TAFF 2013: Where the votes came from

On every TAFF ballot (and most ballots for TAFF’s sibling fan funds), there is a piece of text at the bottom that reads something like this:

Reproduction of this form is encouraged. It is the official voting vehicle and must be reproduced verbatim.
Anyone reproducing this form should substitute their name here: John Coxon

A discussion brewed on the mailing list of past and present fan fund administrators over whether this was necessary and whether it was still worth doing, mostly driven by the release of a PDF voting form for the most recent DUFF race administered by Dave Cake and John Hertz. I pointed out that it was useful to be able to track where votes were coming from, but it occurred to me that I’ve never done anything huge with that information. As a result, I asked my co-administrator (the lovely Jacqueline Monahan, who has an incredible amount of patience with my odd requests, last-minute pieces of work and tendency to go off on tangents) to send me the breakdowns for the North American side of the race and I collated the sources of the European side. Hence, a graph!

A graph showing the number of votes for each source in the 2013 TAFF race.

In this TAFF race the delegate’s continent, Europe, was responsible for 60% of the votes http://laparkan.com/buy-tadalafil/ cast whereas the destination continent received around 40% of the votes. PayPal now accounts for around a third of payments made over the course of a race. Europe seems to have embraced PayPal more readily than our cousins across the pond, but PayPal is a significant source in both territories.

Another thing to note is the high number of votes cast at EightSquaredCon. Roughly 22% of the European voters chose to wait for Eastercon to come around instead of using PayPal or the Royal Mail to cast their vote, which signifies that a strong fan fund presence at large conventions is a useful thing to have. However, another 22% of the voters on the European side voted after having been sent a ballot by Jim Mowatt, the winning candidate, which also indicates the strong effect that a campaign that involves sending ballot forms to the potential voters can have on the race.1

This is reinforced by the fact that almost three-quarters of the US votes came as a result of Randy Byers’ concerted campaigning for Jim, which shows the importance of having someone campaigning strongly for you on the other side of the Atlantic. Candidates that don’t have people campaigning strongly in the destination continent regularly perform poorly; choosing good nominators is a key aspect to winning a fan fund race.

Perhaps all of this (campaign hard, ask people to vote for you, make sure your nominators campaign) is obvious, but I think it’s interesting to see the huge effect that Jim’s campaign had on the race in this instance. Over 40% of the votes can be traced to forms that were sent out by the Jim for TAFF group, which definitely demonstrates that campaigning inefficiently is something that candidates can’t afford to do if they want to win the race.

  1. This is corroborated by Liam Proven’s strong showing in the 2011 TAFF race, in which he scored a huge majority of the votes in Europe. 

A visualisation of Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter project

Recently, Amanda Palmer posted an update on her most recent Kickstarter project regarding the split of the funds she’ll receive from the project. It’s a very interesting read, and I highly recommend you follow the link in order to gain an insight into how projects like that often work — even if you’re not necessarily an Amanda Palmer fan, the post is crammed with useful data on crowdfunded projects. I, for one, found it fascinating, but I was having trouble picturing the proportions of the money that were involved, at each stage of the process.

A picture of Amanda Palmer holding a red guitar at a concert.

As such, I decided to rectify that, and consequently I spent a couple of minutes putting an image together in Pages1 in order to be able to see, at a glance, where all that money goes. The categories are based mostly on the Kickstarter post, but ‘Mailbox Invasion’ combines the numbers for both the arts and crafts/vinyl packages and the turntables required. I set ‘Other’ to $45,000, following on from a pre-Kickstarter fee position of $145,000 and subtracting the first digit of that as ‘Kickstarter fees’ — I’ve actually taken the higher number in every case where Palmer quotes a range of money, so bear that in mind when looking at the chart.

I find it striking that around half of the money is instantly gone as soon as the starting debt is added to the commission of the managers, lawyers and companies involved in making something like this happen. I know that neither of these things can realistically be removed from the equation, but it must be weird to know that only about half of the raised money goes directly into the project itself2. Also, I find it fascinating that so much money goes into CD production: I can’t help but wonder whether that will eventually fade as the compact disc also wanes.

A pie chart showing the division of monies from Amanda Palmer's latest Kickstarter project.

I wish Amanda good luck with this project — I like crowdfunding as a concept and she seems to be embracing it with open arms.

  1. Speaking as a physicist, I am also disgusted that I used a word processing app to create a data visualisation. However, it’s late in the day and it was easy to use, so I went with it. 
  2. This reminds me somewhat of research grants, which are usually split between the research group that gains the grant and the university to which the group belongs — perhaps there are more parallels between science and the arts than I thought!