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Microsoft

Microsoft Caught Rigging ZD Net Poll 768

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-thats-funny-stuff dept.
Dj writes "Microsoft have been found to be rigging a ZDNet poll". Apparently they didn't dig on the idea of .NET losing. Of course as anyone knows, never trust an online poll because this sort of stuff is obviosly happening all the time. I just wonder how many comments posted around the net are posted with the same goals in mind.
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Microsoft Caught Rigging ZD Net Poll

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  • by Graabein (96715) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:30PM (#2810325) Homepage Journal
    ID ZDnet knew the poll was rigged, why didn't they pull it ASAP?

    The poll is still available here [zdnet.co.uk]. It carries no warnings or disclaimers that the poll has been massively rigged by Microsoft.

    Why?

  • by Masem (1171) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:31PM (#2810329)
    In their 3rd point on the reputed email, ZDNet has to say:
    We know this, because our logs include the Web address where visitors browsed from; when people click there from a Microsoft Exchange email message, Exchange helpfully gives us the subject line and username.
    Certainly, Referrer is a common way to determine where people are coming from, but it seems to be a rather interesting privacy/security problem that MS Exchange would include the username in the HTTP request referrer field. If anything, I would expect a link in email to be a direct entry into a site, thus having no referrer field. (Of course, those of us that use plain text email simply cut and paste, and referrer ends up empty anyway). Even with this, I can see how this would easily work for spammers: have the 'click here to opt-out' link, and even if you have to do additional work on the end site to 'opt-out', they have guarenteed your email address at that point.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:33PM (#2810362)
    I wouldnt be surprised if MS were getting people to attempt to defend MS right here on slashdot.

    In the last few months ive been noticing more pro-ms comments here which i think are suspect.

    Its impossible to be certain, it might just be that the slashdot demographic is changing.
  • Re:There's a shocker (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DRO0 (252117) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:34PM (#2810375)
    Maybe, maybe not. If you do a search on google for "poll rig fix", here's the 3rd result.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/1/13255.html [theregister.co.uk]
  • by Juln (41313) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:38PM (#2810419) Homepage Journal
    ".Net vote rigging illustrates importance of Web services"
    Oh, I thought "Net Rigging Illustrates Dishonesty of Microsoft" or something like that, or perhaps the fact they they have a hard time imagining competing in a market where they don't have domination or some massive advantage.
    "The inevitable conclusion is that these are some of the first salvos in what will be a bitter PR struggle. Microsoft may have shot itself in the foot this time, but future efforts may be a little more subtle."
    Um, yeah, Microsoft just started their first PR war and they might start using sneaky tactics soon! Um, anyone can go read http://www.mackido.com/History/Where_is_stack.html if they think MS's tactics are anything new... the company has been doing the same shit for at least 10-15 years, if not more...
    Well, I guess this dishnoesty probably wasn't official. More like just some sucky group of MS employees, I guess...
  • by Hooya (518216) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:45PM (#2810483) Homepage
    it's not terribly different only just slightly. When i hit a link on slashdot asking me to go vote for something, i'm not being paid by slashdot in any shape or form. thus there is no obligation on my part to comply with that request. whatever my reactions are are solely mine. on the other hand, when your employer asks you to 'stop what you're doing for a minute and go do this...', you have been asked to do something for which you are being paid for (you are on company time).

    Therefore, we could conclude that people were paid to vote on MSs behalf. Whereas when we click on a link on slashdot, unless you're CmdrTaco or CowboyNeal etc.. you're not being paid to do so and are under no obligation. not terribly different, but slightly enough to make a huge difference. Asking someone to vote one way or the other vs. paying someone to do so. slightly different.

  • Re:There's a shocker (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:48PM (#2810509)
  • I'm with Taco... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:51PM (#2810536) Journal
    Of course as anyone knows, never trust an online poll because this sort of stuff is obviosly happening all the time. I just wonder how many comments posted around the net are posted with the same goals in mind.

