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Re: [vox] [fwd] Linux Journal Readers' Choice Awards final voting
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Re: [vox] [fwd] Linux Journal Readers' Choice Awards final voting

Redirected on list.

on Fri, Jul 01, 2005 at 02:04:02PM -0700, Jonathan Stickel (jjstickel@sbcglobal.net) wrote:
> Karsten M. Self wrote:
> >on Fri, Jul 01, 2005 at 08:04:31AM -0700, Jonathan Stickel 
> >(jjstickel@sbcglobal.net) wrote:
> >
> >>Karsten M. Self wrote:
> >>
> >>>on Thu, Jun 30, 2005 at 04:26:28PM -0700, Bill Kendrick (nbs@sonic.net) 
> >>>wrote:
> >
> >
> >[LJ Readers' Choice final round notice]
> >
> >
> >>>I've looked over the choices.
> >>>
> >>>I think I'm going to vote "none of the above" in most categories.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>I don't mind an instant-runoff type selection.  I don't like being
> >>>forced to choose between two options I really don't particularly care
> >>>for.  I mean, we get to do that on systems that don't count our votes
> >>>every November _anyway_.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>
> >>Uh, I think this /is/ a runoff election.  If you wanted to choose 
> >>something else, you needed to vote in earlier rounds.
> >
> >...and you presume I didn't why?
> >
> Because you complained about your choices, implying you thought you
> didn't have a chance to choose something else.  But you did.  

...and I did.

> Just not anymore.  That's how a runoff election works, whether its
> instant runoff or traditional runoff.  In instant runoff, your first
> choice no longer counts as soon as it is no longer near the top.

This presumes one views the voting mechanism as valid, and that there is
no role to protest same.

In most political elections among candidate choices (e.g.:  not an
up/down vote on a referrendum), the option remains to make a write-in

There are also instant-run-off systems which avoid the artificial
constraints imposed by the current LJ ballot.  If WindowMaker is my
preferred desktop, and I'm allowed to rank my top three preferences,
including multiples, I may well specify WindowMaker three times, rather
than make an arbitrary choice between two alternatives I really don't
care for, and certainly don't use to any extent.

I generally dislike simple ballot-count selection mechanisms.  They
convey very little information, they don't provide much in the way of
shading or nuance, and they don't reflect well on lesser-known, but
qualified, alternatives.  Don't know if the Sacto News & Review still
runs its readers' choice polls, but I remember McD's and Taco Bell
routinely winning the "best restaurant" selection.

If you want to vote for "the restaurant most likely to be attended by
our readers", that's a fair measure.  If you want to vote for
"restaurant with exceptional (food | service | ambiance | location |
entertainment | whatever)", you'll find that an unweighted vote is
actually pretty meaningless, as most of your options get lost in the

To give a more familiar example, we don't rate students by voting on
who's best, they're assigned grades on work completed, using a number of
evaluation criteria, by different judges (teachers / instructors /
professors), in a number of situations (classes), over a number of
years.  It's still not a perfect measure, but it does a hell of a lot
better a job of capturing a complex, multidimensional concept.

You can still choose valedictorian as a "single best", but results are
almost certainly different from what one-time popular poll would select.

Having worked and played with numbers for years, I'm very, very leary of
simple, single-point statistics which claim to be meaningful in any
degree.  If given a choice between two alternatives, neither of which
are in the least appealing, I see no reason I shouldn't enter at the
very least "none of the above", if not an actual preference.

Part of this gets back to one of the compelling advantages of FSF Free
Software:  *NOT* being constrained to arbitrary choices in software,
tools, architectures, or other aspects of your computing environment.

This is probably more verbage than needs to be made over one magazines
unofficial preferences poll, but numerical idiocy bugs me, particularly
when it attempts to portray _my_ views as something they're not.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Bye bye boys!  Have fun storming the castle!
    - Princess Bride

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