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Old Aug 18, 2012, 06:59 AM
Ian Downunder
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Bass
Joined Aug 2008
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Unreliable Online Voting Threads

I wish to draw attention to the followers of RCGroups.com to what is a flawed polling method freely available and being used to determine voting results for online video contests. I will be using the video contests run at SlopeAerobatics.com to demonstrate the problems associated with online polls.

Last year I wrote to Steve (AKA Surfimp) from SlopeAerobatics.com to raise my concerns at the commencement of the 2011 contest. We discussed how the online poll could be manipulated and how this kind of judging system could not necessarily be trusted to provide a fair and proper outcome. Following our correspondence, Steve brought this up for discussion, outlaying the potential manipulating of the poll. I was rather surprised in reading the responses, that no-one took this seriously enough to ask for the poll to be scrapped. In the washup, Steve believed that the overwhelming majority of participants were of good heart and in effect, hoped that the voters would do the correct thing. However, the final results of the 2011 and 2009 contests were questionable.

I would like to make it absolutely clear that I am not accusing anyone of cheating. But in any contest, the participants are expected to play within the spirit of the rules and online polls of this nature tend to pressure people into going against this principle or suffer the consequences of possibly not polling well or as we have seen in past contests, not polling at all.

Games not contests
In effect, I liken these particular contests to games and it can come down to how well you play these games as to how well you may fare. One could enter a paper dart in these contests and win. In fact, my friends suggested I should have done this in 2011 just to prove a point. However, it is my aim to improve these contests, not make a farce of them. I am offering a possible alternative.

There are National television shows which use online polls to determine a contestant’s theoretical popularity. In one program a contestant was caught out spending about $2000 on mobile (cell) phone calls to vote for himself in order to stay in the show. This shows that fan bases can be fabricated. There have been several incidents in some of our National talent shows here in Australia which have been questioned as to whether or not the most deserving performer/s won.

And another point of interest. In the 2008 contest, Thepasty and Hexosex posted identical videos. Although the organiser picked this up in the early stages and decided to let the poll run its course and count both videos as one when the tally was finalised, it left me pondering. If random visitors/voters came into the forum to vote, wouldn’t you think that these two videos would score similarly? Thepasty came in second, polling 18 votes, while Hexosex could only manage 2 votes, coming in equal second last. How could this be if both videos were identical? Could this suggest that voters voted for the pilot and not the video? I hasten to say, I am not suggesting that one or both of these entrants' votes were knowingly manipulated.

It is also possible to vote multiple times by creating fictitious IP addresses and email addresses, etc.

Random visitors/voters versus unknown persons
The current voting system is supposedly based on random visitors who can cast one vote only. The ideal random visitor/voter would have some experience in slope aerobatics and be subjective. This voter would then browse through all the videos, taking notes along the way, then after many hours of assessing each video, cast his or her vote. So, do you think this describes every voter?

I sincerely believe that the entrants involved are genuinely good people. However, if sound rules are not devised from the beginning, contests of this nature can expose a number of loopholes. The downside is the possible loss of participants along with their creative videos.

My Credentials and Experience
In speaking out, I think you should know about my flying background. I have been flying for 32 years. This includes planes, helicopters and gliders. I’ve been competing in contests off and on for 3 decades and have had the ultimate success in the last 10 state slope aerobatics championships I have entered. I am a qualified flight instructor and hold my Australian Bronze Wings for Glider and Bronze and Gold Wings for powered aircraft. I have judged aerobatics for internal combustion Pattern and Scale as well as Slope Soaring. I have also compiled a book on slope aerobatics.

In-house judging the only way
In-house judging is the only way to judge these contests. If a judging criteria is designed and applied, then the outcome should by rights be fairer than guesswork judging and in particular, non-secure polls. By utilising the suggestions posted on past and present contest threads, I am sure we could come up with an agreed set of rules and guidelines. For instance, in the 2011 contest, DawsonH put forward these suggestions: Four categories: Aerobatic skills, Artistry (site, glider and music), Video Quality (shooting and editing) and Entertainment Value (creativity plus intangibles). He suggested a plus to minus grading system.

In March of this year, Steve wrote to me and asked if I would like to be part of a panel of judges for an additional judging section in the contest. I am yet to reply as I have been weighing up my options and it will be dependent on the outcome of this discussion. I am hoping my thoughts will be taken seriously and that the poll will be dropped. If so, I would be glad to be a judge.

Finally. May this be an alert call to those people who intend using online voting polls. If you cannot guarantee a fair and proper outcome for the poll's intended purpose, then I suggest you find another method. If it's not fair, it's not fun.

Ian Cole - AKA Ian Downunder.

In the meantime, the following are my suggestions should a judging panel be formed.

Suggestions for judging
Choose a panel of judges who preferably have experience in all facets of the judging criteria - but not necessarily one person being familiar with every facet.

Set a mark out of a possible 100 for each video. Marking as follows:

* Aerobatics Content (30) - video to predominantly contain aerobatics and not just be seen as gliders flying around doing passes or the occasional loop or role. Dynamic soaring is not aerobatics unless aerobatics manouevres are included. Repeat footage or footage used merely to fill in time would be looked at and marked accordingly.

