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Television IT

When Vote Counting Goes Bad 128

Posted by timothy
from the it-increments-the-database-or-else-it-gets-the-hose dept.
ZipK writes "Television singing competition The Voice disclosed on Wednesday 'inconsistencies' with the tallying of on-line and SMS-based voting. Although host Carson Daly claimed the show wanted to be 'completely upfront,' the explanation from their third-party vote counter, Telescope, was anything but transparent. In particular, Telescope claims that disregarding all on-line and SMS-based voting for the two nights in question left no impact on the final results, but they haven't provided any detail of the 'inconsistency' or their ability to predict a complete lack of impact. Sure, it's only The Voice; but tomorrow it could be American Idol, and by next month, America's Got Talent."
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When Vote Counting Goes Bad

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  • by Ironchew (1069966) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:42PM (#43677099)

    Sure, it's only The Voice; but tomorrow it could be American Idol, and by next month, America's Got Talent."

    And nothing of value was lost?

    • Re:News for nerds (Score:4, Informative)

      by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:45PM (#43677143)
      Thank you. I came to post exactly this.
      Without the question mark.
      • Re:News for nerds (Score:5, Informative)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:56PM (#43677295) Homepage

        Well, admittedly, I don't care about the reality shows.

        But since there are laws about how you have to handle contests and the like, they need to really be able to prove that ignoring those votes had no effect on the outcome, or they could open themselves up for lawsuits.

        Basically they'd have to show that the votes they ignored occurred in exactly the same distributions as the other voting methods.

        And, since there's potentially a cost with voting, I have no idea if that even further mires things in.

        I think they really do need to be able to explain this, and demonstrate that it didn't affect any outcomes. And if you've got several million people watching and voting, if they suddenly find out their voting is being ignored, will they keep watching?

          • by DedTV (1652495)

            Which don't apply to shows like this as the person calling in isn't eligible to win anything and the show doesn't charge people anything to take part.
            The only laws governing shows like this (that matter to viewers) are ones originally directed at game shows that prevent them from misrepresenting the vote results. Those same laws also require they take reasonable steps to ensure the voting is fair which, as someone mentioned, is why you see the fine print at the end of such shows that actually reads somethin

            • by Synerg1y (2169962)

              A "contest" is any game, puzzle, scheme, or plan which offers prospective participants the opportunity to receive or compete for gifts or prizes on the basis of skill or skill and chance, and which is conditioned wholly or partly on the payment of some value.

              That's this. Also, I think a lot of these are in place for two reasons:

              1. prevent solicitation
              2. prevent scam contents, as contests are an effective form of advertising promotion, so if a company offers 1 mil and never pays it, but sells more of its product as a result... well thats what these laws are here for.

              On a side note, my link reminded me of those old checks that I used to get in the mail that had a fake check saying i've already won... turns out those are illegal now, explains why I haven't seen o

              • by DedTV (1652495)

                "Contest" does not include a sporting event, performance, or tournament of skill, power or endurance between participants who are actually present.

                These shows meet the criteria for exemption as contests on several of those points.

                But you are completely correct as to the reason for why those rules exist. Many of them were drafted specifically to counter schemes enacted by the old "Publisher's Clearing House" to get people to buy magazines and the numerous scams that cloned PCH's methods.

                • by Synerg1y (2169962)

                  The Voice is a singing competition, which interestingly enough can fall under

                  prizes on the basis of skill

                  from the first sentence, and then again under

                  tournament of skill

                  from the 2nd.

                  Gotta love US law.

        • Re:News for nerds (Score:4, Informative)

          by vux984 (928602) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @03:37PM (#43678467)

          Well, admittedly, I don't care about the reality shows.

          "admittedly" you don't care? I'd not just admit it, I'd proudly proclaim that they are worthless trash and a complete waste of time that just leaves you dumber for watching them. :)

          But since there are laws about how you have to handle contests and the like...

          If they were legitimate contests they might actually be more watchable. But if you read the fine print...

          Half the time there's stuff that often amounts to the equivalent of "The producers reserve the right to override viewer votes whenever they want, because they're more interested in finding conflict and drama than talent."

          Reality shows are a farce.

          Half the time there's stuff about scenes being "re-enacted" based on something actually happened.

          Participant release forms often include terms to consent to having personal, embarrassing, information disclosed. That information may be factual or fictionalized. ... ie; if the producers want to give you an embarrassing and untrue "backstory" about you, they can and will.

          There was a recent incident where an Obama speech pre-empted a few reality shows so there was a disclaimer that "although the show was not broadcast in its entirety in some markets, it has not affected the result."

          Yeah. That's credible. A whole state missed 20 minutes of the show; but that didn't affect anything.

