Forum:Voting standards

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This forum is a place for centralized discussion of all the issues regarding voting standards that have come up and gestated over the last several days.

For reference, these are the two essays that have been written on the subject, the former of which sparked this discussion:

The talk pages for these essays are also good background reading.

There are several aspects of votes here. So far, the following have been identified:

  • The composition of the franchise;
  • Thresholds for passing;
  • Runoffs (for polls with more than two options);
  • The duration;
  • How to factor in the "goat" vote;
  • The role of moderators in votes;
  • The types of votes, and whether these should have bearing on any of the above;
  • How to deal with socks;
  • Who should be allowed to open and close votes;
  • The formatting.

Here is a tabular representation of what a final proposed standard might look like, based on the discussion and commentary thus far:

Voting standard based on three categories of votes
Encompass Franchise Threshold Runoff Duration
Policy changes to the Community Standards 3 months, 100 edits two-thirds majority required 7-14 days
  • banning a user
  • penalizing a user by anything less drastic
  • two-thirds majority (banning)
  • absolute majority (less drastic)
no requirement 7 days
Minor everything else no requirement plurality no requirement

The "no requirement" label means that the field may be set by a moderator, but if no mod sets it, it remains unused. "Minor" votes, under this proposal, remain largely ad-hoc and freewheeling, though we keep the existing community standards for them. (These votes include brainstars, frontpage, deletion, templates, etc.)

In all cases, we need to figure out how to factor in the "goat" vote. Is it a present vote? A spoiled ballot? Should it count toward vote totals, perhaps preventing majorities from forming?

Please discuss.

Goat votes[edit]

For my money, "goat" votes are abstentions. That's how my various personalities have always seen them. This leads to the obvious follow up question, so what do you do with them.

I would say that, for important votes, the fact that abstainers have shown their lack of support is important. I would hate to see any significant change done on the wishes of a minority of actual voters. OK, OK, what's significant. Well, that's what we're here to discuss.

On the other hand, for minor voting, if the goats don't care then why should minor changes be held up. Yes, I understand how this is inconsistent with the above but then, we're distinguishing between importance levels anyway. So, off the top of my head

  • Important - must be a 66% majority of Yea/Nay votes AND an overall majority including goats
  • Medium - Must be a majority of Yea/Nay votes AND at least 40% when goats are counted.
  • Minor - Must be a majority of Yea/Nay votes

Please don't get hung up on the figures, it's the idea I'm pushing. Bad Faith (talk) 13:00, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

