Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

The current Antarctic Trip Vote count is as follows; 579 – 520 – 192 – 178 – 169 out of 195 candidates registered. I am in second place.

If you’ve already voted, then please encourage your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors to vote for the person whom you think would be best for this unique job: traveling to Antarctica for the month of February 2010 and writing about it for the public on a blog. Here is my 300-word essay. Voting ends 30 September and there is one vote allowed per valid email address (registration required).

Once again, I spent several hours writing emails to the variety of people I know, asking for them to vote for me. But I am getting worried: I am running out of friends to entreaty to vote for me — I even asked the products man for Progresso soups to vote for me when we spoke about bug legs a few days ago! I wish that my request for votes will “go viral” (does that happen for things like this? I doubt it) and I will suddenly win a zillion votes. Anyway, I worry that I will piss off the remaining colleagues and friends I have by bugging them for votes, and bugging them to motivate their family, friends, neighbors, doormen, mechanics, dog walkers, and whoall to vote for me. So if any of you have suggestions for how to approach this, then please do let me know.


  1. #1 Bob O'H
    July 1, 2009

    Hmmm. How about asking PZed and Bora to act as your agent in Lindau? Get a couple of Nobel winners on your side?


  2. #2 John Callender
    July 1, 2009

    Hm. I confess to harboring suspicions that that Portuguese guy who’s taken the lead is engaging in ballot-box stuffing. I read through the contest rules, and it kind of seems like they were designed to promote people’s creating throwaway email addresses in order to inflate their vote count. They say each valid email address can cast only one vote, but they don’t say what makes an email address “valid”. And they say they’ll interview the top-vote-getter, and assuming there’s nothing glaring to disqualify that vote-getter, that’s the person who will win. Put those two together, and you have a recipe for silliness.

    I also wonder if that’s why I ended up wasting time going through the registration process only to never receive my validation email. The two accounts for which that happened were for email addresses at personal domains I own, whereas the email that actually worked was for a gmail account. Maybe they’ve set things up so that emails based on vanity domains just get dumped, whereas only a smallish number of recognized email domains actually get processed? If so, that’s kind of user-hostile, since it ends up wasting peoples’ time. And it won’t actually prevent ballot-box stuffing, though I guess it will slow things down a bit, since one will have to negotiate the capchas that gmail (and others) typically use to prevent automated account creation.

    Maybe the outside marketing operation contracting with the tour company to run the promotion decided at some point that huge numbers of emails would look better, so they set things up in a way that would predictably produce them? Or maybe they’re actually being paid on the basis of how many emails are added to the tour company’s mailing list as a result of the contest?

    Whatever the reasons are for their setting it up this way, there’s now predictably going to be an arm’s race of people figuring out what email domains will actually be processed, and mass-generating votes for themselves. Which is kind of sad, but whatever.

    It might make sense to hang back on doing that until late in the contest. The winner is going to end up being the person who “snipes” it (a la eBay auctions) by stuffing in a lot of votes at the last minute before the others can respond. Hm. But in the face of the crush of late votes the contest is going to receive, it’s possible that the people running it will end things early, either intentionally or through their systems melting down, which might mean it would make sense to try to be in the lead before the official deadline.

    Meh. Too complicated.

New comments have been disabled.