I’m having a little contest on my website and I’m trying to figure out the fairest way to judge it. Basically, each week 3 players submit a piece of fiction, then people on the messageboard vote on which piece should become a permanent part of the official story. I also want to keep a running score for each player, and that’s the part I’ve been pondering. What’s the best way to score this thing?

Each week there will probably be about 30 - 40 votes total, but that could vary wildly depending on the traffic that week and whether people are interested in the story. So, here’s what I considered:

1. The straight point system
One vote = one point.
Pros: Simple, seems fair
Cons: A winner one week could have a much higher score than the winner from another week. Both were first place entries, so it seems like they should get the same score, which leads me to:

2. The set point system
1st gets 20 points, 2nd gets 10 points, 3rd gets 5 points.
Pros: Simple, and it cures the “con” from option 1.
Cons: The really stupid entries will always get 5 or 10 points, even if they only received a couple of votes.

3. Some complex algorithm.
Any suggestions here are more than welcome.

Any advice from the math majors here would be much appreciated. I started out in math at school, but wimped out and switched to Criminal Justice.

The idea is to have the voters rank their preferences (first choice, second choice etc.). The counting procedure simulates a series of run-off elections: count the first choice votes, eleminate the lowest vote getter. Count again, counting the second choice of those hose first was eliminated. Repeat until one story has over 50% of the vote.

IRV assures no “plurality” wins. That is, if there are three choices, one story might win with only 34% under US style voting. IRV assures that any winner has at least 50% of the vote (though some as second or third choices).

Yeah, use the percent of votes as the points recieved. That will minimize the factors of 1) different amounts of voters participating from week to week, and 2) cumulative third place “pity” scores adding up to a higher score than someone who does well, but less often.