Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2011/Feedback

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Emblem-WikiVote.svg 2011 Arbitration Committee Elections

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  • Thank you for participating in the 2011 Arbitration Committee Election. The results have been verified and published.
  • Please offer your feedback on the Election process.



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This page is for feedback on the December 2011 Arbitration Committee elections from all involved. Constructive reviews, comments and suggestions for future elections are most welcome.

Feedback by role[edit]

Voters[edit]

Editors who voted in the election are invited to give feedback below on the aspects of the election unique to being a voter.
Couldn't find the positions of the candidates at all. Based my vote on Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2011/Candidates/Discussion and if I liked the name - very hard to figure out a stance. Outback the koala (talk)
At the poll, you should have been greeted with a list of candidates in the format "Username • Statement • Questions • Discussion"; the "statement" link describes why they are running, and the "questions" link leads to their positions on the issues. The "Discussion" pages have not been very often used thus far. You might want to go to Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2011/Candidates, read the statements and follow the links to get a better idea of the candidates. You can revisit your vote after as often as you want. Hope this helps, Skomorokh 00:30, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Also, it says nowhere when the voting ends. When is that? Outback the koala (talk) 00:24, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Saturday; it says so on the main election page. Skomorokh 00:30, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Saturday, December 10, that is. Neutron (talk) 01:58, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
It is a long process but if you're willing to read through the questions and answers it becomes quite satisfying! The amount of effort voters are required to put in, however, might dissuade the casual editor from bothering. I have to say, though, it is a very well run operation and I commend the community for the way in which the process has been carried out. doktorb wordsdeeds 10:39, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Glad to hear that, doktorbuk; is there anything we can do to make things easier on voters do you think? Skomorokh 13:30, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
I found that simply reading each candidate's statement, bouncing back to the previous page to vote, skipping the unmemorable candidates, and marking each line, in turn, it was not too hard to express my vote. It wqs quite useful to have the default set, so that my current line to vote on was obvious. At the end, I simply returned to the previous page, changed all the defaults to oppose, and exited. .--Ancheta Wis (talk) 21:15, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

I have not yet voted, but this seems to be the correct section. I am finding it very difficult to research the candidates, because every time I return to the main page, it randomizes the order and I can't find my place.Mzk1 (talk) 20:51, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Have you tried using a separate tab or window? Alternatively, you could browse the candidates in a fixed order here, and then return to the ballot once you have made your choices. Hope this helps, Skomorokh 21:05, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Thank you.Mzk1 (talk) 21:40, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Word limit was too short by half. Questions section was too long. Carrite (talk) 04:26, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
  • It was fine. (Except for the results taking too long to announce -- hanging chads in the mainframe?) Nobody Ent (Gerardw) 02:56, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
  • What's the point of the "scrutineering" phase, and why is it taking so long? Doesn't the poll software automatically check all of the voting requirements? TotientDragooned (talk) 17:43, 17 December 2011 (UTC)
    • The scrutineers take a look at every voter to make sure that they're not sockpuppets. Just because all the listed accounts meet the number of edits requirement dosen't mean that one user isn't voting 37 times with 37 accounts. Methinks they found something, if they're taking this long. Sven Manguard Wha? 08:12, 18 December 2011 (UTC)
150 otherwise good edits/vote strikes me as a rather high price to pay to "buy" extra votes with sockpuppets. I doubt that's a problem on any significant scale. TotientDragooned (talk) 14:54, 18 December 2011 (UTC)
The voter log shows only cerca 10 accounts stricken as possible tetragrammatonish CSRFs (Cross-site request forgeries).  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 15:35, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Candidates[edit]

Editors who stood as candidates in the election are invited to give feedback below on the aspects of the election unique to being a candidate.
It seemed a bit odd to me that the mandatory parts of our statement (identification commitment, account disclosure) counted against our word limit. I'd typed mine up assuming these wouldn't count against me, but then had to shorten it. Not sure if any other candidates felt the same... Hersfold (t/a/c) 05:42, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
It wasn't an issue for me, but I feel the same way. Hot Stop talk-contribs 05:43, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
The disclosures did not count in the word limit. This might not have been made sufficiently clear at the beginning. Skomorokh 13:40, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
and now the results are in and I'm even more safely not on arbcom here is my feedback. Most in regards to questions:
http://geniice.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/arbcom-election-reflections/
©Geni 22:33, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Thought I'd drop a bit of feedback on my experiences. As a candidate, things were pretty much as I expected. I ran because I thought I could make a difference and thought that even if I didn't get in, I'd get some good feedback. The difficulty was that it was such a long drawn out process, I felt fairly exhausted by the end of it. There were loads of questions, but almost none that were individual to me - which certainly disincentivized me, believing the answers were unlikely to be read. The feedback I got from most of the guides was that I didn't have enough experience - and that is a fair comment. Having said that, I do wonder about the guides in general, whether more guidance should be given to the writers and some standard should be expected before putting them on the template. Some were excellent others were just used to complain about old grudges. This even lead to the "guide on guides" concept - and I think a "guide on guide on guides" somewhere... there's clearly something wrong in that. WormTT · (talk) 11:26, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

Election volunteers[edit]

The scrutineers, election administrators and election coordinators are invited to comment on their experiences below.

