Alternatives to the CES Forum

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.


There is also the option of going onto a related forum like

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.

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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.


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.


I’ll put it another way, Center for Election Science, the organization, isn’t really here. Nor was it totally participating in the Google Groups mailing list. This is your space, not the organization’s.

Exactly. You should have been here. Equal vote stepped up in your absence. Could you transfer the forum and its content to us?


This is the most satisfying answer I have gotten pertaining to this unfortunate decision

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Just to clarify, Equal Vote hasn’t been “here” any more than anyone else might be. As to our board members, only Mark and I comment here generally, and mostly when we have something to contribute, if someone tags us, or if STAR Voting questions come up.

We do think this forum has a lot of value, that it represents an important backbone of the election science community, that it fills a huge gap where academia tends to ignore this field, and it’s been a very helpful resource to send people to who are interested in the weeds, the philosophical questions, and the big picture.

If CES is interested in continuing the forum here in coalition with Equal Vote that would be something I think we would all benefit from.


I always liked the old email lists better than this forum. I’d vote (nyuk!) for email or reddit.

I’m with Brian, I would be fine with simply using the old Election Methods email list, or starting a new subreddit.

But the Discourse idea introduces an interesting idea … what if we started a open source project, or extended an existing one, to create a comprehensive voting method test bed, building, say, on Quinn’s VSE project or others.

The project could have single-winner and multi-winner subsections, sample election results for testing, and continuous integration to regenerate results. I’d like there to be automatic Yee plot generation also.

My suggestion is partly inspired by seeing this new project recently announced on the E-M list:

Once there’s an open source project for the group, Discourse offers free or discounted forums oriented around it.

Some of the tests @Keith_Edmonds made for the Wolf Committee might be helpful for that as well.

Also: there are a couple of features that I recently added to my own Yee plot generator that I don’t know if they have (mostly ways to reduce noise without increasing the number of voters). How might I go about suggesting them to the project?

The code is here. I have not had time to look at it in a while but others have contributed.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves. We need a forum more than we need this.

I also prefer this type of forum over mailing lists, Google Groups, or Reddit, and am sad that this resource is being lost.

We will retain encrypted backups, but will not be publishing them as they may contain private information of users.

There’s no way to remove the private information so it can be migrated to another Discourse host?

This looks like a cheaper option for self-hosted Discourse: $150 once to set it up and then $5 per month to host it.

Another alternative is, where everyone fled when Yahoo Groups shut down. That looks more like a mailing list than a forum, though. I think this interface is probably better.

There are also forum-like interfaces for mailing lists, but still pretty crude compared to Discourse, and it still means your email address getting published to the whole list, using ASCII for math, etc.:

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

I also saw your poll in my email today. (‘Do you think that the name “The Center for Election Science” is an accurate representation of our organization?’) Are you considering changing it to Center for Approval Voting or something like that?

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Do you have a link to the poll? They could just split the efforts. and are the advocacy and research wings. Why not split off an advocacy group from the CES like that?