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The Ethics of Vote Abstention

bsh1
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2/13/2015 1:48:54 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I've discussed this issue with at least three other people on this site, not including YYW, and I am interested in getting some more feedback on this issue (not that it will necessarily change my view, but more that I think the discussion is worth having.)

YYW and I, when we see a debate we think that the other lost, simply abstain from voting rather than voting the other down. Some people have critiqued that as being unethical, or, at the very least, inappropriate.

It seems to me that anyone could ask me to vote on their debate. I could read it, and still choose, for whatever reason, not to vote. Reading a debate does not compel me to vote, and as long as I vote fairly, I don't see an issue with this policy.

What are your thoughts?
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bsh1
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2/13/2015 2:16:44 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
But anyway, I think this issues goes to the central issue of why a voter votes, and the ethics behind that, which has been a big question on DDO lately. So, I thought this OP was appropriate, given the times.
Live Long and Prosper

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Maikuru
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2/13/2015 4:55:00 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I think that behavior obviously displays favoritism, but I also think it doesn't matter. Why make your life harder over a website?
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Envisage
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2/13/2015 5:48:20 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 1:48:54 AM, bsh1 wrote:
I've discussed this issue with at least three other people on this site, not including YYW, and I am interested in getting some more feedback on this issue (not that it will necessarily change my view, but more that I think the discussion is worth having.)

YYW and I, when we see a debate we think that the other lost, simply abstain from voting rather than voting the other down. Some people have critiqued that as being unethical, or, at the very least, inappropriate.

It seems to me that anyone could ask me to vote on their debate. I could read it, and still choose, for whatever reason, not to vote. Reading a debate does not compel me to vote, and as long as I vote fairly, I don't see an issue with this policy.

What are your thoughts?

It's not fair for your opponent, since it is never a good thing for YYW to read their debate with you for your opponent and vice versa. It is always a disadvantage. That added to the fact that you do read a large number of each other's debates means that anyone debating you starts out with a disadvantage.

Thus, if you are going to read a debate with the intention of voting, then you should vote. Not voting because the side you don't want to lose lost inflicts a voter bias into the results.

It's for that reason that if I ever debate you again, I am prohibiting YYW from voting, since it's just plain unfair from the outset to always begin with a disadvantage. It's basically like having two teams play, but the other team must play at least one round of Russian roulette. They may not die, but it's a statistical disadvantage the other team doesn't have.
Wylted
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2/13/2015 7:34:34 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
You did say you don't see an issue with the policy. My issue would be that it strategically makes you more likely to win. The system can be easy to abuse. Imagine if everyone did that. More popular members (members with more friends) could easily remain undefeated by just refusing to debate people more popular or just as popular.

In order for a less popular member to win under such scenarios, they'd need to literally go campaigning for votes.
xXCryptoXx
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2/13/2015 12:09:14 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 1:48:54 AM, bsh1 wrote:
I've discussed this issue with at least three other people on this site, not including YYW, and I am interested in getting some more feedback on this issue (not that it will necessarily change my view, but more that I think the discussion is worth having.)

YYW and I, when we see a debate we think that the other lost, simply abstain from voting rather than voting the other down. Some people have critiqued that as being unethical, or, at the very least, inappropriate.

It is unethical, not because anyone has an obligation to vote on a read debate, but because both of you engage in strategic voting by not voting on debates you thought each other lost but voting on debates you thought each other won.

It seems to me that anyone could ask me to vote on their debate. I could read it, and still choose, for whatever reason, not to vote. Reading a debate does not compel me to vote, and as long as I vote fairly, I don't see an issue with this policy.

What are your thoughts?
Nolite Timere
Maikuru
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2/13/2015 1:37:47 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I understand the pressures and awkwardness involved in this type of situation, to an extent. A wise policy would be simply not to vote on each other's debates.

Tulle has asked me not to vote on her contentious debates before because she didn't even want the appearance of biased voting on her debates. This includes debates that she was losing at the time. I'm in the fortunate position of her not caring about the topics of my debates, except for the Lost debate, which she explicitly said she was willing to vote against me for because she also disliked the finale.
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bsh1
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2/13/2015 5:32:13 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 5:48:20 AM, Envisage wrote:
At 2/13/2015 1:48:54 AM, bsh1 wrote:
What are your thoughts?

It's not fair for your opponent, since it is never a good thing for YYW to read their debate with you for your opponent and vice versa. It is always a disadvantage. That added to the fact that you do read a large number of each other's debates means that anyone debating you starts out with a disadvantage.