Feedback by topic[edit]

RFC[edit]

General note on the RfC for the 2012 election - It should be made explicit now, so that it's on the record for a whole year, that things decided in the 2011 RfC will be the default way that the elections are run in 2012. The only way to make changes to the next election when an issue was decided this election is through that RfC, or by getting the ArbCom constitution (which as policy overrules the election RfC) changed. Consequently, when that RfC is started, there will be no need to start threads there intent on keeping things the same as they were in 2011 (about a quarter of the 2011 RfC was devoted to ratifying things that were already previously decided, and for which no other options were put up for contention). Sven Manguard Wha? 02:25, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Unanticipated Vacancies[edit]

For next year, the main RFC should plan for unanticipated vacancies to avoid a last minute problem like we are having this year. The RFC should consider the deadline after which newly opening seats will not be filled, and term length for both open seats and potentially open seats. Monty845 16:48, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. Sven Manguard Wha? 02:18, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
There also should be discussion of a vacancy-filling mechanism, so that the consequences of not filling a seat in an election are greatly reduced or eliminated. Neutron (talk) 02:28, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Codification[edit]

We should have another RfC sometime after the election in order to codify the election procedures and requirements. A page entitled "Wikipedia:Arbitration_Committee_Elections" should be created. We presently have pages such as WT:RfA, where users can suggest changes all-year-round. This would offer users more opportunities to suggest reforms, and it would happen on a centralized talk page. Presently, we only have RfC's considering ArbCom elections once a year, and at a time (ie. October) when it's too late to propose anything complicated or revolutionary. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 02:30, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

I have started to work on a possible one here. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 14:17, 28 November 2011 (UTC)
This is great idea and one that has occurred independently to several of the other election co-ordinators. We can't expect the community to foresee every technicality and loophole in an opinion-oriented RfC under time-pressure. And such technicalities are important to tie down, as the vacant seats issue this year and the WMF identification issue last year shows. But in a well-documented and codified elections policy could anticipate such scenarios and establish procedures and safeguards for dealing with them ahead of time. Skomorokh 14:53, 28 November 2011 (UTC)
I have finished the first draft of my proposed policy at User:Od Mishehu/Arbitration Committee Elections. All users are welcome to comment about it at User talk:Od Mishehu/Arbitration Committee Elections. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 05:51, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
A second attempt has been made at coding the policy. Please review User:Od Mishehu/Arbitration Committee Elections, and express your opinions at User talk:Od Mishehu/Arbitration Committee Elections. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 21:18, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
If you want wide-ranging feedback, you will need more than just the people reading this page. See Wikipedia:Publicizing discussions for some options. Carcharoth (talk) 14:38, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

We do have Wikipedia:Elections for those interested in the general topic. Carcharoth (talk) 14:38, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

Voter guides[edit]

We opted for a liberal approach to voter guides and their inclusion in the election template this year. The co-ordinators fielded some concerns about guides being unfair, inaccurate or personal attacks, but most guides seemed uncontroversially received, with reasonable interaction between guide writers and candidates. What do people think of how guides were handled this year, and are there ways we can improve for future elections? Skomorokh 00:43, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

