Electowiki talk:Policy

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Relevance to election methods

I just notice, the list of all articles seems to be almost entirely comprised of articles related to the science of election methods. I suppose, then, that articles like Robert's Rules of Order,VIRV, and Virginia would be out of place here? What do you think?

Is there another wiki that would be better suited to organizing for electoral reform? 08:31, 9 November 2006 (PST)

Electowiki is a great place to talk about electoral reform. Please continue. -- RobLa 21:45, 12 November 2006 (PST)

Articles about living people (BLP policy)

Electowiki hasn't had a policy for articles about living people. Wikipedia has a very complicated Biographies of living persons (WP:BLP) policy, which has evolved over the past several years to avoid problems like the Seigenthaler incident and also frivilous SLAPP lawsuits from people who fail to understand the Streisand effect. It seems that pages about living persons on Electowiki should either be user pages (e.g. Rob Lanphier) or short summary articles in the main namespace that point to the Wikipedia articles. I believe the article about Steven Brams sets a very good example (it's short, and points to a much more detailed article about its subject).

The policy I would like to enact:

Pages about living persons on Electowiki in the main namespace need to be pointers to Wikipedia articles, unless otherwise approved by the Electowiki site administrators.

Psephomancy, do you agree with this policy? If so, then let's make this the policy as soon as possible (and let's figure out if/when/how we allow exceptions). -- RobLa (talk) 06:30, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

In general, I think that anything that can be covered on Wikipedia should just be covered there, since it will be read by more people, maintained by more people, and won't duplicate effort.
Warren Smith doesn't have an article there, for instance, and if one was created, it might be deleted for being "non-notable" (maybe, maybe not, depends what publications he's been mentioned in).
So should we cover it here instead? I don't know.
I certainly don't think we need any general biographical information, like about their family or sports accomplishments, etc. If anything exists here, it should be limited to only neutral and verifiable points that are related to election methods (or related academic credentials). (But even then, there could be neutral and verifiable facts about election reform organization drama that it's better not to mention.) — Psephomancy (talk) 15:19, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
There are many very problematic issues with Electowiki articles about living people, not the least of which being that we allow pseudo-anonymous editing. So, for instance, I have no idea who Dr. Edmonds is, or how this person knows what they claim to know about Warren Smith. Because of that, I've become convinced that it is a candidate for speedy deletion, so I'm deleting it now. As the current policy states "Unless we specifically say so, many of the English Wikipedia's policies apply to us", and as of this writing, we haven't published a BLP policy that is different than English Wikipedia's policy.
When it comes to someone's User: page on this wiki, there is much more latitude (e.g. the user can choose to divulge as much or as little as they want). There's still a problem with obviously incorrect information, but we can at least make it clear to readers that we give users in the User: namespace more editorial control over the content there. For main namespace content, it doesn't seem smart to deviate very far from English Wikipedia's policies. -- RobLa (talk) 18:11, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
This is the first page I made and really the one I care least about. I am fine with deletion. The info I put there was from him and his webpage. Maybe we can just link to his own biography here http://scorevoting.net/WarrenSmithPages/homepage/myresume.html This would be a good policy in general. Most people have a page of their own with a biography --Dr. Edmonds (talk) 19:39, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Dr. Edmonds, thank you for both telling me the source of Warren Smith's birthday (that's the sort of PII that can get webmasters busted) and starting to establish the norm for redirects for users here who are notable electoral reformers in real life (i.e. your redirect from Keith Edmonds to your user page). Of course, if you're not actually Keith Edmonds but merely impersonating him/them, you are in so much trouble! ;-)
With that, I feel comfortable restoring the Warren Smith page, and creating Category:Living people to add him to. I may take it on faith that Keith Edmonds also belongs in that category. I may also create a Rob Lanphier redirect, and add my page to that category. Where I think we can draw the line is users that want to remain anonymous. Adding your user page to that category implies that you no longer wish to remain anonymous, that you're putting your real name in the main namespace (not a pseudonym), and you're willing to prove to the site admins what your identity should someone ask you. Creating one of those redirects for a different editor who hasn't already identified themselves publicly should be considered a violation of policy.
I think I might draft up some policy around this, and do some other editing. -- RobLa (talk) 00:51, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

Living people

I added a "Living people" section on the Policy page yesterday, based on the norms that User:Dr. Edmonds and I have started to establish. None of this is written in stone; I'm planning to use Wikipedia's BOLD, revert, discuss process for editing, and I invite other site admins (e.g. User:Psephomancy to do the same. Other active editors on this site should be more cautious about making similar policy changes, but please don't be bashful about at least suggesting changes on this talk page. -- RobLa (talk) 00:54, 27 November 2019 (UTC)


