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Wednesday, April 03, 2002

How to Structure the Ballot?

We decided this already:

Voters must vote for their top 10 candidates in order. We aren’t sure how to award the points.

In the extended text, I’ll post the last two posts from our earlier discussion.

I kind of like DanG’s idea and JimD points out that we aren’t splitting atoms. I guess we have to make a choice here, so let’s start moving in that direction . . .

Posted 2:34 p.m., January 16, 2002 - DanG

I thought I’d weigh in on the topic of MVP-style voting points.

I’ve always had a small problem with the 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and similar formats used, because the point totals achieved by players relate poorly to the players’ actual values. The #1 man is not usually twice the value of the #6 man; the #9 man is not twice the value of #10; The #3 man is not four times the value of the #9 man, etc.

The hill is too steep. I’m thinking more along the lines of a distribution starting like this: 5-5-4-4-3-3-2-2-1-1. Along with this, 5 bonus points are to be distributed, no more than 2 to any one player, for a total of 35 points on each ballot.

The top-loaded extreme looks like this: 7-7-5-4-3-3-2-2-1-1.

The bottom-loaded extreme is: 5-5-4-4-3-3-3-3-3-2.

The tilt-the-ballot-to-one-man ballot is: 7-5-4-4-3-3-3-2-2-2. This one especially is reminiscent of a typical TPR leaders list.

The tilt-the-ballot-to-two-men ballot is: 7-7-4-4-3-3-2-2-2-1.

I think this gradual point distribution enables voters to better reflect the relative values of the candidates they’re voting for. There just is not that big a difference between the candidates in most years.

It also lessens the impact of a top vote. It’s much harder to skew the results to My Favorite candidate. A high point total depends more on the consistency of a player’s high ranking on the ballots cast. You would avoid an outcome such as the 1979 NL MVP vote, where the madcap Stargell-for-#1 voters pushed him into a tie with the more-consistently supported Keith Hernandez.


Posted 6:11 p.m., January 16, 2002 - jimd

The “these are my 5 guys ballot”
6-5-5-5-5-3-2-2-1-1 instead of 12-12-12-12-11-6-4-3-2-1

DanG: actually, the impact of a top-vote is the same in a 7 out of 35 system as in a 15 out of 75. You’re getting 20% of the points.

Scaling them to a common denominator (525 points):
Top loaded
(75) 15-15-14-8-7-6-4-3-2-1 becomes 105-105-98-56-49-42-28-21-14—7
(35) -7—7—5-4-3-3-2-2-1-1 becomes 105-105-75-60-45-45-30-30-15-15
Bottom loaded
(75) 10-9-9-8-8-7-7-6-6-5 becomes 70-63-63-56-56-49-49-42-42-35
(35) -5-5-4-4-3-3-3-3-3-2 becomes 75-75-60-60-45-45-45-45-45-30

I can get the same effect by requiring 10th place to get 2 points on the 75 point scale. I don’t think it makes a big difference.

JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: April 03, 2002 at 02:49 PM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. DanG Posted: April 04, 2002 at 09:02 PM (#509707)
I don't see where comparing vote percentages is very useful. For instance, in the BBWAA voting for the HOF, a player who gets elected with 80% on his first year eligible is hardly the same as a player getting elected with 80% in his 15th year.

Similarly, If you get a ballot like 1999 where four powerhouses hit the ballot at once (Ryan, Brett, Yount, Fisk) your vote percentage will suffer greatly in comparison to a year like 2002 when Ozzie Smith got 92% (wazzup with that?)

Vote pct has a lot to do with who you're up against.

As for the topic at hand, I still think some flexibility in awarding points is a good thing. Enabling voters to express varied degrees of support for candidates can help to separate the greats at the top.

   2. MattB Posted: April 16, 2002 at 02:59 PM (#509708)
I disagree.

If the goal is to find the two (or however many) best candidates, and I think my top two are right (which I do, or else I wouldn't be voting for them in the top two), then I will of course skew my "bonus" points in some way to maximize the votes given to those two. The hypothetical "bottom loaded" (5-5-4) ballot in effect says "none of my guys are much better than anyone else's. Might as well just throw away my ballot and count the guys who voted 7-7-5."

Sure, bottom loaded gives more points to you down-ballot guys, but those are the ones that you feel are (by whatever margin) less worthy. The decision to do anything other than top-load is the decision to have your votes for the people you want to most see elected counted less than someone else's.