Skomorokh wrote me the following message, in the office of election coordinator, with the heading "Urgent: your election guide", on 28 November 2011:
Hello Kiefer.
The election coordinators have been contacted by several editors regarding your election guide at User:Kiefer.Wolfowitz/AC. I have been asked as an impartial outsider to review your guide and to intercede with you to forestall otherwise imminent administrator action. While I'm not convinced that it is an outright attack page, given that you describe many of the candidates in objective and complimentary terms, the concerns that your guide strays from a good faith effort at informing voters into personal attack territory in several places are borne out.
Specifically, your comments regarding Worm That Turned are concerning. Standing for ArbCom involves a certain amount of rough and tumble, and perceptions backed up by evidence that a guide writer feels the candidate has not behaved admirably (i.e. your charge of POV-pushing) are to be expected. The comment that "this acquiescence gives the appearance of partisanship and double-standards" for instance, is carefully phrased in a way that evaluates the candidate without being needlessly insulting.
However, you make several outright personal attacks that are not remotely acceptable. That the candidate has "pushed his personal issues with passionate intensity & frequent tunnel-vision and occasional clumsiness", "frequent moralistic preening and passive-aggressions", "frenetic welcoming & grooming of new (often child) editors". These are just examples; the section as a whole, contrasted with the treatment of the other candidates, reads as the continuation of a personal vendetta rather than a service to voters.
I have no history of note with either yourself nor the candidates you criticise, but I seriously think this material is out of line. Given your history of personal animosity with Worm That Turned I would ask you to redact the unacceptable analysis you have given at present and consider whether you can in good conscience offer voters impartial advice on this candidate.
Sincerely,
Skomorokh
Consequently, I rephrased the section on WTT so that it only described past behavior.
Skomorokh did fail to reply to my simple question: "Which other guide-writers have you contacted?" However, it seems that Skomorokh's friend Sven Mamguard removed many personal attacks from his guide, probably as a result of another intervention by an election coordinator. Thus, I believe Skomorokh behaved entirely honorably and impartially (although many a few of his later statements in this email were objectionable could have been improved... 22:22, 11 December 2011 (UTC)).
In contrast, Election Coordinator Tznakai threatened to have a temper tantrum "if the guides continue to become a major source of useless partisan conflict instead of informative guides for voters, I may de-list them all" in again removing links from Monty's user space, blustering bullshit. I reminded Tznakai that Monty had actually edited the 30th, after I had added my links the 29th, to which Tznakai blustered more bullshit "that appears to be untrue or at best deceptive". Monty confirmed that he had noticed my links. Tznakai should never again be an election coordinator.
Sincerely,  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 15:26, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
Kiefer, Tznkai was being forthright about his views on the merits of the guides. His comments did not say anything wrong, nor say anything substantively different from Skomorokh's. As a candidate, I felt more emphasis was placed on guides this year than on anything else, which is wrong; and frankly your comment here only reaffirmed my earlier belief that your involvement in this election was mildly POINTy at best. You might want to look at the bigger picture, and consider the value of your input regarding guides and co-ordinators. Regards, AGK [•] 20:51, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
AGK,
Tznakai's "at best deceptive" is incompatible with WP:AGF, which I link for you. If you tried to refer to WP:Point, then you also misunderstood that guideline. A pity that you did not share your misgivings and misunderstandings, when the elections were in progress and you were receiving an endorsement that you should have properly declined.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 21:31, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
Without commenting on Kiefer's other points, I do agree that I was very uncomfortable with Tznkai's threat to delist all guides, based on what was really a very limited dispute in the grand scheme of things.[1] --Elonka 21:37, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Proposal: transparency. All guide writers should be required to prominently disclose in their guide if they have ever been a named party to any dispute heard by ArbCom in the past. All guide writers should be required to prominently disclose in their guide if they have ever been sanctioned by ArbCom or any candidate in the current election, and the current state of any such sanctions.
    Reasoning: anyone should be able to post a guide... but the voters should not have to go digging into the guide writers' background to ascertain their impartiality. Jclemens (talk) 19:39, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

Guide visibility[edit]

I was surprised to see the comments in the #Voters section above, that some voters had trouble researching the candidates. Perhaps this is because the vote links go straight to the candidate pages (example), and the template there doesn't have any mention of the guides. For next year, perhaps we should add the guide section that is in {{ACE2011}} also to {{ACEcan}}, and also post the ACE2011 template at pages such as Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2011/Candidates/Discussion? --Elonka 21:32, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

Guide statistics[edit]

Voter guide statistics, by visits

Here's the first draft of a rough chart that I created showing the traffic to the voter guides, from November 12 – December 11. This is a raw count of visits according to http://stats.grok.se. I made no allowance for those guides which were only up for a portion of the election, and just went by simple total. By this rough count, the six most viewed guides were those by:

FYI, --Elonka 09:41, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

Thanks Elonka!
Linking my candidate evaluations directly from Monty's table (on the 29th) increased the visits to my guide, especially in comparison to others' guides. Sincerely,  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 10:31, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Which is perceptively why I removed the links. It wasn't fair to anyone else to do that, and I have a hard time believing that you didn't recognize that as you were adding the links. Sven Manguard Wha? 21:29, 18 December 2011 (UTC)
Sven,
Obviously I wrote the guide to be read, and my adding links helped the public read my guide. I don't write badly to equalize the playing field with inarticulate or dumb editors, either.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 17:16, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
You probably should normalise both by date of creation and date placed on the template, to get average views per day since creation and average views per day since being added to the template. You should also compare to the page views of the candidate statements and the candidate question and answer pages. With the usual caveats that page views are rather unreliable as an indicator of who is reading the pages. Carcharoth (talk) 14:09, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Hi Carcharoth, yes, I'd love to do something like that, but don't have the time at the moment. Perhaps someone else would like to work up a different chart though? --Elonka 21:09, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
People visited my half done guide :) --Guerillero | My Talk 22:19, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Considering there were only 700-750 voters, it's interesting that the guides received thousands of views. I'd be curious to know how much is because some voters referred to the guides several times, and how much came from non-voters that were just interested in reading the guides, even though they didn't vote... --Elonka 18:50, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Now that the results are out, there's a good comparison of voter results, vs. guide results, at Monty845's guide. As for considering which guides did "best", it's again worth pointing out that guides are meant to advocate, and not to predict. But it's possibly worth knowing which guides were closest to the results, to help judge which guides were most persuasive. There are many different ways of calculating this: Should we give strictly one point to a guide if they supported the top 8, and take a point away if they supported any of the other 9 candidates? Ditto as one point for opposing each of the bottom 9, but take a point away if they opposed one of the top 8? And how should neutrals or abstains be counted? It can be sliced and diced different ways, but if we count abstains and neutrals as "incorrect" (meaning they were not effective in persuading one way or the other), then the guides with the most "points" would be:

  • Heimstern (16 of 17 correct)
  • Elonka (15)
  • Carcharoth / Kiefer.Wolfowitz / SandyGeorgia / Wizardman: 14
  • Badger Drink / HJ Mitchell / RegentsPark: 13
  • Ealdgyth: 12
  • NuclearWarfare: 11

