How our recent poll got 600k votes


Harris G., Staff Writer

     The Talon Online—or more specifically, me—releases polls every week for people to vote on. But this week, our poll was voted more than it had ever been before. More than two thousand times more, in fact. How did this happen? Has The Talon gone viral? The short answer is no. The long answer is a slightly more complicated no, so let’s begin.

     Normally, it’s impossible to submit to a poll on The Talon more than once. However, there is a trick that was used to abuse this, and to understand it we must understand the three main ways that websites can identify you. The first way is through the account that you have registered with the service. This is very good, but The Talon didn’t want people to have to make an account in order to vote. The second way is through your IP address, which is a number attached to your router that identifies you wherever you go on the internet. This is a problem because if multiple people share a router, only one of them can vote. The final way is through cookies, which identify you wherever you go on a website. This is what The Talon used.

     However, there is one major flaw with cookies. They can be erased entirely with just one simple tool: incognito mode. Therefore, if you turn on incognito mode in your browser, you can submit to The Talon’s poll as many times as you like. So, you might be thinking, somebody just sat at their computer and submitted to the poll six hundred thousand times? No, they didn’t. In fact, they sat at their computer and wrote a program to do it for them. The program is surprisingly simple—at least to somebody with experience—it was made just by downloading the website (in incognito mode) as an HTML, and replacing the “vote” button with a bit of code that loop that votes 10,000 times every time the button is pressed. 

     Now, you might be eager to write a program and spam The Talon’s polls with hundreds of thousands of votes, but unfortunately for you—and fortunately for the rest of us—you can no longer do that. The Talon has now switched the poll tracking method to IP address, which is not unbreakable but very, very difficult to break and much slower even if you do. If this causes any problems, please speak up, but until then, you’ll rest assured knowing that The Talon’s votes are once again accurate.