I don't see how showing everyone's primary score publicly helps to select moderators at this point. Surely it just encourages bias in the voters to inflate high scores? Why randomise the order they appear in but then still give them a very clear and obvious ranking that is the first thing a voter will see?

On questions and answers it's often the first thing I'll take note of, to decide whether or not I should even pay much attention to it. But surely that's the opposite of the intended behaviour here?


2 Answers 2


Surely it just encourages bias in the voters to inflate high scores?

Yes, it does. That's the point:

There is obviously some intentional bias here, because we want the strongest, most electable candidates to proceed forward. That way the election is between ten strong candidates that you have to actually THINK ABOUT to decide who you vote for .. rather than mindlessly and reflexively voting up the highest rep person, which is what happens far too often.

-- Jeff Atwood, Proposal for Amendments to the election primary

Yes, it's great that anyone and their dog can nominate (provided they manage to scrape together a token few reputation points first). But this is actually kinda serious: you're trusting these people with a fairly staggering amount of power and influence, and you can't go back 6 months later and say "ha ha I was just joking, you didn't really think I wanted Crazy Sideburns Guy to be able to delete any user on a whim, did you?"

So yes, there's bias. You're encouraged to agree, in public, with others in your community on the ten most-electable members of your site. Once that's done, we get down to brass tacks in the final election phase and hash out the handful among them who will actually be trusted with the keys to the Big Red Buttons, at which point you really, really don't want this to be a damn circus.

See also: why the candidate score is so unfair toward single-minded individuals.

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    \$\begingroup\$ On that note, I'm gonna trim my sideburns now... \$\endgroup\$
    – Jamal
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 3:32

Primaries are just a place to "weed out" candidates that have no chance in an election. It's supposed to cut the field from max. 30 (after the rep-based truncation) to 10 candidates that are then running in the election

The confirmation bias you describe exists, but the scores are not relevant for the later elections. The scores are just to test the waters and give a rough overview of what to expect in the election phase.

One thing to note, though. While a negative score on a candidate post is possible, all scores below 0 will be reported as 0.

This is done to reduce negative confirmation bias (IIUC). Positive confirmation bias will be negated by the STV Voting system. Overlarge amounts of votes will be transferred to the second or third choice after a candidate passes (or another is eliminated).

Trying to counteract that "positive confirmation bias" is a wasted effort, that reduces clarity.

Think of primaries less as election and more as a "poll" or "extrapolation"


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