FYI, --Elonka 03:34, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Vox populi, vox dei? Phooey!
Elonka and SandyGeorgia had the right picks. Where we disagreed, I was wrong.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 17:19, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Two bogus use of stats in one section! Page views are a relatively meaningless comparison here since some guides were written much earlier than others, changed often, or linked from other guides, as well as summarized from Monty's (which is the real problem we should be discussing here). And I noticed that Elonka made a series of interesting assumptions (aka "if" statements) to promote her guide to top standing, in spite of important misses (she opposed AGK and supported Coren). To get back to issues of concern, the problem is whether something like Monty's guide was irresponsible, and whether it influenced voting by editors who didn't bother to read any of the guides, guidewriter reasoning, or candidate statements. Since I think the results came out better than expected (we didn't get an awful incumbent backlash), I'm curious about just which candidates some others writing here think should have done better? I'm surprised some of those who weren't elected did as well as they did, so it doesn't appear that the sea of red on Monty's guide impacted too much. But then I would say that, since the results were entirely in line with mine. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:46, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

SandyGeorgia, I fail to see anywhere where I have promoted my guide to "top position". The two leaders from my statistics were clearly NuclearWarfare and Heimstern. Anyway, as I mentioned above, there are several different ways of analyzing the information. If you (or anyone) would like to provide different analyses, I am sure others would find them interesting. --Elonka 17:32, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Monty845 has added other statistics to his guide, which I am reproducing it here to try and keep the data together:

Correlation between support and winners [when ignoring neutrals and abstains] (Note: Under this system a guide could simply support 1 elected candidate and abstain on all the others, and still get 100%)

  • 100%: Ealdgyth, Guerillero, HJ Mitchell, SandyGeorgia
  • 88.2%: Heimstern
  • 87.5%: Wizardman
  • 76.5%: Elonka
  • 73.3%: RegentsPark
  • 69.2% NuclearWarfare

Correlation between support and drawing 50% of the votes

  • 84.6%: HJ Mitchell
  • 83.3%: Ealdgyth
  • 81.8%: Joe Gazz84
  • 76.5%: Elonka
  • 75%  : Guerillero
  • 73.3%: RegentsPark
  • 73.3%: Wizardman
  • 71.4%: SandyGeorgia
  • 69.2%: NuclearWarfare
  • 64.7%: Carcharoth

--Elonka 19:07, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

Couple of comments:

  • (1) The analysis above (and elsewhere) that 'ignores neutrals and abstains' is flawed. Some people (including me) expressly avoided abstaining or being neutral on any candidates, especially those where the decision was difficult or unclear. Abstaining in those cases is (to use a colloquial expression) a cop-out. If everyone did that, then those candidates would be elected only by those few willing to make a decision one way or the other. If anything, abstains and neutrals should be penalised double in any analysis of guides.
  • (2) But some of this misses the whole point, that analysis of guides is ultimately pointless. A good example of 'bogus' statistics is what is being done at User:SandyGeorgia/ArbVotes2011/Guides. For reasons I still can't fathom, Sandy is selectively comparing just a few guides (the ones that were 'successful in 2010' plus one that 'pegged it' this year) and ignoring the rest. Several other guides also 'pegged it' this year, but are ignored completely. It's not that important though because, as I said, ultimately such analysis misses the point (by quite a large margin). For more on this, see what I said on the talk page.
  • (3) Sandy also talks above about 'important misses', but nearly every guide writer had this. NuclearWarfare and I both opposed Kirill, who in the event got re-elected comfortably. However, if you look at the rationales we provided, we both explained clearly our reasons for opposing. The really big misses, in my view, are the abstains on candidates that ended up on the borderline. Anyone who abstained on the vote for Jclemens missed a chance to have their say in what was one of the more interesting votes (that it might end up a close vote was obvious from the questioning and opinions being stated).

What should really be done when analysing guides is not assessing how closely they hew to results, but how accurate the assessments of the guide writers turn out to be. If a guide writer worries about burn-out in a candidate after being elected, and that happens, that is something that should be picked up on. Ditto if a guide writer correctly assesses that a candidate will be a really good arb, or equally gets it totally wrong. Critiques of the metrics used by guide writers should also be more common, as some guide writers use really strange metrics that should really be questioned, but that seems to rarely happen. One guide critique that did attempt this was User:John Vandenberg/ACE/2011 guides. Some others did as well. Carcharoth (talk) 02:12, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

+1 for this (though of course I would say that because I did so "poorly".) NW (Talk) 00:52, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

Summary guide by a coordinator[edit]

