Many moons ago, ESPN.com did an online "Battle of the Bands", in which they matched up collegiate marching bands NCAA-tournament-style and asked their readers to vote for the winner. The Rice MOB was one of the entrants, and I spent several days sending emails to friends and coworkers exhorting them to vote for us. (I later discovered that some of them were passing these emails along to other folks - in the end I probably had about 250 people voting for the MOB.)
As if by fate, the MOB was eventually matched up against its nemesis, the Texas A&M band. By this time, pretty much everyone who followed college halftime bands was getting involved in these contests. A member of the Texas Longhorn Band alumni group posted a message somewhere (I don't remember where - this all took place in 1996 or so) advocating Longhorns to vote for Rice based on the two schools' "mutual hatred" for all things Aggie. This spurred a furious reaction in College Station, which was made worse by Rice's eventual win in the poll. The Aggies got their revenge in the next round when a hacker flooded the system and caused Rice to lose to eventual winner Stanford by several hundred thousand votes.
ESPN had claimed from the beginning of the poll that only one vote per IP address would be counted, but of course this was laughable on its face. Early rounds of voting seemed reasonably fair, mostly because early on not too many people knew about the contest and most of them took it as a lark, but in the end the simple truth was known by all - Web-based polls are totally meaningless.
So one wonders why they still exist in 2004, and when newspaper sites will eventually give up on them. Until then, those of us who know better may as well keep reminding them of these basic facts. You can do your part by choosing the right answer in this poll (hint: it's Edwards and Sandlin). Have fun, and remember to vote early and vote often.Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 06, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack