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The Roundup April 28

Time Magazine, you got punked!

Time 100 list: Time gets punked!

(“The 2009 Time 100 Finalists,” Time, April 28) Time just got punked (the real term is ‘pwned’) in its voter poll for the Time 100. The hackers who lurk at 4chan pooled their nefarious resources to vote “moot,” that is, Christopher Poole, the founder of 4chan, as the most influential person of 2009. Not only that, they gamed the vote so that the first letters of the names of the 21 most influential people spell out “Marblecake, also the game.” Marblecake being the name of a 4chan forum (and also a pretty nasty nasty dirty word in some circles). So what’s a good, upstanding, decent magazine to do when it gets punked? Go with the flow, apparently. Time has decided that the results stand, so moot and his marblecake (there’s a word whose meaning you didn’t want to know — ever) stand forever as the most influential people of 2009. The august editors at Time reassure us that this is only an online poll, so the results are useless anyway. Which, by coincidence, is the meaning of “moot.” When, do you think, did irony actually die in the mainstream media?

Many years ago, I gave a major sales pitch to the VP of Home Entertainment at Warners along with a database marketing firm. He asked me if I trusted online surveys and to estimate how many responses are actually “lies.” When I answered, he said, “I think more than 50% of online survey responses are untruthful.” So, the next time you’re about to make a decision based on the results of some online poll — or the nest time you’re about to make an argument from those results or you hear those results on CNN or Fox — remember that ‘moot’ is the most influential person of 2009.

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