranked voting system has been used for affiliate seats, and the results might not differ very much.
  • A few participants said that they prefer to have a voting system where it is possible to oppose specific candidates, or even all of them.

Other considerations

  • There are different opinions about which specific system should be used. Some support Single Transferable Vote (used in the last ASBS votes), some support a Condorcet method like the Schulze method (used in one Board election).
  • One participant in a French-speaking discussion suggested Proportional approval voting and Asset voting as adequate systems for this case.
  • Both people familiar and not familiar with ranked voting systems agree on the importance of clear instructions and a good user interface to ensure that voters understand what they are voting for.
  • One person suggested consulting the article about Comparison of electoral systems on English Wikipedia.
  • A couple of volunteers consider that there is a risk of influence by the votes of the growing number of Foundation staff and contractors. They want to avoid a voting system that could give the Wikimedia Foundation workforce more influence in elections.