Linux Today cries foul over Windows MSNBC poll surge

Bots it all about then?

Strange goings on in an online operating system poll run by Microsoft partner MSNBC have raised the ire of Linux Today, which has questioned the strange way in which Win2k/ME surged into the top slot on Saturday, with a surprise 50,000 votes in favour, or thereabouts. As Kevin Reichard says in an email to MSNBC, "It strains creduility that 50,000 votes were tallied SOLELY for Microsoft 2000/ME on a Saturday morning."

Indeed. According to Reichard there had been around 30,000 votes in the poll in the previous two days, and although The Register hadn't been paying too close attention to it, we did check it out on Thursday, and noted Linux was doing well. That in itself isn't surprising, as Linux Today had previously encouraged its readers to vote in the poll.

At the time of Linux Today's first intervention Linux had been trailing WinME, but the bush telegraph swiftly turned this around. Which of course just goes to show how stupid and unscientific these polls are, but they do seem to keep people amused, and the initial boost to the Linux vote was at least produced by real people (well, geeks then), while the reason for the surge was verifiable, in the shape of Linux Today.

At the moment, it's rather more difficult to see how the pro-Microsoft surge could have taken place so fast, and to such an extent. The poll this morning is showing NT/Win2k first with 45 per cent, then the Mac with 36 per cent, Win9x (inc ME) with 11 per cent and Linux and BeOS down in the dirt with 4 per cent apiece. So clearly something has been out in force in Microsoft's favour over the weekend.

Citing Microsoft's long inglorious record of poll-fixing, Linux Today's talkbacks mutter darkly of bots. Could be, although MSNBC's poll allegedly doesn't let you vote twice ("allegedly," because we're pretty sure we succeeded). Does anybody care? Not much, surely. And we're sure MSNBC must be above getting involved in any kind of fiddle, even if the outfit has been known to mysteriously disappear stories that embarrass Microsoft execs (gratuitous link below). In the outfit's favour, the parallel Will you buy WinME poll was at time of writing showing a thunderous 91 per cent no verdict. If that one starts turning around, there's definitely a bot at work...

Related story:
Linux Today letter to MSNBC
Last week - Linux takes the lead!
Where to find the poll
The strange case of the disappearing MSNBC story

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