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defend the integrity of their online poll

I'm coming up with all sorts of similes but they all sound snarky, and I don't want to be snarky, so I'll just say it straight: there is no "integrity" in an online poll.

The results are always stunningly, catastrophically, inarguably invalid for any sort of rigorous use. The only thing that makes this particular poll more obviously flawed than the Ron Paul surges which were more obviously flawed then the garden variety online poll is that the latent vulnerability was exploited to an extent approaching parody.

(Note you don't have to have an adversary at all to make an online poll invalid. They're always the result of self-selection on the part of the participants anyhow.)




Actually, online voting may have some integrity if you find the voters, instead of letting the voters find you. If you had some kind of reliably random population, you can simply select X members to vote, thus ensuring that the stats are relatively bias-free (you get bias from people who abstain).

But you're right - in any case where the voters find you, your results will be trash.


Sure, but the whole concept of "online", as people understand it, is "clients wander around doing to servers whatever they damn-well please." If you're pulling in voters, there's no difference between doing it online and doing it, say, over-the-phone or by-mail or door-to-door—so you drop the distinguishing "online" when explaining it.


That seems like a distinction without a difference. Are you saying Facebook old poll feature wasn't "online?"


Correct, for example HotOrNot voting. If you eneter a profile url directly, you can vote but it would not be counted. If you are sent randomly to a profile(by selecting "next random" button), then there is no self selection bias and your vote is counted.


What I meant by integrity was to have the results be more or less representative of the actual beliefs of an average site visitor.

I'm guessing some kind of statistical method for determining which votes don't fit the profile of a site's visitors combined with actively weeding out obvious instances of mass voting could make the results at least appear more accurate.

Sure there's no actual validity or rigor to online poll results, but the point is more to have results that at least appear plausible.


But then why bother having the poll in the first place? If you're just going prune the results so that they look like what you expect, you aren't really polling. You already know the answer, and you're going to throw out data until you get it.




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