The first Concordia student newspaper to go online has done so with relative
success. The Concordian, published on newsprint for over three decades,
launched their complementary online version, www.theconcordian.com,
in January. Webmaster Kevin Mio said it went off without a hitch
until last week.
One of the features offered by the online version of The Concordian
is an interactive poll. Every week, a new question is posed to visitors,
who vote for their answer and see the results of the poll in real time.
This feature enjoyed only minimal participation for its first seven questions,
with fewer than 80 votes registered per poll.
All that changed when The Concordian asked which CSU candidates
students were going to vote for in this weeks annual election. Suddenly,
over the course of two days, candidate Sabrina Steas votes increased
from 20 to 300, while opposing candidate Chris Schulzs votes climbed
from 30 to over 1,000.
I would like to think it is because people actually care about the
CSU elections, Mio said. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt
that is the case.
It is probably members of the parties that are receiving the majority
of votes who have swayed the voting to try and use the poll as ammunition.
The way in which deviant surfers can abuse the poll isnt extraordinarily
complicated, but it is time-consuming. The polling program is based on
an internet protocol (IP) recognition system, which means once youve
dialed up your Internet connection, you cannot vote more than once.
However, since every time you dial your connection you are assigned a
different IP, to vote more than once, all you have to do is disconnect
and then re-connect. Somebody sure had a lot of time on their hands
last weekend, Mio said. Its rather disheartening.
With poll results showing Schultz leading Stea by roughly 700 votes, there
is concern that this information may influence the upcoming elections.
However, it hasnt been published in the paper.
The Concordians Web site receives on average about 400 hits
a week. Presidential candidate Paul Backman, whose nine votes accounted
for 1 per cent of votes cast in the poll, said, I think anyone who
sees the poll will see how unrealistic it is, and how there was the potential
for such a poll to be abused.
The editorial board of The Concordian has decided to continue using
the poll without a disclaimer, because Mio feels that under normal circumstances,
the poll does not pose a threat to anyone. If the poll continues to be
abused, though, the newspaper will reassess their policy.
Voting in the CSU election took place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of
this week. Results werent known by the time of publication.