W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-w3process@w3.org > May 2014

Re: Case for/data about elections

From: Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2014 00:06:02 +0200
Cc: "public-w3process@w3.org" <public-w3process@w3.org>
To: "Brian Kardell" <bkardell@gmail.com>
Message-ID: <op.xghmccsty3oazb@chaals.local>
TL;DR: We mostly are in violent agreement :)

The "disenfranchise" wording refers to a property of the system we use -
assuming a reasonable, contested election, most votes are entirely wasted,
and the most rational responses produce outcomes that are not desirable.
As you said, "Literally every preferential system would be better than the
one we have".

I specifically don't mean anyone is cheating. I presume the reluctance to  
change is based on poor understanding, rather than a nefarious desire to  
perpetuate a systematic disenfranchisement of many of the members.

(I have said more or less the same words too. I would add that random
selection such as by drawing lots is also likely to be better than what we
have, for many significant values of better)

On Thu, 22 May 2014 19:42:14 +0200, Brian Kardell <bkardell@gmail.com>

> On Thu, May 22, 2014 at 4:08 AM, Charles McCathie Nevile <
> chaals@yandex-team.ru> wrote:
>> On Sun, 18 May 2014 16:26:18 +0200, Brian Kardell <bkardell@gmail.com>

>>> To reiterate in order to pose my questions:  I agree there are  
>>> potential biases in the first system, it has serious flaws.  I entirely
>>> support the idea that it is worth discussing and probably fixing.

>>>  BUT - I am very dubious that THESE are the biases that have hurt  
>>> things
>>> thus far and relatively confident that other biases (apathy/lack of
>>> participation or knowledge, who actually does the voting, etc) actually
>>> have had a big impact
>> That certainly was the case in the past. This is changing (in no small  
>> part through your personal effort, which I applaud). And as it changes…
> Thanks. Lots of people have questioned me on why I do, even speculated
> some dark purpose.

Really? Sigh.

>  I took the time to write a post about why which I will reference in the
> future when this comes up :)
> <briankardell.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/desparately-seeking-jimi/>
>>> AND changing the voting system does not address these.
>> No, but those are being addressed. E.g. by your efforts. And when that
>> happens, the system we have effectively disenfranchises a lot of the
>> membership.
> I don't see how this is plausible actually, perhaps it's in how you are
> stating it that is causing me to misunderstand your meaning.

That is almost certainly the case.

> "disenfranchises" implies that we are denying a right (definitely not) or
> systematically marginalizing a voice.

Ah. My argument is that the known properties of our voting system
(Plurality-at-large / Multiple Non Transferable Vote / whatever it is
called) *effectively* make a lot of people's votes useless, unless they
voluntarily restrict themselves to tactical voting. Either way, they do
not express, nor can they get, their desired outcomes.

>  It's my case that *currently* a
> voice (arguably the most important one) is actually disenfranchised

I suspect that a number of communities are very poorly if at all
represented in the elected bodies of W3C, and that a "winner-take-all"
system for getting representatives actively contributes to the problem
while giving the magical sheen of "democracy because you voted for it" to
obscure that fact.

> and when I hear that working hard (and making progress) to give them a
> meaningful place/voice in the process disenfranchises someone else who
> currently actually has this power - it makes me shiver with
> thoughts/parallels in my own country's history.

There are parallels from all kinds of "democracy".

I don't think *anyone* is deliberately trying to keep our system
unrepresentative because they don't want better representation of the
stakeholders of W3C. But we are in a situation where as you say if someone
works resonably effectively to give one community a meaningful voice, the
most probable outcome is that they get the only voice. (This is like the
"one person, one vote" system more often known as a dictatorship, although
technically it is closer to an oligarchy).

>>  My assertions are easily validated with data.
>> Given sufficient data of the right type. Which we don't have.
>> The only data we have available are
>> the candidates
>>  The recent trend is for genuinely contested elections.
>>  AB candidates are more than twice the number of seats.
>> the winners of elections
>> the eligible voters
> We have anecdotal statements on lists that participation is very low, I
> believe it has been stated many times that it is something like 10% or
> less.  I don't see why the W3C would be adverse to releasing a  
> generalized
> statistic like this if not - perhaps Jeff or someone can just fill in  
> rough
> ideas over the last 5 elections ala.
> Election 1:  N1% of members cast votes in the election 1: X% cast all
> available votes, Y% cast a single vote, Z% cast more than one, but less
> than the total number of available seats.
> That is totally anonymous in every way but would provide enough  
> information
> to prove or disprove a lot of speculation - it might actually inspire  
> some
> people to vote, which is also a good thing.  If not, could W3C please
> provide a rationale as to why this is not acceptable?
> [snip]
>>  On several occasions now i have heard people cite recent elections.
>>> The fact that candidates and folks like myself actively made an effort
>>> to turn out the vote and collaborated and discussed importance out in
>>> the open on issues is a perfectly rational explanation, but there is
>>> adamant insistence it seems that somehow the system is rigged or
>>> something.
>> "Something".
>> I strongly believe it is not "rigged" in the sense that "someone is
>> cheating".
>> The system we have now is known[1] to give slates of candidates  
>> landslide
>> victories, leading to a situation where elections tend toward two slates
>> of candidates (because only irrational actors would bother to run except
>> on a slate that was likely to win).
>> Hmm... This seems contradictory to the data.  Previously: Not enough
> candidates.  Then we have organization which creates 'slates' who  
> actually
> work hard/cooperate toward a vision and, !surprise! they win.  Now we  
> have
> more candidates than seats - are there suddenly a great many more
> irrational actors?  I dont think so.  I think there is a kind of genuine
> interest and somewhat a healthy tug of debate on purpose/vision/etc.
>> It *appears* that this is happening to the elected bodies of W3C,
>> meaning that they are the candidates selected only by the largest single
>> voting bloc within the membership. In elections where there are more  
>> than
>> 2 candidates per seat, that may well be a minority of those who vote.
> Literally every preferential system would be better than the one we have  
> -
> especially if there were some generalized information made available so
> that those elected had a sense of things.  I think there are some other
> biases here as well - while we have an election, people are actively
> criticized for 'campaigning' (that is, making efforts beyond a couple of
> paragraphs which are mostly about their background) but actually still
> generally rewarded with votes for doing so because it is the main channel
> available to the actual voters.  At the same time, folks like myself who
> have an interest really have no "broad channel" to ACs.  You might say
> "well, you're not an AC, so why would you have access to the AC forum" -
> that's absolutely true - but, for example, what about candidates like  
> Boaz
> or Lea who are *candidates* without that ability who aren't part of the
> member org who nominated them to help give developers a fighting change  
> --
> that's a pretty uphill battle for them... more like a giant mountain -  
> and
> not because they are bad candidates....
> Yes. People have asked for such experiments, and been told to explain the
>> problem first.
>> Uncircling the wagons in this chain of argument and getting some real
>> data would indeed be helpful. Sadly, as far as I can tell it won't  
>> happen.
> If we can't do it officially, why can't we do it unofficially?  Setup a
> google form and send to the AC forum.... Any data seems better than no  
> data
> else we are just talking in circles.
>> Cheers
>> Chaals
>> --
>> Charles McCathie Nevile - Consultant (web standards) CTO Office, Yandex
>>         chaals@yandex-team.ru         Find more at http://yandex.com

Charles McCathie Nevile - web standards - CTO Office, Yandex
chaals@yandex-team.ru         Find more at http://yandex.com
Received on Monday, 26 May 2014 22:06:39 UTC

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