Twitchhiker | Paul Smith's travel tales from here and there

How not to vote
08/07/2009, 09:13
Filed under: antarctica | Tags: ,

Photo by Dean Terry on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Photo by Dean Terry on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

After just six days I’m amongst the top five entries for the competition to join Quark Expedition’s trip to Antarctica. Those ahead of me are ahead of me by a long, long way but it’s a brilliant start with three months of voting still to go.

Yesterday, however, I received an email from Quark. It’s been sent to some/all the entrants in the Antarctica competition, or perhaps only specific entrants deemed to be trying to game the competition. Yikes:

Dear Paul,

We are delighted with the response to Blog Your Way to Antarctica, and congratulate you on your efforts to become the Official Quark Blogger. So it is with disappointment that I find it necessary to address a concern that has been drawn to our attention by our Webmaster.

This competition was intended to be light-hearted and fun. We wanted to spotlight the need to protect the polar regions and we wanted to provide an opportunity for passionate folk to voice their concerns and hopes. We wanted the competition to be as inclusive as possible, so we kept the rules simple.

Our Webmaster has been auditing entries and has determined that some competitors may be creating alias addresses with no other intention than to inflate their votes. We recognize that multiple addresses could be used – most people have at least two – a work and a personal address – we accepted that zealous supporters would use both addresses. But we did not expect to find that our competitors would attempt to contravene eligibility requirements in an unethical manner, by creating email addresses for the sole purpose of voting.

Therefore we have clarified the voting rules. They will be updated today. We will continue to monitor the situation and should we find evidence of voting irregularities, we will immediately disqualify the entrant.

Thank you for your participation. We want every competitor to have an equal chance to become the Official Quark Blogger. And we want the person who is finally chosen to represent the values of sportsmanship, concern for the environment and ethical behavior.

It’s worrying Quark are putting the emphasis on competitors registering new email accounts to vote for themselves. I’ll be honest with you – I’ve voted for myself and so has my wife (at least she says she has, but I have my doubts). Now I’ve admitted that, if I do win this competition by two votes then I’ll be screwed. If competitors are rigging their own entries I’m sure Quark will take care of them – my concern is that others don’t do that in the name of Twitchhiker.

As the rules acknowledge, most people have at least two email addresses. I’m more than happy that people vote using these day-to-day addresses – I’ve asked people to do this in tweets (please do!) and Quark expect this will occur. They’re not worried about small irregularities – what they won’t tolerate is an individual registering dozens of accounts to vote.

I don’t want anyone following the letter of the rules to defeat the spirit of them, and I’d hope the other competitors feel the same. Above all else, Twitchhiker has always been about hundred and thousands of people making small contributions to make something more substantial happen. Regardless of any rules, this is the spirit of the Twitchhiker project, and if it doesn’t have the support to win this competition fairly, then it doesn’t win.

That’s not to say I don’t want us to win. I really, really want us to 🙂


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