          I presume that's because voters don't really matter anyway and we just pull numbers out of our ass anyway.

          • by kwark (512736)

            "I'd not just admit it, I'd proudly proclaim that they are worthless trash and a complete waste of time that just leaves you dumber for watching them"

            [snip]

            For someone that is makeing the above claim, you sure do have an in-depth knowledge about these programs you might only get buy actually watching/following them.

            • by vux984 (928602)

              For someone that is makeing the above claim, you sure do have an in-depth knowledge about these programs you might only get buy actually watching/following them.

              I think the irony here is that seems that most people who watch and follow the programs don't know most of that stuff.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            Reality shows are a farce.

            No, they're entertainment, just like The Simpsons, Family Guy, Firefly or whatever nerd-friendly TV show you can think of.

            I'm sure some people here only ever listen to Beethoven, read Shakespeare, watch Ingmar Bergman classics and use the internet for academic research, but the rest of us like some trash in our lives.

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          But since there are laws about how you have to handle contests and the like, they need to really be able to prove that ignoring those votes had no effect on the outcome, or they could open themselves up for lawsuits.

          TFA talks about "predicting" the impact of ignoring those votes. It doesn't take prediction or very much proof. It's simple.

          "If we counted the discarded ballots and included them in the scores, Team B won, Team C was second and Team A was third. If we discard those ballots, Team B won, Team C was second and Team A was third." That's what the statement 'the results were not changed by discarding the ballots" means.

          What a tempest in a teapot.

        • I think they really do need to be able to explain this, and demonstrate that it didn't affect any outcomes. And if you've got several million people watching and voting, if they suddenly find out their voting is being ignored, will they keep watching?

          This is why I thought that maybe this *is* news for nerds...it points out a means of disrupting reality TV culture.

        • since there's potentially a cost with voting, I have no idea if that even further mires things in.

          Personally if I'd been sad enough to vote on this I'd be thinking class action, however, I have a life :)

      • ...Implementation of Questionable Methodology for Questionable Entertainment."

    • by msauve (701917)
      Well, they could go to written ballots, subject to public counting, like Survivor.
    • by KeithJM (1024071)

      Sure, it's only The Voice; but tomorrow it could be American Idol, and by next month, America's Got Talent."

      And nothing of value was lost?

      That's the joke.

    • by ppz003 (797487)

      The interesting bit here is what votes were counted. If they nixed all SMS or online votes, then that leaves call-in votes and iTunes purchases.

      Maybe the real conspiracy here is trying to force people to buy more from iTunes if they want their precious votes to count.

      • by pipedwho (1174327)

        Since you can't buy the same track more than once on iTunes, it is a much better indicator of popularity than SMS or online votes where votes can be made hundreds of times over (by friends, family or other coordinated efforts).

        And if you really like the performance, why waste money SMSing a vote or two, when you can download the track you like and have it in your collection for about the same amount of money?

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      People have discussed using such means for democracy, so investigating it is relevant. Even if the immediate cause is lame.
    • by cod3r_ (2031620)
      this is srs bidness dude.
    • by fonitrus (1763632)

      probably they also did the vote count in Florida back when George Bush got elected :)

    • Yes, but AFTER those, it could be a Slashdot Poll.

  • nt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shentino (1139071) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:44PM (#43677121)

    The sad news is that people are probably going to rage more about this than they would for REAL politics that choose who gets into office.

    • Re:nt (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:56PM (#43677297) Homepage

      Network television is one of the best means of social control invented so far, second only to religion. Think about how many people really care about who wins American Idol, and think about how many people really care about who is elected to their local government. Who the American Idol winner is has no real effect on my life, whereas my local city council does when they decide whether to put money into repairing nearby streets or changing the zoning to accommodate a CVS in my neighborhood.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Who the American Idol winner is has no real effect on my life, whereas my local city council does when they decide whether to put money into repairing nearby streets or changing the zoning to accommodate a CVS in my neighborhood.

        The council has more effect, sure, but does your vote make any difference?

        (apart from putting a different name on the council officer's doors)

        • by operagost (62405)
          Sometimes it does, actually. I'll tell you what doesn't: voting for the school board. Not a single candidate ever runs on the platform of not raising property taxes. As expected, this means your property taxes go up every year, even though you aren't earning more and your property is worth about the same. It's sad when someone loses their house not because they couldn't pay the mortgage, but because they COULDN'T PAY THE PROPERTY TAX.
          • by dkleinsc (563838)

            I'll tell you what doesn't: voting for the school board.

            Tell that to the citizens of Dover, PA and the several other places that have pushed intelligent design into public school classrooms.

