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Fixing Polls: An Open Letter to MSNBC.com

Sep 16, 2000, 18:36 (137 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Kevin Reichard)

This letter was sent to the management of MSNBC. In light of the blatant poll-fixing at MSNBC, I would suggest you do the same. The letter was sent to martin.wolk@msnbc.com, TechNews@MSNBC.com, World@MSNBC.com, and Nightly@NBC.com. --Kevin Reichard

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At least we were open about asking our readers to vote for Linux, but to rig an online poll is something that MSNBC should worry about: someone with a pro-Microsoft agenda is clearly unleashing a bot to manipulate the results of the online poll. As an impartial news-gathering organization, you have a responsbility to present an unbiased forum. It strains creduility that 50,000 votes were tallied SOLELY for Microsoft 2000/ME on a Saturday morning.

As you know, Microsoft has a track record of rigging online polls; those attempts have been well-documented at Linux Today and other Web sites. I actually expected more from MSNBC. It also casts a pall on the credibility of NBC; getting into bed with Microsoft probably was a bad move, but for NBC to allow Microsoft to alter the news when it is not flattering to Microsoft is truly saddening.

As one of our readers pointed out:

> > Something is wrong with the poll.
> > Linus is dramatically dropping.
> Linux is in 3rd place with 18%.

Someone is definitively 'fixing' this poll. We've had a total of nearly 30,000 votes in 2 days. This morning, in a few hours we're reached almost 80,000 votes. Initially this surge was almost 100% in favor of NT/W2K which had at some point 48% of the total. Now the vote is being distributed to every OS but Linux. I'm amazed by the scale of this manipulation. I guess we should have seen it coming.


And as another reader pointed out:

How can it be?

Four hours ago I looked, and linux had 38% of around 37000 votes and Windows NT had only 19%.

Now 4 hours later there are almost 100,000 votes and Linux is in last place. For two days the voting had been slow and all of a sudden Windows votes sky rocket. There is definitively someone manufacturing the percentages!


--Kevin Reichard
Managing Editor, Linux/Open Source Channel

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