[EM] What have I started?!

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Mon Jan 22 06:45:24 PST 2007

At 04:53 AM 1/22/2007, Jan Kok wrote:
>On 1/21/07, Michael Ossipoff <mikeo2106 at msn.com> wrote:
> > How to vote? Range-Voting is ok for public elections, but it's no 
> good here,
> > because strategizers will take advantage of sincere voters. The purpose,
> > here, of RV would be to aggregate sincere ratings. But we won't be getting
> > sincere ratings. Or at least we'll probably get enough insincere ratings to
> > make nonsense out of the notion of aggregating sincere ratings. Some voters
> > will top-rate some options and bottom-rate the rest. Approvl is 
> incomparably
> > better here, because a sincere ballot is pretty much the same as 
> a strategic
> > one. No sucker-abuse problem.
>Mike, you're kidding, right? On the ELECTION-METHODS mailing list, you
>think there would be people who would vote honestly, using less than
>the full range available, who would not realize that they would be
>giving up some voting power if they did that?

There is no doubt in my mind that if we are going to poll 
multiple-choice questions, the ballot should be a Range ballot. The 
reason is that the result can then be analyzed by nearly all the 
methods that are proposed. If all methods agree, then there would be 
no doubt about our collective opinion! And we also would be measuring 
the *strength* of that opinion.

Strength is relevant. If we weakly prefer method A over B, and B is 
advantageous for some reason, such as simplicity or political 
expedience, then our opinion can be used to support B as well as A. 
If, instead, we merely report the "winner," valuable information is lost.

I have long argued that Free Associations shouldn't express, 
collectively, a controversial opinion, the possible exception being a 
consensus of qualified members. "Qualified member" could be variously 
defined; informally, at present, it would be everyone who cares 
enough to vote. By some definitions of "Free Association," the only 
qualification for membership is an interest in the topic, with the 
only remaining restriction being that one member may not legitimately 
pose as more than one.

There is, however, a fairly easy restriction on "qualified member" 
which would make it more difficult to put up sock puppets. It would 
be to, for example, restrict "qualified" membership to those who have 
posted on this list prior to a certain date, with new members being 
admitted by vote; I'd make it take a two-thirds majority to *reject* 
a "qualified" membership.

And, note, that "qualified" is only used in the context of analyzing 
polls. Essentially, in a Free Association, anyone can analyze polls 
any way they see fit, because they are *not*, in the presence of 
controversy, allowed to cause the Association as a whole to endorse 
some cause, such as the cause of Approval Voting. Rather, anyone can 
use the results of a poll for that purpose, with the Association only 
being interested in the accuracy of the report. "The Election Methods 
List voted Approval the number one method," would not be proper. 
Rather, what would be proper would be a report like, "68% of 
participating Election Methods List members considered Approval 
Voting to be the best election method," or whatever the poll content indicated.

My own opinion is that Range Polls are best when ratified, if 
"winners" are involved.

> > But unless we have consensus on that, or unless the list-owner specifies
> > BeatpathWinner, how do we choose? Well, we have a voting system here: Last
> > time we voted on voting systems, Approval won by landslide. It 
> was Condorcet
> > Winner, and won in RV, and by every rank-count we used.
>That seems like a reasonable argument, except that poll was several
>years ago, wasn't it? People's preferences may have changed.

It is quite possible to have a continuous poll, where voters can 
change their votes. It would be useful in this case, I think. But, 
I'll make this point again, the *question* should at least have 
majority approval before it is presented. Prior to that, there may be 
sub-questions. Standard deliberative process.

Which, as I've pointed out, will probably select both the Condorcet 
and Range winners as the question, even though theoretically these 
can differ. This is because most people will alter their choices and 
opinions based on what they learn from others, as part of the 
deliberative process. Deliberative process involves formal debate, 
not merely the informal discussion that we have here. One could say 
that deliberative process is involved, in a way, in the development 
of public wiki pages, as on Wikipedia. And I've seen plenty of cases 
where it would be far more efficient if the editors used *formal* 
process with a defined set of participants. Otherwise we see edit 
wars, a huge waste of time.

As to the list owner, the list has two aspects. The owner owns -- or, 
more likely, rents -- the mail server and the full subscription list. 
However, the owner does not own the *community.* This topic has been 
under discussion lately on the Email List Manager's list on 
yahoogroups. The community can, and sometimes should, act 
independently. A wise owner, in my opinion, will not only tolerate 
this, but will facilitate it.

If a group of people can freely interact, and take the time to do so, 
my opinion is that Truth will out. To the extent that there are 
restrictions on this interaction, aside from restrictions which 
preserve the freedom of the members, which includes freedom *not* to 
associate in some cases, there is, to that extent, impairment of the 
group consciousness.

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