Wiki Voting Discussion

We should all really get out the vote as much as possible! There's a great company trying to promote voting through some friendly competition amongst the different ideals... check them out Every shirt or tank-top gets a vote and then the Vote Apparel company makes a donation to which ever party sells the most t-shirts! Way cool! Wearing your vote and promoting voting -- such a great idea!

check Vote Apparel out and look at the independent versions of the t-shirts:


For current voting conventions, including the rules for a WikiWeightedVote, see WikiBallotBox.

I feel uneasy about every vote I see on Wiki. -- WayneConrad

I think that the idea of voting on Wiki is fundamentally flawed. Wiki is just too asynchronous. How do you tell everyone that it's time to vote? When do you take the final tally? How do you know whether the thing you are voting about was already decided five years ago? On Wiki we can put our voting and lobbying right into our writing.

On the other hand, putting up a vote (as long as it isn't taken very seriously and gets taken down pretty quickly) might be a good way to gauge interest on a topic. I don't know if the votes can really be used to decide an issue, but the act of calling a vote might be a good way to measure or stimulate interest. -- PhilGoodwin

Maybe voting is the wrong metaphor, Wiki is not (yet) an organized group that 'must decide' on anything. I kind [of] think that voting is something to be tied to membership, and that that would change the character of Wiki in fundamental ways. Now if someone wants to start a lightweight polling server that can be linked to from Wiki pages and that graphs activity over time... That's something else. -- LarryPrice

Authoritative votes on Wiki would be an idiotic idea. But informative votes are good as long as it is not crucial to have accurate information. For example, I've used the programming language vote to assess how easy it might be to find programmers for different languages.

There are two very different kinds of voting on Wiki. One is a simple count of agreeing voters, where a vote is simply a shorthand for "I also like this". This kind of vote is non-controversial and used frequently - see WikiGreatFoobarLists.

The other kind of vote attempts to decide a community disagreement. This kind of vote is controversial. There is a Wiki tradition of consensus decisions, with the possibility of a veto from the site owner. (I don't think Ward has overridden any community decisions, but he is generally considered to have that right.)

Decision-making voting could be considered a failure of consensus. Alternately, voting may be a useful tool to find a narrower consensus after attempts at a broad consensus fail. The narrower consensus may exclude some ideas, or even redefine the community by excluding people.

Not all Wiki contributions are welcome (See OpenDirFaq? and OpenSourceGameLibrary?), and some conflicts are hard to resolve (see WikiConsensus). The Wiki community values consensus, but it is not restricted to consensual action. -- CliffordAdams

Decision-making voting could be considered a failure of consensus.

When a new Wiki-ite failed to see silence about proposed changes as a no, we held a vote to speak. Silence as a consensus tool only works for those willing to hear silence as a no. Even in that situation, respectful comments would be preferable to a jump to vote. Maybe we have learned something today.

And, ironically, silence is also used as assent, to avoid cluttering the pages with 'I agree with X'. I am tempted to add more to the WikiConsensus page about how silence is used on Wiki, for both agreement and disagreement. It takes someone very mindful of nuance to tell which is which. -- AnonymousDonor

... and sometimes, silence is simply apathetic disdain...

A very special way of saying... disagreement, right?

I wonder if it is a problem that Wiki voting is convention that people have to understand. I don't like having lots of conventions. I worry that systems that get lots of conventions seem to attract people who like to create and enforce conventions.

I also wonder whether voting is necessary. I agree with you that it can be a good way to gauge interest, but perhaps a better way is to see how much change is happening to the page. Maybe some people are different, but I don't tend to contribute much to discussions in which I am disinterested.

When used to persuade, I think that voting is a very blunt instrument. It is as if to say, "I can't persuade you by my argument, so instead I ask you to accept my idea because more people agree with my idea than agree with your idea." At least when compared to persuasion by argument, this seems heavy handed and not very convincing.

When used to collect demographics, voting is less offensive to me, but not very useful. I don't get much value from knowing that Smalltalk is a diminutive minority, or from any other statistic. I like a forum that gives weight to ideas without regard for how odd or unpopular they are. That puts a premium on ideas that are new, interesting, and well stated; it deprecates the commonplace and well known. I like that.

Thanks for listening. Your thoughts are, as always, very welcome. -- WayneConrad

90% of the time silence works well in my view. Two situations where it doesn't seem to work so well though are:

Was this a self-reflective comment re: RefactorFasterDeleteMore? No, in that my impression is that the tentative suggestions there met something more like 50/50 in terms of response. But yes, in that I would be very happy to take part in a vote that sought to prove that guesstimate wrong.

Although I see TwoTouchVoting as an amusingly flawed remedy for such ills I have to confess that its overall effect on WikiProposals? has encouraged me that it may have its place, used wisely, in such situations. I welcome this discussion though.

-- RichardDrake

I agree that your goal was a good one. I don't like extra rules above the bare minimum needed to get the job done. I do think that there are some simpler ways to achieve these goals, though.

When someone is doing something on Wiki that you don't like, I think starting a vote on the matter is a weak solution. Better would be to send them a kindly worded message in email or leave it on their WikiHomePage. This has the advantage of being in English, not requiring any special semantics, and is without the appearance of parliamentary maneuvering. -- WayneConrad

Would the "better way" have involved more or less of everyone's time? TwoTouchVoting is a very economic way for someone to learn that their latest, greatest idea isn't just an anathema to one Wiki-ite, but to n, where n in this case rose to the dizzy heights of 6, even with yours removed!

Except of course when you add a lot of discussion on the voting itself. And that should not be required next time. If there is a next time. -- Richard

Haha! Good point - we can't make any claim to economic efficiency here. I agree with everything you said - I learned a lot and enjoyed the interchange. -- WayneConrad --

They increase peoples' understanding of each others attitudes and opinions. In some cases, understanding is more important than action, as I'm sure you'll agree.

But people cannot act on items they are not aware of, cannot prioritize action until they know what people are most concerned about, and cannot act correctly until they understand the issue. Having said that, yes, most WikiVote?s are useless; AnnoyingWikiFeatureVote was responsible for simplifying bulleted list formatting.

Polls decrease [ed: original FreudianTypo: decreate] understanding of each others' attitudes and opinions. As adults, we all know when you ask someone for their opinion, there could be a million reasons that lead to that opinion. We also believe that it is possible to skew a poll with its wording because we all know we have complex reasons for a decision. Yet, a poll narrows that down to just one scalar value, and then for some reason, we suddenly accept that. Polls only work well with large samples, and even then they have to be carefully constructed so that they are accurate. This is why there are professional polling companies with Ph.D.s in sociology helping tweak the surveys correctly. WikiVoting doesn't get you very far. It is an ultimatum. It is a good way to say "I don't care about your opinion, just do you agree with mine or not?" Instead, talk it out as if you actually care about other people. It helps if you actually care about other people. -- SunirShah

Sunir is Correct [*]

Sunir is Incorrect [*]

I don't care []

This is humor [*]
Not talking instead of voting, or voting instead of talking. Talking and voting, see it as a game (just like the whole story), an additional source of information about what the others think. Scale voting 1 - 10, I agree more, I agree less, make dynamic graphics on the development and the diffusion of a voting (for those who love to write code). A result means nothing else than an additional info source, do not make anything dependent on a votes result. It can be completely distorted. Talk and vote and talk. Great to see you voting here btw, I just discovered it. I was hoping for that. We have to learn to do it and to interpret and use the results. 040505 22:32 UTC, +01h -- MattisManzel

See also: TheTroubleWithConsensus, RomanEvaluation

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