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This voting scheme is known as "single-vote-plurality". And it's a giant suckfest. Beyond two candidates, it completely falls apart, and tends to suggest very different results than the actual preferences of the voters.

Hypothetical example. Let's say that 1/4 of HN likes C, then Lisp, then Python, then Java. 1/4 of HN likes Python, then Lisp, then C, then Java. 1/5 likes Lisp, then C, then Python, then Java. And 3/10 like Java, then Lisp, then Python, then C.

So we have:

1. Java has the highest number of votes, even though 7/10 of HN thinks it's the worst language. Java wins!

2. Lisp has the fewest number of votes, even though it's the only language to appear in the top two preferences of 100% of the voters. Lisp loses!

In other words, the results from your voting scheme suggested the opposite of what people really liked (and disliked). This is a known, and very common, pathology of single-vote-plurality and becomes more and more of a problem the more candidates enter the race (and you have a gazillion of them).

Since you can't have people easily express their rank ordered preferences on HN (eliminating Condorcet, IRV, and the like), the next best thing would be to do approval voting. To do approval voting, you'd change the wording in your posting to:

"What languages do you like? Vote for as many as you want."

Then the winner is then the language with the most votes.

I agree with the flawed voting scheme. What I don't understand is why the number one voted comment thread is on how great C# is when I can't last remember an article on HN talking about C#. This whole thread seems so contradictory to my perceptions of the HN community. Either there's a whole host of C# lovers that finally decided to participate in todays discussion (a silent majority), or microsoft evangelists are taking over HN! I'm so confused.


I don't think anything sneaky is going on. I don't code in C# because the MS stack doesn't really make sense for what I'm doing, but it's a good language with a fantastic IDE.

Put another way, there are a fair number of HN articles about PHP but I don't think that's because it's an inherently great language.


Um, what? Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but I haven't noticed any PHP articles around here on any kind of regular basis.


Spot on. Though I’m not sure that instant-runoff voting would be as infeasible as you suggest.


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