    Here's another question -- how many of these web polls are posted with the primary goal of getting posted in one or more advocacy forums and generating hits, which is why a lot of sites and mailing lists have a flat policy against announcing them? I mean, that's what web polls are for, right? So Mac / Java / BSD / Amiga / what have you fans can compete to see who can more thoroughly stuff the ballot box. Don't tell me you guys actually take those results seriously?

    I thought using the word "rigging" in this context ("Ohmigod! Microsoft is destroying the integrity of a ZDNet click-poll!") was as outlandish as it was going to get, but then already there's the guy [slashdot.org] pulling out the bold tag to wonder why the MS board is going to jail over this. Clearly, this is a job for that Craig guy who spent months pestering everyone on Gnotices and dot.kde.org to spam the poll on his site...

  • by Yo Grark (465041) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:58PM (#2810592)
    The same thing happened 3 years ago with "Hank the angry drunken Dwarf" poll which saw him win people magazine's third Annual Most Beautiful People Poll on its website http://www.thebee.com/bweb/iinfo106.htm I'm sure if slashdot had known about this poll and microsofts winning efforts, it would have been countered and the polls would have been balanced.
  • Happens all the time (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ttfkam (37064) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @01:02PM (#2810634) Homepage Journal
    I really does, and not just online. I worked for a company that did websites for radio stations. We were reading results from a poll as part of an on-air contest where people could call in or use the web to vote for their favorite band. After a snafu with the data, we contacted the station to apologize for losing about a quarter of the results of the first few hours of the contest. We were expecting to be (quite rightly) reamed for it even though the contest had the rest of the week to run its course.

    As it turned out, they didn't mind at all. They had already decided who the top two choices would be and only cared which of the two came out on top. In short, Limp Bizkit was popular, but not THAT popular.

    I won't name names, but perhaps folks who listen to popular radio in the Chicago area (and other major venues) should keep this in mind the next time your radio station claims to give you what *YOU* want.

    It's not just online...
  • History repeating (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tim Macinta (1052) <twm@alum.mit.edu> on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @01:09PM (#2810702) Homepage
    I just wonder how many comments posted around the net are posted with the same goals in mind.

    Microsoft got caught ages ago with its hand in the cookie jar doing exactly that with the Barkto indcident [essential.org].

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @01:10PM (#2810719) Homepage
    Look, I think this is stupid and lame, of course. Not too different from posting a link to a poll asking about a linux port to linuxgames.com... But still not cool.

    But have we forgotten about MS fabricating letters to congress? Using -dead- people as the names, so at least there would be a real name there? Forget stupid zdnet polls... MS has engaged in true astroturfing with the intent to sway government in their favor (above and beyond the usual political contributions/manipulation of the illuminati to put GWB in charge). There is no comparison between these two events, other than if MS will send false letters to congress it is 0 surprise to see them hacking an online poll.
  • Fire vs Fire? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by larsu (473425) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @01:11PM (#2810733)
    If anyone wanted to slashdot a ZDNet 'Will you install Linux on a computer in 2002' poll... the address is http://polls.zdnet.co.uk/zdnuk/?p=26&m=1 [zdnet.co.uk].
  • Re:Hmmmm.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @01:28PM (#2810896) Homepage Journal
    If a UPS guy runs over somebody while on UPS time, UPS is held accountable.
    If the register person at McDonalds reaches across the coulter an punches you, McDonalds is responsibles.
    If I write a sript that causes another company to loose all its data, the company I work for is responsible.

    Sure, the people who commmit the offence are to blame as well, but company are responsible for the actions of there employee's.

    If a company sent you an email that said "Please remeber to Go Vote", an thats it, fine, got no problm with that, but if a company says "Go Vote For Gore" Now we have a problem. PIF, companies have gotten into trouble for encouraging employees to vote for a specific candidate.
  • Re:What happened (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Satai (111172) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @01:30PM (#2810910)
    I seriously doubt that this was organized by anyone high level at MS.. probably just a salesman who thought it would be a good idea to get everyone to vote in the poll.

