Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The election drama continues

The drama surrounding the Wikimedia elections is heating up. The most interesting thing, from my point of view, is Greg Maxwell's single-handed get-out-the-vote effort within the English Wikipedia electorate. This graph, provided by Greg, really demonstrates the efficacy of his efforts; the effect is quite startling.

Also, the Election Committee recently rearranged the "jump page" on Meta; the old version (which you can see here) was designed to make it easy for the majority of voters to find the appropriate voting page by listing the pages for the largest projects at the top. The new version is very prettily organized, but the arrangement (while perfectly rational) makes it hard for the vast majority of voters to find the right page. Greg reports that the number of people contacting him asking for assistance in figuring out how to vote increased considerably after that change was made.

I've also had a few people comment to me about having concerns that either the Election Committee or the Board will simply repudiate results they don't want.

Greg also tells me that while he's asked for volunteers on the Foundation mailing list to send similar emails for other projects, so far the only response was from someone with the French Wikipedia, and that person's proposed email actually sent voters to a page bearing someone's personal recommendations for voting instead of the appropriate voting pages.

The real takeaway of this election is simply how terribly bad it has been handled. Neither the Board nor the Election Committee has done even a halfway acceptable job of communicating information about this election to the various electorates. Fundamentally, I consider this to be a failure of the Board, although it is certainly also a failure of the election commissioners as well. We can only hope that the next election is handled a bit more professionally.

In other news, the Foundation announced yesterday that it had hired Mike Godwin, formerly of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as its general counsel. It is my understanding that the Board intended to delay this announcement until after the election was overJuly 4th (thanks for the correction, Kat), but Godwin broke the news himself by editing his own Wikipedia article to state his new position.