Firstly, this seems to be an argument against us voting on each others' debate at all, which isn't what I am interested in discussion in this thread. Secondly, if YYW refuses to vote on debates he thinks I've lost and vice versa than it is not necessarily an automatic disadvantage for my opponent.

Thus, if you are going to read a debate with the intention of voting, then you should vote. Not voting because the side you don't want to lose lost inflicts a voter bias into the results.

I've been asked to vote on tons of debates, and I failed to vote for them (despite reading them) for a wide variety of reasons. I don't see anything inherently wrong in abstention. What would be wrong is to vote for the side that you think lost, but just being a bystander doesn't doing any real wrong. If we vote, we're obligated to vote fairly. But I don't think we're obligated to vote to begin with.
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bsh1
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2/13/2015 5:32:37 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 7:31:06 AM, Wylted wrote:
Why do you guys refuse to vote against each other?

That should be obvious, Wylted.
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"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

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bsh1
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2/13/2015 5:40:41 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 12:09:14 PM, xXCryptoXx wrote:

It is unethical, not because anyone has an obligation to vote on a read debate, but because both of you engage in strategic voting by not voting on debates you thought each other lost but voting on debates you thought each other won.

Okay, let's discuss the whole issue of strategic voting, which Wylted brings up too.

Failing to vote for someone does not commit any injustice against them. It is not as if we're actively votebombing against them. So, at worst, what we're talking about is a wrong of omission, which to me seems less severe.

But, what really is strategic voting. Wylted seems to imply that it is withholding a vote to make one side more or less likely to win. The question I have is why withholding a vote is such an egregious thing.

No one is ever obligated to vote. If that is true, then it shouldn't matter why I withhold it, because I have every right to withhold it. However, when we do vote, then we are obligated to vote fairly.

Withholding votes, regardless of the reason, is thus not in violation of any kind of moral injunction, and so I don't see the issue.
Live Long and Prosper

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"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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Envisage
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2/13/2015 5:47:14 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 5:32:13 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 2/13/2015 5:48:20 AM, Envisage wrote:
At 2/13/2015 1:48:54 AM, bsh1 wrote:
What are your thoughts?

It's not fair for your opponent, since it is never a good thing for YYW to read their debate with you for your opponent and vice versa. It is always a disadvantage. That added to the fact that you do read a large number of each other's debates means that anyone debating you starts out with a disadvantage.

Firstly, this seems to be an argument against us voting on each others' debate at all, which isn't what I am interested in discussion in this thread. Secondly, if YYW refuses to vote on debates he thinks I've lost and vice versa than it is not necessarily an automatic disadvantage for my opponent.

Yes it is. Because it's never a good thing for your opponent for YYW to read the debate (which he frequently does), and it often is good for you if YYW reads the debate. That's blatent selection bias.

That's as I said, having two people, who otherwise equal, one needs to roll a dice, which if it lands on a 4-6, means they start a point down. It's blatently unfair.

Thus, if you are going to read a debate with the intention of voting, then you should vote. Not voting because the side you don't want to lose lost inflicts a voter bias into the results.

I've been asked to vote on tons of debates, and I failed to vote for them (despite reading them) for a wide variety of reasons.

Does that inflict a selection bias on who gets more points? No. Not voting generally is different to not voting because you thought one side lost. One action skews the results, the other does not.

I don't see anything inherently wrong in abstention.

You don't think skewing the results is wrong?

What would be wrong is to vote for the side that you think lost, but just being a bystander doesn't doing any real wrong. If we vote, we're obligated to vote fairly. But I don't think we're obligated to vote to begin with.

If you take an action you know intentionally and unfairly skews the results against someone (which you know it does, the math is pretty basic), then that's pretty blatently unfair on the opponent.

If for example, the website has 99 christians, and 1 atheist who reads a religious debate with the intention of voting if their side won. And all adopted a policy that they would never vote if they thought their side lost. Even if they were being as fair as possible, then the atheist is at a massive disadvantage, since he is only ever going to recieve a maximum of one vote in his favor, and 99 possible votes against him, regardless of how fair the voters were being in their assessment, purely because of the biased and unfair policy.

It's an extreme example, yes, but it makes the effect of the biased selection obvious enough I hope.
bsh1
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2/13/2015 5:53:05 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 5:47:14 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 2/13/2015 5:32:13 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 2/13/2015 5:48:20 AM, Envisage wrote:
At 2/13/2015 1:48:54 AM, bsh1 wrote:
What are your thoughts?

It's not fair for your opponent, since it is never a good thing for YYW to read their debate with you for your opponent and vice versa. It is always a disadvantage. That added to the fact that you do read a large number of each other's debates means that anyone debating you starts out with a disadvantage.

