The Blogging Scholarship: Thanks, Thoughts, and Cheating

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The 2010 Blogging Scholarship contest is over. I had a good run and ended up placing 3rd. I’d like to say thank you to some folks, give some brief thoughts about the competition and look at the cheating allegations.

Thank you! I’d like to thank those who promoted me on their blogs (I tried my best not to leave anyone out) such as  Frank Turk, Tim Challies, Aaron Armstrong, Joel TaylorDave Miller, Nathan Bingham, and Michael Newnham. I also greatly appreciate all of my twitter and Facebook friends who campaigned and voted for me. None of this would have happened without the people who nominated me to enter the contest such as Frank Turk, Victoria Lynch, my wife, etc. A big thank you to all!

Thoughts? My thoughts on this contest begin with my pleasant surprise of being chosen as a top 10 finalist. I was thankful the morning I received an email of this news. I knew the real work was just about to begin. I had no idea what kind of chance I had to win not knowing anything about the other bloggers. I quickly found out that science blogger Christie Wilcox, who would ultimately win, got a boost from PZ Myers’ on his science blog. Myers’ blog gets around 90,000 hits per day. Make-up blogger Christine Mielke, the runner-up,who actually had an early lead, has many followers of her blog. She is popular on the blog itself and across various social media. It was actually Myers’ promotion of Wilcox that pushed her into the lead. It became apparent that these were the two to beat since the others did not have significant moves in their voting numbers.

I wasn’t giving up though. I reached out to my network which really was a testing ground of sorts. I have no idea how popular or, more importantly, how well liked I am across the net. Sure, my web traffic is decent, but I’m not sure it’s anything to write home about. I got the help of the folks listed above, some of whom have a ton of web traffic. I was still hopeful and as far as I was concerned, it was ultimately in the Lord’s hands.

I do wonder if this type of online voting without things like a captcha in place is the best way to go. It seems like some type of apparent control should be in place. The site did not even list any rules for voting either. The final voting totals can be seen at Vote for the Winner of the 2010 Blogging Scholarship. I placed a solid third although significantly behind first and second. In the comment section you will find accusations of cheating and comments about captcha, etc. In observing the power of popularity and numbers, I noted early on that after PZ Myers promoted Wilcox that it appears she jump by over 4,300 votes in less than an hour.

Was there cheating? There were some allegations that cheating was taking place in the voting. A friend or two informed me of what seemed to be an impossible amount of votes being cast for Wilcox. I read a comment somewhere that the votes were more than one per second. So I hit F5 to refresh the screen about 10 times in a row. After every refresh Wilcox gained anywhere from one to five votes. I think she gained around 8,000 votes over night at one point. Then, Mielke began picking up votes at close to the same rate. My votes also increased, but at no where near the pace of the top two. That is a lot of votes per minute, but it’s not impossible.

Does this mean there was cheating? Not necessarily. First, it does not mean the competitors themselves were cheating. Second, although it may look suspicious to some, it does not mean that someone else was cheating to get them votes. How do you accuse someone without proof? It may depend on what you accept as proof.

Keep reading.

Brother Justin linked to a video on my Facebook wall. The video is set to private so I don’t know what is on the video. I will quote the portion of the text that can be seen on my FB wall from the video post as well as a cache picture of a comment about the video which says, “Please take this video down so Christie doesn’t get disqualified.

So Christie was being outvoted by some beauty blog – We show you how brains is better than beauty and how we made things swing the way they should XD Science wins!! Please don’t link to this video…

It would be interesting to see what’s on this video. But we still have no clear proof of cheating even if this raises suspicions. And it would not be Christie’s fault anyway. I have no idea what she’d say about this video and such.

Even if it were proven that cheating took place – now what?

All in all I’m thankful for this contest. I didn’t walk away with a $10,000 scholarship. I did walk away with $1,000 which may help me pay for an upcoming week long intensive or some other classes. It was still a win and I thank the Lord for it.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Taproot November 9, 2010 at 3:39 pm

The youtube account ScienceinPerth (which was created on November 5th and has no activity other than the one video) shares an IP address with the commenter “jerry” who was posting fairly vitriolic comments about alleged cheating from the very beginning. The video was part of a campaign to have Christie disqualified by a couple bloggers that had no stake in the contest but dislike PZ Myers.

2 AshleyD November 9, 2010 at 9:49 pm

I found your blog because Christine Mielke from temptalia.com asked us to vote for her. when I voted, I looked through what other blogs were there, and found yours. So, I follow Mielke’s blog daily. She has, I’d say, 10,000 visitors a day on her blog? She is also well known all across the beauty industry since she has the most popular makeup/beauty blog, so the number of votes she got didn’t surprise me. In fact, I think a lot of people voted for her more than once – she did NOT ask them too, but in some comments some people were saying they were voting for her once a day and got their friends to do the same, so it does appear there were no rules for voting, which is strange…

3 Mark November 10, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Taproot
Thanks for the comment and IP information. I don’t know who is who in all of this, especially, when it comes to anonymous commenting. If it is the case the “Jerry” was merely trying to get Christie disqualified then hiding the video would be a good ploy to raise suspicions.

It is curious that some on Myers’ blog wrote about multiple voting on other polls though this is not proof that anything wrong was done on this one.

Ashley
I know that Mielke has a popular blog and many social media followers. It is strange that the folks running the voting did not stipulate that no one could vote more than once. Several of my friends assumed one person gets one vote so they did not vote more than once. I did email the people running the scholarship and was told the each person is to only get one vote, but this rule was still not publicized.

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