            As a sibling pointed out, if you really are upset, why not run yourself? Or why not recruit a friend or neighbor to run, and help with his campaign? In many places, you can get elected to local government (in what is frequently a non-partisan election) by doing a door-to-door canvas all by your lonesome, because a few hundred votes may be all it takes.

          • Uh, yes, yes they do run on the platform of not raising property taxes. And they often win. Then, when confronted with the reality of the financial situation, they sometimes go back on their promises, confirming their ascension to the rank of politician.

      • Re:nt (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TWiTfan (2887093) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:08PM (#43677459)

        That's because people actually feel like they have a real CHOICE when voting on American Idol.

        • i wonder what it would be like if we treated elections like american idol? each week the politicians get up in font of a crowd and give a speach on the pre-chossen topic and the one with the lowest score is kicked out of the running. we could get rid of caucuses and primaries the more contestants a party has the more chances to win. it would probably be better then what we have now.

          or we could treat it like march madness and have a debate off and eliminate the weak and the stupid in the first few rounds.

          • Sadly, this is already what we do! The people vote in real elections just like they do on these TV shows. Who looks like me? Check. Who makes me FEEL like they're on MY side? Check. Who says they'll protect me from the boogie man? Check. Who would I want to have beer with? Check. Who wants to be my Santa Clause? Check.

            You'd end up with the same people in charge because those people ARE smart - politically or "socially". They ARE calculating. Many of them are eloquent and if given time to actually prepare
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        Network television is one of the best means of social control invented so far, second only to religion. Think about how many people really care about who wins American Idol, and think about how many people really care about who is elected to their local government. Who the American Idol winner is has no real effect on my life, whereas my local city council does when they decide whether to put money into repairing nearby streets or changing the zoning to accommodate a CVS in my neighborhood.

        yeah mass media is a social control mechanism! just ask the people who were in power in 1890's and could send anyone to die anywhere without much backlash as no bloody pictures came home.

        ok, the point is that mass media actually divides power to more people rather than the other way around.

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        No one forces anybody to watch television. If you feel socially pressurized to watch a particular show, that is just a sign of the pathetic weakness of your character.

        In fact, a bit of harmless entertainment is good for you. Life is not, whatever some slashdotters seem to think, purely about working 18 hours a day at your job.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's because on TV shows, the votes actually change the outcome.

  • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:44PM (#43677125)

    I can only assume they did the right thing and cancelled the charges for all the votes that weren't counted? They surely wouldn't profiteer at the expense of true fans.

  • about the Voice, Willy-I-Am, Cowell or any of the Amerca's or Britain's got talent(less wankers everywhere). They're not using it to vote, so I really couldn't give a shit, and i highly doubt anyone here actually does. Next!
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      When everyone's used to overt vote-rigging, they'll come out of the closet on the election vote rigging.
    • by tehcyder (746570)
      It's a fucking disgrace that you're forced to watch the Voice, Britain/America's Got Talent, and the rest, and that your TV has no channel control or on/off switch.

      Honestly, it's just like 1984.

  • by Dartz-IRL (1640117) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:51PM (#43677203)

    That's still more transparancy and objectivity that most US elections that use electronic voting machines.

  • The U.S. Presidency!

    Nevermind. That already happened.

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:53PM (#43677237)

    You mean people actually think the voting is honest and real? That the TV execs don't advance the contestants that they think will be better for ratings?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      You mean people actually think the voting is honest and real? That the TV execs don't advance the contestants that they think will be better for ratings?

      Actually, given the number of scandals which have happened over the years from people fixing game shows and the like, and the laws which followed ... if the TV execs were really fiddling with the outcomes, there would be legal fall-out as it's considered to be a contest.

      So, by law, that voting on the outcome legally better be honest and real. And if people

      • by wcrowe (94389) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:17PM (#43677579)

        I see, so you're sure it's a contest? And not just a show that appears to be a contest?

      • In a game show scenario there is an objective measurement that comes into play. For example, the answer is what it is, and it can be proved. A "talent" contest is subjective, so there is no way to hold it to the same standard.
        • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:25PM (#43677643) Homepage

          You don't have to say anything about the tastes of the voters (which from what I've seen is questionable).

          It's not about better, it's about favorite.

          And that still needs to be held to an objective standard by law. It's a contest, there are winners, and people vote on it -- that part is still covered by laws.

          • The contract is between the contestants and the producers not the producers and the viewers. Have you read it, or have you just decided you already know what it must say? They may say in their advertisements that "Your vote helps decide decide", but does it say anything about them being weighed equally with the network executives votes?
            • by gstoddart (321705)

              No, I'm basing it entirely on knowledge of things like this [wikipedia.org] where the $64,000 question and other shows were rigged.

