Thursday, April 4, 2013

Voting is a Drag(fest), man...

The polls are open in New Eden, and I hope you'll click this link and vote for me!

When you do, you'll see something a bit unexpected -- a little voting assistant script I have written. It helps address a big problem with the ballot.

It's a drag.

Or more precisely, it's up to 14 drags. In order to vote a complete 14-candidate ballot (which you should be doing), you have to locate each candidate from a list of 30-odd, and then drag them into your ballot.

This is made worse by the fact that it's hard to find your candidates in the list; I have problems finding my own name! At least I don't have 10 accounts...

Update 2: CCP has added the ability to double-click candidates instead of dragging them, and if you have multiple accounts, after you've voted once your ballot will be stored in a cookie. However, the Bookmarklet trick no longer works, so parts of this post are no longer relevant and have been crossed out.

Some months back, I got interested in the physical process of casting ballots, and did some human-factors experiments, even going so far as to create a ballot UI mockup to test various options. I became convinced that a quick ballot entry system was absolutely essential, even something as simple as a text field you could use to enter a candidate list.

Unfortunately, it appears that CCP doesn't agree. While I can understand that they may not want people to blindly vote slates, I had no doubt that there are some experienced web-programmers out there who will have no problems putting together something that will add this functionality. And guess what...

I have checked with CCP Dolan and for now, using a Javascript Bookmarklet to fill in your ballot is allowed. They may however do something to stop it working in the future.

Which brings us back to my voting link. What I've done is whack together a simple script that makes it easier for you to vote:

If you're just voting one account, it may be simpler to enter your ballot by hand. In this case, the script displays the CCP voting page in a frame, with a checklist of candidates to vote for, and a resizable thumbnail image that shows what the ballot will look like when it is completely filled out.

But it also has a link to a page that will automatically create a Javascript Bookmarklet, and has instructions on how to use it. I would like to publicly thank those great benefactors of New Eden, the Goons, and in particular the estimable Jumanji (who should drink for free at FanFest), for their kind permission to use their code as a template.

This script can be used by anyone who wants to distribute a recommended ballot list or create a Bookmarklet. All you have to do is generate a URL in the following format:

http:///{list of candidates, separated by commas}&u={optional url of your completed ballot image, without the http:// part}

If you just want to create a Bookmarklet, you can access that part of the tool via this URL:

http:///{list of candidates, separated by commas}

These URLs are very long, of course, so I suggest using a service like to whack them down to size.

Update: I tweaked the tool so you can also just paste your picks into a text field and generate the bookmarklet a framed ballot assistant page. Just load the ballot tool page without a list, as follows:


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