I think even having three different ways of counting goat votes would be creating unnecessary minutiae. There ought to be one sitewide policy.
Goat either means "I don't care" or "I object to the grounds of this vote" in the vast majority of cases. It can be an importantly distinct option, but it can easily be a nay in all but name. I think the best solution would be something like this: goat votes should only be added to the vote total (thereby possibly preventing a majority) if they comprise at least 25% of the non-yea votes. Or just disregard them entirely, because a lot of times goat really is just another way of saying nay. Blue (pester) 20:02, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
That discounts goating entirely then, unless it surpasses a threshold. The simplest way to do it, and the most intuitive, is that goat counts as a neutral option in each case. This means that if you vote goat, you can decrease the chances of something passing by supermajority, but since goat is often some form of protest at method/wording (as you note) then that is only appropriate. Don't try to stratify this one, is my advice. Alternately and still better, you can make it an option that on important votes, the choice of goat is not available; a vote to ban wouldn't be goatable, then.--ADtalkModerator 23:31, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
That would render goat as equivalent to nay in all but name. I think the options for "goat" would look something like this:
In penalty and policy votes,
  1. "goat" votes are not counted toward the vote total when calculating thresholds, and are regarded as a spoiled ballot.
  2. "goat" votes are counted toward the vote total, and can help prevent an option from reaching a majority passing threshold.
  3. "goat" votes are not allowed.
And we let the voters decide. We are basically going to leave other types of votes out of the standards proposals. Blue (pester) 02:36, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
And what if we just dropped goat altogether. Goat can mean several things, it could be a simple "meh" vote meaning that the user doesn't care one way or another, or it could be a protest vote or a "none of the above" vote. The "meh" vote shouldn't be counted, but the "none of the above" vote should, for example in policy votes if no policy can gain a majority or whatever percentage is required because of the "none of the above" votes, then a better proposal has to be made. -- Nx / talk 08:12, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Goats are a way of having a dissenting or nuanced opinion be but into the voting record. Keep goat votes.--User:Brxbrx/sig 00:19, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
We will be voting on this issue. Blue (pester) 00:20, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Goat votes are the same as spoiled ballots - it's a way of showing dissent, or playing silly buggers, but they have no impact on the final tally. --PsyGremlinPrata! 14:52, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
You are wrong and one of your socks got kicked under the bed last night. You can pick it up next time. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 15:52, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Goats aren't a specific vote, & so shouldn't be counted when tallying the outcome. However, they shouldn't be disregarded altogether as they often include valid comments. If significant numbers of RWians are voting Goat on something, it may mean that the issue being voted on or the options offered are flawed from the outset. I think that this is what Bad Faith is getting at above, but looking for specific thresholds on Goat votes to invalidate a vote would make it overcomplicated IMO. In these cases (where many users are Goating or otherwise dissenting from the vote), it would be best to further discuss the issues & reconsider alternative options before finalising the result of the vote, or allowing further voting/options if appropriate. Mods can take a lead in this process as part of their bootstrapping role but all opinions should be welcome. I don't think Goats should be counted as a spoiled ballot (or a vote as such), as users may post something snarky under Goat, but also ultimately vote Aye/Nay/whatever in one of the other sections. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:49, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
As someone who spends way too much time in elections, i think Goats should be looked at individually. There are generally not that many. If they are just goat for the sake of goat, then they are simply not counted. But if, as the first poster suggests, you see a large pattern of "there is something highly wrong here", then it's probably indication that it's worth looking at what's going on behind the scenes. In real elections we don't have a way to say "I really think the entire idea is missing something important', but here at RW, a Goat CAN do that. I agree with Blue that such a take is a pain, but working every day (for 3 months a year) in elections, i would LOVE for such a thing as "goat". The three votes I've seen in the last (2?) months, it was easily apparent what the intent of each goat is. "this is just stupid", or "i don't care" or "i am choosing to voice discent with the entire issue". And if there are enough of the latter, then maybe we step back on any issue, and ask what's up?Pink mowse.pngGodotThe Peyote God awaits 19:55, 28 September 2011 (UTC)


Suggestion: that the 100 edits should be in "Main talk". Edits in Main could be made up of mainly "kenning", whereas "Main talk" shows an interest in, and commitment to, the site. Thematic (talk) 13:05, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Interesting, but that may exclude several committed users who only rarely venture into mainspace. Blue (pester) 21:29, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
They they aren't very "committed" are they? ArchieGoodwin (talk) 21:33, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Not necessarily. And main talk isn't the only "serious" namespace, there's template/talk and category/talk. Besides, 100 edits is actually a reasonably high number; the RWF Board and moderator elections only require 75. Blue (pester) 21:36, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that is true. However, if they are just here to dick around and harass one another, then they don't deserve a voice. This place is more than a gossip joint. ArchieGoodwin (talk) 22:15, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
That's true. The idea has merit; it should be incorporated into the various voting packages that hopefully will be the result of this whole discussion. Blue (pester) 03:57, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
So, is this going to pan out like most everything else, or do you have a plan in mind? ArchieGoodwin (talk) 13:26, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm going to keep up with whatever interest is shown over the next couple weeks and then I'll begin to sort out how we're going to vote on a standard for voting. But we will have a vote next month. Blue (pester) 18:52, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
All right then, though there honestly doesn't seem to be much interest. ArchieGoodwin (talk) 18:53, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
The same was true of AD's talk page vote. This falls under the category of things we need to deal with but not a whole lot of people want to do more than just vote on things other people come up with. Blue (pester) 19:27, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
So then, how do we make them care? ArchieGoodwin (talk) 19:31, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, look at the talk pages for the two essays and CS. A lot of people do care, but they've already put in their two cents. This forum is really just a pro-forma effort to avoid calling a vote too hastily. Blue (pester) 19:42, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

