I’ve been involved in four of the five DFW.com/Star-Telegram Burger Battles that we’ve done since 2009, and I can’t recall one where there wasn’t some accusation of cheating — or at least of some monkeyshines — in the readers’ bracket.
We’ve even found instances of votes coming from Turkey and India, where none of our Burger Battle competitors have locations.
Because of that, I was close to not running the readers’ bracket this time, but it is a way for you to participate, and the burger joints get behind it, encouraging their customers to vote. But maybe in some cases there’s a little too much encouragement.
The readers’ poll was designed, basically, to be one vote per browser per round. We used a polling platform that has many options/features for the polls. Disabling multiple voting was one of the options and we made a point to select it.
Now, to be fair, we never said “please vote only once per round,” but we kind of thought that went without saying, since when you simple click on the poll it only lets you vote once — unless you know some tricks.
And although we never said that, we never said “You can vote as many times as you like,” either.
Turns out that all you have to do to vote more than once per round using this system is clear your browser cache, then vote again. Takes about 15 seconds. Sure, you might have to re-log into some of your favorite sites, but what’s a little inconvenience where burger love is concerned?
Other than clearing your browser cache, there are other ways to game the system, involving clearing your smartphone’s browser history or clearing cookies from your phone. Why are we telling you this? Third-round voting is still going on, and maybe this will level the playing field a bit.
We found this all out via Facebook, where one joint has put actual instructions on how to get around what was supposed to be a one-vote-per-round system. You’d think people smart enough to jack the system would be a little more circumspect on social media.
Is this hacking? Too strong a word, Anyone can do it. It’s a little more complicated than we described but it’s still pretty simple. We’re not seeing evidence of autobots or overseas voting.
Is it cheating? That’s tougher. Again, we never said “please vote once per round,” so there’s not really a rule to break. On the other hand, it’s not exactly playing fair if you have to figure out your way around a system that’s supposed to only let you vote once.
We’ve considered changing voting systems, but instead, we’re just going to ask people to play fair in the closing rounds.
Third-round voting is still live. It closes at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
And since we haven’t said it before, we’ll say it now: Please vote only once per round.