Electowidget

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Revision as of 17:52, 29 October 2005 by RobLa (talk | contribs) (Setting up an election: link fix)

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Electowidget is a plugin for MediaWiki designed to make it possible to conduct Internet polls and elections using many different voting systems, including the Schulze method, Instant runoff voting, Approval voting, and even plain old Plurality. It also assists in explaining different election methods by providing an easy way of tallying example elections, and comparing the results as computed by different elections. The modular design allows for plugging in new election tallying methods, different ballot designs, and different ballot formats.

Latest news:

  • October 29, 2005 - Initial Electowidget release! (version 0.1.0)

About

Electowidget is a plugin for MediaWiki designed to make it possible to conduct Internet polls and elections using many different voting systems, including the Schulze method, Instant runoff voting, Approval voting, and even plain old Plurality.

Electowidget isn't designed for secure public elections. Rather, it's designed for the types of informal polls and elections that currently happen on wikis today. It's also designed as a tool to help election theorists provide comparitive examples of how a given result will be tabulated comparing multiple different systems.

All data is stored on wiki pages, in JSON format. That means that there's an audit trail for every change that is made to the wiki.

Example elections

Here's a few example elections. Unless otherwise noted, the configurations for these elections are protected (to ensure that the examples remain in a usable state), but they will all have read/write counterparts that you can play with (currently hosted on a test site that may go up and down)

Setting up an election

If you have access to a running version of (such as the Electowiki test installation), setting up an election is reasonably straightforward.

Before getting started, thoguh, there are several important caveats with the current version:

  • There is no privacy. Since everything is stored as a wiki page, that means there's a complete, public audit log of every change, including votes. Future versions will probably lock this down, but it's not an immediate priority.
  • There is little security. Ballot box stuffing is easy, and I can't guarantee that ballots cast by one person can't be changed by a different person (though some measures have been taken to prevent the latter).
  • Performance is pretty bad. No systematic performance work has happened to fix this up just yet.
  • It's probably still pretty buggy.

Now that you've been warned, the easiest thing to do is to copy the configuration for an example election, and create a new page in the Election: namespace with your election on it. Since election configurations are just wiki pages, the same editing instructions for editing a wiki apply here, except that the syntax is substantially different.

A somewhat complete reference for the election configuration pages is here:

MediaWiki administrator information

You can install Electowidget as a plugin on a MediaWiki 1.5.1 installation. As October, 2005, it requires a small patch to the base installation to work, however, and probably won't work with earlier versions of MediaWiki, nor will it work with the development version of MediaWiki (due to some refactoring that has happened). It also mostly requires PHP 4. It runs under PHP 5, but there's a known issue or two.

Download the tarball to get started.

Developer information

Electowidget is programmed in PHP. It's currently pretty tightly bound to MediaWiki, but an effort is already underway to generalize it, and make it possible to plug into any PHP application that provides the necessary support infrastructure.

Doxygen documentation is available.

Screenshots

No screenshots yet, but the example elections are web accessible live demos.

Help

To either get help, or to offer help, here's a list of community resources:

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