Monday, May 26, 2008

Vancouver Contest: 2nd weekly update

I’ve just tallied the votes for the Vancouver Voters’ Guide Blogging Contest. The top 3 are unchanged: David Eby at #1 for his second $100 weekly award, The Tyee #2 ($80), City States #3 (declining awards). Stephen Rees has moved up from #6 to #4, Price Tags from #9 to #7, and new entry Report Card starts at #11.

So now are all the blogs where they belong? Check them out and vote once a week!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How to Change Corporations by Informed Voting

I originally designed voter-funded media to reform corporations, and spent years promoting the idea to institutional investors. I have not yet gained enough of their support to implement it, in the face of the expected opposition from boards of directors. Instead, I’ve been sponsoring implementations in democracies.

But now a new organization called ProxyDemocracy is pushing ahead with some of my ideas for informed voting of corporate shares. (I’m on their board.) Focused mainly on American corporations and mutual funds, it lets you compare funds’ voting records, and choose funds with voting styles you agree with. For example, you can look at voting on environmental issues, executive compensation, corporate governance etc. You can also get email notifications if you want to copy their decisions when you vote shares you own as an individual.

This increased transparency and competition should help improve the quality of voting decisions by funds and individuals, thus making corporate management more accountable to shareowners and the public.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Vancouver Contest Terms

I've posted terms for the Vancouver Voters' Guide Blogging Contest at

Basically the terms say that since this is an experiment, anything could happen, I can run the contest any way I choose, and the only recourse for those who don't like it is to not participate.

I welcome your comments, advice, questions etc!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Vancouver Blogs: Weekly Award Cycle

We’re now far enough into the Vancouver Voters’ Guide Blogging Contest that the rankings are more stable and I have a sense of how it’s all working. Next I’d like to propose a weekly cycle of ranking updates and cash awards.

Especially for those with busy weekday schedules, more blogging, reading and voting may happen on the weekend. So I’m thinking I’ll tally the votes and update the ranking once a week, on Monday afternoon or evening. (Tuesday after a Monday holiday.)

I’m willing to sponsor weekly awards totalling $300: 1st place $100, 2nd $80, 3rd $60, 4th $40, 5th $20. If a winner declines an award, their prize and those below shift to the next position down. I’ll accumulate each winner’s total and mail cheques on request.

Shall we start this Tuesday May 20? I welcome your comments, questions and advice!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Vancouver Blog Ranking: Update #2

Today I tallied the past two days' votes and reranked the Vancouver blog contestants. Vote percentages and explanation are here.

Please vote (again) to revise the new ballot ranking!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vancouver Blog Ranking Updated

Today I did the first major ranking update of the Vancouver Voters' Guide Blogging Contest, based on votes received so far. Thanks for voting -- please vote again to improve the new ranking!

I posted details of the votes and the ranking update method here.

One voter helpfully suggested adding Vancouver Blog Miss 604, so I've done that.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Vancouver media/blogs: Which should we vote for?

I recently created this ballot for ranking media/blogs that cover Vancouver municipal issues. As the info page explains, it's a test implementation of voter-funded media. If the voting system seems to be working, I plan to fund periodic awards for the top-ranked media/blogs.

The ballot question is:
“Which media/blogs should Vancouver voters reward with a few hundred dollars?”

I’d like to kick off a discussion of what qualities we should look for in media/blogs for this purpose. I’ll abbreviate “media/blogs” to just “blogs” since that seems to be the dominant medium in the low-stakes contests I’ve funded so far, e.g. at UBC. But in principle, voters might support contestants providing any type of broad public benefit.

Knowing little of Vancouver issues and blogs, I browsed around and found these nine to start off the ranking, in a mostly random order:

#1: Bill Tieleman
#2: Public Eye Online
#3: City States
#4: Walter Schultz
#5: Vancouver Kid
#6: The Vancouver Manifesto
#7: Stephen Rees
#8: Paul Hillsdon
#9: David Eby

I'll re-order the list in response to votes, add suggested blogs to the list, and when we get more than 10 I plan to create an optionally-viewable page 2 for ranks 11 through 20.

I have much more confidence in Vancouver voters’ “wisdom of crowds” than in my one brain. But I’d like to offer some ideas for what blog features and qualities we could encourage, to help us vote in the November election and hold our leaders accountable.

1. Focus on Vancouver municipal issues & electoral candidates:
While all the above nine cover some Vancouver issues, several of them range well beyond this city to other municipalities, provincial politics etc. It would be great if people create blogs that summarize and link to insightful Vancouver coverage from many sources.

2. Responsiveness to this contest:
If we vote a few hundred dollars to a blog, will that make any difference? Some of the above nine are professionals who might not respond to this low-profile low-stakes contest. Nothing wrong with being a professional – indeed, a long-run goal of voter-media is to support professional journalists. But for now, if they give us the same information benefit regardless of our votes here, maybe we should fund “smaller” independents instead. If any professionals do create new content for this contest though, then let’s reward them.

3. Variety:
There is no single ideal blog for a democratic community. That’s why I typically sponsor awards to the top five to eight places in voter-media contests. Some writers have expertise in a few specific areas. Some may provide depth of analysis, some are better at summarizing, and others are just brilliant at making fun of people. ;-) And since no one can be perfectly objective, we need to hear different political perspectives. The value of each contestant should be judged in the context of what the other media are already providing. What does each one add to the total?

Your thoughts on all this?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Langara College Voter-Funded Media Competition Launches May 12

The Langara Students’ Union and I are launching a VFM contest this Monday May 12. It will run until October, with media award voting on a paper ballot accompanying the October 2008 LSU election. So media are encouraged to cover two LSU elections (May & October) and issues important to Langara College students throughout the contest period.

Awards total $1500 -- 1st prize $500, 2nd $400, 3rd $300, 4th $200, 5th $100.

Entry form and more info at

Friday, May 9, 2008

UBC Contest Open For New Entries

Four of the five contestants from UBC’s March-April voter-media contest have entered again for May-June: UBC Insider, Devil’s Advocate, University Affairs and The Knoll magazine.

We’re offering five prizes totalling $600: 1st prize $200, 2nd $160, 3rd $120, 4th $80, 5th $40. Voting period is May 16 – June 30. Info and entry form at

There are many ways to participate: read the blogs, comment on them, vote on how they should be ranked, enter your own blog or media group, offer to join one of the contestants or write a guest post.

So what’s happening with the AMS this summer? I’ll be watching on my blog reader…

Thursday, May 1, 2008

UBC VFM Results; new Vancouver city VFM

I’ve just finished tallying the votes in the UBC AMS media contest:
1st prize $250 – UBC Insider
2nd prize $200 – Devil’s Advocate
3rd prize $150 – University Affairs
4th prize $100 – The Knoll magazine
5th prize $50 – uVOTE

You can see detailed votes and tallies linked from

In the next week or so we can discuss the results and possible contest design changes. Then we’ll start accepting entries for the May 16 – June 30 contest period.

This month I’m launching a voter-media competition for Vancouver, testing a much more open system: No entry fee, and anyone can vote, starting now, as often as they want – Alex, this one’s for you! ;-) But don’t worry, I’m developing a statistical filtering algorithm. We’ll see how it goes…

Please suggest Vancouver media/blogs for me to add to the ballot. How about entering?! Info and ballot link at