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More about Vote Compass

This FAQ was prepared by the Vote Compass team at the University of Toronto for CBC News

Q: What can I learn from Vote Compass?
A: Where your views fit on the political landscape, and how the positions of the major political parties relate to your views.

Q: Does that mean Vote Compass is predicting how I vote, or telling me how to vote?

A: Not at all. Vote Compass does not provide voting advice.  It does not address every issue that will come up during the campaign, and it does not pretend that policy positions are the only criteria voters use when deciding what to do. Vote Compass is simply an educational tool to inform people about where parties stand on certain issues.
 
Q: What browser do I need to use to participate in Vote Compass?

A: Compatibility issues have been reported by some, but not all, Firefox 4 users, and Vote Compass is investigating possible plug-in conflicts.  An earlier compatibility issue with Internet Explorer 9 is now resolved.  Note that Vote Compass requires Adobe Flash Player 8.0 or higher in order to run, and is thus not accessible from mobile devices that do not support Flash (i.e. iPads, iPhones, etc.)

Q: I don't have flash installed. What should I do?
A: You can download Adobe Flash Player 10.2 for free here

Q: Can I fill out Vote Compass on my mobile device?
A:  If your mobile device does not support Adobe Flash Player, your results will not load properly.

Q: I can share my results on Facebook.  Does Facebook store any of my information?
A: The Facebook share function in Vote Compass does not transmit your responses or your results to Facebook.

Q: Who designed this version of Vote Compass?
A: A team of scholars from across Canada, including some of this country's most prominent political scientists. You can see them all if you click "credits" while you're using Vote Compass.
 
Q: Who chose the questions?
A: The team of scholars chose the questions.
 
Q: How did they decide where the parties are positioned on the chart?
A: Party positions were derived via the publicly-available party texts relating to each statement.  Analysts from the academic team selected the most relevant texts to each statement and calibrated the party positions accordingly.  The parties were also offered an opportunity to self-assess.  Every party was provided with an advance copy of the questionnaire and was asked to indicate their perceived position on each statement.  Where discrepancies arose between the party's self-assessment and the assessment of the academic team, the Vote Compass advisory board was asked to make a final ruling.

In order to maintain its mandate of complete transparency, each calibration is made publicly available within the Vote Compass application, as are the texts that were ultimately used to justify each party's position.  You can simply click on each party icon to see how they were coded on each statement and the texts used to justify the codes.

Q: How do I get more specific information on how I measure up against the parties?
A: Click on "position per statement" on the results page. You can compare your answers to those of each party. And if you click on a party icon, it will compare all of your answers to the position of that party. There is a "Source" link to show you the public stand taken by the party.

Q: I took Vote Compass, and it linked me to a party I don't support. How can that happen?
A: It means that taken as an aggregate, your responses to the 30 statements were statistically closest to the aggregate of positions by that party. Each statement is given equal weight. Try the "important/not important" buttons on the results page to filter out those issues which mean less to you; it may change your result. And remember that Vote Compass remains an educational tool, not a suggestion for how to vote.

Q: I chose one party leader as my strong choice for prime minister, but the graph still shows me closest to a different party.  How is that possible?
A: The questions about the leaders do not contribute to the final results page. They are considered separately as questions about leadership, not about party platform. If you want to see your overall rankings of the party leaders, click on "Your picks for Prime Minister"

Q: I did Vote Compass more than once, and each time it gave me the wrong result. Why?
A: Vote Compass merely compares your answers on the statements to each of the parties. We invite you to go click on the icon of the party you support and see where it's positioned on each statement. If you answer the Vote Compass statements in more of the same way your preferred party does, it will conclude you are closest to that party.

Q: So what will CBC do with the results?

A: CBC will report on data emerging from Vote Compass. But keep in mind, this is not a poll in the traditional sense. It is not meant to be predictive in any way, and we acknowledge that it is not meant to be a representative sample of the Canadian population. And CBC will not treat it as such.

Q: Can those results be skewed by people trying to manipulate the system?
A: There are built-in protections in the program to prevent this. And the team of scholars will be analyzing the data carefully to ensure that conclusions drawn are based on sound academic principles.

Q: Has this been tried elsewhere?

A: Vote Compass is modelled after similar applications used during European election campaigns for more than a decade. The academic team crafted the questionnaire using social scientific methods and positioned the parties on the basis of a thorough analysis of their publicly-available statements.


The Vote Compass online tool can be accessed at cbcnews.ca/canadavotes.
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