The Case of The Missing Votes

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A number of days ago, I saw a website running a poll for the best “AMD CPU related” site. I thought to myself, “Gee, we’ve been covering AMD a lot lately,” so I suggested
on our front page that maybe you should cast a few votes our way so the AMD community would know we were looking their way. The website had suggested the listed sites mention
their poll, so it wasn’t like I was taking unfair advantage of those listed.

I did notice this: “Sites must be AMD related in title and content to be added,”
but thought that no one sane would exclude a site with a lot of useful AMD info just because of its name while allowing a site which fit the rules named, “AMD Sucks.”

How naive was I.

The first couple days, we got enough votes to get us close to fourth place. There were about 60 write-in votes, and from the available comments, most of them were for overclockers.com.

This seemed good and fair to me, since the other sites we had passed in the poll have been pretty . . . inert in covering AMD compared to us.

One day, I looked, and to my bemusement (but not surprise), half the write-in votes were gone!! I’ve heard of stuffing the ballot box, but pulling them out?

So I wrote the following:

From: Edward Stroligo

To: amdlinks@home.com

Sent: Wednesday, August 16, 2000 7:29 AM
Subject: The amazing write-in ballot

Since we’ve been doing quite a bit of AMD work lately; I mentioned your poll at our site. I looked yesterday, and we were getting close to fourth place. I look today, and now there are fewer write-in votes than yesterday!

Could you please explain how this could possibly happen?

It also seems to me that the requirement that a site must be AMD-related in title to be worthy of inclusion in your poll to be rather arbitrary. We’ve put up far more AMD-related material in the last month than most of the sites you’ve listed. Surely you should be more concerned with the substance rather than the form?

Sincerely,

Ed Stroligo
www.overclockers.com
________________________________________

This is what I got back as a reply:

From: Don Murphy

To: Edward Stroligo

Sent: Wednesday, August 16, 2000 10:21 AM
Subject: Re: The amazing write-in ballot

Ed,

I understand your question and will do my best to answer it. First of all, Some people have been clicking the write in button but then neglecting to actaully type in and submit a site. Also, some people have been probably using the comments section in mistake, thinking that is the way to vote. I apologise for any misunderstandings that may appear to be occurring with the format of the poll. The 62 or so write-ins you saw were on the first segment of the poll where you select, but in actuality the results page only dispalyed the 32 or so votes that had been typed in correctly. Obviously votes for a write-in can not be counted without a selection being made, so they have been deleted. I plan on finding a clearer format to remedy this problem in the future.

(Ed. notes in bold) As you’ll see, subsequent events show this to be nonsense. Even if the part about the comments is true, this isn’t exactly a governmental election. If somebody has a blank ballot and writes www.overclockers.com in, just whom do you think the person wanted to vote for? Note that he acknowledges 32 properly cast ballots.

Secondly, when I created the site and added the poll, the idea was to establish a place for AMD Fanatics to get massive amounts of information through linked websites which are based entirely or mainly on AMD.

He’s warming up to say, “we don’t want non-fanatic people like you” but most of these “fanatic” sites (AMDZone/SlotA, the Italian site and AthlonOC excepted) sure don’t post “massive amounts” of information. Matter of fact, they don’t post much at all.

I too have cruised your site and have found it very good and useful. Maybe someone should create a site more broadly representative of all computers and hardware? Personally, and regrettably, I don’t have the time for this type of more extensive service and that is why I chose to be more selective about the format.

Translation: I’m not going to do a little extra work that might actually help current and future AMD users, and besides, you’re not pure enough in my eyes.

Finally, I would like to say that all votes for AMD Fansites have been logged . . .

Some votes are more equal than others, as we shall see.

. . . and that the results page is accurate all the time with the exception of the write-in’s which are occasionally updated from write-in to poll format if the site has obtained enough votes. I hope this answers the questions you had and keep up the fine work you do at overclockers.com.

As you’ll see, the only updating is removal.

Sincerely,

Don Murphy
AMD Weblinks

I was going to let this go, but I took another look for the hell of it this morning and saw this:

AMDLinks

Now there’s only ONE write-in vote! But there was 32 confirmed votes less than two days ago! 32 votes attested to being correctly cast by no less than the website itself!

Look closer and you’ll see two other very strange things:

  1. Add up the percentages, and they don’t add up to 100%, but 93%!! Where’s the other 7%? Well, we know there were at least 62 “votes” a couple days ago in the write-in which are now 1, not unreasonable to assume a dozen or two write-ins in a couple days. Only the percentages tell no lies.

  2. If you add up the number of votes, they come to 1215, but now 31 confirmed write-in votes as of two days ago are missing.

Nor is it just pique at me; other, good websites were listed even after Mr. Murphy’s first winnowing, and now they’re gone, too! Gone with the wind!

Obviously, if you don’t vote for the places Don Murphy and Company want you to vote for, they just throw your votes out, like some bunch of Third World tinpot dictators. You don’t matter, you’re not politically correct.

Not like we or anybody else was overwhelming the totals with some organized campaign, either.

Based on the percentages, they’ve thrown out about 75-85 votes. They’ve thrown out every single vote you’ve cast for overclockers.com!