  • I cannot help wondering if the manner in which the guides were summarized in Monty's uber-guide by a single word or short phrase per candidate had an exaggerated influence on voters, who then had an excuse not to investigate the candidate themselves, even to the point of not reading the individual guides to understand what points the guide writers were considering. Simply put, I wonder if some candidates suffered disproportionately by negative commentary, in particular those who have not run in an Arbcom election before. I think there were several "new" candidates this time who have genuine potential to make a positive contribution to the Committee, and I hope that the poor support they received will not deter them from considering another run in the future. Indeed, I hope to see some of them contributing as uninvolved parties in cases over the course of the next year. Risker (talk) 03:53, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
    • I very much agree that I would like to see all candidates (current and future) take the time to offer uninvolved statements in arb cases. It gives them a better understanding of the process, and would also be very helpful to the cases themselves. As for the meta-guides, it's a valid point that for a voter not really doing their research, that if they just stopped off at a meta-guide and saw a solid line of red opposes on a name, it might have a negative effect. As in, "Oh, I was going to support that person, but I see everyone else is opposing them, so maybe I shouldn't support." And vice-versa, reluctance to oppose a candidate that it seems "everyone else" is supporting. Then again, I did find meta-guides such as John Vandenberg's to be useful, and I found all the guides interesting to some degree. For next year, though, it would probably be a good idea to bring up meta-guides in the pre-election RfC, to determine how to best handle them? --Elonka 04:05, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
    • Perhaps. My guide was viewed more than Monty's guide though, so by that logic you might think that my guide should have performed "better" than it did. :) In any case though, I think that it might be better though to not have a Monty-type guide in the future. It has too much of a potential to lead to the one of the worst parts of public voting—herd voting. NW (Talk) 05:23, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
      • It doesn't surprise me that NW's, Sven's, and Wizardman's guides were all viewed more frequently: they were the earliest guides to be created, and as they were refined and completed, people returned to see what had been added. I believe the same was true for Monty's guide: as he added a new guide, people returned to see what was new. It would be interesting to know how many click-throughs went from Monty's guide to those of the other guide writers; I'd suspect a fair number. I think you hit the nail on the head with your "herd voting" comment, NuclearWarfare; that was my first instinct on reading the guide, and one of the main purposes of moving to SecurePoll was to avoid that problem, both in jumping on and jumping off any bandwagon. I think my other critique would have been using a primary bright red for opposition, when a pastel green was being used for support; I'd have been inclined to go with a pastel red colour for oppose as well. I would urge that the "pre-ection RFC" take place in the next month or two, because a lot of these issues can and should be ironed out well before the election; this year's was far too late. That's not a criticism of the editor who started it - after all, he was the only one to take the initiative at all. Risker (talk) 05:55, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
        • I'm certainly open to considering whether my style of guide is a net positive or not. My initial motivation was from the camp at the RFC who argued that bringing attention to guides gave the guide writers an unfair amount of influence over the election. So I wanted to try to evaluate just what influence guides did have, albeit it in a non scientific way. Once I started putting it together, I thought it would be useful to voters as well, in that trying to keep the opinions of all the guide writers straight would require alot of work for a potential voter. On the one hand, it can serve as an aide to a voter who is spending time to research the candidates, and is looking through the individual guides. But as has been pointed out, it can also result in voters skipping the guide reading stage, and making less informed decisions, and end up amplifying the influence of the guide writers. In the end, its really not that clear how influential the guides really are. The election returns of many candidates differed from the guide writer support by around 20%, and in the case of Coren, by 37% in their favor. Interestingly, with only one clear exception, candidates tended to trend closer to 50-60% support then the guide writer support indicated, candidates with high guide support getting less then the guide support would predict if guide writers were representative of the voting pool, and candidates that guides were against got more support then would predicted in the actual vote. Personally, I think it suggests guides are really not that influential on voters, and that to the extent guide support does correlate with voting, its a result of guide writers reflecting the community, not them having a major effect on voting. Monty845 06:24, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
          • Monty's guide was very useful. The only quibble I would have would be with adding the note that Badger Drink had been indefinitely blocked, as you were an election coordinator; whether justified or not, that note seemed contentious.
          • Monty's guide was useful to see roughly which candidates were clearly losers and winners, so that voters could focus attention on the marginal candidates. (I certainly focused on competitive but uncertain candidates in my guide.)  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 17:13, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
            • Well, you're sort of proving my point, Kiefer. In my book, some of the "losers" might not have been "losers" if not for the cumulative bright-red stripes next to their names; in amongst that group were some good candidates, whose positions may not have been given the thoughtful review they deserved; after all, why bother reviewing candidates who are *obviously* not going to succeed? I'm concerned that was something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. There are at least three candidates whose support level is very significantly below what I expected, but none whose support level is significantly higher than I expected, which leads me to this (admittedly unscientific) conclusion. Risker (talk) 17:30, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
              • These things are complicated and sometimes thought to be "inconceivable", as any viewer of the poisoned-goblet scene in the Princess Bride knows.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 17:39, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
                • Maybe we should just trust the voters to decide how much (if any) weight they wish to give to a guide, or a compilation of guides. Neutron (talk) 17:50, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Risker, and Monty's guide troubled me for more reasons than those elaborated by Risker, including also that: 1) he was an election coordinator who shouldn't have been doing any such activity, and 2) it basically made all guides equal, and I've never heard of some of those guide writers and wonder how much they even know about Wikipedia, but his summary created the appearance (to novice editors) that an election coordinator could tally who the winners would be. It was also too wide for comfortable viewing. Just wrong all round, and in fact, not conducive to encouraging voters to read up on candidates, rather just to follow the pack as defined by Monty. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:52, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
There were about 5 candidates who I formed a strong opinion on straight away from what I know of them/their candidate statements. For the others I was interested in what the guide writers had to say. I read all the guides a couple of times, and when it came to placing my vote (about 2/3rds of the way through the period iirc), I found Monty's guide useful to do final research, by quickly being able to see which writers favoured or opposed a given candidate it was easy to quickly find the arguments for and against them (the latter often being more useful). All that said, there was one candidate who I supported who I felt got a very unfair deal from several guide writers and I'm wondering whether the red marks by their name was influencing on the community. Thryduulf (talk) 11:03, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
@Thryduulf,
Anybody who writes a guide does so politically, to influence the community.
When writing my guide, I wished to counter-act two mass hysterias..
  1. To counter-act what I thought was an imprudent wave of anti-incumbency anger this year (based on over-reaction following improper reading of the purloined ArbCom letters). I would like to think that I helped the re-elected incumbents and perhaps increased the votes for Coren.
  2. To oppose the RfA Reform/Deform crowd, whose political strength has been substantially evidenced by the pile-on cliched (and often multi-colored) supports at recent RfAs.
Given the close finish, I can imagine that my guide (as intended) helped to re-elect JClemens over WTT.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 12:38, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, thank you for assessing me as a strong candidate. I appreciate that. I did find your guide to be close to an attack page at points, however I'm sure you felt the same about the RfC I raised regarding you, so I didn't think it was worth mentioning anything. Having said that, it was much improved by the time voting ended from mildly attacking to just something I disagreed with (I see now this was due to a well written email from Skormorkh).
@Thryduulf, I'm not sure if you are referring to me when you mention an editor who got an unfair deal, but if it helps, I would rather editors fairly assessed me and wrote a negative vote in a guide than voted neutral, because at least that gives me something to work on. I'm quite happy not having to do lots of Arbcom work over the next year :) WormTT · (talk) 13:44, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

