back to article Vote rigging, election fixing, ballot stuffing: Just another day in the life of a Register reader

Crack open the advent calendar, chow down on some stale chocolate and join us in celebrating the prospering of cheats with a Who, Me? featuring a reader very much on the naughty list. Readers may recall Theo's On Call antics a couple of weeks ago. It appears that worrying scanner operators may be the least of his sins as today …

  1. Holtsmark

    "Theo" must have had too much spare time in 2016

    1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

      Too much time? Perhaps he'd spent the intervening years tutoring aspiring vote-fixers with good budgets, and by then was sitting back saying "job done". Or ... should we have a suggestions thread?

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Ah youth... wasted on the young. Then again, way back in the dark ages, I spent my time writing a few games of an adult nature. They didn't go anywhere but it was fun and taught me a lot.

  2. Rich 11 Silver badge

    The prize was tickets to one of the biggest bands of the time (a band originating from the, er, very green isle celebrated by the festival).

    A band also famous for their global tax evasion strategies?

    1. CT

      You, too, can play at this game?

      See title

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: You, too, can play at this game?

          But if he takes of his sunglasses, what's going to stop him getting blinded by the sun?

          I know! Send a private plane to pick up his hat, that'll sort it!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You, too, can play at this game?

            "But if he takes of his sunglasses, what's going to stop him getting blinded by the sun?"

            Maybe the glaucoma will get his sight first, that being why he wears them in the first place

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I never would have though Daniel O'Donnell would be that popular...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I thought it was Val Doonican!!!

    3. LucreLout

      A band also famous for their global tax evasion strategies?

      U too? I was thinking just the same thing.....

      However, this thread is worthless without pics of the lady and her green van!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >A band also famous for their global tax evasion strategies?

      For an alleged 'Christian' band they sure have their hypocrisy turned up to 11.

      1. JulieM

        Christians are the people who can read Genesis 22 and not think Abraham should have told God to do one. And you expect them to be nice?

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Big Brother

          I have come to the conclusion that Old Testament God was a real dick.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Yup, starting with neglect of children dependents and culminating in what he did to Job, but there is a lot more.

            1. Danny 2 Silver badge

              A lot better than the other guy though. God may have suggested child sacrifice, tortured Job, sent bears to eat children who disrespected his bald prophet, committed genocide. But the other guy tempted us with fruit and knowledge.

              The bible doesn't say which fruit was the temptation so in Scotland we are pious enough to avoid all of them.

              And I say that as an honest-to-god reverend. [Universal Life Church - never knowingly under-souled]

              Yosser - I'm desperate, Father.

              Priest - Call me Dan

              Yosser - I'm desperate, Dan

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You jest, but some students of early Middle Eastern religion think YHVH was originally a penis god. They are not that unusual. A lot of early ME statuary of VIPs and gods is rather penile in shape, as a visit to the Louvre, British Museum or Fitzwilliam will confirm.

            On this model there is a hierogamy (religious marriage) between YHVH and Jerusalem, which he fertilises with his semen in the form of rain.

            There's fun stuff in proper theological libraries.

          3. ScottK

            I had the same thought a few years ago and stuck my musings on line. Apologies for the longish read and it being on Facebook.


        2. shedied

          My father always said No wonder they fed you to the lions! Bless his soul, he was saved from learning to be PC, and all that.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Smart, but not intelligent

    "the other contestant revealed that she had paid someone to win the contest for her, and was suing the station both for the tickets and to recover costs for her cheating"

    So we have a woman who wanted the tickets, but didn't have anything much to get her to win. Except her body, which she apparently had no trouble flaunting. So she - correctly - estimated that she would get attention with a lewd pic, but that was not enough, she wanted to guarantee a win. So payment to some guy for help.

    She had the gumption to go through with this plan, but when it failed she didn't have the intelligence to think it through and went into a lawsuit guns blazing, but neurons not firing.

    I wonder if her pic was part of the evidence ? I'm sure the judge would have considered it carefully.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Smart, but not intelligent

      Wasn't buying tickets much simpler and less expensive?

