Alternatives to the CES Forum

With the CES forums shutting down, can anyone recommend any places to continue to discuss this stuff?

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There’s the Electorama mailing list, but that’s a mailing list, which is very 90s and not as good as a forum. (Some might say that forums are outdated, but I think they’re still the best option for this sort of thing.)

This is disappointing to hear though. Is there an easy way of archiving this stuff?

And is the old Google group staying up? Can we still post there?

So much of humanity’s voting method knowledge is staring at the edge of the abyss!

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Pretty much your only serious option is reddit.com/r/EndFPTP. I’ve heard some here disparage Reddit, but if you learn which users know their stuff, then you can start to create room for your own discussions and ideas there.

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The problem with reddit is that because there are a lot of users on there, there are a lot of posts, most of which are about advocacy, so if you stop checking it for a month it’s hard to keep track of all the theoretical discussions that took place. On this forum on the other hand, a much higher percentage of the users know a lot about voting theory and because all the theoretical discussion happens in just a few topics, it’s much easier to get up to date with the different theoretical discussions that have happened and decide if you want to contribute to one of them.

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@fsargent so can we just move back here?

Or is that shutting down too?

In your post, you explained why the forum did not benefit CES anymore (they care more about advocacy) but it didn’t explain how keeping this forum open negatively effected CES in any way. Is the problem with keeping this forum open the cost and because CES doesn’t get as much benefit from it anymore the cost is no longer worth it?

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I am not sure what I am more disappointed about. The fact that the forum is shutting down or this statement

This change reflects CES’s gradual evolution from an academic organization to an advocacy organization.

This is troubling since they have not really dug into the multi-member systems much. Maybe they do not intend to go beyond single winner but the last thing we need is another lobby group.

This forum is not really that old anyway. Only a few years. I have been on here the whole time… I started on the google group and followed here.

I think @robla might be able to be convinced to host a more up to date forum linked to electowiki.org. The existing one, Election-methods mailing list, is from 1996 and is pretty dated. We may even be able to do better than this forum. We need the ability to fork better than this forum because all the threads go off topic. I think kialo tried to solve this. Format really matters when it comes it adoption since these discussions are so technical. We used Loomio for the Wolf Committee but there was some issues with how it handled image embedding in text. I think they have updated in the last year.

I would hope that there can be a third party archive of this information. I have heard of sites that do this automatically but I do not know much about them. Wayback Machine might already have this forum archived.

Much of it has already made its way onto Electowiki. The last few months of effort seem to have paid off. Some of the more detailed results should be formalized. I suggested this a while ago since much of this stuff is hard to read for the first time without context.

I think the reddit board is pretty low in terms of technical level and we could not have the conversations we have here without there being a lot of noise.

It makes no sense for the CES to do this. The forum attracts all the world experts. There are people here from everywhere. This gives the CES’s name legitimacy. If they are going to move to advocacy then they should become “The Center for Election Advocacy”

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The Wayback machine captures don’t get any content. It just says the page is private.

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All of my spare time/energy/money has been dedicated to reinvigorating electowiki (https://electowiki.org). electowiki has been revived in no small part thanks to the help of @psephomancy in finding a wiki host (Miraheze; https://miraheze.org) that offers free, modern hosting of MediaWiki.

The catch: they are only a MediaWiki host. They don’t host mailing-lists/forums/etc. Dreamhost is a general purpose host (which is where the old Electorama wiki was, as well as the EM-list), but I’m pretty sure they plan to deprecate support for GNU Mailman before too long, at which point, I’ll have to figure out who to pay for hosting.

I might become convinced to migrate EM-list over to Discourse (or some other dedicated host). But I’d have to figure out how to pay for it, and whether I want to enter into a long-term relationship with them. I’ve been with Dreamhost since 2003, so I generally have a track record of long-term relationships with my tech vendors.

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@Sara_Wolf would having such a forum benefit the equal vote coalition? If so, would equal vote be willing to support an equal vote coalition forum?

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We could also have a subscription based system where you can view the forum all you want but to post anything you need a subscription (or perhaps there would be a free post limit or posts are free but you need a subscription for creating threads).