* Aerobatics Skill (40) - footage to show flying skills with the ‘wow factor’ and should display unique features different to all the other videos.

* Artistry (15) - footage to show a connection with the music that clearly bonds with the flying and which adds an extra ‘wow factor’ to the overall presentation. (While spectacular flying sites can seem to enhance a video, I do not believe this should be taken into consideration. The type of flying site, along with the conditions on the day will in effect determine the quality of the flying performance - and the flying is what should take precedence over all else.)

* Video Production (15) - editing/presentation, camera handling, perspective of camera to glider, connection of glider to pilot, clarity of video, i.e. visibility of glider throughout the performance (weather conditions could play a part in this).

To learn about judging aerobatics and see how subjective matter can indeed be converted into tangible text, visit: slopesoaringaustralia.com/competition/aerobatics

Judging the previous contests
Available in PDF formats and plain text are my judging appraisals of the three aerobatics contests held at SlopeAerobatics.com in 2007, 2008 and 2011. I did this to give a different perspective on the possible outcomes if an in-house judging system was used as opposed to the online poll. You may be surprised at some of the findings.

Go to this link where you will find the judging appraisals at the bottom of the page.
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 07:19 AM
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Woodstock 1's Avatar
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Wow Ian, you've put an enormous amount of work into this, and for that alone the sloping community should salute you ! Also thanks to the others (see Ian's links) that have also put a lot of thought and work into their judging and comments! I'm in awe!

Ian's comments make huge sense (and are also a bit depressing with regard to the on-line poll system ), but as an entrant I think it's right not to make further comments on this issue...

May the best video win!

Chris
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 07:43 AM
If it can-it will!
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Wow! Heavy stuff Ian!

Your saying that on line voting polls could probably not be fair, and if it's not fair it's not fun.

You suggest the fairest way would be to set up a panel of judges "who preferably have experience in all facets of the judging criteria - but not necessarily one person being familiar with every facet."

C'mon you have to be joking!

Surfimp set this up several years ago as a bit of fun between us RCG members worldwide. I'm sure he will be along later to answer your post, but in my view you are taking it far too seriously. How can you expect Surfimp to get together "experts in all facets"? He's a working, family man and it's great that he does what he does now.

To me, the winning or otherwise is far secondary to the enjoyment of seeing all the different flying styles and lovely locations all around the world.

It works great the way it is and I'm relishing seeing all the final entrants after Sept 1st.
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 08:30 AM
Ian Downunder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffhanger View Post
Wow! Heavy stuff Ian!

Your saying that on line voting polls could probably not be fair, and if it's not fair it's not fun.

You suggest the fairest way would be to set up a panel of judges "who preferably have experience in all facets of the judging criteria - but not necessarily one person being familiar with every facet."

C'mon you have to be joking!

Surfimp set this up several years ago as a bit of fun between us RCG members worldwide. I'm sure he will be along later to answer your post, but in my view you are taking it far too seriously. How can you expect Surfimp to get together "experts in all facets"? He's a working, family man and it's great that he does what he does now.

To me, the winning or otherwise is far secondary to the enjoyment of seeing all the different flying styles and lovely locations all around the world.

It works great the way it is and I'm relishing seeing all the final entrants after Sept 1st.
Nowhere did I use the word 'experts'. Experience preferred but not necessary if common guidelines were drawn up. Re the winning v enjoyment. Tell that to the significant portion of entrants who have and will spend many hours of filming and editing only to be rewarded with a zero - if the trend of past contests continues. I can't see the 'fun' in that!

Ian.
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 10:04 AM
If it can-it will!
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Are you saying the only ones that will get any fun out of the competition are the winners?
I've submitted two entries, not the greatest, but I've already had fun filming and editing them.
And if I don't win anything it will hardly make the experience any less enjoyable. Are all the non- winners going to sit down and cry into their tea?

Did all the recent Olympic competitors who trained for years, that didn't win medals, come away moaning that they didn't have fun participating?
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 10:20 AM
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Joined May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffhanger View Post
Wow! Heavy stuff Ian!

Your saying that on line voting polls could probably not be fair, and if it's not fair it's not fun.

You suggest the fairest way would be to set up a panel of judges "who preferably have experience in all facets of the judging criteria - but not necessarily one person being familiar with every facet."

C'mon you have to be joking!

Surfimp set this up several years ago as a bit of fun between us RCG members worldwide. I'm sure he will be along later to answer your post, but in my view you are taking it far too seriously. How can you expect Surfimp to get together "experts in all facets"? He's a working, family man and it's great that he does what he does now.

To me, the winning or otherwise is far secondary to the enjoyment of seeing all the different flying styles and lovely locations all around the world.

It works great the way it is and I'm relishing seeing all the final entrants after Sept 1st.
So lets take a Guy that gives his time and energy to do something good.
Then let's BBQ him for his poll and make it even tougher to run his contest.

Sounds like his time would be better spent surfing...

maybe that will make it better (no contest then you will have nothing to about.

