Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

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WeatherWoman
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Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by WeatherWoman »

https://www.castanet.net/edition/news-story--10-.htm

Bots messing with our poll
Colin Dacre - Aug 24, 2021 / 11:43 am | Story: 343793
The results of Monday evening’s poll on the rollout of vaccine passports in B.C. were compromised by malicious bots.

The bots added false votes to both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ sides in large numbers, causing the results to swing by wide margins from initially in favour of the measures, to opposed, to back in favour.

Our tech team spent hours mitigating the situation on Monday night, but after they went to bed, a new wave of bots compromised the poll.

I have now taken down the poll and we are removing the results of the poll from our “previous results” tab.

We are working on a solution to protect the integrity of our polls in the future, likely some sort of CAPTCHA system to ensure that humans are doing the voting.

However, no online poll is completely unhackable and all online polls, on any website, results should be taken with a grain of salt. There is a reason professional polling firms conduct their surveys typically over the phone, or require registration and proof of identity to participate online. We have avoided forcing people to register to vote in the polls to allow as many people as possible to participate.

Many of our COVID-19 related polls are targeted by bad actors on both sides of the debate, although rarely to this extent. It is no secret that there are some very strong opinions on both sides of the debate.
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WeatherWoman
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by WeatherWoman »

So surprised no one is talking about this.
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OKkayak
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by OKkayak »

WeatherWoman wrote: Aug 24th, 2021, 1:52 pm So surprised no one is talking about this.
Its being talked about in the bickering room.
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WeatherWoman
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

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OKkayak wrote: Aug 24th, 2021, 1:55 pm
WeatherWoman wrote: Aug 24th, 2021, 1:52 pm So surprised no one is talking about this.
Its being talked about in the bickering room.
Thanks. I took a quick look and didn't see it there.
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OKkayak
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by OKkayak »

WeatherWoman wrote: Aug 24th, 2021, 1:59 pm
Thanks. I took a quick look and didn't see it there.
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

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Just curious, ... how do they know it was "bots"? What is it there to tell a bot from a legit vote?
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Troy
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by Troy »

I'm the one who discovered what was going on. They weren't legit votes because they didn't even bother going to the poll page itself prior to voting. They just went directly to the vote-processing script.
kelownman
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by kelownman »

Castanet polls have always been suspect with their poll results. You only have to look at the political polls done on Castanet to know the results are skewed by people voting multiple times. Why doesn't Castanet restrict users from voting once per IP address?
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

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kelownman wrote: Aug 24th, 2021, 2:15 pm Castanet polls have always been suspect with their poll results. You only have to look at the political polls done on Castanet to know the results are skewed by people voting multiple times. Why doesn't Castanet restrict users from voting once per IP address?
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WeatherWoman
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by WeatherWoman »

Maybe it best for Castanet not to do polls if the bots can't be stopped. The unfortunately it gives inappropriate information used by some groups as truth when in fact it's not.
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by Bsuds »

WeatherWoman wrote: Aug 24th, 2021, 2:23 pm Maybe it best for Castanet not to do polls if the bots can't be stopped. The unfortunately it gives inappropriate information used by some groups as truth when in fact it's not.
If anyone believes any poll to be accurate I have a floating bridge for sale for them. :biggrin:
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by Troy »

As I've already mentioned elsewhere on here, there are changes coming to the Poll system.
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by Jlabute »

WeatherWoman wrote: Aug 24th, 2021, 1:51 pm
However, no online poll is completely unhackable and all online polls, on any website, results should be taken with a grain of salt. There is a reason professional polling firms conduct their surveys typically over the phone, or require registration and proof of identity to participate online. We have avoided forcing people to register to vote in the polls to allow as many people as possible to participate.
Even if it is only real people who vote, can the same real people vote multiple times from different devices? Is there a balance between vote population and poll accuracy. Which is more important? If you don't have accuracy, the poll is less meaningfull. Would people set up multiple accounts to cheat on a poll? That would be less likely.

I suppose it comes down to should anyone trust online polls and if they should be done at all except for entertainment purposes, seeing they do carry some responsibility depending on the topic.

I would probably vote for the requirement of an account to vote in a poll.
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by Troy »

kelownman wrote: Aug 24th, 2021, 2:15 pm Castanet polls have always been suspect with their poll results. You only have to look at the political polls done on Castanet to know the results are skewed by people voting multiple times. Why doesn't Castanet restrict users from voting once per IP address?
Allowing only one vote per IP address would make it so only 1 person in your house, workplace, Starbucks public wifi connection, etc. would get to vote.

Last night's problem actually involved someone (perhaps someone from the forums) using thousands of IP addresses to post bogus votes. So, even if there was only one vote allowed per IP, it would not have helped. Thanks to them for getting me to work after hours to deal with something like this too. ugh!
kelownman
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Re: Bots messing with Castanets Polls.

Post by kelownman »

What does Castanet want from their poll results? A fair and accurate sample of opinion from Castanet readers or poll results that are easily manipulated by characters who vote multiple times to skew the poll results? If restricting IP addresses to one vote isn't the answer, how about mac addresses?

How about the frequency of votes from an IP address in a 5/10/15 minute time period? How about restricting poll results to members of Castanet who sign up to be on the forum or to place ads?

What are the measures Castanet is going to use to make their poll results valid? Care to share, Troy?

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