Board Election: Randomized order of candidate presentations.

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Board Election: Randomized order of candidate presentations.

Gregory Maxwell
One of the concerns I had with the election process last year was that
the ordering of candidate presentations on meta was not randomized.
Many voters have limited time to read the large amount of provided
material, so I was concerned that less popular and alphabetically
lower candidates may get an unfairly low share of the attention.

I expected this to be addressed this year, but it was just brought to
my attention that it had not been. This is unfortunate, but there is
still a week left in the election so I strongly believe that there is
value in correcting it now.

With the help of Dmcdevit I have introduced a small chunk of
javascript to meta which is able to scramble the order of designed
pieces of any page.  The scrambling is client-side, providing a new
order on every page load, and it avoids all negative interaction with
mediawiki caching.

It is designed to be generic: it supports the shuffling of anything
which can be placed in a DIV tag. I expect that it will be used for
other votes in our projects (the commons POTY contest used manual
shuffling every few hours).

I have tested it on several browsers and platforms without trouble.
Also, this solution is accessible: users without javascript simply see
the original order.  Performance is good, it causes no noticeable loss
in browser performance. The script is no more invasive than others
used on English Wikipedia and Commons.

You can see it on action at
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Gmaxwell/dshuftest

If you have viewed meta recently, you may need to press shift-reload
the first time you load the page. Successive reloads will show the
items in differing orders. Not every reload will be different: with
three items there are not many possible orderings.

I have also applied this to a forked copy of the candidate
presentation template:

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Gmaxwell/dshuftest/election

You'll notice the TOC is not shuffled. This is by design. Shuffling
the TOC would add considerable complexity and result in a loss of
generality. If it is believed that the ordering of the TOC is adding
any bias then the TOC should be completely suppressed.

I expect the addition of this to the currently running election is
both clearly uncontroversial and the obviously fair thing to do.  I,
however, leave the decision in the competent hands of the election
committee.

After the election committee gives the go-ahead this can be added to
the real pages by making a simple change (
http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User%3AGmaxwell%2Fdshuftest%2Felection&diff=618793&oldid=618789
) change to http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:Board_elections/2007/Candidates


Enjoy.

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