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How to organize the best online election

Screenshot election module best of 2006
The last two years Inge and I have organized lists to present the best dance record of the year.

In 2005 we asked experts about their favorite dance record. In 2006 we upgraded the concept, asked experts about their favorite songs and added a second part where everyone could vote on the records.

This year we will ask everyone about their favorite records of 2007 and let everyone vote.

The voting system
Last year I had been reading Critical Mass, how one thing leads to another (a great book if you like statistics). Somewhere in this book there was the notion that the best scientific choice is one out of two. I love simplicity and wanted to do something with this. The dance election looked like the best opportunity to experiment with it. How can you create an advanced voting system that relies on the simplest choice. Right or left, yes or no?

What we build was a voting machine that had over 70 items in its database. Every time you open the website it generates a random playlist of random pairs. Every time you click one item it will update both items in the database in views and give a point to the winning item. The result is a list generated on percentages (views/votes) and as far I know even reasonably scientific correct.

You can listen to previews of the songs and once you make a choice it will show two new songs to make a new choice. To continue, you always have to choose your favorite song out of a random pair.

It sounds really simple, and it is. So far I have found no other system that beats this way of measuring what people like. The list of songs can be indefinite and the number of contributers can be indefinite. Lobby parties are more than welcome, but they should know that every other vote they make counts. You can vote on four records or 600.

Last year we’ve got over 70.000 votes, great media coverage, heavy use of bandwidth and a final list that is a very good representation of what was interesting in electronic music in 2006.

For this years election we connect the election to the Eclectro blog. A Dutch weblog that has a substantial, growing and very smart group of visitors interested in electronic music.

How to improve
This week I am building the system for this years election, how do you think we can make this better? Is there something we forgot? Or do you know a dance song that should be on the list? Let me know.

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