Why Would They Do That?

It seems silly to me. AMDZone is going to win this poll, and they should. We were never going to overtake them or the other leaders, probably would have gotten somewhere between 5-10%, and that would have been that.

But I guess that was a threat to the Mickey Mouse Club. Maybe some of the lamer AMD sites might have felt threatened. Maybe this website really does have a name-al fixation.

More likely, we and the other non-AMD dedicated sites weren’t “fanatical” enough. To this, we proudly plead guilty.

The Moral of this Story

Fans belong in sports stadiums. You can be as irrational as you like short of mayhem for your team, and it does no harm.

But in the real world, fanaticism is almost always bad. It’s bad because the whole truth is always the first to go in a fanatic’s mind, if it even gets there in the first place.

In a true fanatic’s mind, the ends ALWAYS justifies the means. So what if you don’t mention some inconvenient facts? So what if you don’t tell the truth or even lie about the other side? So what if you even lie about shortcomings on “your” side. It’s for a greater cause.

This may give the fanatic some great personal satisfaction, but this is precisely what you don’t need if you’re looking to buy something.

If you wanted to buy a washing machine, would you go the “Maytag Fanatics” website as your sole source of information? Do you think the “Maytag Fanatics” website would ever recommend a Kenmore, even if the Kenmore were better? Do you think a “Maytag Fanatics” website would be very likely to say that a Maytag model stunk up the joint?

Not too likely. So why would you go to just an AMD or Intel or Apple-dominated website as the sole source for buying information?

Are We Here to Inform the Public or Wave Pom-Poms?

There’s nothing wrong with AMD-dominated sites per se. They can provide a lot of information, both to those who already own such machines, and to those who are interested in them.

However, you almost always lose some degree of objectivity when you place yourself on one side. If you want to know who has the best team, do you ask the cheerleaders?

It is indeed rare when one side, especially in a rapidly changing world like technology, always has a better solution than the other. Just look at Intel. They thought they’d
be better forever, got fat and happy, and look what’s happened in the last year.

Until recently, Overclockers.com covered Intel almost exclusively. However, that did not mean Intel could do no wrong in our eyes, we criticized, and criticized harshly, when it was deserved.

We’ve shifted more towards AMD because it looks like their products, at least for a while, will be about as good, as good, or even better than Intel’s, real competition across the board, not just as a value chip.

Would we have done our readers a service by pretending AMD didn’t exist? No. Would we do our readers a service by shifting completely over to AMD and pretended all that heat wasn’t there? Or pretend that better products aren’t coming in a few months?

No.

We know our allegience belongs to our audience, not to any company.

A Simple Test for Any Computer Website

How often do they say something stinks?

This is an imperfect world, with imperfect people making imperfect products. Some of them are bound to stink. Matter of fact, I haven’t run across a single computer company yet that didn’t make at least one product that wasn’t too hot.

Unless you’re a masochist, you don’t want to buy those products. You look at some websites, though, and they’ve never seen a product they didn’t like. I’m sure many of them are afraid they’ll lose advertising revenue or the chance to try out new products if they trash something, but then whose side are they on? Not yours. How much can you trust a place like that?

Nor is it any better to just go to a place where they won’t trash certain products because they’re fanatical about them. If a fanatical Fuller Brush man showed up at your door literally foaming at the mouth about how wonderful his product was, would you say “Give me ten, please?” So why would you go to a website for the same?

Why somebody won’t say something stinks doesn’t matter to you, you still end up with a product you wouldn’t have bought if they cared less about the company and more about you.

Why Get Gang-Pressed Into A Geek Ghetto?

The people at AMDLinks are obviously a lot less concerned about people interested in AMD getting a lot of information than getting the “right” information. But horses usually don’t like blinders, so why let somebody put them on you?

Now they have the right to do whatever they like, but they have no right to be taken seriously. It’s just like being a Britney Spears Fan Club. Would you go there to find out if she was any good or not?

A Dis and A Test

Obviously, Don Murphy and Company showed great disrespect to anyone who cast a write-in vote for us or anybody else, and if you got your vote thrown out, or just find them a joke, you might want to remind them that
this is the Free World.

But it’s also a test of the AMD sites, too. Some of them seem a bit disturbed that other websites are showing greater interest in AMD, “encroaching on their turf,” so to speak, like God gave them the monopoly on it.

Well, He didn’t. As AMD gets better and better, they’ll get more and more attention, which means more and more competition as the action shifts in that direction.

There was a time when AMD websites were an embattled minority, and acted like one. They circled the wagons and defended themselves, and anybody, no matter how dubious, who joined them.

Those days are over. AMD is no longer in the bunker just trying to survive anymore, and neither are their supporters. There’s no excuse to act like Mac fans anymore.

It is time to be inclusive, not exclusive, to welcome the undecided, not to administer tests to determine those of the True Faith, or who can even write out Intel without shuddering or treating it as an obscenity.

Part of inclusiveness means being strong enough to criticize the less-than-noble actions of other allies. It will be interesting to see if other AMD sites ignore, or even defend this particular website’s actions. If they do, they’re still chained to the ghetto’s past, even with the key in their hands.

Email Ed

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