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Monday, January 19, 2004

Amendment to cover new voters and challenges to ballots

Thanks to John Murphy for taking the time to write this out!

I - Voting Requirements:

Before any prospective voter will be allowed the franchise, the following prerequisites must be met.

1) The prospective voter must submit to the Ballot Committee (see section II below) reasons for and against the top ten candidate returnees from the prior election. Saying there is no case against a candidate is reasonable sometimes, like in the case of Cy Young, for example. A one-line statement for each may be all that is needed, but it needs to reasoned and logical, as determined by the Ballot Committee.

2) The prospective voter must be familiar with sabermetrical analysis and be willing to use a form of it within their ranking system. Any sabermetrical method (including, but not limited to Win Shares, WARP, etc.) is welcome. Any variation on an established system or a totally new analytical system created by the prospective voter himself/herself are also welcome (provided they are mathematically sound). While we are not looking for 100% consensus, we are aiming our sights on voters who are knowledgeable and scientifically minded.

3) The Ballot Committee will review each prospective voter’s qualifications and their compliance with the voter requirements, and if the requirements are met, the voter will be granted a ballot.

II - Ballot Committee:

The five-person panel will review any ballot that is challenged by a member(s). It will also review any new applications from prospective voters. It will consist of four voters, plus the commissioner. If there are more than four candidates for the committee, an election will be held. Term of office will expire after six elections (three months).

If one of the voters challenges a ballot (and is then seconded by another voter), it goes before the committee to be reviewed. If the committee decides to kill it, the group as a whole can then veto the committee’s action with a supermajority (67%) vote.

Valid reasons for challenging a ballot include (but are not limited to):

*Incompetence (voting for Tom Brookens, for example)
*Failure to comply with the rules (not explaining why you voted for Brookens)

If a ballot is nullified due to incompetence, the voter will be on probation for two elections and will have to reapply for membership.

If a ballot is nullified due to not complying with certain rules (no explanations on the ballot, ineligible candidates on the ballot, etc.), the voter will be allowed to revise his/her ballot without any penalties, if compliance is met.

For new ballot applications, the Ballot Committee’s decision is final.

When a committee member’s term is up, he may run for re-election (or have his membership re-upped if no one challenges him). The first four members of the committee will receive terms of 3, 5, 7 and 9 elections, so that we’ll have one spot coming open every other election (once a month in real time), and so that we don’t have complete turnover at any point.

I think we’ve come to the point where we have to formalize the process somewhat. Like any ‘company’ when there’s only a few people you don’t need much documented, but as things grow, more things need to be formalized. We’ve only seen a few minor issues to date, but as always, we try to nip things in the bud before they become problematic.

As always, feel free to comment, or offer up a better mousetrap if you have one! But no mousetrap isn’t an option any longer.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 19, 2004 at 05:44 PM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 19, 2004 at 06:01 PM (#521078)
I was more Thomas Jefferson to Joe's John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Roger Sherman. :-D
   2. favre Posted: January 19, 2004 at 08:25 PM (#521079)
How will prospective voters contact the ballot committee? Do they simply post on the discussion site, or will there be a new voters site?
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: January 19, 2004 at 09:32 PM (#521082)
Is this a "living document?" ;)
   4. Marc Posted: January 19, 2004 at 10:41 PM (#521083)
I was more Benedict Arnold or Richard Nixon to Joe's God.

But my one comment at this point would be: Can we make the requirement for commenting on players in the top X who we do NOT vote for, AND for players NOT in the top X that we DO vote for...can we make them the same X, just for clarity's sake. I don't think I'll be able to remember the rule of those two X's have different values.