      1. FrogsAndChips

        Re: Smart, but not intelligent

        In the 90's, probably. These days you have to fight other robots, the type that buy all available tickets and resell them at 10x face value while you're still queuing.

        1. JulieM

          Re: Smart, but not intelligent

          Just one day, it would be nice if people decided that other people seeing their favourite artists in future was more important than themselves seeing their favourite artists now, and that actually it would be a jolly good wheeze just to let a ticket tout wake up the morning after a gig with a huge pile of worthless* pieces of paper and the kind of credit card bill that would definitely spoil your day if you found it inside your birthday card.

          Sadly, it seems that "bleeding when your neighbour is cut" has become something of a forgotten art these days, so this is unlikely to happen. And when somebody in a high-enough place is sufficiently annoyed to do something about the ticket touts, it will inevitably be unnecessarily heavy-handed and end up hurting genuine music fans.

          * Actually, they might potentially accrue some value in years to come, as the tickets for a concert that nobody attended .....

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            Re: Smart, but not intelligent

            The ticket selling industry is so corrupt it's insane.

            All they need to do is to insist on the name of the ticket users at the time of purchase, require adequate ID when using the tickets and to provide a reasonable and fair method of dealing with occasional change of ticket users... None of which is remotely difficult. Instead there have been found to be strong links between the sellers of the tickets and the touts of tickets selling for 10x or more the original price. Hmmmm. One could almost smell a conspiracy...

            1. murrby

              Re: Smart, but not intelligent

              If nobody bought the 10x priced tickets the whole problem would go away

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Smart, but not intelligent

                "If nobody bought the 10x priced tickets the whole problem would go away"

                It won't happen while there is still the feverish addiction to TwitFaceGram and the like and the desperate need for users to be "first" with the pictures and reviews to prove they were "there". You just have to look at the numbers of people at live events who never actually see it except through their phone screen as they video the whole show.

            2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

              Re: Smart, but not intelligent

              If the original price was a market price in the first place, there would be no reselling business. It seems like the ticket industry is creating the problem intentionally by selling tickets way below the market price.

              1. JulieM

                Re: Smart, but not intelligent

                You are a capitalist and I claim my £5.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Smart, but not intelligent

                You do realise the bands and their management absolutely know this ? And that, for some artists (*), they're willing to forego the extra revenue so that fans who may not have a shit-ton of spare money can come and see them ?

                (*) yes, I know, many will take corporate sponsorship, exploitative "meet and greets" are a thing, and there are examples of bands management working behind the scenes with secondary ticket sellers to maximise the market price. But the point stands - some artists do it deliberately so that fans are not excluded.

            3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

              Re: Smart, but not intelligent

              The ticket selling industry is so corrupt it's insane

              Corruption and touts are something I haven't encountered, because I rarely book for any event popular enough to attract either. But does anybody know what justifies a "booking fee"?

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "fight other robots, the type that buy all available tickets and resell them at 10x"

          Probably "Theo" new job or company....

    2. sbt

      ... her pic was part of the evidence

      Sounds like it would have been more appropriate if the band had been The Horslips.

      Mine's the one with the Rollback CD in the pocket. -->

      1. Captain Hogwash

        Re: ... her pic was part of the evidence

        Well played.

        1. sbt

          Well played? Not recently, but I've just given it another spin

          Think my fave is Faster Than the Hound.

      2. Jedit Silver badge

        "it would have been more appropriate if the band had been The Horslips"

        I had actually assumed that the whole mess-up on both sides was the standard operation of Dropkick Murphy's Law.

        (GO, because it's green.)

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: "it would have been more appropriate if the band had been The Horslips"

          (But aren't the Dropkick Murphys an American band?)

          1. Jedit Silver badge

            "aren't the Dropkick Murphys an American band?"

            They are indeed. But this article is about Americans pretending to be Irish, and nobody does that harder than the DMs.

            1. FBee

              Re: "aren't the Dropkick Murphys an American band?"

              But-but-but they're from BOSTON!!

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: "aren't the Dropkick Murphys an American band?"


