news.com.au polls rigged

A news.com.au poll over whether “football” or “soccer” was a better name for the world game resulted in 2006 votes for each.

IT’S OFFICIAL. Australia is completely split down the middle on the issue of whether to call the world’s most popular sport “soccer” or “football”.

A News.com.au reader poll which has attracted 4,012 votes at the latest count reveals that exactly 2006 people voted for football, and 2006 for soccer.

What they apparently didn’t realise was that the poll was rigged. A user posted to Reddit that he had hacked the system and ensured this and other polls came out equal.

I actually wrote a program where for each option someone voted, my program would vote once for every other option, thus maintaining a deadlock.

Every now and then, they reported on poll results as if it were actual news. After emailing them alerting them to this, they are yet to retract any of their articles.

The whole saga was blogged here.

Just in case News remove the story above, here’s a screendump. — update Wednesday 8:50pm: it has now been removed.

news.com.au poll

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3 thoughts on “news.com.au polls rigged

  1. Philip

    The security in the Fairfax newspaper sites must be too strong for him to break, because it’s unthinkable that he would only have done this to make News Ltd look silly.

  2. Russell

    I actually started investigating Fairfax, but decided I’d rather focus my time at going after news.com.au “properly”. The deadlock bot was written in ANSI C, so it took a while to get to a point that it wasn’t crashing every 10 minutes. I only spent a few minutes analysing Fairfax and decided either there’s a delayed feedback loop or subsequent polls get ignored. Either way, I didn’t get immediate feedback on my votes, which would make deadlocking a lot more challenging (and unreliable). I like how The Age has a disclaimer underneath their polls now. Even without attacking them directly, I think they’ve learned something from this.

  3. Jon Jermey

    Yes, they’ve learnt that stupid gits with nothing better to do will interfere with their aim of force-feeding people with as much fatuous information as possible.

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