[Discussion]Ideal size of the Senate

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Re: [Discussion]Ideal size of the Senate

Post by CmdrWilkens » 2009-10-24 01:39pm

The "Senate has voted" was actually jumping the gun, I talked with Dalton about it and it was my fault for not publishing our current membership statistics as I used to do for each vote.

Here is the current voting membership, note that both myself and DW are listed as "Inactive" that is for administrative purposes in Mike's case and because I cannot vote except to break a deadlock. All other "Inactive" members are that way from inactivity or by request.

Name
Admiral Valdemar
Alyeska
Beowulf
Broomstick
Bounty
Chris OFarrell
Cmdrwilkens
Colonel Olrik
Connor MacLeod
Coyote
Dalton
Darth Wong
Durandal
Edi
Eleas
Ender
fgalkin
Frank Hipper
Ghost Rider
Gil Hamilton
Grand Admiral Thrawn
GrandMasterTerwynn
Hotfoot
Imperial Overlord
Keevan_Colton
Kuja
Kuroneko
LadyTevar
Lagmonster
Mad
Master of Ossus
Mr Bean
NecronLord
Noble Ire
Pablo Sanchez
Patrick Degan
phongn
Publius
RedImperator
Rob Wilson
seanrobertson
Sea Skimmer
Simplicius
SirNitram
Spin Echo
Spyder
Stark
Steve
Stas Bush
Stuart
Surlethe
Ted C
Thanas
The Duchess of Zeon
The Yosemite Bear
Tiriol
Vympel
Wicked Pilot
Status
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Inactive
Active
Active
Active
Active
Inactive
Active
Active
Active
Inactive
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Inactive
Inactive
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Active
Inactive
Active
Active
Resigned
Active
Active
Active
Active
Total Active: 51
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Re: [Discussion]Ideal size of the Senate

Post by Stuart » 2009-10-24 02:23pm

My apologies, I stand corrected on the numbers.

Still, to me, 51 seems hardly excessive given the size of the community as a whole. Doing the maths, there are 51 - 35 = 16 admins and mods who are also on the voting strength of the Senate and who are not subject to re-election for that reason. So, if we set the strength of the Senate, all inclusive, at 64, that gives us 16 permament members (admins and moderators) and 48 elected Senators - which sounds about right to me. With 48 electable members, we can hold elections once a month with the two longest standing-senators up for re-election. If there are no additional candidates, then they're declared re-elected. If other candidates are proposed, we hold an election and the two highest-scoring candidates are declared elected. Thus each senator would have a de-facto term of two years that could theoretically be renewed ad mortem.
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Re: [Discussion]Ideal size of the Senate

Post by seanrobertson » 2009-10-24 03:33pm

With all due respect, I don't understand why we need term limits in the senate. I think that's taking the whole analogue entirely too far.

Ask yourself: why don't we elect our politicians for life-terms? Among other reasons, the most important are probably as follows:

*They could do a shit job, but without direct democratic accountability (re-elections), bad behavior goes unpunished.

*They're potentially "set in their ways" and, consequently, might stand in the way of new representatives' more creative ideas (which is another way of doing a shit job, but you take my meaning).

I don't see that either real-world problem applies here. For one, SDN senators lack the power of real-life representatives. Sans power, there can't be all that much responsibility; thus, just how are most of us to abuse anything?

Moreover -- and most pertinent -- assuming some of us are abusing the little bit of "power" we have, how many of us are fucking up that bad?

I mean, seriously: are there really that many complaints against specific senators' behavior?

We already have rules to remove senators who, for whatever reasons, are deemed unworthy members. Re-elections won't help that. It'd be adding a redundant process that'll begat even more rules. Further, since we hold elections for new members, there is no risk of intellectual stagnation (as if there ever were).

The only inherent "risk" is that the senate might become "too big" ... whatever that means or would be :wtf:

Truly, how could the senate be "too big," especially at the glacially slow pace at which we've added new senators as of late? Why, for example, would 70 senators be "too many," but X, X+10 or X less 10 is just right?

Finally, it seems like term limits would impose a bit of a double-standard. Were we not selected on merit, just like moderators were? Obviously, then, why limit one and not the other -- unless it is necessarily less meritorious to be a senator than to be a moderator?

That's my $.02.
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Re: [Discussion]Ideal size of the Senate

Post by Coyote » 2009-10-24 05:00pm

I had an interesting PM about this from Ace Pace asking me what sort of hard numbers I expected, and why those numbers would be relevant-- especially since we don't know how many Senators are needed to perform "a certain function" since we still don't have exact parameters on what that "certain function" is.

It got me wondering how detailed we wanted things to be. I was thinking of what real Senators do in the real world, and that is represent districts (states, provinces, etc).

Depending on how much average traffic is generated in a given forum and sub-forum, should we figure out a ration of "1 Senator for every 100 members" or something like that, and have Senators represent forums based on traffic? So N&P would have a lot of Senators, while STvsSW might have only 1.