This funny little disclaimer adorned Electowiki:Policy earlier today:

Note: this policy is new, and subject to revision. -- RobLa 22:38, 15 Mar 2005 (PST)

Well, it's 14 years old now. I think it has held up alright. Some considerations:

  • Editorial board - that used to be DanKeshet and I. The idea was to have a small group of people deciding what the voice of Electowiki was going to be. I haven't (yet) tried to track down Dan and recruit him back, but other folks have helped a lot over the years (e.g. User:Araucaria, User: homunq, User:Psephomancy). As the policy says, we point people to Wikipedia for content that aspires to NPOV, and are trying to develop a voice for reform.
  • Err on the side of neutrality - as we said in 2005, while the EPOV will come out from time-to-time, it should be hard to distinguish it from Wikipedia-style NPOV in the vast majority of cases.
  • Fairness to other points of view - this point seems pretty sound. I've come back to this one over the years in my edits.
  • Latitude to editorialize on other positions - I put this point in there because I was expecting to do more editorializing myself on the site, and wanted the latitude to collaborate on editorial pieces. My inclination these days is to use my User: namespace as my editorial page (and moving editorial content written by others to their user space).
  • Controversial points of view should be vetted on election-methods list - editorial disputes still should go to election-methods mailing list by default. In many ways, EPOV is the voice of rough consensus on election-methods list.
  • Meta-View - User:Wegerje added this one late in 2005, and it's good point. It says "currently practiced electoral systems in many countries are woefully inadequate expressions of democracy.". Perhaps this bullet point should be retitled to Most jurisdictions need much better election systems This isn't a site that celebrates the status quo.

Anyone want to discuss these points before I embark on some bold edits to Electowiki:Policy? -- RobLa (talk) 02:18, 28 November 2019‎ (UTC)

I support all of that. I think collaborative advocacy could also be supported (outside of one particular user's page) either by creating a template or category or namespace etc to isolate it from the more encyclopedic content, as was discussed in the Caucus at some point. — Psephomancy (talk) 15:49, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
I have made a lot of edits lately but I am sure they fit this. My thoughts were that this should contain the election science view more than the lobby view. The lobbies tend to exaggerate or misrepresent. This is particularly a problem with contentious issues like Proportional Representation. Also, I have tried to push systems into a better taxonomy. Of course this is not possible to do perfectly but I have spent a lot of time prior trying to decide what way was best. I have used the one which is consistent with what the CES uses. With regards to bold edits. I think it would be better to keep conflicting perspectives rather than overwrite with your own. For example I have given all the perspectives on Proportional Representation instead of just the Lobby view which was there prior. Also, like with the recent nuking of the first past the post page. It might be best to have the main page be a redirect to wikipedia and have an additional page for specific technical considerations which are too deep for wikipedia. --Dr. Edmonds (talk) 17:56, 28 November 2019 (UTC)

EPOV discussion about Vote_Unitarity article

I put a banner on the top of Vote Unitarity, asking that the concept get better vetted before living in the main namespace (with a banner that I just created for the purpose). Over on Talk:Vote_Unitarity, Dr. Edmonds wrote the following:

RobLa Why do you believe it is not vetted? I do not see why something needs to be rediscussed on your mailing list before it can be posted here. I thought the point of this whole wiki was to have more recent developments than wikipedia. I am fine with the banner but there are dozens of other pages like this. There is no reason to single out this page. The committee founded around developing these ideas needs a place to record results for public consumption. If this is not the place for that then it should be decided before we invest more time. --Dr. Edmonds (talk) 02:33, 17 December 2019 (UTC)

Dr. Edmonds, first to answer "Why do you believe it is not vetted?" Well, where is it vetted? Can I trust the people that did the vetting? It's quite possible that you can give me a link to a long conversation that happened years ago that will work to my satifaction.

My reason for wanting things to be vetted to my satisfaction is that I believe that readers of Electowiki (and people who link to this website) are expecting things to be in EPOV, and share my instinct for what counts as "vetted". You're correct that the rules for "notability" are more lenient than those of Wikipedia, but it is not correct to say that the singular point of this wiki is to have more recent developments than Wikipedia. My personal goal (as guardian of the wiki for 14 years) has been to find a middle ground between these two things:

  1. Wikipedia's strict notability rules which make it difficult for researchers to collaborate on electoral reform writing
  2. A wide open wiki that's a susceptible to crackpots, spam, and criminals.

