[EM] Noise (Was: Credentials?)

Nathan Herring nh.94 at alum.dartmouth.org
Thu Jan 18 02:40:03 PST 2007

On 1/17/07 8:30 PM, "Kevin Venzke" <stepjak at yahoo.fr> wrote:

> --- "Brandon J. Van Every" <bvanevery at gmail.com> a écrit :
>> I Googled randomly for something, and the title seemed
>> reasonable.
>> This kind of back-and-forth has convinced me that your list has no value
>> whatsoever.  I'm unsubscribing.  I suggest you go to a moderated format
>> and put a muzzle on people who are precipitating this kind of nonsense.
>> The credibility of your list may be at stake.
> This guy seems like a piece of work. "The credibility of your list may
> be at stake"? Did he forget that he told us he just found us by googling
> randomly, and that he's convinced the list has no value whatsoever?
> Bah.

Perhaps "no value whatsoever" is an overstatement, but the signal-to-noise
ratio dramatically dips on a regular basis here.

Even when there is an apparent signal, the content is difficult for me to
decipher. Admittedly, I've only my CS undergrad degree, and not an advanced
degree in Mathematics. But I hope that those of you who are, or who have
nonetheless instructed yourselves about election methods, wade through the
terminology and context-sensitive shorthand, which seems to be missing a
glossary for the most part. I'm sure I don't always want the rigor of a full
proof, but I think it shouldn't be an invalid request to ask for one for
assertions people make on the list, and furthermore that it shouldn't
"stand" until all of the semantics issues have been ironed out (definitions
for all of the words, associations of variable names to what quantities they
represent, etc.)

I don't want to put the kibosh on discussion here -- if you have a nifty
algorithm that seems to work and you want to share, great, I suppose. But
that's still a far cry from showing it's the "best" or "most appropriate"
(or in one of those equivalence classes).

If there are established goals for this list's existence, I would hope they
would include:
1) Advancing the state-of-the-art and/or research in new mechanisms for
voting scenarios.
2) Advancing the understanding-of-the-art by objective and hopefully
practical/meaningful comparisons of various mechanisms in various voting
scenarios, by both (a) experts, and (b) non-experts, including non-math
experts, seeking to understand these systems so they can _enact changes in
their local legislative bodies_ by replacing outdated and objectively worse
systems with new ones mentioned, analyzed and weighed here.

As it stands, it appears in addition to the above we have some one-shot
ideas that fizzle (at least insofar as online discussion is concerned) as
well as flame wars over inflated egos. As far as I am concerned, the
doctor's robe is not a license to badger or berate, and if that behavior is
being perpetrated on you, many people on this list _can already recognize
that_. There's no need to enter into such noise generation as a "defense";
further clarification and elucidation of the algorithms is the only defense
I'm interested in.

Now to go back to lurking, and seeing if I can pick my way through
understanding these methods you're discussing, and the analyses thereof.


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