Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Sunday, March 31, 2013

COTW: Violence inherent in the system

Comment of the week honors goes to a number of people who have been chiding me on various media about about weaker candidates on the list of CSM8 candidates that I endorsed yesterday.  Chief among them are DSJ, who put it this way:
It doesn't make any sense to ask people to vote for a slate you know will lose. Unless the reasons that the 1-14 are going to win are reversible everyone voting your slate has to ask why they are doing it? As strong as your instincts might be toward actual integrity in journalism publishing this list prior would be a mistake. This is related to your earlier post on Transparency and being transparent. It makes particular sense if instead of considering yourself the boss you consider yourself the employee in this instance --- coming from your example. Voters that want to vote for you don't want their candidate predicting a loss.
And it's a fair criticism.  As I've already said, much of the list of candidates that I endorsed is somewhat political.  Know what?  Every other endorsement list you see is going to operate the same way.  Here's why, from my perspective.

The alternative to pointing people at good candidates who are likely to lose is to strengthen the bloc vote, something that it would be a dumb idea for me to do.  Let's say I endorse some good bloc candidates (and there are some).  The way STV operates, if people follow that suggestion and vote for those good bloc candidates, that reduces the number of bloc votes that those good bloc candidates need to get on the CSM.  The bloc votes that would otherwise go to them instead flow directly to bad bloc candidates (and there are some), increasing the likelihood that they'll be on the CSM, too!

It is therefore a dumb idea for me to endorse bloc candidates -- even good bloc candidates -- for two reasons:
  1. I reduce the chances that good candidates that are not bloc candidates get on the CSM; and,
  2. I increase the chances that bad bloc candidates -- that otherwise would not be elected! -- get on the CSM in their place.
Weird as it sounds, even if I were not running for CSM, my endorsements would lean in the direction they leaned for this reason.  Endorsing good candidates -- even weak good candidates that are going to struggle to be elected -- is a smart move for me.  When other endorsement lists come out -- particularly the bloc ballots -- read them with that in mind because that's how they're all going to work.  This is one of the few weaknesses inherent in the STV system.

Thanks to everyone who is considering my CSM8 endorsement list!

EDIT (4/Apr/2013): There has been even more controversy about non-bloc candidates refusing to endorse bloc candidates.  This includes Xander Phoena who did the absolutely heroic interviews of all the candidates.  So I want to expand on my answer a bit:
For myself, I didn't endorse a bloc candidate because of the way STV works. The bloc candidates on the high end (mynnna, for instance) are going to get ALL the bloc votes: he'll have Mittens's 10k votes and then some if he needs them. Therefore, the votes mynnna *doesn't need* (like any high-sec player that votes for him) will filter down to less impressive bloc candidates.

So non-intuitively, every non-bloc vote that mynnna gets doesn't do
anything at all to improve mynnna's chances and doesn't go to mynnna. Instead, it improves the chances of these second- and third-tiers and goes to them.
Remember how I said the bloc votes would work the same way?  Sure enough, it looks like they're going to.  Here's what mynnna himself had to say about the issue (in the comments of Xander's blog post):
Maybe everyone playing political games from all sides will cancel out and we'll get a decent CSM composition.
And somewhat ironically, I think that might just be possible.


  1. "This is one of the few weaknesses inherent in the STV system."

    LOL - the STV system has only one real inherent weakness. Like communism, it looks good on paper, but it doesn't work in practice. It assumes the people vote responsibly as individuals, in order of the best candidate(s) for the position. It specifically does not compensate for voting blocs or political parties or any other form of organized voting. As with communism, the STV system simply fails to allow for human nature.

    But, it is impossible to argue intelligently with people who insist on remaining ignorant (most of the player base) or are determined to be stupid (CCP), so we'll have to let the proof be in the pudding.

    It will be amusing to watch how everyone attempts to spin the results of the STV election, and blame it on everything except the actual election mechanism....

    1. If you truly believe this you should investigate the number and size of voting blocs in countries using STV/STV-like systems compared to countries using first past the post voting.

      Here's a hint: countries using STV/STV-like systems have smaller blocs and more diversity in government representation.

    2. @chequers - I have. I spent 6 months on an EU committee, to investigate corrupt voting practices and election systems in a number of these countries.

      The STV system is remarkable easy to game, but complicated enough (or confusing enough, depending on your POV) that the voting populace does not actually realize what is going on. So, pick a country, examine your "smaller blocs" more carefully, incl. their history, voting practices, membership (esp. candidates and leaders) - and you might just learn something about election systems that is not obvious from the numbers or the math. Then, get back to me. ;)

      The "first past the post" system is certainly not all that great, either, in terms of fair representation, but it does have the one advantage of being easier to understand for the typical voting populace.