Questions to candidates[edit]

Again, there was a mostly laissez-faire approach to questions this year, with no limits on the number of questions and very few questions removed by co-ordinators. Was this a success, or was the volume/quality of questions an issue, or are there any other aspects to reconsider? Skomorokh 00:43, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

  • As a candidate, answering the questions wasn't an issue. But when I went to vote it was tricky to get through all the questions asked of each candidate. I don't think allowing people to ask an unlimited amount of questions serves the average voter any good. Hot Stop talk-contribs 04:37, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
  • I ended up taking longer to answer the questions than I had hoped, but wouldn't want to see them much more limited. Most of them were pertinent and reasonable, though a few people tended to ask duplicative questions. My own experience was rather opposite of Hot Stop's: it felt like endless drudgery to answer all the questions fairly but when reading answers I could quickly skim to what I wanted since I was quite familiar with the different sets. I would encourage question writers to be discerning in what they ask: make a point of not duplicating the standard questions or those other people have already asked of a candidate and targeting questions rather than using a scattershot approach. That said, I certainly preferred navigating one questions page rather than jumping between the "official" questions and the ones on the Talk page, at least a few of which are bound to be illuminating. Eluchil404 (talk) 07:25, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
  • The questions were written by committee and (as usual) uninteresting, and could hardly illicit interesting answers. Next year, the smartest persons on ArbCom or wisest-or-smartest editors with experience with ArbCom should be recruited to suggest serious questions---such questions should address substantive concerns, challenge most of the candidates, and help discriminate among candidates. (RSchen should restrain himself from asking so many questions, particularly given their dullness.)  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 14:26, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
I actually found some of his to be more interesting than the general ones (questions 6-8 of the ones he asked me to be specific). Also Thryduulf's ones were pretty good too. But the general questions, aside from 8-10 were pretty dull. Hot Stop talk-contribs 15:13, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
The point of the questions wasn't to to make things "interesting", it was to solicit the candidates' views on a number of issues relevant to being an Arb. If you don't care about specific questions, or can't be bothered to read them, ignore them. Don't pretend for a moment though that they aren't valuable to other people. Sven Manguard Wha? 04:14, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
  • I've seen a fair few elections now, so it may be that I'm fatigued by them, but frankly I thought they were a waste of time. I was criticised by Carcharoth in his voter guide for writing too much (although he may have referred to my comments elsewhere, not just my Q&A). However, the questions required exhaustive, lengthy responses; I would be astonished if any voter read every candidate's answer to every question. Next year, it might be better to abandon the "General Questions" altogether, and instead ask everybody who wants to put questions to every candidate to submit them in advance. A set of general questions, based on what the community want to ask, could then be drawn up from these. The former general questions (written by goodness-knows-who) should be abandoned, and the individual questions sections reserved for direct questions to specific candidates. AGK [•] 20:56, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
    • "I would be astonished if any voter read every candidate's answer to every question." - I did. That makes at least one. I get your point though, there's just too much. I'm in favor of a similar approach though: have one list of general questions (cap it at 20 or so), and prohibit users from asking identical questions to all the candidates. There is a use for general questions "You did XXX during YYY, how can you justify this in light of policy ZZZ?" etc., but what Rschen7754, NuclearWarfare, and I did, asking additional questions to everyone, probably should be disallowed in future years. Sven Manguard Wha? 04:19, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
Didn't bother reading the questions except in a few cases of editors I wasn't familiar with; questions should be done in advance and completed before voting starts (if that wasn't done this year, don't recall.) Nobody Ent (Gerardw) 02:53, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

