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

Alphax (Wikipedia email) alphasigmax at gmail.com
Thu Dec 7 02:41:36 UTC 2006

George Herbert wrote:
> 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".

I actually see two problems with the current round of arbcom elections:

1. We're not using a secret ballot, which makes voting too easily
influenced by peer pressure

2. I don't believe that there are enough suitable candidates to fill the
vacant positions, and that the community will do a very poor job of
chosing the right people. Arbcom on en: is supposed to be made up of
senior, trusted, respected members of the community, but most of the
candidates could be described as anything but.

So, like several people, I shall continue to boycott the current round
of elections.

Alphax - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Alphax
Contributor to Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
"We make the internet not suck" - Jimbo Wales
Public key: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Alphax/OpenPGP

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