Did the Sutori——gu 2 MVP vote get sabotaged?

23 Aug

When I learned that fans could vote for Sutorigu MVP my first thought was: awesome! My second thought: how long until fans manipulate the voting system?

I still think it’s cool that fans can vote online, unfortunately it didn’t take long for the system to be exploited.

I’m a Saku fanboy so I check the voting results daily. I tabulated the “Opening Ceremony” vote last week, however I didn’t realize that the voting hadn’t concluded. I thought the voting was for two weeks and would close once the first official matches began. Evidently not though, because the numbers are still updating.

To keep this simple, here was the original top 5 after two weeks of voting (not counting the voting for last weeks Nagoya vs Sapporo Sutori——gu):

i_kidoguchi_sakurako_on

25 votes

i_asakawa_nana_on

21 votes

i_katou_rihona_on

14 votes

i_kawai_ayaka_on

13 votes

i_yoshimoto_honoka_on

13 votes

Note: At this point Runa was not in the top 10 and had 7 votes.
After another week the top 5 looked like this (still not counting Nagoya vs Sapporo):

i_kidoguchi_sakurako_on

35 votes (+10)

i_asakawa_nana_on

27 votes (+7)

i_ozawa_runa_on

15 votes (+8)

i_kawai_ayaka_on

14 votes (+1)

i_yoshimoto_honoka_on

14 votes (+1)

i_katou_rihona_on

14 votes (+0)

Runa’s entry into the top 5 wasn’t the weird. I think some fans consider her the next Maaya and clearly she has potential to be popular. The voting pool is also small, therefore even a few votes can have a significant effect on the ranking. 

At this point I considered making a spreadsheet for the voting to easier track the results, but I didn’t want to get trapped into continually updating something that only the most hardcore iDOL Street fans would care about.

I also didn’t anticipate the voting system to be cracked this early.

I checked the results yesterday and noticed Saku received another 2 votes. I’m sure there were other changes, but none of the other top 5 member received additional votes.

I checked the votes this morning:

i_ozawa_runa_on

51 votes (+36)

i_kidoguchi_sakurako_on

37 votes (+0)

i_asakawa_nana_on

27 votes (+0)

i_kawai_ayaka_on

16 votes (+1)

i_yoshimoto_honoka_on

14 votes (+0)

i_katou_rihona_on

14 votes (+0)

In one day Runa received 36 votes.

That’s beyond a statistical anomaly. In total she gained 44 votes this week. Even factoring fans watching time-shift it’s been almost 3 weeks since the “Opening Ceremony” so the stream isn’t even available anymore. How could any single member receive 36 votes in one day? That 1-day total is almost as many cumulative votes the previous #1 member received over 3 weeks.

I can’t help but think someone has either registered multiple accounts or fans are colluding to push her. The latter reminds me of the Idol J@M rankings revealed last year at Tokyo Game Show. Mariya from Cheeky Parade somehow won the vote, evidently the beneficiary of Cheeky Parade fans pooling all of their votes for one member.

Obviously as a Saku fan I am disappointed that she is no longer ranked first, but I’m also a Runa fan so this isn’t a bitter tears thing. It’s not even about who is winning though. The issue is regarding whether the voting is still legitimate. Unfortunately it only takes one person to poison the well when an honor system is being utilized. If the voting system is being exploited other fans will notice and have to decide whether to change their own strategy.

Typically “important” idol fan voting involves buying a single or attending an event. There is a paywall in place for these votes for a few reasons: increased cd sales, increased fan attendance, and it partially protects against voting abuse. Considering the MVP voting can influence the lineup for the next iDOL Street group, this vote is just as important as an AKB senbatsu election or PASSPO’s ill-fated attempt at adding a new member. Unlike those two examples, no purchase is required for the Sutori—–gu vote, therefore there is no barrier to entry. Pigoo registration also isn’t secured behind a paywall which would also minimize someone from creating multiple accounts. Developers know it’s important to consider the small percentage of participants who will always look for loopholes to exploit when designing a community. There will always be people who try to manipulate a system for their personal benefit. For Sutori——gu MVP voting, the only requirement is a Pigoo account, which is a free registration. As far as I can tell there is nothing stopping someone from creating as many profiles as they like, each with a different email address, and voting for their favorite member with each account.

Personally I think the only valid way to conduct an election is to make the vote completely free and restricted to fans who attend the concerts. Each fan would be provided a ballot and required to vote at the venue. Votes would then be tabulated once they had all been collected and the results immediately shared. It would suck for overseas fans, but I’d rather the voting be accurate than participate in a corrupted election.
13-8-23 Saku

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