Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I wasn't going to bring this up here

Blog competition gone bad

Cheaters send in hundreds of votes for NWT bloggers

by Laura Power Northern News Services NWT

What started as a friendly competition between NWT bloggers ended early because of a few cheaters, according to Megan Holsapple, who started the online contest. "I didn't want it to end that way," she said. "I just saw it as a fun little project that people could enjoy and feel proud of."

Three bloggers in each of the two categories – best blog and best post – were competing for the NWT's first blog awards last month. When the voting began, Holsapple said it was obvious by the amount of votes coming in that a few people out there were cheating.

"Most of it was happening from outside the NWT," she said. "I'm not sure if they thought I wouldn't know, but seriously, when you're placing a hundred votes in an hour it's kind of obvious."

She said she could tell it wasn't the bloggers doing it for themselves. "They were both kind of appalled at the fact that people were cheating for them," she said.

None of her readers cheated for her.

"It does tell you something that so many people thought it was important enough to cheat," she said. "I think the people who went to the contest site definitely found new blogs they haven't found before and that was really the ultimate goal... it's sort of a sneaky way to say 'oh look, here's Phil in Inuvik. He's got this awesome photo blog.'

Even before the awards, the new NWT blogging community has become a popular site for writers, photographers and readers. Some bloggers use their pages to post scenic and otherwise interesting photos while others write about their lives and families. Holsapple, one of the community's most active bloggers, writes under a couple of guises. The first is her personal blog, Reflections in the snow-covered hills, which she often uses to rant about grammar and journalism-related issues. The other is a sarcastic blog full of religious references called Flame of God.

One of her posts from her personal blog was nominated in the best post category along with posts by Eclectic Blogsand Inuvik Photos. Those two were also nominated in the best blog category along with one called Just Below 63.

"We've got so many great writers and so many great photographers," said Holsapple. In the end, she decided to simply call a tie for both categories because of the cheating. If the blogging community goes ahead with another competition, she said the winners would be picked in a way that makes cheating impossible. Next time, she plans to have people judge categories instead of relying on votes.

This appeared in yesterday's newpaper. I was given the heads up by Megan when I saw she had commented on her blog that she had spoken to a reporter about this. I admit, I probably wouldn't have done this, but that is her perogative and I respect her for that. I was shocked when I opened the paper today and saw that this was a full page in the paper with a big bold title. Seriously, was this really newsworthy? I really think this journalist was desperate for a story.

I haven't really commented on the outcome of the NWT Blog awards. It ended up being called off a few hours early due to the influx of votes towards the end. It was determined by Megan that someone in Halifax was trying to rig the competition for us and someone in Quebec was rigging it for Phil. When she emailed me about it before the contest was over, I told her I didn't know who it was, and to this day I still don't. It is unfortunate that it ended this way, with the contest not playing out until the end. It was quite fun to watch to see who was "in the lead". It made me feel quite honored that so many people were voting for our blog.

And, to the person in Halifax who sat in front of their computer and voted for us, according to Megan's calculations, "over 100 times in an hour", we love you, and would love to know who you are. Thanks for the boost of confidence for the blog!


Kennie said...

Say What?!?

Full page news worthy in a Newspaper .... not really.. interesting ... mildly.

Correct me if I am wrong here ... but didn't the voting system only allow for one vote (or maybe two if you were lucky) as IP addresses were recorded at the poll / cookies dropped in computers?

I don't know about you, but I have a rather large readership coming out of my home town and Ottawa (so I imagine you have quite a large one from your hometown too). And when the planets align just right and everyone is online voting ... well.. strange things occur (like massive influxes of votes).

elmo said...

Well, being the teckie in Halifax I'm sure I'm a suspect. I know of a manual way to reset your voting privelege (I wont share it) but it would take a lot of effort to cast that many votes. I will say that it wasnt me though - Tina knows I'm too lazy!! ;)

Rob said...

I think that this is something that needs to be left behind. Another thing. As much as I enjoy the race for votes, why do we need to know who has the best blog. We are all simply voicing are opinions and experiences and sharing them with anyone who wants to read about them.
This is only my opinion and I dont feel news worthy so all you reporters out there need not call.

Dusty Boot said...

wow..... I luv your blog but 100 votes per hour... I'm too lazy for that. lol. :)

Kennie said...


Well said.

Megan said...

I think it's great that you have someone who loves your blog so much. I'm a huge fan, too. :)

I told the reporter that I wished it hadn't happened. This definitely wasn't what I wanted to see in the paper.

I deal with reporters quite a lot, and I know that there would have been a story even if I had refused to talk to her. I wouldn't have been able to talk her out of writing about it.

My real goal in doing the contest was to get more people reading NWT blogs, not to pick the best blog. (As if you could ever do that!) I hoped to direct people to new blogs they'd never seen before and to think about how they were all awesome in very different ways.

I love this blog because of the personal touches, funny stories and pictures of your kids. You're the real deal.

Way Way Up said...

That's too bad the contest didn't play as it was hoped for. It was still nice to see some of the NWT blogs that are out there. I began my teaching career in the NWT and will always carry fond memories of the place.

Anonymous said...

If you want to put a positive spin - and why not eh? - there is the saying that "no advertising is bad advertising" because it will increase readership due to all the contraversy.
Just wanted to put out a happy thought :)