Voting Fraud Taints Social Media Tools Poll

Posted on November 19, 2009

Poll Closed Due To Suspected Vote Fraud

Voting Fraud Taints Social Media Tools Poll

I have to say this is the first time my blog has made me sad. Very sad in fact.

Last week I started two polls to see what social media listening tools folks were using. Both paid tools and free resources. Votes trickled in over the last week; pretty standard voting patterns.

Yesterday I tweeted the running totals of the paid tools to generate a little interest. I was surprised, and initially pleasantly so, to see my average blog visits quadruple. That was until I started looking at the poll’s voting patterns.

Now, I’m a big kid and I know that a Twitter or blog poll is never going to be statistically valid for several reasons. Including, some of those folks on a poll might promote it to their user base and ask their fans to vote for them. Which happened.

I wasn’t really happy about that since what I wanted was to gauge tool usage among the communications savvy pros that read my blog or follow me on Twitter. It was not a popularity contest, and I was not asking people to vote for the prom queen. However, I understand being over enthusiastic when you have been included in an open poll. Hey, I get it. No hard feelings. Been there, done that, guilty as charged.

What I did not expect, and what kicked me in the teeth, was fervent voter fraud. Really? On my little poll, on my little blog? I watched stunned as one lesser-known tool received 9 out of every 10 votes cast. “Vote early. Vote often.”

I took several steps to intervene, only to have the disproportionate voting continue. Then it started with another tool receiving a significantly higher vote count compared to the overall voting of the prior week. I suspect that someone watching figured if others weren’t going to play by the rules then game on, or the same person was just messing about. (Somehow, I’m more okay with one jerk screwing with the results of multiple tools, compared to multiple people trying to game their own results.)

Dejected, despondent, disconsolate, discouraged, disheartened, dispirited, (and a bunch of other D words I’ll spare you), it was at that point I decided to kill the paid social media listening tool poll. I have deleted the paid social media listening tools poll and comments to protect the innocent. I have kept the free social media listening resources poll available, but closed it.

Sorry to be so dramatic, but social media is a party that I love being a part of, and when someone, or persons unknown, poops in the punch bowl it makes me sad.

I have had the pleasure of working with a number of the tool developers on the poll, and they are a stand up bunch of folks. Some even promoted the poll in an unbiased way. They just made people aware of the poll without asking for votes. Class act! You all know who you are.

There is no reason to think that any software developers on the list, or anyone associated with their company, had any knowledge or involvement of this incident. To all the tool developers who reached out and were supportive, I apologize to you for this debacle.

I will not recount who was on the list because I don’t want them to be tarnished by association. Also, I will not name names of those I suspect, because I have no proof that there was fraud at all. In fact, there could be several valid reasons for what I witnessed. At the end of the day I only have what I saw and my common sense.

I would like to ask you a favor. Please stop reading. You see, I have a special message exclusively to those who ruined my day, and I don’t want to offend any reader’s sensibilities. Move along. Nothing to see here. Thanks.

Now, that everyone else has left, and it is just you and me, let me say…

From the bottom of my heart, you are a bunch of real wankers. Now piss off!