[MG] Voting advice application

Alex Keskitalo / D4C email.d4c at gmail.com
Fri Jun 10 10:31:21 EDT 2011

It's true, I DO use data as my argument, but only because in the finnish 
environment a specific type of data is abundant..

Practically everyone, meaning 90% of all candidates, 90% of all voters 
who "have internet", map their opinions against candidates (and each 
other) in more than one brand of "vaalikone", and this becomes an 
unofficial national passtime whenever elections are near, Every major TV 
channel and Newspaper company heavily market/promote their own brand of 
vaalikone, there where over 200 to choose from, like greenpeace, the 
church, internet communities, even the Zeitgeist movement had one. Its 
just something you do.

You just go online, and you find your candidate by inputting your 
opinions, and the vaalikone's match you to your candidate, with varying 
success rates, of course. In such an intensely  competitive market, the 
vaalikone's have evolved to a point that it works so well that it is a 
permanent part of the political landscape, elections are won and lost 
because of it.

I know that's a handful, but that is just describing the facts.

the next logical step is to add a vote-button to a vaalikone, as a kind 
of a "i approve this candidate"-thing. this upgrade will be done by this 
autumn anyway (upcoming election in spring), and it really has me 
wondering about how that changes the political landscape, on the 
internet, in finland.

Is that a shift towards e-democracy? why yes it is.

that was when i searched and found this place, and started shouting my 
point of view :D
nothing constructive is coming out yet, i seem to be having problems 
expressing myself, must be the programmer in me, using proof-of-concept 

Maybe i am asking, what kind of e-government, e-politics, e-democracy 
systems (specific existing projects) would you use, if you had a mass 
population of 5 million, already using an  online voting system, ready 
to go?

On 10.6.2011 8:57, Michael Allan wrote:
> Alex Keskitalo wrote:
>> If you told a finnish person that in other countries they don't have
>> the voting advice app ("vaalikone") ecosystem, they would be
>> surprised and wonder how you could vote blindly like that...  "what
>> are the issues?" and "what are the solutions?" ...  This generates
>> data, and lots of it...  What kind of data do you guys have to work
>> with?
> We are not very data centric, so I have trouble answering.  However
> you appear to offer something more than data.  You had Finns wonder
> "how [we] could vote blindly like that", which indicates that you
> offer a new kind of "voting eye".  Is it correct to understand your
> question on those terms?
>>> I think so.  The larger the sample, the tighter the confidence
>>> interval on the prediction.
>> Users implicitly (explicitly?) sort the candidates by rating their
>> answers, so they end up with a "best candidates for me" -list
>> anyway, with or without the predictive algorithm.
> I see.  There is another kind of prediction involved:
>> But the predictive algorithm helps to make the process easier,
>> faster, etc for the user, by giving the user the most relevant
>> things they need to rate, on a personalized level.
>> so as you have rated stuff in a certain way according to your
>> personal politics, the algorithm compares your political fingerprint
>> to everyone else's, then it comes up with your closest political
>> allies, searches ratings they have made to find a candidate's answer
>> you should like, shows it to you, you rate it, algorithm runs again
>> with new data, etc.
> Based on the behaviour of other users it somehow predicts the
> questions that I (as a user) ought to be rating - the ones that would
> offer the most traction - in order to improve the prediction of my own
> choice of candidate.  I think I understand, roughly.
>> of course that's just the generalized concept. under the hood the
>> complexity is much higher, multiple parallel mechanisms are at work,
>> with a self-regulating control layer on top, and that has
>> hand-tunable parameters for stuff like how strongly should the
>> individuals opinion be reinforced or challenged, higher order stuff
>> like that, not perfect but helpful when you have to adapt to
>> changing group dynamics as the numbers grow..
> Yes, I see there is some positive feedback to be tuned.  The
> prediction should not become a self-generated artifact of the
> mechanism.  OK.
>>> What will the voting feature be like?
>> The idea is that the user narrows down their candidate choices until
>> they have a winner, then we have them confirm the result.
> What happens if they do not?  Suppose they decide to vote for a
> different candidate.
>> In theory this should guarantee a machine-measurable level of
>> confidence in the macro-result...
> Could you elaborate?  Any assurance of correctness would seem to
> require an independent, external check on the mechanism.
>> when an election is over, the generated user population is left high
>> and dry, such a waste :D
> True!  Although the atmosphere is very different after an election
> than before.  This may have some effect on the users.  Will they still
> be asking the same question, "Who should I vote for?"
>>> Thank you, and likewise!  Tim Bonnemann recently observed that
>>> e-democracy is "niche and fragmented", and I couldn't agree more.
>>> Anything we can do to remedy it would be step forward.
>> Agreed, convergence as a macro-strategy.
> I guess there are different kinds of convergence.  Other strategies
> might be viable too, depending on the situation.  Do you have
> something concrete in mind?  (I do, but am more interested in hearing
> your own ideas.)

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