    3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Smart, but not intelligent

      But poor Patricia was arrested and everyone detested,

      The manner in which she was exposed,

      And later on in court, well, everybody thought

      A summer run in jail would be proposed,

      But the judge said, "Patricia,

      Or may I say, Delicia,

      The facts of this case lie before me...

      Case dismissed ... this girl was in her working clothes!!"

      Patricia The Stripper: Chris De Burgh - Irish (but born in Argentina IIRC).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not vote rigging but slightly evil.

    Back before the turn of the century, I was working in a small Web design and hosting company. Another guy I knew had a company competing with one of our clients. He asked me if there was anything I could do to deter visitors to the competitors Web site.

    After a little thought, I knocked up a little Web page that auto loaded after a few seconds on the homepage. Within my page was java script that moved the browser window violently around the screen, culminating in an auto load of a full screen window containing my best bsod fake, warning of a virus infestation and an exhortation to reboot.

    A simple alt-tab or ctrl-w or F11 would reveal the ruse to slightly literate users, but that wasn't the target audience.

    Anyway, after about 10 minutes of my page being on the site, I received a frantic phone call from my friend saying "take it off, take it off, that's too much!, they're freaking out."

    I of course complied immediately.

    Happy days....

    1. ratfox

      You put a fake virus alert on the web site of your own customer? Slightly evil indeed...

      1. Martin Summers

        Not slightly evil, stupid and unprofessional.

        1. LucreLout

          Not slightly evil, stupid and unprofessional.

          Sounds like a great tag line for a search business!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            It's both evil and unprofessional. And I don't even understand why you did it. A mate asks you to deliberately damage a customer of yours, and you go ahead and do it? What incentive could this person have provided to get you to do that? From your comment, it didn't even sound like there was one. Did you have some reason to dislike the customer, making the move no less unprofessional but at least I'd understand your feeling? Please, I just don't get it. Why?

            1. not.known@this.address

              What don't you get?

              One was a mate, one was a customer. Customers come and go and often have no loyalty to a supplier but your mates are your mates...

              That said, a business lives and dies by the quality and reliability of its services so deliberately sabotaging a customer - unless you can be sure there is absolutely no way it can ever, EVER be traced back to you - is not much better than walking along the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef wearing concrete overshoes, dragging 50 kilos of sharkbait and carrying a sign saying 'bite me'...

  5. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

    side issue of green beer

    Not long ago I was in a pub in Plymouth (blighty side of the Atlantic) and they were selling a literal green beer to celebrate the above mentioned festival. It tasted foul but the photo reminded me though the photo seems to be confusing two festivals - on green and one in southern Germany.

    Obvious icon.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

        Re: side issue of green beer

        Maritime Inn on the Barbican. The beer wasn't off, it was just disgusting.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: side issue of green beer

          Well if you must drink Barbican.

    2. Tom 38

      Re: side issue of green beer

      Yellow lager + shot of Bols Blue Curacao makes a lovely green pint. Actually, 1 shot is enough to make 2/3 pints green, but your average bartender in the UK won't sell spirits by the slug*, so get three pints and 1 shot and self mix it.

      * After writing this, I wondered if a slug is an official measurement, and it turns out it is - its the mass that is accelerated by 1 ft/s² when a force of 1lbf is applied to it, or 14.59kg in metric - and barmaids DEFINITELY won't sell blue bols in that size.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: side issue of green beer

        Regarding the slug: Anyone who has taken Fluid Mechanics or Thermodynnamics (at least in the US) is very familiar with the unit. By your third test you're praying for the majority of the questions to be in SI units (engineering classes tend to have to use both, that really messes with your head).

      2. Andytug

        Re: side issue of green beer

        The real version is a "Green Monster", a pint of Snakebite (half lager half cider) plus Blue Bols and vodka. Lethal.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: side issue of green beer

      Some years ago, I was the bass player in a band playing at a beer festival.

      While one of the guitarists was setting up, he (slightly less deferentially than perhaps he should) sent his partner to fetch a beer for him.

      She came back through the crowd with two glasses - one of which contained something green.

      Punter (pointing to the green beer): "You're not going to drink that are you?"

      Partner (with an evil grin and gesturing to the guitarist): "No - he is...".

