Colin Delany August 23, 2007

Cheating at Online Politics — in a “Hottest Reporter” Contest?!?


Okay, this one’s weird even for me — scandal has gripped the Fishbowl D.C.’s Third Annual Hottest Media Types competition, with widespread vote fraud proven to have tipped the results. A vicious swarm of vote-bots, created and distributed by supporters of several candidates (supposedly without their knowledge), spread insidiously across the web, voting both early and often (oh baby). Farhad Manjoo of Salon’s Machinist blog, not afraid to face the grim facts, covers this travesty against the purity of online polling (ahem) extensively:

The bots were distributed on Unfogged, a humorously wonky blog and discussion site popular with D.C. types, within a day of the poll’s opening. If you downloaded and ran the software, your machine began tallying up votes for Capps and Andrews faster than a Diebold rigged for George W. Bush.

Just as in academic politics, when the stakes are low, the tactics are nasty. Some will draw conclusions about the get-ahead-at-any-costs mentality of much of D.C. professional culture; I’m too busy wondering where a few of the other competitors hang out.

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