Stuffing the polls: the adventures of a convoluted mind

You might remember that the last polls I did using Blogger all resulted in every option having exactly the same number of votes. At that time, I've blamed Google ... and I have to apologize. It was obviously someone who has nothing better to do in his life. The log files I've collected indicate he's coming from Poland and I would appreciate if my Polish readers could help me persuade this troubled individual that he should spend his time doing something else (details in the rest of the post).

I've decided to use another polling service for the current set of polls, just to make sure it was not a Blogger problem. Polls went smoothly and displayed an expected spread of votes, but yesterday morning I've noticed that the number of votes for each option were getting more and more equal. Fortunately, the new polling service allows me to track votes by IP address, so I was quickly able to discover that someone using the IP address 88.220.105.18 was stuffing the ballot box. I've cleared the votes and hoped he'd realize he's been discovered and stop.

Well, this individual realized he's been discovered ... and moved over to a proxy server belonging to a system integrator (88.250.50.210; wawproxy.solidex.com.pl) and a private DSL connection (83.24.94.111; dnm111.neoplus.adsl.tpnet.pl). By this morning he submitted over 600 votes and now he moved back to 88.220.105.18 (that could be where he works, as the IP address is just one hop away from the POS interface of a Telenergo router).

As said above, anything you can do to help me would be much appreciated (I would prefer this over writing complaining e-mails to the postmaster and abuse aliases of the affected networks). Thanks!

14 comments:

  1. he must be studying for an exam.. procrastination is a wonderful thing :)

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  2. @Xavier: I think this guy actually clicks the poll. Captcha cannot help you if someone is willing to spend time deciphering tens of challenges.

    @yeled: You're probably right. But even the tape operators I've known 25 years ago preferred playing DND ;)

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  3. then I would just write a script that removes all votes from IPs that voted 2 times or more...

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  4. ... which is what I did. First manually, then I've simply blocked repeat votes from the same IP address. But this unfortunately hurts people who sit behind a NAT device.

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  5. Maybe you can use a polling service / script which does only allow on poll per IP address or one poll per IP per hour...
    Another (dirty) option would be to simply block the IP addresses using .htaccess...

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  6. @Anonymous: Absolutely right ... but I really hate reinventing so many wheels ;) I would rather write about MPLS VPN or Cisco IOS than hack together a somewhat-secure polling service just because someone has nothing better to do than annoy other people.

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  7. How do you know it's a he? Not that I'm saying it's not a he - but it could be a she. You never know...

    That said, it's pretty sad how some people choose to spend their time.

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  8. ... and if I would start using "she" someone would accuse me of being a sexist. There's no way I could be politically correct in this context :)

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  9. Haha, seriously? Someone actually spent time manually evening out the votes? Maybe he has OCD.

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  10. I'm sorry to say this but I also had a lot of breaking attempts, spam, and all the range of other "great" things coming from *.tpnet.pl...it seems that their entire network is used only for this kind of things.
    What I really don't understand how come some people have time to spend on this type of activities.

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  11. @Stretch: right now, the "december sessions" poll has a clear leader (@40%) but all other options have an equal number of votes ... although I only allow one vote per IP address. Obviously our polish friend discovered open proxies around the Internet. Definitely OCD, I would say :))

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  12. Sebastian Majewski26 November, 2008 19:27

    Evening out votes ? That is really evil idea :)

    I feel bad about it however, mainly because i am polish too, so don't want people to think that we are bunch of tards that have nothing better to do :|

    However, there is something you may consider. You just gave him exactly what he wanted... Attention. He is probably laughing hysterically reading this post :)))

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  13. I guess a lot of people (myself included) are laughing reading this post (particularly the comments :).

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Ivan Pepelnjak, CCIE#1354, is the chief technology advisor for NIL Data Communications. He has been designing and implementing large-scale data communications networks as well as teaching and writing books about advanced technologies since 1990. See his full profile, contact him or follow @ioshints on Twitter.