      [If you're interested, it was Bunce's "Sign Of Spring", brewed with a Scandinavian influence and some herbs - a few of us tried it, and all said "It smells green, but tastes brown (i.e. like proper beer)"]

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: side issue of green beer

        On a more seasonal theme a friend (since purged from my life for obvious reasons) came over for dinner last Christmas. Bringing some pre-dinner snacks. Namely Walkers Brussel Sprout flavoured crisps.

        Have you ever eaten green crisps? Well don't. Not that I objected to the colour, just the taste. I like sprouts, but these things tasted of something that's been boiled in Satan's used sock for three weeks.

        Being served green scrambled eggs is pretty off-putting too. Some people think they already look a bit vomit-y, but it's much worse when they're bright green.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: side issue of green beer

          but it's much worse when they're bright green

          As a long-time pet owner, I find foods that look like a brown smear to be far more offputting..

          (And why, oh why, are dogs *so* fascinated by cat litter trays?)

          1. ArrZarr

            Re: side issue of green beer

            Dogs' digestive systems aren't that efficient. There is recoverable energy for them in their leavings.

            A litter tray is basically a buffet to a dog.

            1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

              Re: side issue of green beer

              @ArrZarr - "A litter tray is basically a buffet to a dog."

              I've been told that connoisseurs of dog meat say it tastes better if the dog has been fed baby poo.

              One more reason not to eat dog meat, and further confirmation that the phrase, "You must try this, it's a local delicacy!" are the cue for: icon

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Have you ever eaten green crisps?

          Well, yes. Wasabi-type green that is, not Brussels sprouts green. And Nori-type green, but that's a dark green tending to black. Both of those greens tend to be rather tasty.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Have you ever eaten green crisps?


            I didn't actually mind my green scrambled eggs (others couldn't understand how I could eat them). Some friends in the kitchen were playing silly buggers - so someone else's came out blue. Which reminded me of Ford Prefect eating the food on the Vogon ship.

            You can change the tastes that we notice in foods by playing with colour though.

            But obviously not all green things are bad. Salads can be lovely - I like brocoli (especially served with toasted almonds and sea salt). I'm not sure nori is actually nice though - so much as wrapped round things that are. It's not hugely tasty. Wasabi is also delicious. Key lime pie. Nice blue foods are rarer.

            1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

              Re: Have you ever eaten green crisps?

              Nice blue foods are rarer

              Blueberries, and things made of blueberries? Actually, the wild British whinberries are bluer and tastier.

              Does anyone know why Curaçao, with its strong orange flavour, is blue?

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: Have you ever eaten green crisps?

                Aren't blueberries sort of purple?

              2. Tom 38

                Re: Have you ever eaten green crisps?

                Does anyone know why Curaçao, with its strong orange flavour, is blue?

                Sadly, the answer is because they add E133 Brilliant Blue food dye to the colourless licquer :/

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: side issue of green beer

        Weissbeer coloured green with Waldmeister (as served in Berlin) is a lot nicer than it should be.

        1. GrumpenKraut

          Re: side issue of green beer

          > Weissbeer coloured green with Waldmeister (as served in Berlin)

          That's not "Weissbeer", it's called "Berliner Weisse" and it is something quite different. Without anything added its taste is quite sour, the Waldmeister (sirup!) is really for the taste. Berliner Weisse also just has 2.5 percent alcohol so more of a refreshment than other types of beer.

          I once ordered Berliner Weisse in Bavaria and got Weissbeer with sirup, NOT good!

          1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

            Re: side issue of green beer

            TIL ..

            Thanks. I was under the impression that the Weisse part was a conventional weissebeer.

    4. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: side issue of green beer

      There's a blue beer from Japan, tastes good.

      I was an apprentice to a good guy who was a Rangers FC cultist. His round when I was 18, I asked for a Blue Bols and fresh orange. He remarked, "My two favourite colours."

      Blue Bols and fresh orange turns a bright Celtic green. It doesn't taste great but the look on his face was delicious.

    5. Rodderstoo

      Re: side issue of green beer

      There is a green beer called 'Rites of spring', which looks somewhat odd, but tastes absolutely wonderful..

