As many readers know, I started a poll last week regarding Dr. Jim Hansen’s statement that energy company executives “be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature”.
What is interesting is there was an apparent effort on both sides of the political spectrum to do some vote stuffing. Between Monday night 7/1 and now, about 10,000 votes were added to question number one. Such is the weakness of this online poll service, for which some folks, such as “Frankbi” found and published exploits for. One of my own readers found an exploit which appeared in comments. The poll makeup started out a lot differently as Michael Smith recorded with a series of screen caps:
Click image for more graphics and complete analysis.
So as they say, the poll got “freeped” by both sides of the issue. Some conservative sites also directed readers here, but none of those that I saw published any exploits. That it got exploited at all is mostly my fault, as I did not opt to purchase (at the beginning) the $200 yearly subscription upgrade for this software that would allow for IP tracking and tools for post voting exclusion of vote stuffing practices. It had only the basic security. I figured I’d wait and see how much interest this poll garnered before I ponied up that much money. The company advertised they had an “upgrade” path that would allow me to get those features that would allow IP analysis. I had no idea this poll would get 60,000 votes so I figured I’d take a wait and see attitude.
Last night when I went to purchase the upgrade, I was shocked to discover that the company, polldaddy.com really didn’t have an “upgrade” to the service as one would expect, but rather it was a “pay money, and do-over”. There was this little fine print on the bottom of the page that only appears to logged in poll creators AFTER you click the “upgrade” button:
Here is what it says:
(Note: Individual voter data, location reports and IP analysis will only be available on data collected after you upgrade. We do not collect this kind of data for free accounts.)
So chalk it up to a learning experience, I made a bad choice of polling providers.
However, you might be interested to know that a backup plan has been in place. Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters asked me within a few hours of the start of my poll asking if he could duplicate it. I agreed, saying it would be good to have a backup, and they put it in place. His polling software is more robust that the polldaddy.com service, and has more anti-vote stuffing features.
It also has not been on the radar of the people whom called for a “crash” of the poll on WUWT. Here is the one week results for Newsbusters Poll:
It is interesting to note the differences between the poll results. The Newsbusters poll has been open the same amount of time (with maybe 3-4 hours difference) and it has far less votes. The Newsbusters poll remains open as of this writing.
So I’ve got some lessons learned here:
1) Online polling software security features can be gotten around, in some cases easily.
2) Free polling software, i.e. polldaddy.com, you get what you pay for. Their backwards “try and buy” marketing that tosses out the results you really want means I’ll not be “buying” it. If I ever do a poll again, polldaddy won’t be my choice. I’ll rent an external server to get around the wordpress.com limits.
3) Controversial polls generate huge amounts of traffic when they are on the radar.