Have The Guardian just rigged their readers’ poll?

Disgraceful behaviour by The Guardian for The best albums of 2015 – readers’ picks 

We are in accord! For the first time any of us can recall, Guardian readers and Guardian writers had the same two favourite albums of the year, in the same order. This year, in a rare moment of rigour, we decided to exclude obvious attempts to game the system – so, Tinker’s Mitten (“like a beefier Flying Pickets”, one reader suggested, enticingly), Jodie Marie and Karnataka, we’re sorry; but next time you suspect your admirers might be voting for you en masse in a poll, tell them not to all vote at the same time (we record exactly when each vote is cast, for exactly this reason). Had they only spread their votes out a little more, all might well have featured in our top five.

So The Guardian admit to rigging the ballot, and the results then just happen to validate the boring consensus picks of the paper’s own critics.

Sorry, Guardian, but this stinks to high heaven.

If you run a poll with a public ballot on the internet with a very low barrier to entry, you surrender your riight to gatekeep the results, and accept the risk that outsiders might come and gatecrash your party. This happened last year when veteran punk satirists Half Man Half Biscuit was voted readers’ album of the year. The general consensus at the time was “Good on them. Anyone else could have done the same”.

What’s different this year, aside from Karnataka not being sufficiently fashionable for the gatekeepers? Running a ballot, then changing the rules when you get a result you don”t like really is out of order.

The irony is that had they not excluded Jodie Marie and Karnataka, they wouldn’t have have ended up with an all-male top five.  So much for the diversity The Guardian prides itself in.

A couple of minutes Googling reveals that there is no such band as “Tinker’s Mitten”. This might be because The Guardian got their name wrong, or it might be that The Guardian got pranked with votes for a fake band.  But Karnataka and Jodie Marie are very real. Were they just accidental collateral damage?

At this point the best thing The Guardian can do is admit that they screwed up, and republish a top ten (not a top five) with both Karnataka and Jodie Marie reinstated.

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9 Responses to Have The Guardian just rigged their readers’ poll?

  1. Stuart Black says:

    And the award for most desperate attempt by privately educated white men to appear ‘street’ goes to The Guardian for their choice of best album of 2015.

  2. Tim Hall says:

    Not sure quite what’s “street” about Sufjan Stevens and “Father John Misty”. More like a word beginning in H and ending in “-ipster”.

  3. The other way too look at this of course is that Karnataka don’t have *that* many fans on Facebook, and if it’s enough to upset the poll it siggests tiny (in national newspaper terms) numbers are voting overall. So how worthwhile is the exercise?

  4. “This might be because The Guardian got their name wrong, or”

    *double-checks which newspaper it is*

    *draws obvious conclusion*

    There is no “or” ;-)

  5. PaulE says:

    Are people not allowed to discuss these polls on social media ? That seems certain to produce votes for one album at around the same time from lots of people. How can that voting pattern be evidence of malpractice ?

  6. Tim Hall says:

    My hypothesis is still that, once they realised they’d been pranked with “Tinker’s Mitten”, somebody went through the list and struck off every name they’d never heard off, without bothering to do any basic research.

    Everyone reading this blog knows who Karnataka are. I’d never heard of Jodie Marie before, but it took me about a minute to find out she’s real enough to have a verified Twitter account. Twitter don’t give those away to two-men-and-a-dog pub acts.

    Guardian journalists do give the impression that live in a world where the music they’re spoon-fed by major-label PRs is all that exists. The ignore the obviously commercial stuff in order to appear edgy and relevent, but there’s still a huge amount out there that’s not on their radar screens. And when any of this music dares to irrupt into their closed little world, they cry foul.

  7. Jax Hodgkinson says:

    16,769 likes on the Karnataka Facebook page….. not that many fans David? Think again
    PaulE I agree with you…we just shared the link on the Karnataka fan page…the way we and other fans do when it’s our favourite band….whoever they might be….

  8. Sixteen….thousand….? Wow. Not using facebook myself, I assumed there would be only be small percentage of fans who did use it.

  9. Colum Paget says:

    # The irony is that had they not excluded Jodie Marie and Karnataka,
    # they wouldnt have have ended up with an all-male top five. So much
    # for the diversity The Guardian prides itself in.

    Well, this lines up interestingly along your other post about the Guardian accusing the Triple J top 100 of being too white and male, doesn’t it? Did the person who wrote that article mention that the Guardian had deliberately blocked women from it’s list? No?

    What does one call assassins who accuse assassins, anyway?

    Colum