Firstly, this seems to be an argument against us voting on each others' debate at all, which isn't what I am interested in discussion in this thread. Secondly, if YYW refuses to vote on debates he thinks I've lost and vice versa than it is not necessarily an automatic disadvantage for my opponent.

Yes it is. Because it's never a good thing for your opponent for YYW to read the debate (which he frequently does), and it often is good for you if YYW reads the debate. That's blatent selection bias.

At the same time, though, YYW only ever votes for me if he thinks I won. The whole purpose of this discussion is about abstention, and if we are going to obligate people to vote down those they think lost, then wouldn't we obligate the converse.

I am not interested in a discussion about whether we shouldn't vote at all on each other's debates--if that is a discussion you want to have, save if for a separate thread.

I don't see anything inherently wrong in abstention.

You don't think skewing the results is wrong?

I don't think their is any moral duty to vote, so there is nothing wrong in abstention.
Live Long and Prosper

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"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

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Envisage
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2/13/2015 6:01:10 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 5:53:05 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 2/13/2015 5:47:14 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 2/13/2015 5:32:13 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 2/13/2015 5:48:20 AM, Envisage wrote:
At 2/13/2015 1:48:54 AM, bsh1 wrote:
What are your thoughts?

It's not fair for your opponent, since it is never a good thing for YYW to read their debate with you for your opponent and vice versa. It is always a disadvantage. That added to the fact that you do read a large number of each other's debates means that anyone debating you starts out with a disadvantage.

Firstly, this seems to be an argument against us voting on each others' debate at all, which isn't what I am interested in discussion in this thread. Secondly, if YYW refuses to vote on debates he thinks I've lost and vice versa than it is not necessarily an automatic disadvantage for my opponent.

Yes it is. Because it's never a good thing for your opponent for YYW to read the debate (which he frequently does), and it often is good for you if YYW reads the debate. That's blatent selection bias.

At the same time, though, YYW only ever votes for me if he thinks I won. The whole purpose of this discussion is about abstention, and if we are going to obligate people to vote down those they think lost, then wouldn't we obligate the converse.

Don't need to, since we are talking about debates that he *would* have voted Pro on anyway if you won. It's an systematic bias.

I am not interested in a discussion about whether we shouldn't vote at all on each other's debates--if that is a discussion you want to have, save if for a separate thread.

I'm using it as an example, my point was never that to start with. The only point I raised along those lines if that if we debate again then I am prohibiting him from voting, for exactly this reason.

I don't see anything inherently wrong in abstention.

You don't think skewing the results is wrong?

I don't think their is any moral duty to vote, so there is nothing wrong in abstention.

So, you think abstaining, in a situation where you WOULD have voted for the reverse if you thought the reverse won, is fair?

Or do you think by introducing a clear bias by doing so, despite being unfair, is not immoral?

Because in either case, you are systematically introducing a bias into the results, and you are capable of not doing that by taking action. In moral terms, it's akin to not saving a dying man's life when you had both the means and opportunity to do so, and for rather minimal personal cost. I don't particularly see how you can square that as moral no matter which way you slice it.

Want to debate this?
bsh1
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2/13/2015 6:04:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 6:01:10 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 2/13/2015 5:53:05 PM, bsh1 wrote:
I don't think their is any moral duty to vote, so there is nothing wrong in abstention.

So, you think abstaining, in a situation where you WOULD have voted for the reverse if you thought the reverse won, is fair?

I think a voter's only duty, ethically speaking, is to vote fairly if an when they choose to vote.

In moral terms, it's akin to not saving a dying man's life when you had both the means and opportunity to do so, and for rather minimal personal cost. I don't particularly see how you can square that as moral no matter which way you slice it.

I think that's an extreme example, and given the severity of the outcome (loss of life), it's not a good analogy to the current situation.

Want to debate this?

Not particularly. The forum discussion is sufficient for the purpose of airing views on the topic.
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Envisage
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2/13/2015 6:11:34 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 6:04:44 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 2/13/2015 6:01:10 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 2/13/2015 5:53:05 PM, bsh1 wrote:
I don't think their is any moral duty to vote, so there is nothing wrong in abstention.

So, you think abstaining, in a situation where you WOULD have voted for the reverse if you thought the reverse won, is fair?

I think a voter's only duty, ethically speaking, is to vote fairly if an when they choose to vote.

You have not justified that, you have only asserted it. I am waiting for your argument, lest hitchen's razor be applied to it.

