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Don't disclose election results (was: Disclosing election results -- a voice of caution)

From: Robin Berjon <robin@berjon.com>
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2014 18:18:44 +0200
Message-ID: <538DF564.4070407@berjon.com>
To: public-w3process@w3.org

given my other positions it may come as a surprise that I would be 
*against* transparency in this case, but I really am.

I understand the arguments in favour, I think pretty well. Most of them 
stem from comparisons with countries (or other large bodies), from the 
fact that transparency trumps all other considerations, or from some 
belief that this would enhance openness. I think that all of these 
points are very, very wrong.

You cannot compare an election involving a maximum of 400 voters (and 
usually fewer than 100) with that of a far larger body. The scale means 
that you can easily guess what is going on. You might not know exactly 
who didn't vote for you, but you can know that in that group of ten 
smiling folks who patted you on the back and said they'd vote for you, 
at least five didn't.

I have peeked behind the curtains. There are cases in which it would be 
pretty brutal to reveal the results. I have seen some people who are 
both well-known and (as far as I know) well-loved in the community get 
really low numbers. People might really like and respect you but think 
that you're not the right /type/ of candidate at this moment in time. 
But that's a hard thing to convince yourself of.

Presumably for precisely this sort of reason, I have seen people not 
vote for one of their close friends. Deanonymising might have made them 
feel obliged to vote for that person. Sure enough a politician getting 
trounced can be tough, but you're trounced mostly by total strangers. If 
you've been a part of this community and you get five votes, you'll feel 
trounced by your friends.

I place transparency in the same bag as other values like democracy. 
They're values through what they enable, not in and of themselves. And 
in the same way that there are things you're better off not voting on, 
there are things you're better off not making public. This is one of 
those. Transparency would only be a plus if there is anyone who suspects 
W3C is tampering with the results (in which case we also need to move 
away from electronic voting). I don't think that's the case here.

Finally, I think that openness is much more important than transparency. 
In many cases transparency does help open things up — but not always. A 
system is open when it is conducive to participation. That's why I've 
made the case that specifications that aren't under a commons license 
can't claim to be open standards, and neither can specifications that 
are needlessly monolithic and complex (like HTML), despite other open 
parts of the process and patent policy they might benefit from.

In this case I am pretty sure that transparency would actively deter 
participation. People would get hurt for no good reason. People would 
hesitate to risk their career paths. And I don't see what problem it solves.

So, please, let's not make the results transparent. There's plenty of 
*other* things we need to make the election more open. The first of them 
is that non-AC candidates should be subscribed to the AC lists for the 
duration of the campaign.

Robin Berjon - http://berjon.com/ - @robinberjon
Received on Tuesday, 3 June 2014 16:19:25 UTC

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