I have noticed that on the four major items we vote for, which are pictures, songs, quotes and Did You Know?, many more people vote for the song than the other three. For June 2011, there were over 200 votes for the songs, while the other three only had a couple dozen votes combined.

The difference between the songs and the others is song voting is done with a poll. It's possible to use a poll for the songs because we have been accepting ideas ahead of time, whereas for the other three, the choices are added as the month progresses.

The drawbacks to doing it as we go are sometimes we don't get a good range of choices until well into the month and occasionally people come in and change either the choices or the votes. Before the winners can be determined and posted to the main page, each edit has to be checked to make sure things aren't being altered.

If we were to set things up so people make the nominations ahead of time, the voting can be set up easier with polls, it's faster to count the votes and faster to get the winners added to the main page.

Using polls for voting also addresses some other issues:

  • We have usually disqualified a picture if the person who uploaded it voted on it. This was to avoid possible bias. We could still list who nominated a picture, but voting would be independent of the nomination process and so bias isn't a factor any longer.
  • Originally, picture voting was supposed to be on technical aspects but has shifted to include whether people like or dislike a picture. The ready availability of episodes on iTunes means that the technical aspects can be addressed easier (crisp image, bright, high resolution).
  • Many pictures are disqualified because of the channel logo ("bug") or because they are low quality. Nominating pictures prior to the start of voting gives us time to replace any poor pictures with high quality versions before voting starts.
  • Less people vote because of the requirement to give a reason for their vote. For a poll, it's a simple "yes" choice, so reasons would be optional and could go in a comments section.
  • We've limited the number of choices to avoid the pages getting cluttered. Taking nominations ahead of time lets us present more choices in the same amount of space because there's no opposing votes and all supporting votes go into the poll. For example, we could have 10 pictures in a slideshow, which saves a lot of space over showing them individually.
  • A quick check shows that polls do seem to track when a person casts a vote, only letting you cast one vote per poll and if you vote again, it changes your vote to the new selection, so the problem of ballot stuffing would be resolved.
  • There may also be instances of people not participating in the voting any longer if something they nominated is shot down quickly because it doesn't meet the criteria.

There may be some other issues we have to work out, but I think I've covered all the bases. I have created a sample page that shows how voting would work for the pictures. The Quotes and the Did You Know would be similar, but since we can't do a slideshow on text (and you need time to read some of them), they would be listed one right after the other, with a single poll for each.

The key to making this work is getting the nominations in ahead of time. This shouldn't be a problem because if you look at suggestions for upcoming song voting, you'll see we already have several months' worth of voting already lined up. We just need the same early nominations for the Quote and DYKs.

If this gets everyone's approval, we would finish the current method of voting for the July 2011 items and start taking nominations right away to get them ready for the August voting. The new nominations would have to be entered by June 30th.

Shall we do it? Should we switch to an easier style of voting? Let me know what you think, and especially if you like this idea.

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