The joy is in sharing our flying . life is a journey best shared...

its not all about winning


Rubio

who quoted Cliff because he gets it...

nice job Cliff
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 10:34 AM
Ian Downunder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffhanger View Post
Are you saying the only ones that will get any fun out of the competition are the winners?
I've submitted two entries, not the greatest, but I've already had fun filming and editing them.
And if I don't win anything it will hardly make the experience any less enjoyable. Are all the non- winners going to sit down and cry into their tea?

Did all the recent Olympic competitors who trained for years, that didn't win medals, come away moaning that they didn't have fun participating?
Think you are missing the point. It's about providing a level playing field. Participating is fine and can be fun. But if it's not fair then it's not fun!
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 11:08 AM
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I have fun participating in MoM races, despite flying against people who are WAY better pilots. It's not a level playing field, but it sure is fun!
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 11:41 AM
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Joined Sep 2004
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After years of watching the results of "online polls" used to determine the winners of our small contests on RCGroups, I have given up completely on the relevance of the results. Entrants with obvious merit and quality were ignored in favor of the "vote for your buddy" mentality. One fella even used his private website to solicit votes for his entry, even directing this friends to the specific entry that he wanted to win. There were 52 votes cast for that entry in one day--mostly from voters who had just registered w RCGroups that very day. Needless to say he won the prize in a landslide.

Since that time, I don't vote in online polls.

I love this current contest for aerobatic flying, and I will watch and enjoy each and every entry. The effort involved and the quality of the productions is often spectacular. And I would like to see the honors go to the superior product. But I don't think that online polls are the way to get there. A private panel of qualified judges, of which there are many, may be a better way to award the prizes, and maybe a "people's choice" award for popularity.


My 2c
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 11:53 AM
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Ian has put a lot of his time and experience into this subject and that is laudable. That Steve has given serious consideration to Mr. Cole's suggestions says something in and of itself. That being said, IMO the bottom line is what the purpose of the video "contest" truly is.

Going out on a limb here but my impression is that Steve's intent was/is to create a format open to everyone that would put a compilation of the most current(and hopefully cutting edge) videos of state of the art slope aerobatic flying demonstrating maneuvers, techniques, styles and technology/design advances in a single easily accessible location for everyone to enjoy and learn from. This is more of a "Fun Fly" with prizes, intended to promote and advance aerobatic sloping, than a formal competition.

Ian's input on the subject of judging/voting is excellent and reflects his extensive experience in and devotion to formal aerobatic competition but somehow seems overkill for this venue.

Ken
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 01:04 PM
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Well I hope this unnecessarily detailed dissection of the contests doesn't discourage Steve from hosting them in the future. To me it's just fun to see everyone's unique flying styles, and the incredibly beautiful places they fly.

My system is simple....I vote for the one I like the best No hours of analysis, no scoring system, just a quick overall impression. Requiring voters to rank the top 3 might diffuse the favoritism.

Man, If I had the free time Ian must have, I'd be getting some building done!
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 01:08 PM
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Woodstock 1's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Furcolow View Post
One fella even used his private website to solicit votes for his entry, even directing this friends to the specific entry that he wanted to win.
I have seen this in action in other on-line contests / polls. I peruse the foreign language forums quite a lot with the help of Google translate, and I saw a European ex-pat solicit votes on the forum of his "home country" which resulted in a sudden and massive skewing of the voting. It's just one of those things, I have no answers....

Chris
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 03:04 PM
FSD
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I suppose that I would be one of those that "takes it too seriously." If it's a "contest," then it's a contest. This implies that a system of determining the winner(s) of the contest be fair. If a fair system is not in place, then it ceases to be a contest. I'm sort of surprised that the polling system in past contests was not reliable...I just assumed that it was. I've only entered the contest once a few years back and received a grand total of 2 votes. Okay...so I'm not the greatest aerobatic pilot...but I will admit that it was a bit discouraging. I haven't entered since.

I admire Steve for all the work he has done...it is really a thankless job and this can only be a discouraging thread. I recall a few years back before I even know of this kind of contest, I had toyed with the idea of doing the exact same thing. When I learned of Steve's contest, I abandoned the idea out of respect for his efforts.

I had always been in favor of voting for only the top three videos. First place would get 3 points, Second place would get 2 points and Third...1 point. Of course, the video with the most points wins.... It is simple, clean and less likely for abuse (unless I'm missing something).

I'm also available for a panel...of course, only receiving 2 votes a number of years back may not qualify me as a judge.

-Paige

On Edit....It also might help is the voting period is as sort as possible. This could also cut down on abuse. Finally...not showing the results until the contest is over might also help. (Although I know that people like to watch the "race.")
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 03:14 PM
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This is a great example of what happens when you take an activity that is inherently free, totally subjective and whose beauty relies on the absence of any regulations or constraints - and try to turn it into a competition.
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Old Aug 18, 2012, 03:22 PM
FSD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by screamin' eagle View Post
This is a great example of what happens when you take an activity that is inherently free, totally subjective and whose beauty relies on the absence of any regulations or constraints - and try to turn it into a competition.
I'm sorry, I thought it was a competition. Did I miss something?

-P
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