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Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness

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Bunny Thwump

Don't Don't Vote: Site Eval -> Thumbs Down

A member of my friends' list, aspasia93, recommended a site this morning:
Don't Vote.org

The site's premise is a test to show you that the average person is uninformed about local politics and that until you have a better understanding of the issues, you should not vote. In the site's opinion: haphazard guessing does more damage to our electoral system than anything else. They support voting, but only AFTER you have thoroughly educated yourself.

Personally, I'm going to say this site is an absolute waste of your time. I disagree with the message they are giving, the means they are using, and most importantly the hypocrisy of the site.

I'll give you an overview of how the site works, why I think what they are doing is pointless to their message, and then my impressions about what is actually going on.

Don't Vote gives you an exam. 30 pages each with a picture, and two questions.
Question 1: Who is this person
Question 2: What is their title

We of course start with GWB. Of course there are also pictures of Bill Frist, Kofi Annan, Nancy Pelosi, and of course Ban Ki-Moon. Oh, there's also pictures of Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Madonna, and Paris Hilton as well as Laura Bush.

Some of you are probably already wondering, "Who the hell is Ban Ki-Moon?" He will replace Kofi Annan as "Head" of the UN on the first of the year.

Now here's where this all goes wrong:

The average person would not recognize many of the faces, though they might recognize the names and titles.

Unfortunately, if you don't know the face of the Senate minority leader.. then you are haphazardly guessing.

The savvy internet user will probably have two panes open and google/wikipedia the names they don't recognize and then score well. Much like the last minute research many of us do on the issues.

But the harshest part was when I didn't recognize Paris Hilton. Overall I got 97%. I was docked 3% for not recognizing Paris. This is the same 3% I would have been docked for not recognizing the President. The actors are thrown in to ask, "Do you know that they are actors and not important leaders?" But it would seem my inability to recognize Paris does count against my ability to vote knowledgeably.

This site also does not actually mention any issues at all. It simply gives you a series of photographs of political figures and titles.

The site was created by Internet entrepreneur Phillip Ferreira who created a dating site and a car sales site. I am amused that the one or two democratic women that are pictured look like rehab pictures from the tabloids while the rest look like they were taken from well crafted publicity materials.

I completely advocate an informed vote. I think folks are being rallied to vote by friends, peers and people of similar philosophy and politics. But I think these people are being motivated because they have an understanding of their opinions and some of the issues. The problem is that they are still competing with the wealth of traditional, habitual voters who have been blindly voting party lines for several generations.

The site is aimed at the newer voter (in my opinion) as a form of intimidation. And I do not believe it succeeds in putting forth the ideals it claims.

I found an article agreeing with me on this on Beliblog while researching this post. This article recommends the AARP's Don't Vote.org site. I haven't checked this one yet.

Please get out and vote today if you can. But above all else. Have an understanding of what you are voting for. Because so few people who do vote really do understand what they are voting for.

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I totally disagree with that, as long as your voting has a correlation that is better than chance with your views, it has a net postive, though not as much as it would if you were more informed. Just thinking like a gambler.

Unfortunately, continuing to think like a gambler, I also believe that the effort to value ratio for becoming an informed voter is fairly poor, because even if fully informed the probability of your vote influencing an election in a useful way is almost 0.

I'd be inclined to give people a +10 for NOT recognizing Paris Hilton! This means you spend all your free time doing something intelligent, like researching the issues, instead of reading the tabloids or the style/people section of the paper.

I agree with your assessment of this site. My wife and I both took the test - I got 89.7% and she got something like 34%, but she's the one registered to vote and I'm not. However, I don't think it really means that much that I got almost 90% right, because:

- it's multiple choice. 25% chance of getting it right just by guessing. at one point i thought maybe it was an SAT style test where you aren't penalized for answering "I don't know" so I answered 3/2 like that, but I might have gotten an additional one right if I had just guessed.
- some of the wrong answers were obviously so. in many cases I had no idea who the picture was, but I could eliminate one or two or even three as obviously wrong because I knew who they were and that they weren't the person in the picture.
- a few of them i was able to make a good guess not because i really know much about the person, but i happened to see their name and face somewhere and just remembered it.

OMG! ARGH! I just went back and realized I DIDN'T put the AARP site, bad URL on my part [I will now skip my donut]. The AARP site actually had overviews on state ballot initiatives, local candidates, etc. etc.

Ooo, I knew I should have directly C&P'd. No internet for ME!

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