And since our ballots have 15 names on them, why not split the difference between the proposed 10 and 20 and call them both 15? That's three things with the same number! Consistency being the...I forget.
   5. Marc Posted: January 19, 2004 at 10:47 PM (#521084)
PS. I think a thread HERE would be preferable. Otherwise, so far at least, it is possible to participate here without recourse to the Yahoo group, which carries with it its own registration, etc., headaches.
   6. OCF Posted: January 19, 2004 at 10:57 PM (#521085)
Marc - no. There's a point to having the three numbers not equal. An endless stream of comments of the form "I've got nothing against Old Joe who was 13th in the vote last year, but he's 19th in my rankings" will just clutter up the ballot threads and impede rather than enable our conversation. In fact, top 10 may already be a little too much - top 7 or top 8 might be good enough. And the other end of it? "Not in the top 20" might be a little too rigid - just that you should know when any of your choices (like my vote for Roy Thomas) is just a tad unusual.
   7. OCF Posted: January 19, 2004 at 10:58 PM (#521086)
As for Mark's second point: I second the motion. Here, not on the Yahoo group.
   8. Marc Posted: January 19, 2004 at 11:05 PM (#521087)
IOW, both numbers (10 and then 20) are meant to require fewer comments? I guess I see the value in that!
   9. OCF Posted: January 19, 2004 at 11:37 PM (#521088)
So under these rules, a retroactive interpretation of what happened on the 1917 ballot would be:

The "Harold Thurmer" and "Dave Roberts" ballots were challenged on grounds of incompetence, and (by silent consensus if nothing else) found to be incompetent. This voter/voters has/have not been accepted for membership.

Sean's ballot was challenged for failure to comply with the rules (lack of explanation). He complied with the request, albeit too late for his ballot to count. It would be in the spirit of the rules above for Sean to suffer no further penalty.

These rules presume the idea of "membership". Clearly, there are current members. Of course some of us never signed in at the Yahoo group. Can anyone produce a list (listed by posting handle) of the current membership?
   10. Marc Posted: January 20, 2004 at 04:17 PM (#521091)
I agree with Patrick. The point is compliance, not punishment and rehabilitation. I would in fact prefer no penalties for any offense other than nullification of the current ballot. It's hard for me to picture that as being an onerous policy to implement, in fact it will be less so than anything else proposed here. If somebody is a real pain in the keister week after week after week, well, there is no preventing that.
   11. favre Posted: January 21, 2004 at 05:34 AM (#521094)
"I guess the point of the suspension was so that someone couldn't keep throwing a 'incompetent' ballot at us every year and have us have to review it every year. It would give them a month to look everything over, do research, etc.."
   12. jimd Posted: January 21, 2004 at 06:08 PM (#521095)
The point is compliance, not punishment and rehabilitation.

Total agreement. I can't imagine a voter who has been approved then submitting "incompetent" ballots -- as opposed to "incomplete" ballots, not sufficiently explained -- unless the voter has decided to make a mockery of the process. Simple nullification should be sufficient for both, with perhaps a proviso for revoking the ballot privilege after N nullifications for incompetency. I think an elaborate mechanism is unnecessary.
   13. Jeff M Posted: January 26, 2004 at 10:21 PM (#521097)
I agree with Clint.
   14. karlmagnus Posted: January 27, 2004 at 04:10 AM (#521098)
While I'm all in favor of disregarding obvious trolls, I'm a little nervous of trying to remove honest incompetence, since I am no doubt guilty of that often myself, in this as in other endeavors. I think the chill factor of (for example) suggesting that RMcC's ballot should be removed because it didn't contain a reson for not honoring McGinnity, a player I happen to favor but who's not getting in this year anyway, is detrimental to the process.

The best results will be achieved by a Delphi method, in which people read each other's views, think about them and then by all means disregard them if they don't agree. The near-death and resuscitation of Caruthers is an excellent example of that method in action, whether or not he gets in -- his career was unique in baseball history and thus will inspire widely differing opinions of his Merit. We will also probably come to the optimal treatment of Negro Leaguers by this means (before we started, I would have been amazed for us not to have elected Grant, the only 19C baseball player I'd ever heard of.)

However, all the studies have shown that the Delphi method DOES NOT WORK if a central group imposes its views on it; it is the eccentricities and off-beat approaches that give the method its intellectual power.
   15. karlmagnus Posted: January 27, 2004 at 04:12 AM (#521099)
Sorry -- I HAD of course heard of Cap Anson and Old Hoss -- the only AFRICAN AMERICAN 19C baseball player I'd heard of!
   16. Marc Posted: January 27, 2004 at 04:56 AM (#521100)
I would lighten up on the rules. If a ballot is not imcompetent on its face (positions 1-15), it is certainly NOT incompetent because it fails to state why #16ff. were not voted for.