              I'm simply pointing out that, since there are laws surrounding how this is supposed to work, I therefore assume they're in compliance with those laws. If discounting those votes truly didn't affect the outcome, then it's fine.

              I really don't care about the outcome, I'm just saying they might need to demonstrate their claim it didn't affect anything -- not to me (because I don't care), but possi

              • by keytoe (91531)

                No, I'm basing it entirely on knowledge of things like this where the $64,000 question and other shows were rigged.

                These reality shows aren't contests at all. They're very carefully orchestrated bits of entertainment designed to engage the audience and make them feel involved. Look at American Idol: the 'contestants' don't win anything - unless the producers decide to give them a recording contract at the end. Sometimes that's the winner, sometimes it's one of the losers, sometimes it's multiple people and

                • by tehcyder (746570)

                  These reality shows aren't contests at all. They're very carefully orchestrated bits of entertainment designed to engage the audience and make them feel involved.

                  Sounds pretty much like the Web 2.0 + model of the internet.

                  • by keytoe (91531)

                    These reality shows aren't contests at all. They're very carefully orchestrated bits of entertainment designed to engage the audience and make them feel involved.

                    Sounds pretty much like the Web 2.0 + model of the internet.

                    Or politics.

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      What do you think ratings are?
  • Did I miss something? "The Voice," "American Idol," "America's Got Talent?" No statistics, no hardware, not even politics tangential to technology; nothing but a link to a couple paragraphs on a site for addle brained people whose concerns reach no further than the next amusement to distract them from realizing their own mediocrity.

    What the hell Timothy? Have you lost your passion? Did you sell out? Fall on your head? ...

    • What the hell Timothy? Have you lost your passion? Did you sell out? Fall on your head? ...

      Been away long?

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      a site for addle brained people whose concerns reach no further than the next amusement to distract them from realizing their own mediocrity.

      Jeez, if you hate slashdot that much, just stop visiting.

      • We must resist the products of the second law of thermodynamics. If that requires slapping Timothy around every now and then then that's what must be done.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Having worked with a company that was contracted to handle voting for American Idol, I can tell you part of the negotiations revealed that there were several instances where family paid large sums to predictive dialing companies to ensure their children moved to the next round. Now this was more than 4 years ago.

    Note for the record, I do not watch or have watched American Idel.

  • So there is this company that is being paid to count votes, and they cant explain the inconsistencies they are getting? Really? They're only job is to *COUNT*. It's the first thing that is taught in schools to 4 year olds, many of which who have already mastered it.

    Don't pay a counting company that can't count. Fire those idots! Or better yet, put them up on "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?".
  • by dstyle5 (702493) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:28PM (#43677691)
    Slashdot mods, come on, where are they. I could also use some Jersey Shore, Teen Mom or Fix This Kitchen related posts.

    I only wish DICE would've bought /. sooner to give us great content like this.
  • I still think it's all fake. The 3rd party vote company wants money. The show wants money. Whatever result would make the show get more money is the one they're both going to make happen, one way or another. It's not like there's some public notary from the government verifying every vote. Third party companies spring up out of nowhere and usually service primarily one giant company for the majority of their income.
  • Mandatory elections troll :)

  • Many of the people voted by calling a phone number that bills them. In my mind these people paid for a vote. If the vote was lost, they never got what they paid for. Will The Voice be reimbursing people if their vote was lost or otherwise not used?
  • posting this would have made a better april fools joke than slashdots this year
  • I hope slashdot doesnt turn as badd as digg. Stopped reading time years ago. We came here to escape from this bullshit from the real world. Who cares about american redneck ^H^H^H^H^H idol or whatever? They should all be shot. Twice. With silver bullets, and all the things required to bury vampires, lest they not return from the grave. Honestly, is this the idea of a joke from the editors?
  • Interesting. When I watched this (yes, I like this one reality show. Stop judging me.) I assumed the "inconsistencies" they mentioned were the results of someone trying to influence the vote. Reading TFA it sounds like it was more a case of some type of system failure. It would be nice if they were a bit more open about what went wrong, but since my predictions on who was going to get the most votes this week were correct I'm not too bothered by this. :)
  • The other week American Idol negated all of the votes when Candice and Amber was in the bottom two. They also always claim that the results are given "In no particular order" however for the last three or four results shows they announced Candice as the first to go through(that was to make her appear as the top voted contestant). In my opinion they would not have put her first for those weeks, unless they were up to no good. Never mind that they had "Special Guest" come on stage and hug her and say how grea
  • Thought this was going to be about the Malaysian elections recently, or even maybe the Pakistan ones ... but, it's about something unimportant that doesn't matter.

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