      By the by, just to rile the American colonials, the one "democratic" election system which is considered to be even worse (ie. less representative) than either STV or "first past the post" is the electoral college system, used to elect the US president. :)

  2. This brings up a criticism of using STV for CSM elections that I saw on someone else's blog a few days ago.

    In a one-winner election, the algorithm works nicely to let people vote for their favorite without that vote being wasted if their favorite loses; round by round, those losing votes transfer cleanly down each affected voters' ballot until somebody wins and it's done.

    But in a multi-winner election where you have to transfer "excess" votes for the first winning candidate(s) in order to determine additional winning candidates, the process of transferring votes in each round seems non-deterministic (as far as I understand -- maybe I'm missing something).

    If 5000 people vote for you and only 4000 votes are needed for you to win, exactly which 1000 voters have their vote "transferred"? The choice of those 1000 out of your 5000 supporters will make a huge difference in the set of additional winners. That fuzziness is something I dislike in a voting system.

    1. wright transfer STV solves this problem by transferring fractions of votes. All 5000 people have their surplus vote value transferred, each giving 80% of their vote to that candidate, and 20% surplus transferred according to the remainder of their ranking. This is a simplified explanation, to answer your simplified question, the actual transference has multiple levels of fractional transference.

  3. I did exactly the same thing, we both endorsed a very similar list of candidates. Why waste my endorsement on people that are already ( most likely ) going to be on the CSM? They don't need my help. In fact, I want more underdogs on the CSM anyway gosh darn it. The power-blocs already have powerful voices and they shouldn't have a majority ( or at least a dominate majority ) on the CSM.

    I want candidates that play Eve, that already work with the community and wil listen when I tell them to put the damn frills back on the Vaga!!


  4. Your frank admittal that your endorsements are swayed by selfish political reasoning is perhaps the best argument against listening to endorsements from people personally vested in politics that I have ever seen.

    1. As opposed to endorsements from people not personally vested in politics, who provide entirely selfless and objective political views....oh wait, I forgot, we're talking about politics here.

      Unless of course you're North Korean, in which case I understand why you have such an enlightened view of how politics works.

    2. if you needed to hear it from Jester to figure that one out...

      It doesn't change anything, though: if his interests are aligned with yours, do what he says. If they're not, don't do what he says. That's true regardless.

    3. But wont every candidate in this election be doing exactly that?

      Or are you now telling me that the bloc candidates for example will be sending some of their endorsements to non-bloc candidates so that we would have a CSM actually representative of the game as a whole?

    4. There`s nothing preventing you from listening to his argument and making your own mind about the candidates. Whatever the motivation, Jester does make good points, whether you agree or not with the conclusions.

    5. Does anyone who is not "personally vested in politics" ever actually make endorsements?

      In RL, election endorsements come from politicians, lobbyists, non-office-holding members of political parties, and other folks who are, or feel themselves to be, personally vested in the outcome of the election, either directly or indirectly.

      Perhaps you should avoid listening to *any* endorsements.

    6. "Does anyone who is not "personally vested in politics" ever actually make endorsements?"


      "Perhaps you should avoid listening to *any* endorsements."

      Perhaps one should avoid listening uncritically to anything; except this sentence, which one should take for granted, and also the sentence where I explain how one should give me their life savings. Other than that, nothing.

      "It doesn't change anything, though: if his interests are aligned with yours, do what he says. If they're not, don't do what he says. That's true regardless."

      Who said it changed anything? I was expressing my admiration for the honesty and clarity of his presentation, not the originality of the content. Apparently the clarity of my presentation was lacking, because no one got it.

  5. I'll probably vote your list with a few adjustments in the top-5. Since all the people I wanted to vote for are on there, and I'll take your word for the bottom nine.

  6. In any preferential voting system, there are often surprises. Also those that just miss out get a springboard for next time.

    Vote and endorse who you want.

  7. So if I understand this system correctly if the HBC and CFC pool votes and all members dutifully vote for 14 bloc candidates and constitute 51% of the voting electorate then if 49% of voters vote for Jester first you come 15th and don't get a seat. Is that correct?

    1. If HBC/CFC get 51% of the votes, then they get 51% of the seats: 7 of them, in that case.

      If 49% of the voters vote for me, I use 14% of THAT vote (7% of the total vote) to get a seat myself. The other 86% of those voters drop to whomever those voters choose as their #2, #3, and #4 picks, respectively.

      If -- in the VERY unlikely case -- that 49% of all voters voted my endorsement slate, then the first six people on my list would be guaranteed seats and #7 would have a good chance at one. But again, that's hugely unlikely.

  8. "The interesting thing about James 315 as a CSM candidate is that he totally bought into both the "you can't vote against me" and "all publicity is good publicity" mechanics. Given that, it would have been quite interesting to see how he had done in the actual election. I'm sorry that he's not running."

    I still suspect James315 is an old ALT of mittens. I think he may have jumped into the election if he saw the # of Alliance candidates was sub par or Monty decided to run but he decided his lackies look ok now or the CSM run. I wouldn't be surpised if I'm wrong or right either way but my Spidey Sense is tingling


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