It would be different if our ballot was the only opportunity for disucssion. But we see hundreds of posts each weak discussing the merits of various players. A P.S. to a ballot is not going to help others to discover a player or a new fact about that player or a new reason to vote for that player. If such a case can be made, it was already made in the discussion thread.

I would just require that items 1-15 show some rationale and not be incompetent. All else is gravy.
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2004 at 05:12 AM (#521101)
I would lighten up on the rules. If a ballot is not imcompetent on its face (positions 1-15), it is certainly NOT incompetent because it fails to state why #16ff. were not voted for.

Of course not, Marc. The Ballot Committee would handle both incompetence and noncompliance matters, but that doesn't mean that the committee would view them as equal problems.
   18. Chris Cobb Posted: January 27, 2004 at 05:13 AM (#521102)
I like Clint's proposals for simplifying the function of the ballot committee.

I would just require that items 1-15 show some rationale and not be incompetent. All else is gravy.

I'd agree with this as the basic requirement for a valid ballot -- i.e. don't hold up tallying the votes waiting for explanations of why someone left player x off the ballot, as long as there's a competent rationale for the players voted for.

However, I think "best practices" balloting is indeed beneficial. I like to see reasoned challenges to the prevailing views of players, both to test my ideas and to have a starting point for changing someone's mind about a player if I decide to give it a try. We don't have to institutionalize these practices to cultivate them, though.
   19. dan b Posted: January 27, 2004 at 03:12 PM (#521103)
I would suggest we soften the rule requiring an explanation of a no vote. In 1917 Sam Thompson finished 11th (making him one of the top 10 returnees) while appearing on just 23 of 45 ballots. Do we really need half the voters explaining why Thompson just missed making their ballot? Change the rule from top 10 to top 5.

Similarly, change the requirement for expanded justification of a place on the ballot from "not in the top 20" to "appeared on less than 10% of the previous years ballots."

That is, require explanation of the extreme points of view, not the slightly below average positions.
   20. Daryn Posted: January 27, 2004 at 05:34 PM (#521106)
I agree with andrew, with the addition that if you double post, you're out for good.
   21. OCF Posted: January 27, 2004 at 06:09 PM (#521109)
I agree with both dan b and Andrew. As dan b suggests, top 10 is too inclusive. I agree totally with Andrew when he says, ...there should be no penalty for failing to do so (other than the annoyance of dealing with repeated pestering requests for such explanations).

RMc is annoyed with me for my "pestering requests" regarding McGinnity, but his ballot should be counted. Was Mcginnity above or below the threshold for required explanation? Unlike dan b's example of Thompson who was on half the ballots, McGinnity appeared on over 80% - but he still wasn't top 5. RMc habitually explains less than most of us; for that he should have to put up with an occasional needle.

When you get to long-argued positions on which the division of the electorate is clear, like the standing of Bob Caruthers, or whether pre-1871 candidates are or are not being shortchanged, I don't think that having everyone weigh in with their reasons is going to help very much. On an issue like that, if you've changed your mind, tell us and tell us why. But if you haven't changed your mind, I don't see any reason to elaborate.

On the other end: there are votes that really don't call for unsusual explanation, like votes for Jim McCormick or Vic Willis. Those guys are mainstream candidates, even if they have slipped out of the top 20. Truly unsual votes - Mark McKinniss voting for Jimmy Williams, yest voting for Deacon Phillippe, OCF voting for Roy Thomas - do incur some burden of explanation.
   22. Marc Posted: January 27, 2004 at 07:16 PM (#521110)
Like I said, a "why not" for a 16th place is hardly the only time the voter has a chance to express his or her opinions. The fact is whomever the affected players are, they've arleady pretty much been discussed to death. I just don't see this as a big deal. Who gets to split the hair between an "unusual vote" and a "truly unusual vote"?

