[EM] The poll is a good idea--suggestions for a better one

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Fri Jun 17 06:46:09 PDT 2005

About the sequence of options on the wiki poll:

One of the features of a wiki (though some consider it a bug) is that any 
reader who seriously doesn't like some aspect of a page (in this case, of a 
poll) can simply change it.

Yes, it's nice if a major change involves some discussion first, though it 
is not required. Absent the discussion, though, a change is only a problem 
if other users themselves seriously object to it, for they can likewise 
change it back. At this point the most common thing is that discussion 
starts. If a change war starts, ultimately, moderator intervention can 
become necessary. That is rare.

So if a user thinks the sequence is inappropriate, probably the most 
efficient response is to change it. If the user is right (i.e., the 
sequence will skew the results), then this is potentially a problem with 
the poll itself and changing it will either fix it, or bring the fact out 
for discussion. If the user is wrong, it is also a reasonable outcome that 
nobody else thinks the sequence matters, in which case no further 
interaction is required on the issue.

We are accustomed to complaining about things we don't like. Certainly 
that's not always unreasonable, but when we can actually make the change 
ourselves, it does become a little ... whiny? ... to complain about it. The 
state of nature is, in matters like this, disarray. Complaining about the 
state of nature is like complaining about being born.

(This is not intended to criticize any individual, but to point out 
something that I think important in considering political organization. The 
usual problem is the non-existence of a desirable organization, and 
complaining about that is tantamount to complaining about the state of 
nature. Not terribly functional, unless it leads to organizing action. 
Which it usually doesn't.)

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