I Never Metajoke I Didn’t Like

Every once in a while, the world of science blogging threatens to implode into navel-gazing. This time, the question is whether the 800-kilo, ten-tentacled gorilla of ScienceBlogs.com, PZ Myers, should be telling his legion of readers about online polls in which aforesaid readers can choose to vote. Is it a mild form of low-investment activism, a kind of catnip for herding cats, or a joke which has outlived its welcome? Clearly, it’s time for the “wisdom of crowds” to decide!

[polldaddy poll=”604091″]

Voting will continue until morale improves.

23 thoughts on “I Never Metajoke I Didn’t Like”

  1. I think it’s a bit of a cheap-shot for PZ to do that kinda stuff, but at the same time I HAVE voted on his poll crashes. The point he’s trying to get across; that these small, insular websites which cater to a very specific crowd can run polls if they want, but they don’t mean anything – I think it’s kinda important.

    But that’s just me.

  2. But what if PZ sends his legions on over to crash this poll? Hmmm?

    I’m not about to dictate what any blogger should do with their space on the web, and I think Steve summed things up nicely. PZ sending out his minions to crash polls doesn’t sit quite right with me, but at the same time the polls are often asking questions that they already know the answers to and have little meaning. Crashing the polls is a bit immature, but I don’t think anyone sees it as making a lasting contribution to science education or advocacy. Unless I’m horribly run, it just seems like something people are doing for the fun of it.

    What seems to be more controversial at the moment was today’s post about Paul Jones. I thought the post was in poor taste, and quite an argument seems to have been kicked up in the comments.

  3. I actually skimmed past that post today, as it seemed, well, completely irrelevant to anything I wanted to talk (or argue) about. With an essay and two book reviews I should have finished on Friday, argument isn’t really a luxury I can afford. Nor, I suppose, is creating silly polls. . . .

  4. As one of the main instigators of the criticism of PZ’s crashing of Internet polls, I have to wonder if it would be hypocritical of me to vote in this particular poll. ;-)

    I do agree with Laelaps, though, about PZ’s post today about Paul Jones. Not only was it tasteless in the extreme and more evidence of acting like an asshole about the poor man’s death than making any sort of substantive point against religion, but it’s one more reason why more and more I’ve been tending to skip any non-science post on Pharyngula these days.

  5. OK, so I looked at it again, and the second impression didn’t shake the one left by my first skimming: namely, that it was a complaint that an obituary could be drowned out by uninformative noise and say nothing about the deceased. Judging from the responses PZ’s remarks provoked, I guess not everybody got that message, in which case his post was a failure at transmitting the message I thought it was sending. So it goes. We write, we listen, we don’t learn.

    Like I said, I really find the subject phenomenally uninteresting. I think the only comments I left at Pharyngula today were about vampire stories and the Dune miniseries.

  6. Crashing unguarded polls illustrates the hazards of unscientific sampling methods, and letting me write the poll questions illustrates the sway which phrasing can hold over the responses! ;-)

  7. This poll appears to have been crashed, what with the 1105 yes votes and all.

    Still, one of those is mine because I have nothing against crashing meaningless polls all over the internet. People tend to have a closed orbit of websites, only ever visiting a particular handfull of sites that all basically agree with them. If nothing else, poll crashing might remind someone that there is a wider world out there, full of differing opinions.

  8. Heh. Did you mean for us or for them, Manigen? ;-P

    I feel proud. I crashed this poll before it was crashed, back in the day when Harlot’s were holding strong at 23%. Funny what can happen when you decide to leave a comment in the previous thread first… I see “yes” is taking the world by storm now.

  9. Orac; Just to clarify, I did say that the Paul Jones post was in poor taste. Perhaps my response wasn’t worded as strongly as yours, but I feel much the same way about it (and I hear you about skipping most of the non-science posts there lately).

  10. You know, it’s conservatives who say, “Let the marketplace decide.” Let them round up support for their own stupid positions if it means anything to them. I enjoy the irony of atheists crashing a poll in a country that is 90 percent theistic.

  11. Go Harlots :)

    Other than that, I think most of us who did it just thought it was a bit of harmless fun on a poll that was designed to give them the answer they wanted. However, apart from the fun aspect, why give them an easy ride. Especially when they are more than capable of and likely to twist the result of a mean nothing poll, well if it had given them the answer they expected due to where it was placed, while pitching their latest anti rationality law to some religio-politico wingnut.

  12. That’s a good point; people who read sunclipse are likely to know that these polls are meaningless, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that everyone else does.

  13. The main point of crashing polls is to show how pointless they are. I think we have a moral obligation to crash them.

  14. Let them round up support for their own stupid positions if it means anything to them.

    Remember: as the poll on the Expelled! MySpace page shows, there are barely 900 cdesign proponentsists on the whole wide Internet.

    BTW, finding this out doesn’t strike me as pointless at all, so I disagree with the “Internet polls are pointless” meme.

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