I'd like to start a discussion about expanding voting rights to allow members to assist in choosing the Homemade Tool of the Week winners, and the Best Documented Build winners.
Typically, Ken and I have a weekly discussion as to who should win the Homemade Tool of the Week award, with a similar monthly discussion for the Best Documented Build winner. We discuss it back and forth, and decide on a winner.
Initially, the pool of potential winners was small, and the choice was fairly easy. Recently, we've started with a list of a bunch of potential winners, tried to hone it down, and found great difficulty in choosing a single winner. With so many contenders, it makes sense to expand the system beyond two judges.
We could have a weekly discussion with a poll to select the winner (monthly for Best Documented Build), and we could limit participation in that poll by certain factors (number of posts, time on forum, winners of previous contests, etc.). Votes could be private by default, but if the voter wanted, he could make a post in the thread mentioning his vote, or just generally discussing the contenders without revealing his vote.
ADVANTAGES OF CURRENT SYSTEM
-Likelihood of collusion is minimal. Since Ken and I don't compete, we can't, either intentionally or unknowingly, trade votes or participate in quid pro quo. Nobody is perfectly impartial, but this helps protect our impartiality.
-Verifiability of identity. We know and trust each other, and our identities are easily verified. If our voting pool was comprised of forum regulars, I think it would be very reliable. However, if we opened up the poll to the unknown public, it could turn into a contest that rewards the person most capable of performing online vote manipulation.
-No public drama. The judges are removed from the community, and the process is somewhat opaque. Drama is time-consuming and detrimental to most forums, and we've thus far avoided it. In a forum focused on drama, the loudest and most persistent voices are often victorious, and the spotlight is removed from creation and sharing of new ideas, and placed on personal viewpoints and conflicts.
DISADVANTAGES OF CURRENT SYSTEM
-Subconscious cogitive bias elimination is problematic among two people. You could be highly ethical, and make every effort to produce an unbiased decision, when, in fact, such a thing is not possible. If we spread voting rights across more people, we can't eliminate cognitive bias, but we can balance it. Voter A might like heavy equipment, and be more likely to vote for it. Voter B might prefer simple hand tools with high-quality craftsmanship. Voter C might prefer metalworking tools with CAD files attached. Working in concert, those biases can even each other out and produce a more fair overall vote.
-No two judges, between them, can have the vast skillset necessary to properly judge such a wide array of entries. The most fair decision comes from a board of people with deep and varied expertise, and we have that among our members.
-We've come up against some weeks where two or three entrants could easily have won. Although we're making a conscious decision, sometimes it feels like we could have just flipped a coin.
-Keep things how they are. It's not perfect, but the system has been widely respected and successful thus far. We can always change it later if we want.
-Expand the voting pool to include all previous Tool of the Week and Best Documented Build winners.
-Expand the voting pool to include all forum members with more than a certain number of posts, and/or a certain period of time being registered on the forum.
What are your ideas? Do you favor one of the above options? Or do you have other ideas or constructive criticism?