[Foundation-l] Concerns over en.wikipedia.org ArbCom Election Process

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Thu Dec 7 01:02:41 UTC 2006

On 12/6/06, Stephanie <stephanie at sosdg.org> wrote:
> effe iets anders wrote:
> >Afaik has there never been a closed vote on the wiki for local policy.
> Even
> >more, there has in my memory never been a closed vote other then for the
> >boardelections.
> >
> While I'd recomend that we look at secret ballots for some policy issues
> too, they are more insulated from the problems
> that make a public ballot unsuitable for this election. Elections of
> individuals have much more at stake - both emotionally, and politically,
> where as votes on policy are very straightforward. In an election such
> as the arbcom election, there are factors such as personal relationships
> that should take a back seat to what a voter thinks is best for
> en.wikipedia - with the votes public, that's not possible. A lot of the
> factors that influence a vote such as this are subtle and hidden, and
> remain hidden even when voting in this format. The temptation to vote to
> gain percieved political favor is one of the worst aspects of such a
> system, and if it happens in RFA !votes, where much less is at stake,
> then we can be sure that it happens in arbcom votes.
> To put it quite bluntly, people are unwilling to risk the consequences
> of voting their concience, going against the masses, going against their
> friendships in an "open" or public election. People are only truely open
> about their opinion when they can express  that opinion without
> possibility of reprisal. Therefore open ballots are not ballots placed
> under free will, and the election is subject to the worst kinds of
> tampering.
> I realize its too late to change this how this election run, however I
> also hope that this is the last time we use such an opressive method for
> an election in the name of "openness".
> >I guess it's not for nothing that the system we are voting
> >with for the board is called boardvote. I think it would indeed be
> >interesting to use the system on the one hand as it is more peacefull and
> >like we vote irl, but on the other hand it might require assistence from
> the
> >devs, or it might be very hard to track which votes are egligable, harder
> as
> >when using open voting (when everybody can help looking who might be
> >sockpuppet)
> >
> >
> Boardvote has elegibility checks, and more importantly, the list of who
> voted is public, so that votes can be stricken in a transparent manner
> without knowing how they effect the outcom.
> >So it has it's pro's and con's. I think at least the community has to
> decide
> >herself whether she wants a open or closed voting, but as well the wmf
> has
> >prolly to agree on voting this way (as it requires dev assistence). Maybe
> it
> >would be best to ask the wmf first indeed :)

Looking at these concerns, I see where you are coming from, but I think that
this comes down to a difference in goals.  Is this an election?  If it's an
election, then it's not run well.  Is it an exercise in
consensus-gathering?  It works reasonably well for that.

I know it's a common desire to want Wikipedia to be more election-like, but
so far the policies say we aren't.  Exactly what the "pass" criteria are for
this election are sort of vague, for example; Jimbo could create more
positions if he wants more people on Arbcom, and select more than the top
five "winners".

-george william herbert
george.herbert at gmail.com

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