Earlier this week (was it only yesterday?) I noted the incredible response to the NOW on PBS show’s Sarah Palin’s qualifications to be VP (or lack thereof). I also noted that for the time being PBS had no plans to change how it conducts online polls (ie, vote early, vote often, tell all your friends).
Well, forget all that. I just got an email from Joel Schwartzberg, the New Media guy for NOW on PBS. He says, Emily Litella style, “oops, never mind.” Seems the honchos at PBS decided to put in a cookie-based system to keep the show’s fans to the “one human, one vote” rule used in most US elections outside the states of Florida and Ohio.
I’ll quote Joel’s letter at some length because it’s good.
Sometimes, creating web content is like tossing lit matches. Some find their way to a pool of gasoline. This poll reached the attention of many bloggers and passionate political communities on the left and on the right. The poll, which normally saw thousands of votes, suddenly received tens of millions of votes. Site traffic on the whole increased exponentially, and we saw spam-like emails pleading for votes from as far away as France and Belgium, and as close as our friends, doctors, and colleagues. The poll quickly became the #1 most popular web page on all of PBS, bringing with it four other NOW on PBS web pages to complete the top five.
In response to the attention, a cookie registration system was set in place, and John Siceloff, Executive Producer of NOW on PBS, wrote this public letter to share with our NOW on PBS audience, both old and new. I hope you can help share it as well; it’s an effort to make our means and motives transparent to the public.
Or, to quote Howlin’ Wolf, “I asked for water, and she gave me gasoline.”
By the way, it’s still possible to vote multiple times in a poll and get around the cookies requirement, but it’s harder (one way I know of requires multiple browsers and/or computers). And you clearly can’t register 43 million votes that way.
Good on ya, PBS, for doing the right thing.