Posted by Amanda Chapel
We are saddened to report that we’ve been hacked; our contest poll has been compromised; and two finalists have been disqualified for cheating.
As you are likely aware, this last Monday we incorporated an online poll to give our audience the opportunity to pick the winner for the June Caption Contest. By early Wednesday we were quite suspicious of the results as there was a huge spike in votes cast. Granted, we like to think we’re popular but 298,625!; that's almost ten times the size of our audience.
We immediately contacted the poll hosting company Blogflux and confirmed that security had been breached. Not only were multiple votes coming from the same IP address, it was apparent that it was being done with a hacker’s automated bot script. It was also apparent that two of our contestants were involved: Doug Halsam and Rodd Simonsen.
We confronted Halsam and Simonsen. Both confessed, apologized and directly withdrew from the contest. See apologies below.
Lesson? There's a nice little case study here. All along we've held that the mechanism for vetting quality on the Net is dysfunctional. We've argued that it's a popularity contest that can be readily compromised.
So, are we through with Net polls? No. The techs at Blogflux have assured us that this vulnerability can and will be securely closed. In the future, we'll probably use them sparingly. We won't be using them where cash prizes are involved.
Well, it's back to the drawing board literally. Our panel of independent judges will reconvene and vet June's winner the old-fashioned way. We will diligently revisit the qualifications and assess each of the finalists independently and carefully. We hope to announce a winner early next week.
Thank you for your patience.
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This is a travesty on par with passing nuke secrets to the Reds or putting the fix in the Miss America contest. Shame upon thee. Is a public flagellation planned for the offenders? Will the video be available on You Tube?
How sad is it that people are bothering to rig caption contests? What's next, a bot for rock-paper-scissors?
Amanda, as our own Chaucer once wrote, "the pursuit of money is the root of all evil"
The sad part is than none of those captions is particularly funny. Then again , I could be biased as mine was not chosen. (The Republican and Democrat spokes persons prepare to speak on Fox News.)