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Spread the wealth!

kevin_standlee posted a few days ago about how the folks from Rangevoting.org had contacted sfrose about how WSFS should change from Instant Runoff Voting (a.k.a. "Australian Ballot").

A few comments passed. They were mostly split between issues with the suggested implementation and the basic misunderstanding of WSFS and fannish culture shown by the proposers.

Then someone from the Center For Range Voting decided to come in and comment.

Watch Clay.

Watch Clay dig.

Watch Clay dig deeper.

Then go over to a more recent post and watch Clay get a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Gotta love zealots.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 24th, 2007 04:12 am (UTC)

While range voting might possibly be a delight for a community of dedicated intellectuals to play with, both honestly and strategically dishonestly, I suspect the concept is rather a bit too sophisticated for the average voter's grasp. Certainly Grandma-down-the-block is not an experienced Olympic Judge; she merely prefers Candidate So'n'so, and she doesn't want to bother with deciding just how much less than So'n'so she likes all the others. She, and loads of others, would find this needlessly confusing.
Jan. 24th, 2007 06:00 am (UTC)
Oh, I don't think that RV is a bad idea. I just think the folks doing this are really clueless about promotion.
Feb. 7th, 2007 10:55 am (UTC)
Well, we assume that most people have at least an 8th grade understanding of math. Sometimes we are proven wrong.

I know that both myself and Warren Smith have been chided for our "vitriolic rants", and could probably win a lot more bees with honey. But seriously, when you have studied something so intensively that you know it backward and forward, and then you hear someone who knows next to nothing about it try to argue with you about it, it's really hard not to let loose.

Nevertheless, you are right. In general, people are more impressed by slick lawyering than by science. That's why creationists notoriously railroad scientists in public debates, and it's quite sad. Scientists expect people to see through logical fallacies, like emotional appeal. Scientists should reasonably expect that, even if they were yelling at you with their veins popping out of their necks, if their data and logic was in order you would have confidence in their conclusions.

Nope. People love the power point promo and the good pearly whites. I just haven't been able to make myself sink that low yet. If I had the money, I'd invest in marketing people to do it so I wouldn't have to watch.
Feb. 7th, 2007 10:47 am (UTC)
I suspect the concept is rather a bit too sophisticated for the average voter's grasp.

Well, it's certainly simpler than IRV. And I did an exit poll in Beaumont, Texas last November, and people seemed to have no problem scoring the 5 gubernatorial candidates from 0-10 (or marking "NO OPINION" in order to not affect a candidate's average whom they did not know). Millions also use Range Voting on HotOrNot.com and IMDB.com and such, and seem to do fine.

Jan. 24th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
I like range voting a lot, since it would make situations like this last year's WorldCon site selection so much nicer for me.

I think it'd be nice for WorldCon voting, but it'd require a lot of voter education.
Jan. 24th, 2007 05:53 am (UTC)
Oh, don't get me wrong. I don't think range voting is a bad concept. I do think that the folks promoting range voting are softpedaling some of the potential flaws that sethb enumerated. I also think that they're the classic example of a group who couldn't sell water to desert nomads.

I also really have to wonder what kind of effect it would have on hoax bids. Hoaxes are fun because you can vote the hoax first without affecting the end result. While it's possible to vote a hoax without affecting the end result using RV, it requires a bit more thought.
Feb. 7th, 2007 11:06 am (UTC)
I do think that the folks promoting range voting are softpedaling some of the potential flaws that sethb enumerated.

There is no flaw that IRV has that isn't worse in other methods. And the bottom line is, Range Voting has the highest social utility efficiency. That is the aggregate of all the flaws and benefits put together into a single "goodness" index. Incredulity (fostered by misunderstanding) about the validity of social utility efficiency does not a rebuttal make.

I also think that they're the classic example of a group who couldn't sell water to desert nomads.

We win every debate we have with anyone about Range Voting. Granted, we don't lie through our teeth like the people in the IRV movement do, and that's probably going to cause more problems for us. We probably shouldn't be so honest, and try to debate on scientific terms. We should probably use the kinds of emotional arguments that the IRV guys, like Rob Richie, frequently make: "90% of voters said they loved IRV." Yeah genius, they thought ordering the candidates was cool...but you could have tabulated the results with Borda, or Shultz, or Condorcet-least-reversal, or plurality-with-runoff, etc. etc. They wouldn't have known the difference! that doesn't prove IRV was good it proves IRV was fun. Ugh.

I love to crush IRV advocates in debates, refuting their every point meticulously, so that anyone with mathematical and/or scientific leanings will inevitably see the truth. I have abused Rob Richie over and over again on public forums. Granted, less savvy people think I'm abrasive. But there is such a beauty in going into a scientific debate and slamming your opponent on his head. Again, it's that bees and vinegar thing. I'm workin' on it...I'm workin' hard.

A good strategy against hoax bids with IRV would just be to vote as if you had zero knowledge of what other voters would do. That is, as if you had never seen any pre-election polls. Just draw an imaginary line at the point of the average utility offered to you by all the candidates, and maximize the scores you give to all candidates you like more than that, and minimize all candidates you like less. A pretty good strategy, even if you had seen pre-election polls.

Feb. 7th, 2007 11:08 am (UTC)
Ack! I meant, "against hoax bids with Range Voting". I always think "RV" and type out IRV, because I spend so much time arguing with IRV people.
Feb. 7th, 2007 10:49 am (UTC)
What voter education? Everone knows how to rate something on a scale of 1-10 (although I think 0-10 or 0-99 is better).


My Texas voters needed no education to use Range Voting. I printed explanations on the ballots, but they just basically ignored them and went straight to circling away. "Alright now fella, there's you your ballot. That all you ah needin?"
Jan. 24th, 2007 06:01 am (UTC)
I especially like this one:

...which is why I use dvorak, and speak Esperanto, and lust for the metric system.

Where he admits to using a keyboard that has been proven to be no better than QwERTY, and speaking a made-up language that can be classified as dead. Bet you he's a Mensan. Its people like this that convinced me to skip joining the organization.
Feb. 7th, 2007 11:10 am (UTC)
Where he admits to using a keyboard that has been proven to be no better than QwERTY

No, it's much better than QWERTY. All the vowels are on the left side, so typing words tends to alternate your fingers, so you can be moving your fingers on one hand while you are going for the key on the other hand. It's a difference that you can simply "feel". I can go back and forth between QWERTY and Dvorak easily, and QWERTY always just feels uncomfortable. With Dvorak, the most frequently used keys are on the home row, so your fingers move a lot less. With QWERTY, it's constant movement. Dvorak is definitely more ergonomic and better all around. Maybe you are just referring to tests of typing speed, which I can't say anything about, because I can type pretty ridiculously fast either way.
Feb. 7th, 2007 10:41 am (UTC)
I'm a zealot about Range Voting the way Richard Dawkins is a zealot about biological evolution. When the scientific evidence overwhelming supports something, you should use it to dispel myth and misunderstanding.

I've more than adequately responded to your rebuttals, but instead of offering a mature scientific counter-argument, you just mock me as a "zealot". I completely admit, most people don't obsess over...weird things like voting methods. Most people don't use a dvorak keymap or speak Esperanto. I've taken up a lot of weird hobbies. My girlfriend jokingly calls me a nerd all the time, and she's right, I can be nerdy. But none of these personal attacks diminish the immense scientific value of what is being discussed.

This is beautiful - not something to be mocked.

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )