Can internet savvy skew a poll?
January 18, 2002 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Can internet savvy skew a poll? When the stakes are high, is it fair for someone to bring an email plea to friends and relatives outside of the target area to influence the results? Here, the band at the school with the most votes gets to do a warm-up with the famous Blast! ensemble. The numbers are interesting (and yes, I probably do have inside info on this). As long as the same opportunities are available for others, is it still 'cheating'?
posted by rich (20 comments total)
Of course it's cheating. Web polls that are devoid of cheating are unscientific, and therefore meaningless. Add cheating and they suck that much more. Anyone who bases a decision on a web poll is a dolt.
posted by fleener at 11:29 AM on January 18, 2002

Semi-off topic: I read today (in my local newspaper, can't find a link for the article) that the NHL is considering some sort of investigation into All-Star ballot stuffing taking place in San Jose, which resulted in three San Jose Sharks (Damphousse, Nolan, Selanne) being named to the All-Star team. At the local games I've been to (the newly-revitalized New York Islanders), the audience was actively encouraged to "vote early & vote often". You can also vote online. Even considering that there is anything amiss in what happened in San Jose is ridiculous when the NHL actively encouraged fans to do exactly what was done in San Jose.
posted by skwm at 11:38 AM on January 18, 2002

I am in a band and we were in a battle of the bands and we seriously worked it to get the votes. We called people we hadn't seen in 20 years, and we won. And you know what, every other band did the same thing. Why is this cheating. In any sort of situation where there is a vote, you'd be a bonehead not to get as many people as you can to vote for you. What do you think campaigning is?
posted by bob bisquick at 11:41 AM on January 18, 2002

If micro$oft can do it...
posted by troybob at 11:42 AM on January 18, 2002

I think the better question is "Could internet polls ever be worth a shit?"
posted by eyeballkid at 11:58 AM on January 18, 2002

Which internet poll are YOU? Take this quiz to find out!
posted by Skot at 11:59 AM on January 18, 2002

posted by NortonDC at 12:08 PM on January 18, 2002

posted by NortonDC at 12:08 PM on January 18, 2002

posted by NortonDC at 12:08 PM on January 18, 2002

two wrongs don't equal a right
three rights equal a left
what the hell do three yes(es?) equal?
posted by chrisroberts at 12:23 PM on January 18, 2002

Bob, I think there's a big ol difference between campaigning for votes, which is legitimate and some of the results shown in this example, which suggest that the numbers were aided by scripts and multi-clicking.

For example: in all of Broward county, there are only 65,000 high school students and 24 high schools. (aprox 2700 students per school if they are equally divided amongst the schools.)

There were over 150K votes registered, the lions share: 112K going to one school. A school, mind you which itself has only had 12K hits in 2 years.

Another interesting stat: Broward county has a total population of just under 1.5 million people...which means to honestly get numbers as large as those shown by Western would require that over 10% of the total population of the county would had to have taken the poll, with most of them voting for one school.

Ergo, I feel confident in proposing that supporters of the school have indeed "cheated", and that the school should be disqualified. Not just to single out Western, I think the same can be said of a few of the schools listed in the competition.
posted by dejah420 at 12:26 PM on January 18, 2002

But in this case, if it is one of interest and desire in order to win, does it show that the school with the most votes had the most interest and desire? And don't these kinds of tactics allow schools with a smaller general population to compete on the same level as larger schools?
posted by rich at 12:34 PM on January 18, 2002

I'm with fleener. Basing any decision that has real consequences on an online poll is sheer idiocy. If they're going to disregard fairness that much, they might as well proclaim that whichever school sends them the most money wins.
posted by whatnotever at 12:36 PM on January 18, 2002

I didn't read the rules, but is there anything in the rules that state an allumnus cannot vote? As someone who is living in NJ, but went to HHH (Hollywood Hills), I would absolutly vote for them... so would that be considered cheating?

posted by niteHawk at 1:21 PM on January 18, 2002

From the initial voting page (here):

"Vote early, vote often - call your friends, family, and teachers."

So it's got very little to do with being Internet savvy.
posted by DBAPaul at 5:08 PM on January 18, 2002

Can internet savvy skew a poll?

I didn't think so a month ago. But now that Time has named Wil Wheaton as their "Man of the Year" based on internet voting, I'm not so sure.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 5:12 PM on January 18, 2002

I remember Z100 -- my local radio station in NYC was running an online poll where the school with the most votes would get a free concert...

Everyone was cheating, it seems very unlikely that a school with a population of 2000 would get 2,000,000 votes, unless every single kid voted 1000 times.

I myself made a little program in VB that made a vote about once a second... :)
posted by yevge at 5:20 PM on January 18, 2002

"Check back often to see if you're school is in the lead!" Tsk, tsk: your.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:15 PM on January 18, 2002

We had an entire newsgroup ( setting up (and sharing) various scripts to vote many, many times in this USA Today poll about the best cartoon or whatever. Then the people from the animaniacs newsgroup noticed this and got mad.

It was all rather a silly show of "Look at us! We're cool!" anyway
posted by dagnyscott at 7:32 AM on January 19, 2002

This sort of thing has been common since long before Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf won People Magazine's "Most Beautiful People" award in 1998.

So... in answer to the headline question, "Can Internet Savvy Skew a Poll?" - yes. Of course it can. This particular poll is skewed to the point of uselessness by NBC6's complete lack of Internet savvy.

I thought we knew better by now.

ObPedantic: It also demonstrates their lack of grammar savvy ("you're school") and math savvy ("Results will be posted in percentages").
posted by mmoncur at 11:29 PM on January 20, 2002

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