Advertising[edit]

It seems like voter turnout was rather low this year (734 votes (preliminary) this year compared with 850 accepted votes last year, and 996 before that). I think the election could have benefited from greater advertising, or at least more visible advertising. I know Commons does a small site banner during their Picture of the Year voting, perhaps we could do something similar? Hersfold (t/a/c) 05:40, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

See MediaWiki_talk:Sitenotice#ACE2011_Edit_Request and Wikipedia_talk:Arbitration_Committee_Elections_December_2011#ACE2011_denied_banner_advertising_on_the_basis_of_a_local_interpretation_of_the_legitimacy_of_the_RfC.3F. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 23:01, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
The community is in decline, how much has the electorate dwindled in the same period? A 14% year on year decline in totals votes cast is at least partly a symptom of that, we should only worry specifically about Arbcom election turnout if there is a fall in the percentage of those who vote not in the absolute numbers but as a proportion of the core community. ϢereSpielChequers 14:06, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

Coordinators/Volunteers[edit]

I felt it was odd that several volunteers publicly voiced their opinions on candidates. I don't think it affected the outcome, but the instructions do say "co-ordinators should avoid acting in a way that might cast doubt on their ability to act impartially, or on the perceived neutrality of the coordinators or elections as a whole" Hot Stop talk-contribs 05:50, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

Please supply names and diffs.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 16:13, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
He made a good point; do you have anything to add? Names and diffs don't matter that much; I think we can treat the comment as reliable, and we aren't looking to investigate the specific cases of co-ordinators ostensibly acting non-neutrally, but rather to consider the issue of "how neutral must co-ordinators be?". AGK [•] 20:58, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
Names and diffs would be useful for assessing whether every coordinator made endorsements/criticisms of candidates or whether only two did (if Hot Stop is correct), and whether any of those endorsements raised the appearance of partisanship. Hot Stop's allegations of a possible appearance of partisanship, if substantiated, should inform guidelines for selecting and providing guidance to future coordinators.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz 21:38, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
I can't speak for the other coordinators, but I can speak for myself. I volunteered as a coordinator ([2]). I focused most of my effort on the Candidates guide. I voiced my distaste for AGK. Nevertheless, I didn't use my position as a coordinator to undermine anyone's candidacy. I'm not responsible for sabotage, and I never said, "Trust me; I'm a coordinator," in any of my criticisms of the candidates. In fact, I prevented AGK from being disqualified by asking him to disclose his alts. I also improved that accuracy of AGK's row on the Candidates Guide page: [3], [4]. I don't believe that I had used my role as a coordinator to harm any of the candidate's chances of being elected. I criticized AGK as a concerned citizen, not as a coordinator; I kept the two roles separate. I also don't believe that the coordinators' freedom to express themselves openly should be limited as long as they exercise that freedom responsibly.

--Michaeldsuarez (talk) 23:32, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

@KW I was referring to Monty845 and Joe_Gazz84 both posting guides. Tony endorsed candidates on his talkpage and then he asked the fellow coordinators if this was advisable here. Hot Stop talk-contribs 05:21, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
@Hot Stop,
Monty's Guide was a useful summary of other guides, and a very good contribution as an election coordinator and as a fellow Wikipedian.
On the other hand, Tony's public recommendations were "wrong, wrong, wrong," as SandyGeorgia noted; nonetheless, Tony's comments about AGK's flaws were "spot on", as were the comments of Demiurge1000 and SandyGeorgia---as AGK's performance above shows---and I wish that I had read Tony's and Demiurge1000's earlier.
 Kiefer.Wolfowitz 10:51, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
It is pity that AGK did disclose the old accounts before the election started, so that AGK's probable election cannot be nullified---unless AGK had another account that was not disclosed?
If AGK is seated on ArbCom, then I trust the other ArbCom members have the good sense to minimize AGK's access to confidential information and to otherwise limit the damage that AGK can do....
 Kiefer.Wolfowitz 10:58, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
I don't believe that it would be appropriate to act against the wishes of the voters. If the voters want AGK, then they may have him or her. Do the other ArbCom members even have the ability or authority to limit another ArbCom member's access? I hope not. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 14:12, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

I'm don't believe the the coordinators' freedom to express their views should be limited. As AGK has stated, the real question ought to be "How neutral must co-ordinators be?" The coordinators' project page says,

While coordinators have as much right to participate in ordinary voter activity during the election as all other eligible voters (i.e. voting, asking questions, discussing candidates), co-ordinators should avoid acting in a way that might cast doubt on their ability to act impartially, or on the perceived neutrality of the coordinators or elections as a whole.

