Monday, November 29, 2010

Locust or Bumblebee raises votermedia design issues

This morning I received an application for the blog Locust or Bumblebee to enter the UBC AMS votermedia contest. This raises some big issues about the design and administration of votermedia – hence the long post below.

Locust or Bumblebee is an impressive blog promoting sustainability, created by UBC students Anthony Stal and Sam Wempe:
"Through this gateway we hope to inform Vancouver’s populations of the decisions and activities occurring around them that negatively affect them, the environment, or even some distant population. ... Once we gain a larger readership in Vancouver, we hope to spread to other cities around the world."

This entry poses a challenge for, because we have not yet built a login system that identifies whether a voter is a member of the community they are voting on. The lack of login is not a serious problem as long as the blogs listed on a community's ballot appeal primarily to members of that community. But if a blog attracts many voters from outside the community, then award funds may be directed in ways that the funding community may not want.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

VoterMedia enters $5 million funding competition

The Knight News Challenge is a media innovation contest that aims to advance the future of news by funding new ways to digitally inform communities. As much as $5 million will be given away this year.

I just submitted an entry for, requesting $200,000.

You can:

1. See the VoterMedia entry, vote on its rating, and participate in its comment discussion.

2. Enter the contest yourself! Deadline is December 1.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Planning to tweak the votermedia award algorithm

As I've been watching how the contest is working at, it seems to me we can tweak one of the model's parameters to make it work a little better. This parameter affects the trade-off between two things we'd like to achieve, both of which encourage competition but in different ways:

1. Limit the maximum share each blog can win. Currently with 5 or more competitors, the maximum votable amount is 30%. This ensures that at least 4 blogs can get funding, thus enhancing competition that way.

2. Even though their shares are at or near the 30% cap, we'd still like the top blogs to feel some incentive to keep making an effort. If the top 3 are all up against a hard ceiling at 30%, they may have little or no incentive to keep working at their blogs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New video: VoterMedia Should Be Continuous

We released our third video today at "VoterMedia Should Be Continuous"

In it, students at the University of British Columbia (UBC) talk about changing VoterMedia from a once-a-year system to a continuous year-round system for funding blogs about their student union, the Alma Mater Society (AMS).

"I think it’s something that I hope will only grow and prosper, you know, not just during the season where people elect their AMS executives, but the entire year." (Justin McElroy, Coordinating Editor, The Ubyssey)

It's the third video down at

Friday, November 5, 2010

Media Democracy Day: tomorrow at VPL

Media Democracy Day is on Saturday November 6 from noon to 5pm at the Vancouver Public Library main branch. It's free, fascinating and important -- see you there! Info at