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I once entered a competition on a website for something, obviously I automated submitting the form. I got a reply a few hours later saying "please stop emailing me! my inbox is full".

    I didn't win, so I can only assume that they cheated in some way ( ignored my entries? it wasn't a real competition? ). It wasn't anything worth arguing over, as I remember. Maybe a crate of beer or something.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I have to admit, if I am managing contest submissions and I get more than three submissions from the same address, I'm deleting all submissions for that address. Just out of principle.

      And the submissions I keep will be counted as one anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's fair enough, but if I remember correctly, it did specifically say that you can enter as many times as you like.

        As I "cheated" I wasn't too fussed with losing.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And works the other way too!

        In 2011 I worked for a main sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics and they had an in-house competition to carry the Olympic torch.

        I have performed many charity and public service roles outside of work for the past 30 years. Many of my colleagues entered my name into the competition for the particular role they were familiar with and some for my work.

        I wasn't a successful candidate, but then received 6 "you were nominated for" certificates. It turns out that the judges thought that the disparate roles could not be the same person so they counted them separately! And 3 of them were in the top 5!

        I did get to hold the torch of someone who organised a single football match between underprivileged kids and the local Police Officers!

        Anonymous because I do not have a common name and was the only person on the global pay role with that name!

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: And works the other way too!

          Did you happen perhaps to see a temp around who was the spitting image of David Tennant .-)

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      There was a competition at work

      Buy a local knock-off cola, one of them will have a sticker getting the winner free tickets to a football match.

      Sounds good?

      Sounds better when you look in the machine and realise it can only hold five bottles, so spend a fiver and buy all the bottles (because we all know the sticker will be on the last bottle) and gain the tickets.

      I suggested this logic to a friend (as I don't care for football). All bottles bought, and predictably the sticker was on the last bottle.

      Well, nothing said (or could justifiably prevent) somebody buying all the bottles a few minutes after the machine had been refilled. The company running the promotion just didn't think it through...

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: There was a competition at work

        >The company running the promotion just didn't think it through...

        This is fairly common - as the Boaty McBoatface fiasco shows.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: There was a competition at work

        "The company running the promotion just didn't think it through..."

        Mmmm..yes. Something about Hoover and airline tickets.

  7. Blackjack Silver badge

    Ah yeah past century cookies...

    Those things were so faulty and easy to edit, even crackers could use them for all kinds of mischief.

  8. David Shaw


    a famous "sugar flavored water" company entered the internet era with a code on the inside of their labels.

    Some of these codes entitled the "winner" to download a free music track from the new iTunes, (there might have been some sort of ultimate prize. other than insulin resistance, but the kids just wished for music to populate all 4GB of their iPod minis)

    I think it took a single pack of 500ml bottles, and about three minutes with an excel spreadsheet, to predict all the winning numbers, from just the first six samples. The sequence had about two winning numbers in a row, then a gap of around three, to stop simple experimentation, but it was fun to see the release of a totally 'not ready for the real world' project - and to notice that the next year's similar competition had a much better RNG. (ahem...)

    disclaimer: it never happened, at least not from any IPv4 associated with me, and any sums involved remained around a fiver as it was still much simpler to use napster/kazaa P2P for the music than to type in the many codes on the sugary website, then fight with iTunes to redeem the 99p vouchers.

    I hence do not trust most online voting, opinion polls etc - but in passing I did notice that "someone" used the article described vote-rigging automatic script voting to cleverly vote FOR a pop-music video on YouTube in 2014 in order to get it banned, real cyber-attack stuff! un-noticed by most.

    the context here was that a northern state was having a vote about going-it alone, and a rag-tag group of musicians put together a wee catchy tune, with some guid lyrics. It had the potential to go viral, and that might just have 'nudged' a vote one way. the southern realm did all the usual normal stuff to get the vote to narrowly go their way - but a bunch of mathemagicians in a sweet ring-shaped fried cake took this you-tube song and massively upvoted the "views" counter to an impossible several million in the short hours after the clip launched. result: YT 'temporarily' banned the patriotic video "due to irregularities" (and they YT suggested that after two weeks of analysis, it would then be free to be viewed again) northern popular vote took place just a few days later, unmolested by viral media. well done chaps, or молодцы товарищи if it was the other lot instead, sowing confusion!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2004-ish

      and a rag-tag group of musicians put together a wee catchy tune, with some guid lyrics.

