Thursday, September 29, 2016

We Used To Do That

There's been chatter about some of the fever swamps of the internet (you know, the white supremacist types) getting their users to "manipulate" online polls. Not that I'm inclined to defend neo-Nazis (And I'm not, of course), but online polls should be manipulated. People on in the internets have been "manipulating" online polls about politics for as long as I can remember. The freepers at free republic call it "freeping" polls. The kids at Democratic Underground say to "DU this poll." Here we adopted Lou Dobbs for awhile and called it "torture Lou Dobbs" because we could get the results of his online polls, which he would announce on his show daily, to be the opposite of whatever you knew he wanted them to be. The point was to have a bit of fun while pointing out that the whole exercise was absurd.

Online polls are, of course, complete bullshit, and if "news" organizations wish to talk about them as being meaningful, as opposed to a game, which they have for a long time, then they get what they ask for. Random assholes on the internet aren't the ones making online polls newsworthy, it's elite news organizations. And, yes, in the past they definitely had an impact in how events like debates were covered. I've seen hosts say things like, "we thought this, but our online polls say..."

So, yes, online polls are bullshit. Stop pretending otherwise. And long before 4chan or even Eschaton World Industries, there was the Free Republic, "manipulating" every one of them. Weirdly news organizations only seem to care when they get results they don't like. Funny, that.