    The question on my mind... was he fired - or promoted?

  • Re:Doesn't taco... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @01:37PM (#2810988)
    that particular incident was done by a script (the author / user who did it admits to it down in one of the threads).

    However, if you look around ... there was a poll called "should slashdot dump the jerk", which was asked of readers shortly after jon katz joined the staff a few years back. while it was active, it got relatively few votes, and most readers said sure, keep katz around. A few months back, though, a "troll" found the same poll, and started spreading it around common troll hangouts [n3.net]. the other trolls then posted it all over slashdot. many, many people voted to drop katz. Eventually, the minority who favored dropping katz turned into a vast majority (this was soon after his letter from kabul episode, which was a perfect example of stupidity and irresponsible journalism). BUT, somehow the poll was "fixed" to it's original values a few days later. someone on the slashdot staff not only reset the numbers, but reset the date on the poll (fixing the numbers moved the date order of the poll ... a second fix was required to put it in its original order). I, personally, cant find the links at the moment, but i'm going to continue looking. check back for updates.
  • Self-selection polls (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @01:38PM (#2811001)

    The basic problem here is that the poll's respondents are self-selecting, which as any good statistics student -- or anyone with a modicum of common sense -- will tell you, immediately renders the results dubious at best.

    Several people on this thread have observed that if the story had made /. in time, the slashbots could have voted it back the other way, "evening things up". Unfortunately, all that happens then is that the poll's response is 45% MS, 45% /. and 10% real respondents, whose opinion is lost in the noise. In other words, the poll result now looks like it's close but isn't actually representative at all. If anything, that might be more misleading; at least the MS rig is obvious.

    Such is the price you pay for self-selection. It only takes one group to get together with a common purpose, and your result will go their way. This is why the consultants choose a random sample of a few thousand from their target audience -- and then ask them questions carefully phrased to bias the responses in favour of the desired outcome, but we'll gloss over that bit... :-)

  • Re:What happened (Score:2, Interesting)

    by orgnine (529145) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @02:09PM (#2811242)
    Agreeably this could be true, but to the same effect I am wondering how one person managed to attempt 228 times (as mentioned in the article) to vote.

    Isn't this obviously more than just shameful mass e-mail tactics? Such as automated scripts?

    orgnine
  • by bluebomber (155733) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @02:58PM (#2811621) Homepage
    No kidding. How hard would it really be to put up a page somewhere else that sends a vote for the opposite choice instead of the right choice? Not very hard, it would seem...
  • Re:What happened (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sniser (325496) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @03:19PM (#2811772) Homepage
    I seriously doubt that this was organized by anyone high level at MS.. probably just a salesman who thought it would be a good idea to get everyone to vote in the poll.

    As long as you can't come up with more than "serious doubt" and "probably" your guess is just as good as mine, and mine is different. MS tends do shit like this ("aggressive marketing", just that it's not that, it's "dishonest marketing") at every opportunity. So it kinda is "high-level". And what if they teach their salesman that stuff like this is proper practice? Does the CEO have to write the email himself for it to be "high-level"?

    And even if the author of the email "acted alone", don't you think that the MS management very likely approves of it?
  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @03:36PM (#2811903) Homepage
    Therefore, we could conclude that people were paid to vote on MSs behalf.

    We could indeed conclude that, if we are in the habit of drawing conclusions from evidence so slender it's all but non-existent.

    Sorry, but I don't buy it. There's no evidence that anyone was paid, or that there was any concerted effort, or that their was any conspiracy. Yes, the votes originated from a microsoft.com account, yes emails appear to have originated from a microsoft.com account, no there is no evidence of 'official' action.

    Three guys from the .net programming department could have gotten this ball rolling with almost no effort, using their own adress books. Simple lemming psychology, a 'forward this to everyone' line in the email, and corporate conformity does the rest. I've seen it happen within my industry, (which is non tech BTW), as well as on endless newsgroups, forums, etc... Here on Slashdot, it's even got a nickname, The Slashdot effect.

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