[EM] Noise (Was: Credentials?)

Brian Olson bql at bolson.org
Thu Jan 18 12:38:30 PST 2007

Thank you for this moment of de-lurking.

I think we're in similar situations. I'm often not in the mood to wade 
thorugh "proof", especially if it's full of acronyms that apparently the 
author made up and is the sole user of, and might even just be proving a 
property I'm not sure I care about (properties also often shrouded in 
jargon I'd have to look up desipte having more-or-less read this list for 
the last couple years).

Your two points would be a fair mission statement for this list if we 
wanted to make one, but I think I usually see more of the theoretical 
investigation here. Mostly that has been analytical gedanken-elections, 
with a few contributions of statistics from simulations.

Mostly I take my advocacy elsewhere, to random politics blogs and 
discussions in meat-space. Some news there, my city is considering a total 
rebuild of its election infrastructure and if I am specially lucky I'll be 
able to get in rankings ballots for our Mayor and City Council elections 
(probably advocate Condorcet for Mayor, STV for council).

It's also hard to test out "explanaitons for the common man" on this 
group, since we all know the material too well.

And yeah, the flame wars are stupid, as are all participants therein 
(though they may yet be lucid and interesting at other times).

Brian Olson

On Thu, 18 Jan 2007, Nathan Herring wrote:

> 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.
> -nh
> ----
> election-methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info

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