An avalanche of art and online poll disruption

Opinion October 14, 2011 0 Comments

A remarkable thing happened last week.

For the first time in the six years I’ve been putting together the annual Kids Edition, we were overwhelmed by submissions.

In past years, I felt like the submission rate was good. We regularly had approximately 20 submissions, good for a nice four- to five-page section and perhaps another few pages the following week. Each year, I was able to run everything submitted.

This year, submissions poured in via email and snail mail. Kindergarten teachers sent in folders and zipped files containing scores of their students’ work.  The number of submissions quickly went beyond 50 to 75 and more. Submissions came from everywhere. From every local school, from teachers and parents. They piled up on my desk, an avalanche of painted art paper and kid poems stuffed into white envelopes.

The submissions are diverse. There are poems and stories, pencil sketches, crayon drawings and oil paintings. One student even sent in a sample of an illustrated book.

So, the Kids Edition you find in this week’s paper has some amazing artwork by children in the area, but it is by no means a complete representation. There were many submissions I simply could not fit.

Because of that, I plan to run another batch of artwork next week.

There will be a Kids Edition, Part II. So if you didn’t see your child’s work here, it very well may be in the paper next week.

And I may just have enough artwork to take us through December. So we may do more. Stay tuned.

Our polls get poked

Last week, I discussed the Local’s foray into online polling. In that discussion, I mentioned a poll we were running concerning Bowman Properties’ proposal to develop the former site of Magarity Ford into a five-story retail and apartment complex. The question posed to readers was: Is Bowman’s plan too big for Chestnut Hill?

Well, voting on the poll appeared to be regular until after this weekend, after which the number of votes quickly went from 300 votes over two weeks to another 1,000 votes over the weekend. Something seemed wrong.

A savvy reader pointed out to me on Monday that a simple procedure to clear a Web browser’s history made it possible for any individual to cast an unlimited number of votes. I was able to reproduce the trick right away on both the Firefox and Chrome browsers.

As a result, I think it’s fair to conclude that the results of the poll are, at best, unreliable. Instead of a providing us with a snapshot of neighbor sentiment, we’ve learned very little except that even the most-used polling services on the Web – we used Poll Daddy – are susceptible to very simple tampering.

I’m a believer in using the polls and spoke to a number of readers who really liked the idea as a way to gauge opinion in a very easy way – what can be easier than logging on to a site and clicking a radio button?

In the meantime, I’m looking for a good replacement service that will provide for us a better and more secure solution. I’d be happy to take some suggestions.

Pete Mazzaccaro

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