Saturday, December 15, 2007

Internet Polling

I've been thinking more about internet polling lately - especially after seeing the following poll result about a week ago:

This poll is clearly flawed - Sean Taylor is not even in the top 20 defensive players, but he was just recently murdered and has been in all of the headlines.

The question this raises is whether the poll administrator has either (a) the right, or (b) the obligation to correct this type of result. The above example is a no brainer - i.e. I doubt many people would complain if the Sean Taylor's results were stricken from the totals.

Two related situations that come to mind are not quite as clear:

1. The Greenpeace poll where Mister Splashy Pants was voted as the top name for a whale. This was one of those internet campaigns where a large block of people conspired to skew the results of a poll. In this case, I think it is reasonable for them to throw out this name when choosing the winner. However, one could argue that in such case maybe they should not have chosen to use an internet poll in the first place.

2. The political polls where Ron Paul seems to show a much higher total than he would really have if any sort of election were held. This is likely because his supporters tend to be uncommonly fervent, organized, and internet-savvy. Several polls have been shown to have tinkered with his results, or removed him altogether, after he was voted into the lead. I think this is an example where it may be less appropriate for the poll administrator to be taking such an action.

This issue is of special personal interest to me, since we used an internet poll back in 2000 to help determine our son's middle name.


At 5:52 PM, Blogger antihadron said...

Penn and Teller's view on polling

FU Frank!


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