      Ah yes, reminds me of that timeless classic "She Used To Be My Baby But Now She's 872f88fc-6077-41c3-aadf-3833a2e273cc"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Electronics Boutique and free gift scripts

    Anon for obvious reasons .

    Many moons ago I was in an email chat group (how quaint) with some WebDev acquaintances.

    Electronics Boutique (remember them?) were running a daily give away, basically a handful of whatever the day's item was if you could find the link. PS/GameBoy/Gameboy Advance Games etc. (that ages it somewhat)

    Yep, one of those acquaintances managed to script a search for the daily booty and as it obligatory, forwarded it in.

    All was going well until the Head of IT questioned the above average excitement in the Office and why everyone had deliveries on their desks.

    We were guilted into selling them and donating the proceeds to charity since they were obtained using company equipment but the satisfaction stood :)

    These days you could do this on your phone but Nokia's were not that clever back then.

    1. A. Coatsworth

      Re: Electronics Boutique and free gift scripts

      Kudos to the IT head (did I really write that?)

      That was a well-thought punishment, and fitting of the crime.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Electronics Boutique and free gift scripts

        We didn't admit to the previous deliveries however.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sushi chain

      More recently, a chain of sushi outfits in London had a virtual loyalty card, whereby once you purchase your item you scanned a QR stuck on the till and you got a stamp on your loyalty card, and a completed card got you a free sushi box.

      Nice idea, with a fatal flaw. Some barcode scanners keep a history of scanned barcodes and will allow you to revisit a previously scanned link. Yay, free stamp. The only restriction was one stamp per day. I can't possibly imagine why that QR disappeared after a while.

  10. Kevin Fairhurst

    Reminds me of a time...

    Must have been around 15 years ago now. While enjoying a bottle of wine I thought I would peruse their website, and they were running a competition to win half a dozen bottles. On attempting to enter the competition, I found that the script wasn't working, so I went through the source code and figured out how to submit my entry.

    A few weeks later I found out that I had won the competition, and duly received my free wine. And it was only then at that point that I realised I could have entered multiple times from multiple email addresses (and with multiple physical address locations as well, e.g. parents, work, etc) and therefore won multiple prizes. I may have been the only person to enter the competition unless someone else had also figured out the submission issue...

    1. ArrZarr

      Re: Reminds me of a time...

      Did you consider that they might have set up the form to be broken deliberately to avoid giving away any of their plonk?

  11. Badbob

    Luckily for his chum

    B*witched are recording a new album, so he’ll be able to catch them again!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Websites were so trusting back in the day!

    Many years ago (early 2000’s) there was a competition run by the local paper to find the “face” of the town which would then be used in various advertisements. One of our directors entered. A couple of the developers (eg, not me!) on a Friday afternoon decided to knock up a quick script to add votes for her (and a lesser number for another participant we knew to hopefully make it less obvious) and left it running over the weekend. From memory the site didn’t have any protections from multiple votes at all. Unsurprisingly she “won” by a landslide, with our other beneficiary coming in second. In the coming months we got to see her face plastered on posters all round the city.

    The killer blow though was when she was told HOW she’d won, followed by the devs creating a fake version of the local paper’s website to look like the bogus votes had been discovered and it was a massive scandal. She was eventually told the truth and her bogus win was safe.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Websites were so trusting back in the day!

      Summer 2003 I was asked by a friend "to lend a hand with a goose competition". A pond in a park near her housed a number of geese, and her favourite goose was a bit of an, ehm, underdog. So when a contest was launched for the Popularest Goose she found that UnderGoose deserved to win.

      This was easily achieved by voting once for each goose, chucking the logged HTML into an expect script, massaging it a little and running that with a random delay, voting for UnderGoose four or five times against once or twice for each of the other two contestants.