In moral terms, it's akin to not saving a dying man's life when you had both the means and opportunity to do so, and for rather minimal personal cost. I don't particularly see how you can square that as moral no matter which way you slice it.

I think that's an extreme example, and given the severity of the outcome (loss of life), it's not a good analogy to the current situation.

It's good for highlighting that systematic abstainsion yields real effects, since the principles are the same but the effects are exaggerated. When if one is aware of those effects when one makes the conscious decision to abstain, becomes intentional. Which by most moral systems, then makes it a morally quantifiable action Thus the analogy stands to highlight exactly what is going on here.

Thus your only argument against this appears to an "appeal to insignificance" (since it's the same situation but with lesser consequences), which is simply irrelevant when it comes to judging something as moral/immoral.

Want to debate this?

Not particularly. The forum discussion is sufficient for the purpose of airing views on the topic.

Ok.
sadolite
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2/13/2015 7:33:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Reading a debate does not compel me to vote,

This
It's not your views that divide us, it's what you think my views should be that divides us.

If you think I will give up my rights and forsake social etiquette to make you "FEEL" better you are sadly mistaken

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Maikuru
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2/13/2015 8:26:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Older members may remember a similar issue with the voting practices of Danielle and Vi. Those were mostly just accusations, though, because voting was anonymous then. At this point, at least users who are aware of this situation can appoint judges, request that one of them not vote, or just not take their debates.

I'm not sure what anyone expects, though. Couples are obviously going to be biased. Aside from me and tulle, I struggle to think of any other DDO couple that wasn't accused of this or some variation of this at some point. Maybe thett and royal.
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ford_prefect
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2/13/2015 8:47:41 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Take this with a grain of salt, or a mountain of salt, since I neither vote nor debate often on this site, but I think it's ethical to either not vote on each other's debates at all, or to vote regardless of the outcome

If for example, the website has 99 christians, and 1 atheist who reads a religious debate with the intention of voting if their side won. And all adopted a policy that they would never vote if they thought their side lost. Even if they were being as fair as possible, then the atheist is at a massive disadvantage, since he is only ever going to recieve a maximum of one vote in his favor, and 99 possible votes against him, regardless of how fair the voters were being in their assessment, purely because of the biased and unfair policy.

It's an extreme example, yes, but it makes the effect of the biased selection obvious enough I hope.


Statistically speaking, this analogy is spot on. By including or removing yourself from the voting pool based on the outcome of the debate, you are tainting the pool of votes. Imagine if you were the only voter on the site. Then nobody could ever beat YYW, they would at best be able to tie him because you'd never vote against him. Or imagine if someone entered into a similar agreement with 95% of the voters on this site, they'd be nigh unbeatable.
thett3
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2/13/2015 8:49:00 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
It's not necessarily unethical I guess...but it's certainly biased. If you aren't willing to vote if you don't like the outcome. I don't think it's very fair to their opponents, either. I think you can see why it would make people uncomfortable
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YYW
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2/13/2015 8:52:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
The issue is whether, upon reading a debate, a person is obliged to vote on it. Abstention is only unethical if, upon reading a debate, a person becomes obliged to vote. A person is not obliged to vote on a debate they read. Voting is a choice, and that's really all there is to say about it.
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Maikuru
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2/13/2015 8:58:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 8:26:18 PM, Maikuru wrote:
Older members may remember a similar issue with the voting practices of Danielle and Vi. Those were mostly just accusations, though, because voting was anonymous then. At this point, at least users who are aware of this situation can appoint judges, request that one of them not vote, or just not take their debates.

I'm not sure what anyone expects, though. Couples are obviously going to be biased. Aside from me and tulle, I struggle to think of any other DDO couple that wasn't accused of this or some variation of this at some point. Maybe thett and royal.

Forgot to mention airmax and oryus, though they were accused of a host of more interesting rule breaking behaviors.
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ford_prefect
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2/13/2015 8:59:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 8:52:30 PM, YYW wrote:
The issue is whether, upon reading a debate, a person is obliged to vote on it. Abstention is only unethical if, upon reading a debate, a person becomes obliged to vote. A person is not obliged to vote on a debate they read. Voting is a choice, and that's really all there is to say about it.

So would you consider it ethical for me to enter an agreement with 90% of the other members on this site, and agree to never vote against each other in debates?
thett3
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2/13/2015 8:59:14 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 8:26:18 PM, Maikuru wrote:
Older members may remember a similar issue with the voting practices of Danielle and Vi. Those were mostly just accusations, though, because voting was anonymous then. At this point, at least users who are aware of this situation can appoint judges, request that one of them not vote, or just not take their debates.

