[Inserted 3/1/05 @ 10:31 this obnoxious Advertiser poll on a bond vote is at 54.4 for fiber and 44.7 against fiber. I still think both sides ought to denounce this poll and demand that it be pulled down. I've done that already; the fiber411 guys should do the same. It's poison and the sort of thing that causes folks to say what they later regret. I see over at the fiber411 site that Bill is saying [Chatbox: Tuesday 01 March 2005 - 18:01:21] that the profiber boys are rigging the vote. Come on. We've been making a little progress here. This is a dumb, divisive poll. It can't be trusted by either side. And no side can legitimately take any comfort from a positive result for their cause.
The only thing served by this "poll" is the Advertiser's page counts. Popularity polls are promotional devices for the websites that post them. Notice all the obnoxious pop ups/pop unders? My bet is that the Advertiser is being paid for each and every "pop." If we were smart we wouldn't play their game.
Lafayette Pro Fiber has denounced it. LUSFTTH has ignored it (probably smarter.) Fiber 411 has promoted it. Guys who ignore it and who denounce it aren't likely to have much motive to rig it since they would look a little strange promoting a good outcome for the home team.
Doug, Tim, Bill, Neal, (gumbofile, baycock, whoever) feel free to actively denounce this in the comments. Let's neuter this thing.
Note: why the change? Not at all sure but I do know that profiber folks like myself have given up on getting it taken down and have hit their email address book and listservs. I don't like promoting this thing in any way and held off hoping first that it would come down and then that the fiber411 guys would join me in denouncing it in order to build their good government credits. Hasn't happened. Still should.]
The Daily Advertiser has a "poll" on the bond vote on its front page. All you profiber folks ought to get yourself over there and vote.
First go over to: http://www.acadiananow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage and vote.
Now come back here and let's talk about it.
Update 2:18 pm
Unscientific popularity polls of this sort are a bad thing and debase the political process. I hate 'em and have complained to Juli Metzger about using them in reference to the political process before—entirely outside the context of the fiber battle.
This "poll" is particularly bad because it is vulnerable to tampering and anyone with a rudimentary sense of how these polls work can figure it out quickly. I did so in less than five minutes of effort. So have others who have emailed me.
This one is particularly bad because it is published on the day when Bill Decker, who posted the poll in his guise as online editor, also published a column attacking the fiber-to-the-home plan in his guise as a columnist.
No one will be able to rely on its results honestly once this is known. It only measures two things: the level of enthusiasm of the partisans involved and different levels of dishonesty to which the two camps are willing to go. Which will be the more influential in the final outcome is impossible to know.
It is only divisive at this point.
I call on both sides to urge Juli Metzger to take it down.
Just for the record: when I first emailed the editor the numbers were running at 60-40 pro fiber. (Ask Bill @ 411 how it was running when he posted.) I didn't post to this blog at that time because I didn't want it up at all, even if my side was winning. I only posted after it appeared at fiber411. I have a history of being against this sort of thing and the politics of the moment are not the reason I oppose these polls.
Here is my larger reasoning about why all such polls, and not just this one (which is also bad for the special reasons stated above) are a bad idea when used in reference to serious political issues.
These polls do not measure public opinion, they measure "popularity." This is true of any poll that allows people to vote. Even if it weren't possible to vote multiple times, this would remain a problem. The results don't tell anyone anything about how a real vote on the bond issue would go. Nevertheless, it will be used by one side or the other to infer "the opinion of the people." That will be a serious misuse. That fact alone should be reason for both sides to want it taken down, and failing that, for both sides to condemn it. I do so here and now.
My objection goes deeper than the fact that such polls are inaccurate and prone to misuse. To the extent anyone is interested in them it is because, by simply using the term "poll," it dishonestly trades on the popular understanding of real polls. As people come to understand that these polls do not tell you anything about public opinion, they will come to distrust real polls--which give you real information. This type of thing debases the process of a real conversation; to have a conversation we must be able to trust what is being said and to know the true opinion of people. Putting up such polls will inevitably result in people coming to distrust honest polls. And our polity does not need more paranoiac distrust than we already have.
This is not a new problem.
Let's agree that this is a bad idea that ought to go away.