      Of course UnderGoose won, with a comfortable but still plausible lead.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Websites were so trusting back in the day!

        Favourite goose competition? Is that a thing?

        I can't believe there are enough people who have a favourite goose can tell one goose from another to warrant a competition web site.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Favourite goose competition? Is that a thing?

          Please be reminded of the Rule of the Internet: for whatever object you choose, there's always a fanclub.

          And an anti-fanclub.

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Websites were so trusting back in the day!

          Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" comes to mind.

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Websites were so trusting back in the day!

        Was the winning voter invited to a roast poultry dinner?

  13. SonofRojBlake

    This kind of shenanigans affected comic book history

    Years n years ago (1988) Batman had acquired a second sidekick styled "Robin" after the first had got old and moved on to heroing on his own. Said sidekick was NOT popular with fans, who feared change then as now. A storyline was put together giving the audience the chance to influence the storyline of the comic. The kid was beaten and left for dead by the Joker, and that issue of the comic gave two premium rate phone numbers - one to kill the kid, one to have him live.

    He died.

    The TOTAL vote was only 10,614, and the "winning" margin was 72 votes. It later emerged that one dude rigged his computer to dial the "kill him" number every couple of minutes for eight hours. That one bloke killed Robin. Probably got him a hefty phone bill, but in 1988 if you were the sort of person who could afford a computer that could make phone calls automatically, you could afford the phone bill. Plus, he's got a good story for life, even if it only impresses nerds.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: This kind of shenanigans affected comic book history

      Robin 2, whose name temporarily escapes me, later was brought back to life, adult size, and has a chip on his shoulder over it. So he may have found time to get payback...

      1. SonofRojBlake

        Re: This kind of shenanigans affected comic book history

        Hush, now. Jason Todd was his name then.

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: This kind of shenanigans affected comic book history

          <spoiler>Spoiler Alert</spoiler>

          Stephanie Brown was the 4th Robin, and the 4th Batgirl in Detective Comics Comics.

          [Edit: No Spoiler Alert tag! Stephanie Brown was Spoiler.]

  14. 2Nick3

    American Idol Season 2

    American Idol Season 2, Semi-Final. Three contestants. The phone lines to vote were open for 2 hours, and there were ~6m votes counted in total, and the three totals were all fairly close to 2m - at least not statistically significantly different. The next week, for the finals, just two contestants, but phone lines were open for 3 hours, and there were ~6m votes in total, both totals were fairly close to 3m and did not seem statistically significantly different. It seemed quite obvious that the voting system was bottlenecked.

    I have to wonder if the winner was decided by a minor difference in the systems designed to count the votes - a better rack location, shorter cable runs, better cooling, less fragmentation on the filesystem...

    1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: American Idol Season 2

      "...a better rack location..."

      Yeah, that was probably it.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There's at least one very popular forum I used to frequent which allowed only small inline images in your signature. This points to an image on my own webserver. If the IP fetching it is that of the forum's Webster, that gets one small image. Otherwise you get whichever image I really want to show.

    It's only a small change to, for instance, (and within certain date bounds,) send say 5%, of requests a 301 Redirect to whatever resource is fetched to register a vote for whatever is taking my fancy at the time. Users just get the occasional broken image, and the "votes" all come from different IP addresses, none of which are mine..

  16. IceC0ld

    Holy script this that man

    proof, if ever it were needed, that not all heroes wear capes :o)

  17. Scott 26

    Whereas in NZ, this is the extent of Vote Rigging:

    (Icon: only bird available)

  18. Drew Scriver

    The next Big Thing - e-directories

    Back in the day (around 2002 or so) I was setting up shop as a web developer. I was approached by someone who thought e-directories might just be the next Big Idea. He needed a CMS/database solution for ads that he could charge for by the number of views.

    After developing the site and implementing the various counters and statistics I quickly noticed that most of the views came from a single source: my client.

    Being new in the business and not sure how to broach the subject of what seemed to be ad-view rigging I decided to set a cookie if a user logged into their account. Visits by users with the cookie were not added to the tally of ad-views.

