Re: Question about a technique for allocating funds
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2010 17:55:05 -0700 (PDT)

On Jul 28, 2010, at 10:54 AM, heimann [at] wrote:

Suppose, for example, that there are eleven alternatives, ten which cost $100 and one which costs $1000, and there is $1000 available to allocate. If the $1000 alternative comes in second, it falls completely out of the
running, even though it may have considerable support,

We've used the dots exercise and I find it unsatisfying. It is a yes and no method of voting that may give you more yeses but but is still yes and no, and allows some people to bullet vote-- put all their dots on their first choice.

Preferential voting or instant run off is much more nuanced and avoids the influence of the majority. There is a very good article on this in Wikipedia in which a study has shown that preferential voting produces the most satisfying results (consensus was not included in the study). The five star system is a form of preferential voting that allows you to say I prefer these three equally, this one most, this one not at all. When the voting is done, you can see which items had wildly differing views some 1's and the rest 5's, and which ones received 5's across the board.

Instant run off, every one ranks the items from first to last choice The ballots are counted and the first option with the least votes is eliminated. The ballots for that eliminated option are then counted for their second choice, etc. This goes on with ballots being redistributed for their third and fourth choice continues until on option remains.

We did preferential voting without prices on things. it was obvious that some would cost more but it prevented people from using that as their criteria. We intended to do it again when we had prices but people chose the items that had to be done anyway.

and the community
would wind up funding the ten $100 projects even though five or six or
more of them had little enthusiasm behind them.

You can avoid this with preferential voting because if the $1,000 job comes up 2nd or even 3rd on everyone's list, it will be the most preferred by the greatest number of people. Using preferential voting, everyone should get their first or second choice.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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