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Is some manipulating this website to cheat an online poll/contest?

Posted on 2006-05-26
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Last Modified: 2008-02-07
Hi all, my cat is running for pet of the month for our neighborhood on an online poll. the competition seemed pretty fair until someone started leaving very mean messages about my cat, and then another pet soared ahead in the votes. I'm suspecting that someone is manipulating the website somehow to cheat but I cant think of how. It looks like the votes are posted using javascript. I'm not sure if the website is checking the IP address or cookies or some other method for verification that that you only vote once. I used to use this forum all the time but had canceled my membership a while ago. I figured this would be the best place to ask. Any ideas if its possible someone is cheating? and if I could prove it? Any help would be great!

thnx in advance, here is the link to the website...
http://www.sohotampa.com/petofthemonth.htm

thnx!
taz
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Question by:tazmajazz
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by:jakeblat
ID: 16772902
If there is a sudden change in results it is possible someone is manipulating the results, it may be possible for the author of the poll to change the votes and as the poll is hosted on another website it is unlikely it is cheat proof, polls are not the most reliable method of voting especially when hosted externally and there is always a chance the author has manipulated the results. There are many different ways of cheating polls and you can't really tell.

In the end polls can easily be manipulated and if you have seen a sudden change in results it is likely someone has messed with them somehow.
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16772946
If you incorporate and IP address scheme and isolate the UNIQUE records ->>>IP address, you can prevent future voting from that location.
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by:jakeblat
ID: 16772948
The poll is hosted on a third party website so that probably isn't an option and tazmajazz is not the author of the poll or the website
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16772961
considering the content...it would matter if we were polling who would be the best President.
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by:tazmajazz
ID: 16773248
hmm, I wonder if its some kind of IP spoofing then...

the content isnt what matters, I just wanna call out someone for cheating if theres some easy way I can find that they could have done it.
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mrichmon earned 200 total points
ID: 16773284
I don't know,  I played with it a few times and they do already have a check in place for basic duplicate votes.

Many sites however allow multiple votes across dys from the same person and this person could simply have asked all the friends to vote another way.

Unlikely to be IP spoofing - that is really too much effort for someone just to vote thier pet ahead of yours....


I would guess they simply did all legitimate, mean, but legitimate, ways of getting a different pet to win.
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16773314
that would be hard if you're 3rd party. best to be in control.
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by:purfus
ID: 16773729
Well sense you are dealing with one naighborhood I would suggest you count the number of people in the naighborhood that could posibly vote and then count the number of people that have voted.  If the latter exceed the former than you obviously have a discrepency.  My advice is to use a simple forum/blog.  Forget a voting system unless you want to develop one of your own.  A person would post a comment that gives their name, their phone number, maybe address, whatever.  Maybe limit it to one vote per phone number, or one vote per address.  That way there are a limited number of votes and one person would have to impersonate another to get multiple votes.  With such a small population of voters I would think some logical deduction would lead you to an answer to your questions of cheating and some simple rules such as what I suggested would prevent it.
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by:purfus
ID: 16773736
Personally.... I like Annie.
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16773737
to add to purfus comment..

You're welcome to jump on my board

http://www.superman808.com

You can enable voters to be guests or force them to be members to vote.
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by:purfus
ID: 16773757
Good call irwin.  Are there really 400+ people in your "naigborhood"??
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by:Irwin Santos
Irwin Santos earned 200 total points
ID: 16773767
I have a email BLOG journal that has 575 members (totally separate deal). and the board members have just reached 100.  I'm in the process of twisting arms getting my regular readers to jump on the message board.

Here is an example of my BLOG journal (almost daily)
http://www.ctrlaltdel-usa.net/superman/03_046_newsletter_060526.asp
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by:UnexplainedWays
UnexplainedWays earned 400 total points
ID: 16773878
http://basicpoll.com/result.php?answer=a3&pid=22093

This seems to be the link that would give the vote to your cat.  So someone might of done if for there pet and distributed it.      basicpoll does leave 2 cookies when you vote, but when you delete them and go back, it's still the same total.  I even tried a different browser.

"Rules for our contest:
1. One vote per email/IP address."

I just got a mate of mine to click the link, and the vote did go up.  So all you would need to do would be to distribute the link to people (email forwards) and walla!

However
"3. Campaigning is allowed. "

That's against the rules, however i was just pointing out how they could of gone about it.


Now, if anyone was to happen to click this link..............
http://basicpoll.com/result.php?answer=a3&pid=22093

hahahahaha



Now, the moral question is, do you fight back or do you play fair?
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by:ClickCentric
ID: 16774292
Are there any webmasters in your neighborhood?  At any given time, I have access to a lot of IP addresses.  Someone with a dial-up account could come up with quite a few too.  If the results suddenly spiked, it's almost definitely some sort of foul play...but if it's that important to them to rig an online pet contest, let them have it...they obviously have nothing else.
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by:tazmajazz
ID: 16777967
well, I dont know any webmasters here so I dont really have anyone to ask. the results definitely suddenly spiked by about 70 votes in a few hours so someone did something for sure. Obviously its not that important but its the principle of it :-)
the rules say I can campaign and I think distributing that link out to everyone I know is acceptable, besides they're not playing fair anyways. I wish I had a high traffic website to post the link on. very few people visit the few sites I have :-)

oh and yes, there's gotta be more than 400 people in this neighborhood.

irwinpks, I'm not I understand what your suggestion is...could you clarify plz?

thx all!

taz
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by:ClickCentric
ID: 16778002
Well, I actually meant that webmasters would be a likely source of the foul play as they can have access to lots of sites.  But if you can campaign and you think you've been wronged, go all out. ;)
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Author Comment

by:tazmajazz
ID: 16779934
jeesh, yeah, they cheated again, their votes went up another 70 over night. I'm not above foul play but even a webmaster wouldnt have access to 50+ IP's. I think theres some way that they are easily spoofing their IP on the fly. its the only way they could rack up that many votes that quick...

here is the message from the person who must have jacked the votes up:

"Don't hate the playa hate the game. I'm callin up all my b*tchez... don't call it a come back. "

I'm missing something.
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16780083
Perhaps you want to put that poll on a server that has member based authentication.  That will surely limit the number of opportunites, especially not voting anonymously.
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by:ClickCentric
ClickCentric earned 200 total points
ID: 16780091
Webforms are generally pretty easily fooled...and you'd be surprised how many IP addresses a webmaster can have access to.  Some shared hosts have hundreds of them on one machine..and a carefully crafted little app could send a message from each.  Since http is non-persistent, it wouldn't be that hard.
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Author Comment

by:tazmajazz
ID: 16781406
a bit over my head, and I dont know any local webmaster. looks like I've been out-teched :-)
anyone else know a webmaster with access to a pool of IP's who could help?

taz

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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16781494
"anyone else know a webmaster with access to a pool of IP's who could help?"

This is a rare find, unless you have full control over the polling/IP address/content...the answer to this is that you "can't"
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Author Comment

by:tazmajazz
ID: 16812433
thnx for the help guys, didnt really know how to split up the points. take care!

taz
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