[tl;dr votOmat is a new community tool, designed to inform voters about the CSM8 elections. It is especially suited to the new STV voting system and compares your preferences as a voter to the platforms of the running candidates.]
This year’s election of the New Eden Council of Stellar Management (CSM) draw close and for the first time players will be able to cast their votes in the new Single Transferable Vote (Wright-STV) system as announced in CCP_Dolan’s DevBlog from the 21st february. This system will allow voters to specify a ranked list of up to 14 candidates. Each voter (each paying account) still has exactly one vote but the STV algorithm can figure out when a candidate has enough collected votes to ensure him or her a seat on the council. In that case — if for example the first candidate on your list already has enough votes to ensure a seat — your vote will be given to the second candidate on your list. If that guy already is elected the vote will be transferred to the third and so forth until a candidate makes good use of the vote. The system thus attempts to minimize the number of “wasted” votes. If you want to know more details visit the links above.
In practice the system gives you the chance to name 14 candidates and on top of that you will have to rank them in a meaningful order! While you might already have ideas on one or two candidates you would like to see elected it would be a shame and defeat the purpose of the new system to submit only a short list of candidates. So how to choose which candidates to put onto your list and in which order?
To be absolutely clear: The choice which candidates to put down in which order is your very own right and responsibility. I assume that you want to make an informed choice and put those candidates on the list that you believe would best represent your voice on the council. But how to figure out who of the many candidates stand for what? Who agrees with the points that are important to you, be it your wishes for the future development of the game or your ideas of how the council should operate?
The votOmat – a tool to inform voters
The CSM8 votOmat has been designed to help you gathering and sorting this kind of information and come up with an ordered list of candidates, which best represents your own preferences. The method used has originally been developed by the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (link in German) and is routinely used since 2002 to inform voters on state and national elections in Germany. Its key concept is a questionnaire which is presented to candidates and voters alike making it possible to have a direct comparison between voter preferences and the running platforms.
We have implemented a version adapted to the needs of the CSM8 election and designed a questionnaire containing 38 statements and questions about EVE Online and the CSM. We have tried to cover a wide range of topics from different areas of the game and the metagame:
- A look back on the past year
- Highsec, Wars and Security
- Lowsec and Faction Warfare
- Wormhole space
- The role of the CSM
- Future developments of the game including DUST514 and CREST
For each question there is a predefined set of answers from which exactly one has to be chosen. An example is shown below.
The candidates are forced to make a decision and we tried deliberately to make this decision a difficult one. Often you might want to choose two answers at once, but no, you’ll have to make decisions! The limited set of answers is the price we have to pay in order to get a result that is directly comparable to voter’s preferences and which enables us to define a metric by which to measure agreement between your opinions and the candidates’ answers. But, of course, we are aware that EVE is a complex game and often it is not easy to give a simple answer to any questions. Thus, candidates have the (optional) possibility for each question to supply a short statement explaining the reasons for their answers and possible additional thoughts they have on the topic. These “reasons” cannot be taken into account for the automatic ranking that is calculated based on the voter’s preferences (see below) but they are available as additional information for those who want to dive deeper into the complexities of EVE politics. For candidates they are a perfect way to show off their knowledge of the game and their talent of communication. For reasons of fairness reasons will be limited to 500 characters per question.
Currently the candidates are filling in their data and we already have received very interesting answers. Again, for fairness a candidate can during that period only see his or her own answers. If you are a candidate and have not yet received an invitation, please contact Chirality Tisteloin in game as soon as possible. Data submission is still possible until the 30th of March. The final votOmat will only list candidates that make it through the pre-election.
Once the final ballot is announced on the 3rd of April, the full questionnaire will become available to the electorate. Voters can then fill in their own answers for the very same questions that have been asked of the candidates. They will also be able to specify questions that they find to be of particular importance, thus further customizing the tool to their personal preferences. Finally, in the good old tradition of Spreadsheets Online the results will be presented as a big table showing you not only a ranked list of the candidates which best agree with you, but also all the individual answers of the candidates. You can review the full text of the question, a candidate’s answer and his reason (if supplied) by clicking into the table. Here is an example from the slightly tongue-in-cheek demo-campaign that is currently online at crowdcortex.net/votOmat/default/index.
We hope this concise presentation of the results will be useful when thinking about your list of candidates. If it draws your attention to a candidate you have not considered so far but who seems to have good agreement with your preferences, you might want to do more research on that one. We will provide links, where you can find details about the individual campaigns. On the Crossing Zebras website, for example, you will find links to the candidates’ campaign announcements and detailed interviews conducted by Xander Phoena.
Last but not least, the votOmat should be used as a tool to get new players interested and informed about the election. A high turnout is essential to provide the CSM with the legitimacy it needs to represent player opinion to CCP. Go and spread the word! Link to the votOmat website in your blogs, corp and alliance forums on comms or where ever you happen to hang out on the interwebs. Announce it in your local chat and anchor labeled cans in trade hubs. Create contracts that mention the CSM election and get people to vote!
Politics can be fun! Fly smart! Chira.
Some technical details
For those of you who are interested how the metric for the ranking calculation is defined here we go: First realize there are two different types of questions in the current implementation of the votOmat. The first type are “Exclusive” questions like the one shown above. For these questions there is no obvious ordering between the possible answers. You either agree on the answer or you don’t. What is meassured for the individual questions is the disagreement rather than the agreement. For an exclusive question this means if I give the same answer as you the disagreement is 0, otherwise it is 1.
The second type of questions are “Ranked” questions, where the possible answers can be arranged on a scale. A typical example would be
To compare ranked answers one can define a “level” of disagreement. To be precise, the answers are arranged linearly on a scale. In the example above: “Problematic” = 0, “Inconsequential” = 1, “Important” = 2 and “Essential” = 3. The disagreement for such an answer is calculated as the squared distance between answers on this scale, normalized, such that the maximum disagreement is again 1. For example if you answer the question above (n=4 possible answers) with “Important” (y=2) and I answer with “Problematic” (x=0) our disagreement is
Before the final result is calculated the voter can choose an arbitrary number of questions, which are particularly important to him or her. Those questions will receive a double weighting in the calculation of the total disagreement between the voter’s answers and each candidate’s answers. The weighted disagreements are summed up and subtracted from the maximal possible disagreement (depends on how much answers have been weighted). Dividing by the maximal possible disagreement yields an agreement in percent. And this is the number used to rank the candidates.