That's the "district" they represent, presumably because they are active there (or willing to become so) and of a constituent has a problem in N&P, he/she petitions one of the N&P Senators for redress of grievances or something. That way, if a Senator gets a lot fo the same types of reports/complaints, etc, that Senator can better do the job of "advising" mods and DW.
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Re: [Discussion]Ideal size of the Senate

Post by Stuart » 2009-10-24 09:51pm

seanrobertson wrote:With all due respect, I don't understand why we need term limits in the senate. I think that's taking the whole analogue entirely too far. Ask yourself: why don't we elect our politicians for life-terms? Among other reasons, the most important are probably as follows: *They could do a shit job, but without direct democratic accountability (re-elections), bad behavior goes unpunished. *They're potentially "set in their ways" and, consequently, might stand in the way of new representatives' more creative ideas (which is another way of doing a shit job, but you take my meaning). I don't see that either real-world problem applies here. For one, SDN senators lack the power of real-life representatives. Sans power, there can't be all that much responsibility; thus, just how are most of us to abuse anything?
To avoid any misunderstanding, I used the expression "term limits" to mean that each elected Senator would serve a two-year period before standing for re-election. I didn't mean to suggest a limit on the number of two-year terms that a Senator could serve. The problem is that there is a strong clique that believes the Senate is too large and oppose any new candidates regardless of identity simply because they don't want to see any new Senators at all. Fixing the Senate at a desired size is an outcome of that belief. It could well be argued that the entire objection is misconceived and I wouldn't disagree with that. However, if it is stipulated that the Senate should be of a set size, then requiring each Senator to be re-elected at a set interval is probably the least disruptive way of doing it. Simply saying the Senate is now closed and there will be no new members is very probably the worst.
We already have rules to remove senators who, for whatever reasons, are deemed unworthy members. Re-elections won't help that. It'd be adding a redundant process that'll begat even more rules. Further, since we hold elections for new members, there is no risk of intellectual stagnation (as if there ever were). The only inherent "risk" is that the senate might become "too big" ... whatever that means or would be. Truly, how could the senate be "too big," especially at the glacially slow pace at which we've added new senators as of late? Why, for example, would 70 senators be "too many," but X, X+10 or X less 10 is just right?
Well, there are rules of thumb that show how effectiveness varies with numbers. Some of them are enunciated under Parkinson's Laws. For a committee that meets in isolation, the peak number is about 18 (modern research suggests a higher number, 22.4. This may be due to an unecpected effect of computer technology that allows people to do more work and communicate more effectively.). Below that number and the workload on each individual member is too high for them to be effective. More than the specified number and the problem of coming to a conclusion gets to be too great and the committee splits down into a number of sub-committees that slowly displace the main committee as the area where things actually happen.

Now, for an organization like the Senate, the optimum number is less pronounced. It's a spread rather than a peak. Having said that factors tending to favor smaller numbers are (again) the ease of getting things done, the amount of negotiation that comes with making decisions and the general administrative overload which is exponentially related to the number of members. On the other hand, larger numbers are favored by the resources they make available, the need to have various groups and schools of opinions represented and the need to have a pad against members who are unable to carry out their duties at a specific time. Plotting everything suggests that the optimum number for a consultative group like the Senate is 45 - 75 depending on what it actually does. (See Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress).

My suggested number, 64, is based on two things. It is smack in the middle of the range suggested by mathematical implementation of Parkinson's Law. Also, it fits the numerical structure that we already have in that it allows a permament body of 16 members (Admins and Moderators )that we already have and which give the group stability and an institutional memory. It also allows for up to 48 elected Senators who stand for two years each and allows the possibility of the Senate changing to match the profile of the SDN community as a whole. The 3:1 ratio of elected to unelected Senators means that the Elected will always have a dominant voice but will not have an overwhelming one. We could think along the lines of a 2:1 ratio which would give a total membership of 48, 16 unelected and 32 elected. Since we appear to have 35 elected Senators at the moment, that would require us to have three standing down. However, I don't like the idea of 32 elected senators since it doesn't allow for an even number of elections per month leading to a term that is equal to a unit number of years. Thinking about the implications, a 48-strong body of Elected Senators sounds about right to me.
Finally, it seems like term limits would impose a bit of a double-standard. Were we not selected on merit, just like moderators were? Obviously, then, why limit one and not the other -- unless it is necessarily less meritorious to be a senator than to be a moderator?
Life's never fair is it? :D Seriously, the reason why the 16 Unelected Senators would have what amounts to life-long terms could be justified by the fact they have already taken on heavy responsibilities in the running of this community and their Senatorial membership reflects that. Alternatively, RHIP. There is much to be said for a long-standing contingent. I've been on too many committees that spend time and tax money re-inventing the wheel because nobody had the institutional memory to realize the same work had been done three years earlier - yes United States Navy, I am looking directly at you.
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Re: [Discussion]Ideal size of the Senate

Post by Alyeska » 2009-10-24 10:04pm

There should be no term limits. I would never trust the general board populace, HOC proved this. And if the Senate itself wants to be rid of someone, it can do so. Term limits fix nothing and only introduce more problems.
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Re: [Discussion]Ideal size of the Senate

Post by Publius » 2009-10-25 11:32am

Given that the Senate is a community of users privileged to have opinions on board policy, it seems reasonable to conclude that there is no "ideal" size. Let us not strangle ourselves with red tape.
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Re: [Discussion]Ideal size of the Senate

Post by GrandMasterTerwynn » 2009-10-25 12:04pm

Thinking more about it, I'm feeling that term limits on the Senate would be pointless. This isn't an actual nation. It's a web-board, it's likely not going to be here 200 years from now (save some unforeseen advance in medical technology,) it makes no laws that could seriously inconvenience or outright kill its denizens, provides no services apart from discussion and the occasional bit of community charity here and there, and isn't something that you're likely to be a citizen of until the day you die. There is no real impetus to avoid creating a gerontocracy because A) The board is private property, to be administered how the proprietor (Mike) sees fit. B) The board population and moderating staff do experience turnover due to that which is otherwise known as real life.

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