Sunday, January 23, 2011

UBC 1-time #votermedia results & calculations [#amselections]

Congrats to all participants in the UBC AMS elections that ended yesterday! It got messy at times, but ended with a success for democracy, it seems to me.

- Results for elections & votermedia

- Detailed vote counts

If you'd like to see how we calculate the voter media awards from the vote counts, see this spreadsheet. In words, we find a cutoff number of votes that will allocate the exact total $2000 award pool, when we award each contestant the amount of money supported by that many votes for that amount or higher. (Well, the spreadsheet is coded in terms of percentiles counting up from $0 instead of votes counting down from the top, but it comes to the same thing.)

One extra wrinkle is that we interpolate the votes. Voting is in $125 increments, but we wanted to calculate awards in $25 increments. So (for example) a vote for $250 is treated as 1/5 of a vote for each of these amounts: $200, $225, $250, $275, $300. (Votes for $0 are not interpolated.) The spreadsheet first shows what the awards would have been without interpolation (easier to follow), and then the actual awards with interpolation.

Last year's AMS 1-time votermedia contest had 4 times as much funding -- $8000. So all the increments were 4 times the size -- see spreadsheet.

Comparing the two years' results, I think UBC students "get" votermedia better this year, making awards that correspond more with the quality of the blogs. For example, Radical Beer Tribune did not place first the way it did last year when most observers found that odd.

The above results are for the 1-time VoterMedia (1VM) contests on the annual AMS elections ballot. We also have Continuous VoterMedia (CVM) running year-round on this ballot.

[See also Twitter: #votermedia OR #amselections]

Thursday, January 13, 2011

CTV News on E-voting at UBC AMS [#amselections]

CTV News last night talked about possibilities for internet voting in B.C. to engage more young voters. They used UBC AMS elections as an example, interviewing AMS President Bijan Ahmadian -- see the January 12 link on this page, about 18 minutes in (3 minutes before the end).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Continuous vs 1-time VoterMedia

At tonight's UBC AMS Council meeting they plan to review funding allocations for the Continuous VoterMedia (CVM) and 1-time VoterMedia (1VM) contests. I just got an email requesting more info on this issue. Here's what I've pulled together:

Links --

1. Video: VoterMedia Should Be Continuous – UBC students' views on how CVM benefits the AMS community.

2. CVM statistics for November 2010 (also linked from

3. CVM funding shares since January 1, 2010.

4. Spreadsheet discussed below: Correlating media votes with President votes (also linked from this post).

The main conclusion from the spreadsheet in link #4 above: Most CVM voters read the blogs before voting on them. Most 1VM voters didn't read the blogs before voting on them, so their voting decisions were more superficial (e.g. based on the blog name), and the funding allocations were not as well aligned with the quality of blog content.

For example in column I: The blog Social Capital endorsed Bijan for President. Among the students who also voted in CVM, those who voted for Bijan allocated an average of $533 to Social Capital, while those who voted for Natalie (the runner-up) allocated $148 to Social Capital, a difference of $385. This strongly suggests that Social Capital readers follow (or at least agree with) Social Capital's endorsements.

By contrast, among the students who did not vote in CVM, those who voted for Bijan allocated $444 to Social Capital, while those who voted for Natalie allocated $384 to Social Capital, a difference of only $60. Comparing this with the above difference of $385, we see that CVM voters are paying a lot more attention to the blog. (CVM-1VM correlations were determined via voters' ip addresses.)

Likewise in column O: UBC Insiders endorsed Natalie for President. Among CVM voters, the Bijan supporters allocated $650 to Insiders, while Natalie supporters allocated $1000 to Insiders, a difference of $350. Among non-CVM-voters, the Bijan supporters allocated $522 to Insiders, while Natalie supporters allocated $648 to Insiders, a difference of only $126. Here again, CVM voters are paying more attention to the blog they are voting funds to.

The sample sizes were small relative to the standard deviations of voted amounts, so only some of the results are statistically significant. Note that AMS Confidential was a brand new blog at the time, so had not yet built its reputation. Thus it makes sense that even CVM voters were not looking to that blog for endorsements yet. Its results are likely to be different in 2011.

The above statistics confirm most observers' subjective assessments that the CVM allocations made more sense than the 1VM allocations. The top award winner in 1VM was Radical Beer Tribune, perhaps partly because the name alone attracts many voters who have not read the blogs, so have only the names to go on. Even the author of RBT felt that it did not deserve first place. From Matt Naylor's video interview (June 3, 2010):

"One of the things that we saw last year was my blog, The Radical Beer Tribune, winning the top amount in the one-time VFM, that we did for the election, but winning the fourth-highest amount – I think it was fourth-highest – in the Continuous VFM. I think, you know, while I am fantastic, the coverage that we provided was probably more deserving of the fourth-place amount, in terms of like consistent coverage and in-depth analysis of the election than perhaps some of the other blogs. But, you know, I’m not complaining!"

In spite of its shortcomings, the past 4 years of 1VM have added a lot to the UBC AMS mediasphere. Each year I have collaborated with UBC students to improve the system, and CVM is the latest product of that process. CVM looks like a promising improvement, but it's still in its infancy. It has been funded only sporadically so far, and has had little promotion. Once it becomes more known and continuously funded as it was designed to be, we can expect its performance to improve still further.

I'll be at the AMS Council meeting tonight. My thanks to the AMS for this productive and fascinating collaboration!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Enter the $2000 UBC AMS Elections VoterMedia Contest

The annual election campaign at the University of British Columbia's Alma Mater Society starts today! In addition to their Continuous VoterMedia blog contest ballot at, they are having the usual 1-time "Elections VoterMedia Contest". Entry deadline is this Friday, January 14 -- info here.