    The number of ad-views leveled off nicely (OK - they plummeted) and my client never asked me about it... Problem solved.

  19. Drew Scriver

    OK - one more from 2019.

    There was this Project Manager who was going to prioritize our projects based on votes. In order to do this he set up a conference call and told us to update his spreadsheet real-time. "Just add "+1" next to the project you thought should be done first.", he said.

    There were three categories, and we all could vote once in each category. Then somebody asked if he could just use all his votes on a single item. "Sure - why not?". Okay...

    Before long, "+3" started appearing next to specific items. And again. And again. And again. And then +6.

    To our astonishment the PM just started adding up all the numbers and indeed prioritized based on the tally. Somebody even mentioned that the total number far exceed the number of team members (times three) and thus possible votes, but he either didn't understand or just went ahead for the sake of it.

    We're now busy working on the +1+1+3+3+5+3+3+3+6+1+5+1+3 project...

    Is it vote-rigging if it's this blatant?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gawd this takes me back...

    Years and years ago, when "hi-speed internet" was a rare commodity, I lived in an extremely small town in deepest, darkest Tennessee, just over the state line from Kentucky, Internet there was ONLY dialup, unless you were a crazy kook like me that sprung for an ISDN line.

    The local telco, BellSouth, stood up a website to gauge interest by region in Hi-speed - specifically DSL in this case.

    A simple web page would let you pluck in your phone number and register your interest in the new hot DSL connection when it would become available. They claimed this would help BellSouth prioritize the rollout areas.

    Of course, I went right to the page, typed in my number and "Submitted". After I did, I tried to enter a friends number as well, but was prevented as "MY IP address had already entered". However, by breaking and reestablishing a DHCP lease, I was able to enter my friends phone number as well. Interesting...

    With a little scripting app (PerfectKeyboard IIRC) I doped out a macro that would establish a DHCP lease, go to the website, enter a phone number with our little town's prefix (615-325-xxxx) , then go to a different page, break the lease, poll a IP address, navigate back to the Bellsouth page, increment the phone number by one, register interest, and so on.

    As all phone numbers in the town had the same prefix, I just had the script start at 0000 and run through all 9999 possible combinations. If I recall, it took about a day to run.

    It was all just a little FU to Bellsouth who would never, ever extend their benevolence to our little town, as Cable internet was not even remotely available and therefore no competition to provide anything better....However...

    When the DSL rollout actually happened a few months later, guess what small town got DSL before Nashville did? Someone at Bellsouth missed the fact that nearly 10,000 inquiries came from a town of less than 300 people.

    As a bonus, the DSLAM ended up being located about 100M from my house.

  21. JulieM

    Also sometime in the 1990s .....

    Back in the 1990s, a certain bus company in a large city ran a "lucky ticket number" promotion. If your ticket had the right serial number, it could be exchanged at any Travelcard agent (and there was one such in almost every one of those little parades of shops, all the way around the ring road) for a £10 cash prize.

    This was during a time when I happened to have the wherewithal to print reasonably convincing (well, they convinced the drivers, and the inspectors .....) fake bus tickets; and with the help of my then-flatmate, a crazy plan was formulated.

    This involved printing a large supply of tickets with recent dates and the winning serial number, and a couple of Daysavers with that day's date; then one of us catching the 11C and riding clockwise around the A4040, the other catching the 11A and going anticlockwise, getting off at every Travelcard agent along the way and exchanging one of our forged tickets for a real tenner, and ultimately meeting up at a rendezvous point 180 degrees away from the starting point to decide whether we should try the same stunt again, or just head for home, perhaps in time to see our exploits on Central News. We reckoned that this would be enough time to grab a fair number of tenners, but not quite enough time for them to twig that something was amiss.

    Every time we discussed it, though, we found a new and terrible way for it to go wrong. If I didn't scare him off with my objections, he scared me off with his. And eventually the promotion came to an end, before we could summon up the courage to go through with our plan.

  22. Ivan Vorpatril

    In pre-internet times, radio station WMMS in Cleveland was voted "Best Radio Station" by Rolling Stone magazine each year 1979-1987. They admitted to vote rigging.

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