This is my last post re. process because I really don't care. As long as we get to post our votes and somebody counts 'em, I don't care about the rest. But I pity the poor slob trying to join this club now.
   23. Howie Menckel Posted: January 27, 2004 at 07:33 PM (#521111)
Well, doesn't bother me at all if we 'loosen the reins,' only needing top 5 mentions, or whatever.
   24. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 27, 2004 at 07:57 PM (#521112)
Well, doesn't bother me at all if we 'loosen the reins,' only needing top 5 mentions, or whatever.

That's fine with me, too. I've been indifferent to the rule from the beginning (probably because I have to explain myself more than most at the end of my ballots) :-)

But if we have rules, then we have to follow them. I do think we should bend over backwards as much as possible for the minor rule infractions, however.
   25. Chris Cobb Posted: January 28, 2004 at 05:25 AM (#521114)
Clint's two rules seem suitable to me, but in terms of the rationale for the rules and the process for seeing that they are followed, I would advance a somewhat different view.

I don't think we have a problem with trolls (or munchkins) at present -- the elaboration of voting rules is attempting to anticipate what such problems would be like and to provide a suitable mechanism for dealing with them smoothly.

For that reason, I still think a ballot committee is a good idea. Our group has done a fine job of maintaining standards informally, but I think that an officially agreed-upon screening body would make dealing with genuine trolls or munchkins much easier. We would, as a group, know who has the responsibility for posting the necessary responses to problematic ballots and making an official determination on whether a ballot should count, a determination which would still be subject to the oversight of the group as a whole. If our informal processes for maintaining standards continue to work, the ballot committee will have little work to do, and that's fine. But if a bunch of Joe Jackson fanatics who know nothing about baseball history or serious statistical analysis appear around 1930 (unlikely but possible), a functioning ballot committee would be a big help, and if we don't have it in place, it will be too late to create it when a problem actually arises. As long as we keep the rules it monitors simple, (as per Clint's suggestion above) a ballot committee won't provide an occasion for rules-mongering rancor within the current electorate.
   26. favre Posted: January 30, 2004 at 01:20 AM (#521115)
?I'll try to summarize the consensus: The pressing issue, right now, is to keep out the trolls, and have some reasoned basis for doing so.?

Yes, but I also think there is a larger issue here: who do we want do admit to the electorate? This isn?t a pressing question, because the electorate has remained fairly stable for years now, and maybe I?m making too much of this. Still, I think there is a tension in this discussion thread between what we could call the ?expert? position and the ?democratic position?. The expert position favors creating fairly demanding admission standards which demonstrate knowledge of sabermetric methods. The voting requirements listed on this thread would be an example of the ?expert? position; my own proposals in the 1918 discussion thread leaned this way. The democratic position favors standards which would basically allow anyone willing to explain their picks except in the cases of grossly incompetent ballots. Clint?s proposal, I think, is an example of this (please tell me if you disagree, Clint). In other words, I don?t think we?re simply discussing trolls here; we?re actually debating, perhaps without realizing it, the philosophy of the HoM. Are we an alternative Hall of Fame made of sabermetricians, or can anyone who is willing to defend a ballot join, whether or not they?ve heard of Win Shares? If this isn?t just in my head, and there is a tension here between two admission philosophies, then it seems important to resolve this sometime soon. There is a good chance that more people will want to join as time goes on and eligible players become more familiar.

I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both. The advantage of the expert position is that it is a good guarantor for the quality of voting. It?s unlikely that ?incompetent? ballots will be a concern if there are strong standards of admission. Also, players who do well by sabermetirc standards, but not by traditional stats, may have a better chance for a fair evaluation. The disadvantage is?well, it can seem elitist, particularly since it?s located on a public website with a good amount of traffic. More concretely, it may discourage good, intelligent voters from joining us. I doubt I would have applied for membership under the rules proposed right now on the thread. Of course, many of you probably think that would have been a good thing?