Since I have a lot of respect for Wikipedia's process, my intuition is that it's better to be similarly conservative about accepting new content. This wiki still has too small of a community to curate the content that it has, and my sense is that we should be deleting more than we add right now. There's a lot of janky old cruft that was recklessly copied over from Wikipedia in 2005-2006, and left to languish while most folks (rightfully) focused on improving the version hosted on Wikipedia.

I am sympathetic to your frustration about Vote Unitarity being singled out. I put the banner on because my instinct told me that it was worth stopping and revisiting whether Electowiki needs to talk about this as if it was a group opinion or talk about it as if it was just barely below the threshold for notability on English Wikipedia, rather than way below that threshold. As a site curator, I'm lazy, and I hope we can create robust self-curation systems. So, my first instinct is to say "go post on election-methods mailing list", and then later on , I can go ask someone on the list that I trust and say "hey, is this legitimate?" We haven't known each other online for very long, so we haven't had the opportunity to build up much mutual trust yet. I'm optimistic we'll get there, but we're not quite there yet.

In general, my hope is that it becomes typical for articles to start in User space, and then move to main namespace after they've been sufficiently vetted. As to why I'm insisting on election-methods mailing list: I'm not. When you post a large amount of stuff for site readers to read, I want to come up with a good auto-curation system where I don't have to read it, but I can trust from other signals that it's been vetted. My personal tool for gauging whether or not something has been vetted is to post on election-methods mailing list and say "hey, what do you all think of this?", but I realize that's not everyone's preferred mode of vetting things. The other current de facto member of the editorial board is User:Psephomancy, and they might have a different preferred way of vetting things (e.g. using reddit's /r/EndFPTP or something).

So, it seems as though I relied too much on Cunningham's law to ask my implied question, so I'll make it explicit: in which public discussion forum has Vote Unitarity been vetted? Can you provide a link to the discussion? -- RobLa (talk) 04:17, 17 December 2019 (UTC)

RobLa I agree that you are right to be conservative. The reason I got into electoral reform was that the propaganda I was seeing from FairVote hurt the scientist part of me.
Anyway, to the task at hand. Much of the early development of the idea was done with Byron Becker where we debated with a few others about how to solve issues with his system local PR. This was part of the deliberation process for the BC referendum. Once that group was clear that I had something I went to Warren Smith who at first did not believe that such a system could work and then later admitted it did and generalized it. He called his generalization 'the corner trick' referring to how when he invented Harmonic Voting his derivations assumed a smooth function. The generalization he invented contained Harmonic voting and an Optimal version I made with my more restrictive Vote Unitarity constraint. He circulated this discovery to Forest Simmons and Toby Pereira. He liked the general version and spent some time trying to come up with a better constraint than vote unitarity. I proved that vote unitarity in this case was equivalent to Cauchy's functional equation for mapping Utility to score and I was happy with that since I would think this should be a natural constraint on Utility. From there I reached out to Sara Wolk who formed a committee to determine the best Cardinal multiwinner system. The committee contained Jameson Quinn who advocated for Allocated Score and parker friedland who invented Sequential Monroe. Clay Shentrup and David Hinds where also major contributors. Many systems and criteria were debated on a private Loomio forum. Nobody ever doubted that Vote Unitarity was well defined but some argued that it was not needed. This seems fair as many also make similar arguments about Proportional Representation. Warren did not join the group but I kept him up to date with any discoveries.
As for publicly available. I think there were some in the old CES forum. Warren did a review of Sequentially Spent Score if I recall correctly. The first one in the new forum was this. I eventually ended up posting some of the results from the equal vote committee on the CES forum because Loomio did not handle images well. Here is the link. I recently posted a summary of all the remaining models. The CES forum is pretty bad a being on topic but vote unitarity get spoken of a lot. To be clear, not everybody is convinced it is needed but everybody understands what it is. For example this post relaxes Vote Unitarity a bit to help with Free Riding. Agni Gopireddy posted Sequentially Spent Score and vote unitary on reddit to make sure we were not in an echo chamber. I think there is a page called STOPFPTP or something. Anyway, we got good feedback from Ciaran Dougherty the inventor of 'Apportioned Cardinal Voting' which we had already eliminated do to if failing some criteria. I can find those posts if needed.
To your EPOV point, all of the recent contributions other than your own have been done by members of the committee working on this. Psephomancy is helping with code, sarawolk is the organizer, BetterVotingAdvocacy‎ is a member too. And some of the pages were submitted on behalf of others in the committee by me. The Equal Vote Coalition has decided to start contributing more to electowiki. Hopefully this momentum keeps up and more keep joining. But if that is the case then what is the POV of this site if not that of its contributors? As the founder of course you are entitled to veto power but why not just join the committee too? --Dr. Edmonds (talk) 06:49, 17 December 2019 (UTC)

Using Electowiki to vet new concepts

There are many articles about newly invented concepts/methods that are written primarily by one author:

I think it's fine to have these in the main namespace, I thought that this kind of development was one of the main goals of Electowiki (and this is not the kind of "biased" that I had in mind when we were talking about advocacy articles).

