This conversation has been merged. Please reference the main conversation: Voting Solely on Design Merit - How to Implement?
I think I have a intuitive, democratic idea that could address both problems: instead of just one lab, with top 8 going to synthesis, have a three tier system. Gold lab gets the most designs synthesized (say, 5), silver the next most (2), and bronze the least (just 1).
Everyone starts in bronze at 10,000 pts, as they do currently, but to move up you either have to have a successful design, or vote for successful designs (or maybe win a GU competition, etc). You can only vote for designs from your own lab, and the thresholds for moving up could calibrated to keep the gold and silver labs at a manageable number of participants.
The tierd system would make finding good designs easier (at least for people in gold/silver), and voting for bad Christmas tree designs would have a built in, democratic penalty: if you vote for things that dont fold, you never move up.