The advantage of the democratic position is that it allows for a diversity of opinions and voices. As Clint points out, lower admission standards are also easier to supervise. Good voters who want to join us will likely not be discouraged from doing so. The disadvantage comes with the ?competency? standards for ballots. What is an incompetent ballot? Placing Steve Garvey first? Placing Ruth anywhere but first? Not having Willie McCovey on the ballot? Not having Oscar Charleston? Having Mattingly first, because when I was growing up in New York I saw him play and everyone knew he was the best?I?m not saying we?re going to attract many ballots like this, but it is more likely to be an issue than with expert standards.

I should point out that, from what I can tell, the Constitution takes a democratic approach. There is no mention, from what I see, that the voters should have any kind of expertise (other than not being Frankie Frisch). The proposed standards on this thread represent a departure from this, unless the founders just assumed that voters should have knowledge of sabermetrics, in which case they are simply articulating that position.

Again, maybe I?m making too much of this. My own proposal leaned toward the expert position; maybe I?m jut projecting a tension in myself that? s not in the electorate. Tell me what you think.
   27. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 01, 2004 at 11:58 PM (#521117)
[But then again, wasn't Joe Start really the Steve Garvey of the 19th century? Maybe I should rethink.]

No.
   28. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 01, 2004 at 11:59 PM (#521118)
That is, no that he was the Steve Garvey of his time. I won't be voting for him in the nineties.
   29. OCF Posted: February 19, 2004 at 06:23 PM (#521119)
We spent a week or so discussing this plan, but did we come to any conclusions? Does the "Ballot Committee" exist? What exactly are the procedures for becoming a new voter?

What brings this up is post #68 on the 1920 ballot thread by LennoxHC.

This is a well-reasoned, properly explained ballot. His conclusions are quite thoroughly mainstream. The highest ranking candidates whom he omits are Pike and Pearce - and there are plenty of other voters not mentioning Pike and Pearce. The lowest-ranking player he votes for is Willis - and there are several other voters (including me) who rank Willis higher than he does. It's too early to tell whether he's more of a peak voter (Jennings #5) or more of a career voter (Wallace #2). As a ballot, it passes every reasonable test.

This is also the first post ever by LennoxHC.

So the question is procedural. What is LennoxHC's status? Is voting membership conferred immediately, and does this ballot count in the 1920 election? Or is there some waiting period?
   30. MattB Posted: February 19, 2004 at 07:45 PM (#521120)
While we tend to work by Quaker Consensus here, there were several issues that were not resolved. Until Joe makes a decision one way or the other and actually amends the Constitution, I would assume that the rules are the same as they before this thread was started.
   31. Marc Posted: February 19, 2004 at 10:33 PM (#521121)
Which means that Lennox is good as gold.
   32. EricC Posted: February 20, 2004 at 01:24 AM (#521123)
I would say that the spirit of the law is to prevent perverse ballots from being counted, not to make thoughtful, informed, new voters such as LennoxHC feel unwelcome.

Anyway, what does the "existing" ballot committee say?
   33. GRDuBois Posted: April 02, 2009 at 04:03 AM (#3121827)
Hello. I would like to be considered as a voter for the Hall of Merit, and most certainly can and will give sound reasons for/against any players' induction.
   34. OCF Posted: April 02, 2009 at 04:23 AM (#3121847)
How about, as a trial run, going to the discussion thread and making a first-draft post ranking the 18 pitchers named there and giving reasons why?
   35. OCF Posted: April 02, 2009 at 04:26 AM (#3121849)
Oops! Discussion thread. Dadgum lack of an edit function. Don't click the link in post #34. (And if John or Joe are around, would you please clean that mess out of my post or fix it?)
   36. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: April 08, 2009 at 03:16 AM (#3129310)
Working on the fix now.
   37. Howie Menckel Posted: April 09, 2009 at 01:27 AM (#3131026)
Wow, I read about 20 posts, including my own, before realizing it was mostly from 2004.
heh

"I think we’ve come to the point where we have to formalize the process somewhat. Like any ‘company’ when there’s only a few people you don’t need much documented, but as things grow, more things need to be formalized."

As I read it, I'm thinking, "Yeah, we're 6 years in now, so...."
   38. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 13, 2009 at 03:06 PM (#3135994)
In retrospect, I'm kind of happy we didn't go the hardline approach.

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