You can see from the history that each is primarily written by one person. It might make sense to make this more obvious to casual readers in the text? These examples have some mention of where they came from in the text:

Or with some kind of corner template? But I'm not sure that's even necessary. A template would need to appear on many (most?) of the articles here, at which point a general disclaimer might be better.

By all means, prior discussions on mailing lists, Loomio, forums, Reddit, Google Groups, and the like should be linked as references whenever possible.

I guess I see this as a place where ideas can be vetted? — Psephomancy (talk) 03:45, 25 December 2019 (UTC)

I think you're right that this is meant as an incubator for ideas that are not yet notable enough for Wikipedia. The list you provide is also a great list of articles that seem to have primary authorship by a single person, and may not have a clearly documented audit trail. I wouldn't be surprised if I pressed those folks to create those articles, because I wanted to capture the concepts discussed on the election-methods mailing list (EM-list) on this wiki. Jobst Heitzig, Forest Simmons, and Steve Eppley were all frequent participants in EM-list discussions. I have no recollection if the concepts they published here were concepts that only the original author agreed with, but as they were posting this stuff, I have no doubt that each of them discussed it at length on EM-list. I took it on faith that I'd be able to go back and read the EM-list discussion, and figure out what they were talking about, because the three of them all have a pretty good track record for defending the concepts that they introduce. I generally found that the discussion on EM-list helped me to understand the concept better, once I actually took the time to understand the conversation.
I have a bit of a problem using Electowiki as the primary/only place that concepts get vetted. Because this is a wiki, it is really easy to overwhelm the rest of the existing editing community with drive-by garbage. Mailing lists and online forums are meant for discussion; it's really clear who the author is, and it's generally clear that the author is speaking for themselves. Content on mailing lists and forums naturally expires, whereas new content here automatically becomes part of the "forever" pool of content unless/until one of the editors takes the time to review and deal with it appropriately. Not all new content deserves that level of privilege.
Moreover, participating in wiki discussions about content is difficult, and in my experience, wikis are a good complement to an online forum, not a replacement for it. There are a lot of people on the election-methods mailing list that will quickly and helpfully reply to complicated inquiries, but don't feel comfortable replying on a wiki Talk: page.
As I've said before, EM-list is not the only valid vetting forum. I think that any sufficiently open (and reasonably neutral) discussion forum will suffice. But it doesn't seem to make sense to let people introduce new concepts into the main namespace without first vetting that concept someplace else. -- RobLa (talk) 03:26, 26 December 2019 (UTC)

"Because this is a wiki, it is really easy to overwhelm the rest of the existing editing community with drive-by garbage."

Yes, agreed.

"Moreover, participating in wiki discussions about content is difficult, and in my experience, wikis are a good complement to an online forum, not a replacement for it. There are a lot of people on the election-methods mailing list that will quickly and helpfully reply to complicated inquiries, but don't feel comfortable replying on a wiki Talk: page."

Yes, agreed. Did you see my proposal to turn on StructuredDiscussions, to make Talk pages more like a forum? — Psephomancy (talk) 03:29, 1 January 2020 (UTC)

Yup, I did... I just didn't get around to responding until now. See my response over there. In the meantime, I'm thinking we might benefit from a new bullet point in the EPOV policy:

* Privately-discussed ideas should be publicly well vetted - if you have a great idea for a new voting method, please don't immediately create a new Electowiki page in the main namespace describing the method as if it's an accepted fact. Instead, please vet the issue on the one of the well-known forums among election method activists, or restrict your publishing of the idea to your userspace on Electowiki.

If something hasn't been subject to public discussion, we shouldn't be the first ones to publish it, and the talk pages on this wiki shouldn't be the first time it gets discussed. Thoughts? -- RobLa (talk) 21:16, 14 January 2020 (UTC)

Advocacy article templates

"My sense of things is that if we rely on a banner, the banner needs to identify a particular editor that is the lead signatory for the article."

I was thinking something like User:Homunq's proposal, where the template would say something like "This article is written by PLACE proponents" and edits (other than uncontroversial typos, formatting, adding references, etc.) are only allowed by people who consider themselves to be in the "PLACE proponents" category. — Psephomancy (talk) 03:16, 1 January 2020 (UTC)