As it seems, there is no sign of life in the second Aniblog Tourney as the organizers try to procure a secure voting system. From the mess caused by ballot stuffing, I have my doubts on whether or not they will ever recover. With that, I like to share my thoughts on why these tactics undermines the whole tournament. (Image Source)
If you seen the drama involving CSW over vote manipulation, it exposes a hole in the voting system. Since the Aniblog Tourney is a WordPress.com hosted blog, their options are very limited when it comes to poll creation. It’s because WordPress.com only supports Polldaddy and nothing else. This is a poor choice since anyone can rig a poll to his or her favor. If you search for “polldaddy hacking” on Google, you will find ways to exploit the system without getting caught. Unfortunately, paid accounts can only see the voters’ IP addresses and therefore, it’s impossible to detect if the person cheated or not. However, this is not the only way to cheat since in some instances, people asked outsiders like friends and coworkers to vote in the polls when they aren’t in the blogosphere. I will explain these two methods separately.
Botting and use of Tor/Proxies – The use of these tools is nothing new as anyone with enough computer skills can program an automated program and set up proxies/Tor to obtain new IPs. As shown in Novajinx’s epic war against Kuriousity which both sides used automated systems cast votes and switch to a different IP address, it shows the true weakness of open polling. Since most polling systems cannot extinguish legit and fake votes from this method, a participant can easily lose the race in the last minute.
Ballot Stuffing – Clearly, the use of Tor and Proxies are not the only way to cheat. There are a few instances in the first and second tournament of participants asking their friends and coworkers to vote for them. Although it might look legit, it’s not because these people are probably not a fan of anime or participate in the fandom and just voting as a favor. Not only that, people can simply vote again on a smartphone or a VPN since they have their own IP address, thus making the vote completely legit.
The only way the Aniblog Tournament will ever give a fair chance to everyone is to copy the approach that the Anime Blog Awards or Anime Power Rankings. Essentially, take the voting out of the public hands and have a panel or group of participants review and vote for the blogs while showcasing them in the event. That way, good blogs will receive some kind of recognition while the others receive feedback to improve. Although some might call this “circle jerking”, it’s impossible to completely secure an open voting system since cheaters will constantly find a way around it. To make it worse, the big boys will always benefit in the current format since they have a lot of readership. Even though I admit that the drama is amusing at times, this kind of stuff is not healthy for the blogosphere. At this rate, they may as well scrap the second tournament and redo it on a new host with a completely different approach.
Update: It seems that the Aniblog Tourney finally got a new polling system that addresses the first issue with a help of a fellow programmer. Hopefully, we won’t see instances of using Tor and proxies in the next round. However, the second factor still leaves a lot to be desired. ¶