First, I want to praise See.Me for handling responsibly and with grace the problem I raised to them.
I was more than a little angry yesterday (I was downright furious) when I noticed that the only Art Takes Paris 2013 entry with more votes than mine for the People’s Choice Award, as far as I could see, was using a tactic I’ve come to call ‘vote trading.’ Most of us are familiar with quid pro quo strategies. This one involves voting for someone’s competition entry and immediately asking them to “return the favor” by voting for yours. Google+ and Facebook offer similar opportunities, though few people have good reason to take advantage of them and even fewer have anything real to gain by it.
This particular competitor of mine, to be blunt and make a long story short, had entered objectively mediocre art and seemed to write below a high school level of proficiency. Sure, maybe English was a second language in this case. However, nothing excuses the blatant vote trading that was going on. There was a list of over 200 comments on this page with statements like, “Thanks for the vote! Just returning the favor :)”. This competitor of mine was going around to innumerable profiles, my own included, in order to declare that he had voted for them and that they should do the same for him; after all, each account can vote an unlimited number of times. If he voted for me, it seems fair enough that I vote for him in return, right? /scoff
It’s utterly disingenuous and unethical to engage in such dubious trickery. It has nothing to do with art and nothing to do with ‘the people’s choice.’ I can guarantee that if you polled those who had voted for that profile the majority of them would select “No” to the question of whether or not they believed that art should win the People’s Choice Award and the $10,000 USD that went along with it. Why, then, vote for it? For the exact reason I stated, and the exact reason I complained to See.Me about it, which is vote trading.
In response to my thorough grousing, a See.Me representative informed me that the vote count is not the determining factor in who wins the People’s Choice Award. Instead, the voting simply brings to the surface the set of entrants from whom the jurors will determine the winner. Furthermore, the people of See.Me do what they can to limit the impact of ‘vote trolls,’ as they were described to me. What a relief! While I don’t feel guilty for having been furious yesterday, I do feel tremendous relief that the reality here is different from my perception.
Kudos to See.Me for tackling this challenge appropriately. I still think it would be better to limit the number of votes each account could cast, perhaps even to one, as long as the vote wasn’t set in stone when it was cast. One could change one’s vote over time if a ‘better’ artist were discovered, but with the understanding that everyone got one vote there would be absolutely no impetus to vote for anyone other than for whomever you believe deserved to win.
I’m still waiting to hear back about the results of the Art Takes Paris 2013 People’s Choice Award, but at least I can rest easy knowing that one entry in particular doesn’t have a chance in hell at winning. It’s not schadenfreude; it feels more like justice.