I'm not sure what anyone expects, though. Couples are obviously going to be biased. Aside from me and tulle, I struggle to think of any other DDO couple that wasn't accused of this or some variation of this at some point. Maybe thett and royal.

Nah, at least one person accused her of always voting me up...which wasn't true. On one of my losses, she's the only vote that isn't a votebomb.
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: At 11/12/2016 11:49:40 PM, Raisor wrote:
: thett was right
YYW
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2/13/2015 9:17:12 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I'm getting sushi right now and this is the first chance I've had to be on DDO in a few days. But the responses I'm seeing are incredibly poor, with respect to the quality of the arguments presented.

No site member has an obligation to vote on anything other than a vote which is a tournament they signed up to judge. So, insofar as voting is not compelled, anyone can chose not to vote for any reason they like -unless I was in a judge in a tornament I might chose not to vote for a number of reasons on debates I've read. That established, if bsh1 was in a tornament and he lost a debate I had a duty to judge, I would give him the loss without hesitation. But, other than tournaments, no one has any duty to vote on anything.

This term of "strategic voting" has been used I thing erroneously. Choosing not to vote is just that... A choice not to do something. There is nothing sinister or nefarious about it. It's just a decision to do nothing where I might otherwise have done something. There are lots of reasons why I don't vote; mostly because I start reading a debate and it is bad so I stop and leave it at that because the debate isn't worth my time.

I think people, as well, have the tendency to draw stupid conclusions because of their own bias rather than because they look at objective facts. I have never conferred on anyone an unearned win; bsh1 or otherwise. My voting record sufficiently establishes that. But, there are people who are more concerned about appearances than reality because they don't really understand the meaning of words like "bias" and they do not understand that post hoc reasoning is fallacious. These are the ones who are concerned about me voting on bsh1's debates.

Curiously, many of these same people have no objection to voting on their friends' debates... But they think that I cannot help but be biased with respect to bsh1s. That's fundamentally stupid, but these are also usually the people who lack formal debate expirence and could not, themselves, write a coherent rfd. The irony should be lost on no one...
Tsar of DDO
YYW
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2/13/2015 9:20:59 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 8:59:06 PM, ford_prefect wrote:
At 2/13/2015 8:52:30 PM, YYW wrote:
The issue is whether, upon reading a debate, a person is obliged to vote on it. Abstention is only unethical if, upon reading a debate, a person becomes obliged to vote. A person is not obliged to vote on a debate they read. Voting is a choice, and that's really all there is to say about it.

So would you consider it ethical for me to enter an agreement with 90% of the other members on this site, and agree to never vote against each other in debates?

Sure.... It would be dumb, but whether you vote or not is your choice. Although, there are hundreds of thousands of members here. Good luck ;)
Tsar of DDO
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2/13/2015 9:24:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 8:49:00 PM, thett3 wrote:
It's not necessarily unethical I guess...but it's certainly biased. If you aren't willing to vote if you don't like the outcome. I don't think it's very fair to their opponents, either. I think you can see why it would make people uncomfortable

^
This seems like my position. I agree with bsh1 that there is no obligation to vote, but if I was debating bsh1, I would not want YYW to read the debate. Likewise, if I debated YYW, I would not want bsh1 to read it.
Maikuru
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2/13/2015 9:29:22 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 8:59:14 PM, thett3 wrote:
At 2/13/2015 8:26:18 PM, Maikuru wrote:
Older members may remember a similar issue with the voting practices of Danielle and Vi. Those were mostly just accusations, though, because voting was anonymous then. At this point, at least users who are aware of this situation can appoint judges, request that one of them not vote, or just not take their debates.

I'm not sure what anyone expects, though. Couples are obviously going to be biased. Aside from me and tulle, I struggle to think of any other DDO couple that wasn't accused of this or some variation of this at some point. Maybe thett and royal.

Nah, at least one person accused her of always voting me up...which wasn't true. On one of my losses, she's the only vote that isn't a votebomb.

Damn, they went after you two, too? That was foolishness.
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thett3
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2/13/2015 9:30:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
What if it's a judge debate?
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: At 11/12/2016 11:49:40 PM, Raisor wrote:
: thett was right
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2/13/2015 9:49:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/13/2015 9:30:52 PM, thett3 wrote:
What if it's a judge debate?

If I accept an invitation to judge a judge-only debate, then I'm going to vote on it unless the debate is horrible because I have undertaken the duty to vote on it. I could have chosen "not" to judge, by declining the request, but once I accept, I've committed myself to judging it. If I thought bsh1 lost in that case, I'd give him the loss. I mean, it's really that simple...
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