If a weighted ballot is chosen, I don't think it will necessarily ruin anything. I'm just going to weigh my ballot completely toward the top X candidates (where X is the number elected) every year, irrespective of what I consider their relative worth. (To the extent I could even make such fine distictions beyond 'better than' and 'worse than' when comparing two great players from different eras who play different position). Otherwise, I risk my top candidate (who I gave five points) losing out by one point to your top candidate (who you gave seven points), because I thought some worthy down-ballot guys deserved more consideration.
   3. DanG Posted: April 16, 2002 at 05:28 PM (#509709)
I think there's nothing necessarily wrong with your approach. If you feel really strongly that your top two (or whatever) guys are clearly the best, it's fine to throw all the support their way.

OTOH, maybe you don't feel so positive that your top two are a lot better than #3, #4, ... You could just as easily say, "There's no real difference I can see, these other guys deserve election just as much. Let's give them the points I think they deserve."

You seem to feel that most voters will say, "Damn the margins, MY guy's gotta win!" I think we would want to discourage that mentality. There's no prize if your guys make it in.

Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but I believe most voters will take a more honest approach when allocating points across their ballot.

   4. MattB Posted: April 16, 2002 at 06:44 PM (#509710)
I guess my point is that this voting technique seems to add a degree of scientific preciseness that it really doesn't have.

If I'm looking at a ballot and its got Cy Young and Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson on it, am I going to sit down and figure out, "Babe's better than Walter by 16% and Walter's better than Cy by 2%, so I'll award points 7-6-6." But if Babe's better than Walter by only 8%, I should go 7-7-6, unless there are a few closer calls lower down, in which case I should shift my extra points down there. . ."

No. Offhand, I'm going to spend my time trying to get Cy, Walter, and Babe and seven other guys in the right order. Figuring out percentage differences just seems like we're getting beyond the realm of significant digits. But then, on the election where Babe Ruth retires and all the early greats are already in, an honest ballot would probably look something like 10-2-2-2-2-2-1-1-1-1-1. A 5-5-4-4-3 ballot stacks the results just as much as a 10-9-8-7-5 ballot, based on your assumption is that the players are not very different from each other.

Also, on the practical side, even if it is more mathematically precise, I guarantee that no matter how intelligent the electorate is, on at least a third of the ballots on a "scaled with bonus points" system, the numbers won't add up. Then you'll need a procedure for either eliminating points from a ballot that adds up to too many points, or scaling up the ballots that don't have enough points, or discarding all the defective ballots. The error rate on anything deviating from a "List Your Top Ten" will guaranteed have an error rate higher than heavily democratic precincts in Florida, and the error rate will more than compensate for increased mathematical exactness.

And no one thinks that Pat Buchanan should go into the Hall of Merit on the first ballot.

   5. scruff Posted: April 16, 2002 at 08:08 PM (#509711)
I keep waffling on this one. MattB, you are starting to win me over . . .
   6. DanG Posted: April 16, 2002 at 08:09 PM (#509712)
MattB wrote: "...this voting technique seems to add a degree of scientific preciseness that it really doesn't have."

Then: "...on at least a third of the ballots on a "scaled with bonus points" system, the numbers won't add up."

Finally: "K.I.S.S."

These are all good points. Never a diehard supporter of the idea, I now tend to agree that bonus points are an unnecessary complication of the process.

   7. scruff Posted: April 16, 2002 at 08:10 PM (#509713)
Don't take that last post to mean this is my call or mine and Robert's. We'll have to come to a consensus or vote or something . . . just meant to say my support is starting to lean towards MattB . . .
   8. jimd Posted: April 17, 2002 at 12:49 AM (#509714)
I'm the guy who brought up this idea in the first place (last January). As is clear in my initial two posts on the topic, I was not going to the mat with this idea either. If nothing else, it has been interesting to talk about. K.I.S.S. can be an excellent motto.

>> Posted 2:16 p.m., January 11, 2002 - jimd

There is a form of voting which gives you some number of points, say 75, and lets you allocate it as you want over the candidates. I don't advocate that here, in its pure form, (like, all points to one candidate) but a limited form of it may be useful.

[initial detailed proposal]

That would allow voters like Mark some room to express relative intensity.

(Of course, if you're writing some software to tabulate ballots, it may complicate vote parsing and verification.)

Posted 7:18 p.m., January 11, 2002 - jimd

[detailed counter-proposal]

It allows you to reflect the (lack of) clarity of your decision in the points.

I know it's extra work to implement, and this is a hobby, not a job, so a fixed point MVP style is quite fine also.
   9. MattB Posted: April 17, 2002 at 12:48 PM (#509715)
Scruff wrote:

"Don't take that last post to mean this is my call or mine and Robert's. We'll have to come to a consensus or vote or something . . . "

Ah, but will we get bonus points to express how much we care?


Then there was the educated Texan from Texas who looked like someone in Technicolor and felt, patriotically, that people of means -- decent folk should be given more votes than drifters, whores, criminals, degenerates, atheists and indecent folk -- people without means.

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