Green Party Map Server
Software Architecture Disaster

Software Architecture Disaster

Okay, so forgive me if I speak my mind about the whole 2020 elections results software architecture disaster.

The Google analysis is that the only thing that matters for productivity is if teams are free to speak their minds.  Also "Do what you say, say what you do."  So sorry if I upset anyone.  It leads to better decisions.  Flame shields up!

It is good to begin with the end in mind.  This is what the 2020 spreadsheet looked like.


It has these ugly  links to   twitter, facebook, and the candidate’s website.  How about a hyperlinked candidate name with twitter and facebook icons?   
Here is my version of the table which looks much better. 

I now realized that I had to search for examples with links.  Most of their candidates do not even have a website.  How embarrassing! Every Maps candidate has a link to their website, or if there is none, to their instant website.    Once you have entered the data, you get an instant website.  And don't even get me started on no way to endorse the candidate, or click into their local party.   What a hugely missed opportunity to collect 
contact information.  We should be collectig Facebook or Twitter logins and permission to DM or post to their facebook page.  How are we going to circumvent the media blackout without those permissions?

Worse yet, only lists the CCC candidates.  There is some strict legal definition.  When I returned to the website, they had just added in Lisa Savage for Maine, but CCC explained that she is not in the original  database!  WTF???  I think the database is about future ballot access. 

Of course much much better to just display a map.  An interesting question is why no one asked me if that was possible? 

We complain a lot about Media blackout, but we blackout our own candidate.  Until Yestday 3pm, Lisa savage was on that blackout.  She will not be on the Elections Database version being circulated.  And we have some 60 candidates on the map database that have been blacked out.   The map itself experiences a partial blackout.   No clickable image on  I asked Alex several times for that.    No link on 

And that is just the front end issues What people see.   What goes on behind the scenes is much much worse. 

First of all they have this ancient database.  Everyone complains about it, although I do not know the specific problems.  As a database I think it is okay.  I even think it is a good idea to keep it.  The problem is how it is administered.   Maybe the easiest is to replace it and crawl the data.  There is a discussion over the legal and moral issues here.  I do not see a problem. 


First question is what should the data model be.  I will start documenting that . No one asks that, although we have a bit of it. After the elections are over I have to have a good talk with someone about why they even need historical data.  I think it is fundamentally about ensuring future ballot access.  Which is a very different problem than getting lots of progressives, non greens, socialists, independents elected.  We need to distinguish between those two objectives.  I was always suspicious about this issue.  The CCC and Elections database not listing Lisa for Maine made that crystal clear. 


 Once we know how to model the data, we can talk about replacing the database.  If it is fundamentally relational, then easy to replace.  If you need a graph model,  perhaps I will do it.  I do want to support the CCC. 


Okay,  back to the elections database.  They only have 2 state volunteers entering data.  The others email in their results.  Not to a mailing list where everyone gets a copy.  Oh no, we have to control data.  Only to the CCC.  And then we all wait while they forward the data.   Remember they have a volunteer shortage and are overworked. 


No wonder Mr.  O’Neill, the GP media director insisted on a second copy posted to facebook  Even more duplication of effort.  Now where do I look to find updates?


So they have this database, they copied the data to a google sheet, then they edit the Google sheet. First they add some links.  We could have generated that automatically Tonight  they add in who got elected.  Later they have to copy the data back to the database.   And we have to copy the data to the map.  No wonder Alex is asking for volunteers from YES.  The good news is that it will be just two clicks per candidate to add to the map.  Hmmm.  that is for real time, if I do it later, I can just do 1 click for all candidates.  Very demotivating.  I can sleep well tonight, and do the updates all at once in the morning. 


No wonder I am not rushing around to be ready for tonights results live stream.  As far as I know no one plans to be using the maps for tonights election results.   The maps are subject to a GP media blackout.   Why should I stress?   I am enjoying my morning.  We will go bicycling later. 


And they have a limited number of people posting to the Google spreadsheet,  Why?  Well it is a security issue.  Anyone can make any change.  How about with the maps, every state can be restricted to editing their own data, or better yet, every candidate can edit their own data.  The moment the candidate knows, he could update his pages.  And only their own data.  I trust them.   Many hands make light work.  Instead of seeking volunteers, just have people update their own candidate websites with election results. 


And then the server should update the local, state, national and candidate. facebook groups, and twitter accounts.

So there you have my critique of the current process.  My apologies if it upset anyone besides myself.  Please let me know if you share this more broadly. 

  Software Architecture Disaster

  Why We Need a Green Candidate Support Organization

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