August 08, 2005

Big Brother Poll

I have seen several blogs wonder if the Big Brother Poll is tracking votes or does it count every single vote you cast over and over. There is only two ways CBS can track votes.

The first is to track voting using cookies. A Cookie is just a value in a text file a website puts on your computer. When you vote the CBS website will add a cookie file to your computer with a particular value. The next time you go to that poll the website will simply look to see if that cookie exists. If it does exist, it will not count any new votes. If Big Brother is secretly filtering online votes they could be using cookies to do it. However, it is easy to simply delete your cookies and vote again. You can do this though your browser options.

The second way to track people who have already voted is by IP address. This means they record your IP address in their server. When you vote it compares your IP to make sure it doesn't already exist in their database. If it does already exist it will ignore your vote. Unfortunately for broadband users (cable and DSL) there is no way to get a new IP address because you have a consistent IP provided for you by your ISP. However, if you have dial-up you will get a new IP address within a certain range every time you connect to the internet depending on what server you connect to. You only have to hope another user from the same ISP has not already voted with that IP address. If you have dial-up you can log on, vote, delete cookies, log-off, and do it all over again.

There is no indication that Big Brother is limiting votes at all. If they are not limiting votes, why would anyone pay 50 cents to text in a vote? I guess we will never know. Just to be sure, I will keep voting and deleting cookies.