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Ya’ know, starting a new subreddit over on reddit is not very hard. I recently did it for a different project I’m working on (myndmess; see /r/myndmess). You can start up your own subreddit, and set up your own rules. I’m thinking about starting up a discussion theme on Quora. If I do, you’ll be able to see it here: robla’s Quora homepage.

Regardless, there a lot of online discussion forums that offer free hosting. Many of them have Trust and Safety teams that provide a lot of the unseen value for the organization hosting them. I can see why C4ES is having a tough time with Trust and Safety on this forum. Miraheze has a tough time with Trust and Safety, too.

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Right, that’s an option too. It’s not as fancy and doesn’t have as many features but it gets the job done and would be much better then forcing people who want to discus some topics to pay money.

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There is also the option of going onto a related forum like https://thepoliticsforums.com

If we want to attract new users then it would be beneficial to have a very well polished forum like discourse. I’m looking at the pricing for discourse, and there are some options that are very reasonable.

Are there educational or non-profit discounts?

Yes! If you are legally recognized as an educational institution we offer an 85% discount. If you are legally recognized as a non-profit organization that is exempt from federal taxes, we offer a 50% discount. These discounts apply only to our standard and business plans, and must be paid through a debit/credit card monthly or annually. Please contact us after starting your trial and we’ll add the discount to your account.

If they count electowiki as an organization (It isn’t legally but perhaps discourse will still allow us to use this discount. If not, then perhaps either electowiki could become an orginization or we could get the discount through equal vote), then that does bring the cost of their service down from 100 dollars a month to 7.5 dollars a month. If each person in this thread could just agree to pay 1.25 a month, then this would work.

There’s also this:

What if none of these plans fit my budget?

Good news! Discourse is, and will always be, 100% free and open source software. You may also want to self-host for reasons other than budget, including privacy or full control over the free software that you’ve installed. Here’s how you can install it yourself on your own server.

Alternatively, the community can install Discourse in the cloud for you for a flat one-time fee. Please note that a $5/month hosting fee is still payable to the cloud provider (Digital Ocean), and that this option is completely self-support after the initial install. Click here to purchase a self-supported community install.

This also might be why CES is closing their forum. Perhaps they were using this discount but can’t (or are afraid they won’t be able to) keep using it.

We’ll be disabling that also, as it isn’t representative of the organization.

Moving to a general political discussion site could potentially lead to conflict between this community and the established userbase at the site we move to.

Thank you! We just added this to better explain our course: While we will remain true to our roots on studying voting methods with a critical eye, the day to day functions of the organization will be focusing on promoting a simple, low cost, highly effective alternative to our current choose one voting method"

It’s important to note Fargo is using AV in a Multi Winner scenario. AV is still far better than Choose One as it optimizes toward the center of the electorate, as opposed to a polarizing majority. PR is better in that it allows better representation, but ultimately the policies that come out of the body should be similar an AV appointed council. It’s definitely a big discussion.
Another big consideration of not going full on into multi-winner voting methods is the difficulty of the reform. None meet the simplicity requirement that Center for Election Science is strongly biased towards. We’re seeing many more cities go towards districts (for better or worse) than reform their Plurality At Large elections.

So as far as where the fertile ground is for reform, Single Winner Elections are the focus for now.

???

Does this forum paint CES in a bad light? Doesn’t having such a forum give CES more credibility as an organization with strong roots to the academic study of voting methods? Doesn’t that give the reforms that CES is pushing more credibility? Other then the cost of running this forum (which is non-existant with the previous google groups forum), I don’t understand why CES wouldn’t want to be associated with a forum that has contributed so much to the theoretical study of the reforms it is pushing.

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I was using the code hosted on Google Cloud under the Center for Election Science account. The primary factor is that there’s not really a relationship between the discussions that happen on the forums and the work of the organization.
Center for Election Science staff do not moderate the forum. Over the last year it’s been very everything goes. And most content has been fine, but occasionally staff have been pulled in and distracted from their core mission.

I am happy to ensure that the hard work that the community has put into these discussions is archived, and am open to working on that progress. I tip my hat to @robla and his work on Electowiki for being an independent medium, and encourage people to support Electowiki in any way they can.

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