As long as the coordinators aren't somehow rigging the election, I believe that coordinators may say nearly whatever they wish. I don't see any harm in what Joe_Gazz84, Tony1, or I have done, since we haven't used our role as coordinators to influence the election's outcome. "Do any of the coordinators have a history of dishonesty / corruption?" is probably a better question than "Do any of the coordinators have an opinion?" --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 13:43, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Michael has just alerted me to this thread. I rather think it would be reasonable to write in a requirement that coordinators avoid publicly endorsing or opposing candidates; I'd support that. (Where would the line be drawn, though: could one make a very favourable or unfavourable comment on a candidate's election page? The only other drawback is that it might make it harder to find volunteers (at least those with the right experience). I did offer to take mine down immediately if the election admins thought it was best—and said they could do so themselves, since I was very busy at the time. The responses took several days, were few, and were equivocal—and didn't come from the election admins. I didn't say anything negative about a candidate; rather, I praised several; and it was on my talk page, not as an official, linked voter guide. Election admins should be held to much higher expectations of public neutrality, of course. Tony (talk) 14:56, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

For future elections, I think it would be best if the election administrators and coordinators remained publicly neutral on the candidates. That is not to suggest that anybody did anything wrong this time around (or in the past), but a strict rule would avoid any perceptions that someone who is helping to run the election might somehow be slanting things toward their chosen candidates. Of course, one might argue that since the coordinators will have opinions, whether they express them or not, it might be better for them to get their opinions out on the table. But I won't argue that. Neutron (talk) 22:03, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

  • As to coordinators, I think this issue doesn't make all that much sense. There is no selection process for choosing Coordinators, anyone who volunteers to be one is one. Coordinators have no special authority by virtue of having added themselves to the coordinator list. Whether a coordinator or not, we should avoid acting in ways that undermines the fairness or perceived fairness of the election, such as removing negative content about candidates we publicly support, or positive content about candidates we publicly oppose, or otherwise acting in ways that are reasonably likely to be perceived as favoring candidates. To the extent that coordinators act in a WP:GNOME capacity rather then in an quasi administrative capacity, I don't think it should matter whether then have publicly supported candidates. Election Admins of course do have special authority, and should strictly remain neutral. Monty845 17:12, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
It seems like this is an unresolved issue that probably should be the subject of an RfC in the coming year. (Which also leads to the issue of what the next RfC should look like, such as whether it should go piece-by-piece through the issues or just seek ratification on the issues that were decided this year, especially those that have been decided the same way for the past three or more years.) Neutron (talk) 21:13, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Agreed, the rules should explicitly state if coordinators are allowed to post guides or not. Hot Stop talk-contribs 01:19, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
  • When I was a coordinator in 2010 I asked about that, and was told that it would be inappropriate for coordinators to endorse candidates. I decided not to be a coordinator this year in part because I wanted to write a guide. Sven Manguard Wha? 21:36, 18 December 2011 (UTC)
  • I'm sorry for the delay in responding: I've been mostly away from Wiki due to a funeral. First, I don't think coordinators should be endorsing or not candidates under any circumstances. Period. I find it highly irregular. Second, I wasn't as troubled by Tony's statement on his talk page as I was by Monty's guide, which I thought was highly irregular, considering his position as a coordinator, and that it appeared to be some sort of official tally. I think this practice of coordinators extending their role needs to stop, and I'm kind of surprised we even have to have this conversation, and was further surprised that when Tony raised the question, he got just about no response. But what really troubles me is Monty's statement (which I found to be true) that: "There is no selection process for choosing Coordinators, anyone who volunteers to be one is one." While investigating some drive-by comments on a FAC, I found one inexperienced unhelpful editor had listed him or herself as an election coordinator. I'm not sure how that can be better worked out, I don't believe we need to be holding elections as much as applying common sense, and seriously, anyone taking on coordination of elections should know something about Wikipedia and have been around the block a bit, no? Is there a way to discourage the drive-by signups? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:25, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
    I don't see anyone listed on Wikipedia:Arbitration_Committee_Elections_December_2011/Coordination#Volunteer_election_coordinators who I would describe as "inexperienced," "unhelpful," and not having "been around the block a bit." The persons you've listed by name (Tony1, Monty845) are what I would call experienced, and I'm certain that they've been "around the block a bit," so I don't believe that experience is the issue here. As such, I'm not convinced that volunteering for the election coordinator role should be restricted to those with great levels of experience. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 19:03, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
    It should be abundantly clear that Tony1 is an experienced editor who knows his way around Wikipedia. User:Vibhijain appears to be a teenager who has had an account for less than a year; what was his role as a coordinator? User:Katarighe is the editor I encountered at FAC, with apparent driveby reviews; what was his/her role as a coordinator? Those are just a few examples, leaving off the others I've never encountered anywhere else on Wikipedia and wonder what their roles may have been or how these are assigned or how it is decided what they can add to this process. This is particularly a concern when they then go on to put up guides, which IMO is an abuse of the coordinator role. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:45, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Arbcom elections are run onwiki. You can see what coordinators are doing.©Geni 23:28, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
No. An important part of arbcom's legitimacy is that they go through open elections. That means open in terms of who can vote, open in terms of who can run and open in terms of who can run them. It also means that the running element should be transparent enough not to matter who is doing it. While I would regard coordinators having election guides as unwise (one of the perks of running arbcom elections used to be that it was a great excuse for not forming opinions on the candidates) putting rules into this area is really a very bad idea.©Geni 23:28, 20 December 2011 (UTC)