The $10k Scholarship Was Rigged

November 19, 2011

I was very happy to be selected as a finalist for a $10,000 blogging scholarship.  What wasn’t fun was finding out that in under 12 hours, several people already had thousands of votes and it was growing by a cool 100 votes every hour (consistently.

In less than 24 hours, some folks had 1,500 votes.  In less than three days some people (with an Alexa Rank in the millions and less than 10 RSS subscribers) had OVER 35,000 votes.   I even got guff from a contestant’s friend on Twitter that I was being alarmist and underestimated the size of the internet.  You know, since there is absolutely no way to plug in predictor variables into a formula to be able to predict with some level of certainty what is plausible given a limited number of factors.

THE INTERNET IS MAGIC AND PEOPLE ARE HONEST!  Take my degrees- they have been rendered irrelevant!

After I stopped laughing since I know that while it IS PLAUSIBLE for someone with 3,000 Twitter followers to have 45,000 votes in less than 72 hours, doesn’t mean it was LIKELY, I then resorted to wanting to throw the laptop against the wall since aside from being totally hilarious it was awful at the same time.  Oh did I mention that almost consistently the same few people were getting 75-100 votes an hour?  Apparently I have no faith in miracles if safeguards/screening procedures aren’t in place.

Feel free to see the world’s worst joke here:

I got an email last night that they’ve re-calibrated the voting and we start from scratch.  It’s apparently “much harder” to cheat.  We’ll see.  They also now allow voting once a day and show percentages, not actual voting numbers (perhaps so it’s harder for us to cry foul?)  Not sure how I feel about tweeting and rallying the vote again after that.   There is still no email validation, no captcha and though I haven’t tried, but I bet if you clear out your cache you can vote multiple times.

Or, if you’re cool, you can have your bot vote you. I’m not cool.  The only non-human that I would let vote for me is Data from Star Trek but that’s neither here, nor there.

Regardless- here is the link to vote for me at  You can vote once daily.

It is hard to prove who cheated (though I don’t think so) so everyone that had the population of a small town in votes still gets to run.   I’m sure they learned their lesson, right?

Of course, this is the internet and people are transparent, honest and say kind things on people’s blogs!

And also- this is America.  If I want to cry foul, I can.  The internet may be big but I’m a statistician and this cr*p and PREDICTION RATES are quantifiable.  God Bless the Interwebs.


10 comments so far.

10 responses to “The $10k Scholarship Was Rigged”

  1. roadtripofpassage says:

    Hey Shannyn,

    great to hear from you. I can see you were genuinely upset. $10,000 is a lot of money, people have been hurt a lot more for a lot less. If somebody really wants to cheat, and they are willing to pay a little money this time, they'll be able to do it without getting caught.

    When I saw the absurd numbers, I reached out to some friends who work in intelligence for the Govt in various capacities. They just laughed at it.

    At any rate, its sad that they aren't doing anything about it, putting the people who cheated and those who didn't in the same boat. The same people leading before are leading now. Lovely huh?

    I doubt I'll be able to win with my 22 subscribers, 500 Facebook friends and 20 twitter followers haha but I can give making it fair a shot!

    Thanks for the kind words by the way. Basically I'm just encouraging people to petition CollegeScholarships with email, but might take other action if there appears to be support out there for it. I'm really glad to know you feel the same way.



  2. Niki says:

    That blows. I did vote for you and I will continue to do so. Wishing you the best of luck against cheating cheaters who cheat!

  3. Michelle says:

    Ugh that stinks. I just voted for you though.

  4. Carrie says:

    That's so lame! I think the people who cheated shouldn't be allowed to stay in the running. Well at least they started over and maybe people will be honest this time around.

  5. @KimbaMcG says:

    I voted! And can't they track and remove any duplicate votes from the same IP address? Or instead of using cookies to allow/disallow voting, use an IP tracker?

    This just seems very unfair for such a large amount of cash.

  6. Sam says:

    Dang, that's rigging for sure. Another example of how bad things happen when money is involved.


  7. thriftability says:

    I did voter for you, Shannyn. Cheaters are frustrating, and they should have disqualified those people! Good luck – and I hope you win 😉
    See you on the Yakezie.

  8. ildi says:

    I found out about the contest through Pharyngula –> Scientific American –> last year's winner. P.Z. Myers has a huge following and is known for 'pharynulating' polls. I suspect that's where the big numbers are coming for some of the votes.

  9. dandandan says:

    You Could always go onto Live Journal and become a member of ONTD and solicit votes..Members do it all the time in the comments below the stories. ONTD usually has a couple of hundred members online at one time;
    The leader in Voting has a plug for voting over at Boing Boing which you can see here:
    You should add a comment soliciting votes in the comment area

  10. janinenicolee says:

    Good luck! I definitely voted 🙂


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