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MoveOn’s Mathematical Madness

MoveOn.org’s pétition du jour is calling on the good folks of America to support Feingold’s resolution to censure President Bush. I’ve written about MoveOn.org’s petition problems before, but will paste some of highlights as background:

Apparently, MoveOn.org has 240,000 signatures on their [Harriet Miers’] petition. Or 238,000. I can’t quite tell. Here is [an excerpt] of MoveOn.org numbers from the last 10 minutes.

238,449 – 10:46:50

240,014 – 10:47:30

238,526 – 10:47:50

I’ve put together petitions before and the way I tallied how many submissions there were was to pull the count(*) from the database every x number of minutes (I set the cron job to 5 minutes). Here we have the count changing at random times. Always within a minute, and sometimes more than once or twice a minute. And this counter doesn’t just go up. It goes up and down. In the minute I highlighted it went up 1,500 in 40 seconds, and then down 1,400 in the next 20 seconds.
[…]

The numbers below represent the percentage of the differential, calculated by subtracting the lowest count from the highest count, multipled by 100 to get a pixel count. A count should never decrease, especially considering MoveOn’s petition doesn’t validate e-mail addresses or names (to my knowledge).
[…]
Update: They don’t do e-mail validation, meaning you could sign up repeatedly with false information. They also don’t return any error when you submit the same information over and over again. Whether or not duplicates get added to the petition, I’m not sure. In any event, this petition is meaningless given they don’t verify submitted e-mail addresses, and one person can submit multiple “signatures” using different (real or fake) e-mail addresses.
Update: I’ve submitted 4 signatures to MoveOn.org’s petition, three with valid (personal) e-mail addresses, and one with a fake e-mail address. All successful. The possibilities (and signatures) are infinite at this point.

Today, the MoveOn.org petition is claiming 270,000 signatures. MoveOn.org has made changes that make it harder to find a counter inconsistency, but the same fundamental problem exists: MoveOn.org does not verify any information submitted by a user, enabling just one user to submit an infinite number of petitions. To illustrate its flawed nature, I just got thanked for submitting a petition with this information:

Name: j

Email: j@j.j

Address: j

City: j

State: j

Zip: 000000

While MoveOn.org is infamous for its extreme left-wing views, people need to know the extent to which this organization will go to convince people of their size and influence. In this case, it looks to be only smoke and mirrors.

Nathan GouldingNathan Goulding is the Chief Technology Officer of National Review. He often goes by “Chaka” in NRO’s popular blog The Corner. While having never attended a class in computer science, ...

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