I've looked, and most of the concerns are voiced by the same few people. ArchieGoodwin (talk) 19:48, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

Would you like to set up a poll and send a sitewide intercom about whether or not we need voting standards? Feel free, but I don't think that's needed. Blue (pester) 20:23, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
No, it is obvious that we need them, I just find it odd that it is the same people having to do all the legwork. ArchieGoodwin (talk) 20:26, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
It's the curse of the Time Lords. Blue (pester) 20:29, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
What you should measure is the number of bytes committed to mainspace during the time the vote is open, and count the votes of the most prolific %20. -- (talk) 19:14, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
I've never much liked the idea of franchise thresholds at RW, because there really is no reliable metric (either in time, edit count or namespace) for how involved in the RW community a user is or how much their opinion is or should be respected by the community. Personally, I'd rather have voting open to everyone; if we get problems with obvious sockpuppetry/meatpuppetry, these can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis (e.g. by discounting socks' votes). However, if franchise restrictions really are supported by the community as a necessary evil to prevent abuses, I'm willing to accept them as such. I have no particular opinion about how long or how many edits they would be, as long as they're not unreasonably restrictive. WeaseloidWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:05, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Split number of edits and account age vote[edit]

How about instead of creating a billion slightly different options, we split the number of edits and the account age votes? So for example people could vote for 100 edits but no account age if they think someone who joined just recently but has made a lot of good contribs commented on WIGO:CP a bunch should get to vote. -- Nx / talk 05:33, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Yeah, I think that's the best way to do it. Blue (pester) 05:57, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Draft of proposal to RW:CS[edit]

I can't make much sense of the above "draft". Is it supposed to be one proposal or multiple options? & Can those signatures be removed if there aren't supposed to be votes in this section? WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:23, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

There are multiple votes, each with multiple options. There is no one single "proposal." I can remove the sigs. Blue (pester) 21:20, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
I have to confess that, even knowing what's supposed to be going on, this really is a fairly confusing proposal.--ADtalkModerator 01:57, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
I added some labels to try to clarify the various vote-option combinations.--ADtalkModerator 02:04, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

Second draft[edit]

I'm going to plug this section at the saloon bar. The procedure has been thoroughly hashed out; now we need to focus on getting the substance of the actual votes in shape. I hope to start the vote before the end of the week, if all goes well. Blue (pester) 20:01, 5 October 2011 (UTC)


Notification should be formalised as part of this standard. LowKey (talk) 21:52, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

The intercom is badly outdated and Nx said something to the effect of it's "due for a rewrite soon", so we shouldn't go through the trouble of standardizing the use of something that's going to change soon afterward. Notification is also something that has caused less controversy and we might be better served continuing with common sense. Blue (pester) 22:08, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
except sense isn't so common on these issues. You can standardise without specifying "the intercom", if you actually want to. It's pretty easy to say "notification will be sent to all eligible voters." LowKey (talk) 12:30, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
Yeah but I need to know what features the intercom needs, so I can redesign it with that in mind rather than hacking it on later. Would an intercom group that's on by default for everyone in the eligible user group (btw, will the eligibility criteria for mod/board member votes remain the same or change to the winning option for policy votes? It would be simpler to make the two identical) work? Would it be too annoying (you would be able to unsubscribe of course)? Also, if only mods are allowed to open such votes, they should be the ones who are allowed to send messages to that intercom group. I'd like to know these things before I start with the intercom overhaul. -- Nx / talk 13:07, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
Which is why we should wait until these other aspects of voting have been decided to start working on the intercom. As to the eligible user group, the proposals don't cover mod or Board elections, so it would remain the same. Do we even have the authority to change the franchise for Board elections? According to the bylaws, "[t]he Board of Trustees shall determine the dates, rules and regulation of the voting procedures." Blue (pester) 00:50, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't know, but it'd be nice if we had the same eligibility criteria for all this stuff. -- Nx / talk 06:09, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, definitely. Perhaps the Board will change their criteria to what we decide in these votes, and then we can make the eligible group have those criteria as well. Blue (pester) 06:28, 30 September 2011 (UTC)