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Friday, May 16, 2008

Over and over

I talked to a reporter the other day.

Now, I talk to reporters all the time, but I don't usually talk about my personal life. I'm not exciting enough to make the news very often.

However, the NWT Blog Awards are going to be back in the news on Monday. Sadly, I have to agree that the way the contest ended is fair game for the arts section.

When the reporter told me she wanted to do a story about the cheating, I told her that I really wished it hadn't happened. I haven't talked about it much because I didn't want it to end the way it did. I was basically in denial about it for days. I knew it was happening, and it was happening during the first round, too, but it really took off on the last day of the second round of voting for Best Post and Best Blog.

Online polls are very easy to "goose", but I was hoping that nobody would. I mean, it's a stupid blog contest. It doesn't mean anything. It's definitely not worth cheating. Heck, my own family forgot to vote.

There are two ways to cheat. At first, people were using proxy servers. I saw this happening and thought they were morons for going to the extra effort. Then they started to clear their cookies -- this probably took about one second each time and allowed them to vote as many times as they wanted. I was pretty annoyed, and this is why I ended up calling both categories three-way ties. Apparently, no matter how many times I say this, people do not clue in that I can see what they are doing when they are on one of my websites.

Fewer than 100 people actually voted. During the second round of voting there were 335 visits to the site, 1090 page loads and 488 votes for Best Blog. I watched one person in Nova Scotia vote 100 times over a two-hour period. It apparently never occurred to this person that an additional 100 votes would be noticeable.

I ended up closing the contest a few hours early. I was thinking about letting it all play out, but then someone in Quebec came back (yes, back -- I assume he was taking a break) and started another round of megavoting. By the time he'd voted 76 times in a row, I decided to put him out of his misery. Seriously, if you're going to sit in front of your computer getting calluses on your hands, it should be for something much more exciting than blog awards.

People have asked me who really won. Honestly, I don't know. There was so much cheating that there is no way to separate the real votes from the fake ones. I am pretty comfortable saying that Best Post really would have ended in something close to a three-way tie. All three posts were within a vote or two of each other for days, and I was getting ready to call it a tie when the numbers suddenly spiked. The vote totals for Best Blog are all so far off that I can't tell you who really won.

It doesn't matter, though. My goal was never to pick the best blog in the NWT, and I don't think you could do that even if you wanted to. The point was to get more readers for local blogs and to promote the community of bloggers. In that way, it was a success.

Although I thought of it as a silly, fun contest, I clearly underestimated its importance to other people. Obviously, they thought it was important enough that they were willing to spend hours at their computers trying to keep their favourite bloggers' numbers up. (And people say bloggers are the losers.) It is great to see that people have superfans who are willing to go the extra mile to get them some much-deserved recognition. I'm just sad that they thought this would be the way to get that recognition for their favourite writers.


Trudie said...

I guess this goes to prove that we should never underestimate peoples ability to sink lower or act stupider than we thought possible.
(Yes, crime against grammar rule is intentional ;-D)

KaranS said...


Actually, I think we discussed this. Despite that, however, the contest was a fun thing to do. I think we all learned about even more blogs, and I am richer for that.

And besides, I can come over to house anytime for dinner and feel like a winner!

Karen said...

"Talked to" - or "spoke to/with"?

Megan said...

Both. Is there a significant difference I'm not aware of?

I would say that there is only a small difference between the two phrases and that "talk to" would describe the more informal form of spoken communication. While our conversation was structured, it was informal in tone. Perhaps the reporter feels otherwise, though: she did say several times that I am a big ol' meanie.

I hadn't thought about using "speak to" until you mentioned it, but I have now considered the options and decided that "talk to" is the most appropriate phrase under the circumstances. No, you may not appeal my decision.

Way Way Up said...

That's unfortunate the way things turned out. Kudos for taking on the task of running the contest. Hopefully, there will be fewer problems in the future. I do have to thank you for bringing some new blogs to my attention through the contest.

Having read the above comment concerning has also forced me to re-read my own comment above to see how I did!

Rob, Tina and the boys said...

So this is going to be in the news again? On the radio or actually on TV? And now it going to focus on the cheating aspect? Fabulous.

Megan said...

In tomorrow's newspaper. Yeah, it sucks. If we do the blog awards again, we should use impartial judges instead of the wisdom of crowds. Well, not crowds so much as one person with too much time on his hands.

We talked for a while about the media analysis I do here on the blog, and I have to concede that it is fair game for the arts section. There is a difference between wishing that something didn't happen and thinking it shouldn't be covered in the paper.

The crappiest part is that if the contest hadn't ended the way it did, it wouldn't be news at all, any more than it's news when the local newspaper association gives itself awards every year.

Oh, wait.