A pointless poll in a new medium

You’ll need a Twitter account to crash this poll. There are these things called Shorty Awards being given to popular twitter users in various categories, like health. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, a medium with almost no content, restricted to 140 character brief comments, is easily dominated by the shallow and the superficial, so alt med quacks are having a grand time running up the score.

Let’s see if we can do a little readjustment. A skeptic, Dr. Rachel Dunlop, is also in the running, currently at #16 (she’s being beaten by Dr House). All you have to do is get onto Twitter and enter this string: “I nominate @DrRachie for a Shorty Award in #health because…” and fill in your own brief reason.

There are also lots of other categories that you can tinker with — I notice that @pzmyers is in the lead in the awesome category of #squid right now, with one vote. The numbers in most of the categories are actually so small that we could pharyngulate just about anything, if I were a cruel and capricious leader who wanted to organize a coordinated skewing of #religion or #bacon or whatever. But I shall content myself with sending my legions marching off to #health…this time.

Another one! While you’re on twitter, also vote “I nominate @maddow for a Shorty Award in #journalist because…”.


  1. miketv says

    Why is an American Idol contestant beating a real doctor in a “health” poll? They should remove him until he debuts a song about your upper and/or lower ganglia.

  2. PZ Myers says

    So nominate yourself for a Shorty in the category #godofbacon, and all will be resolved.

  3. PZ Myers says

    It’s a pointless poll on twitter. Of course an American Idol contestant would be a perfect nominee over a doctor.

    This is not reality, you know.

  4. Jessie Colt says

    Voted. More curious as to why the #Education leaders are all bible based instead of real teachers. Such a sad state of affairs in US these days.

    All the more reason why I am thankful that I never had kids.

  5. Gus Snarp says

    Funny you should mention this, I was going to suggest that you throw your weight behind the #journalist category, as it is currently being dominated by a Daniel Razon, who is some kind of Christian journalist, with a lovely bible verse as his description. I would recommend Rachel Maddow or Jeremy Scahill, but really, anybody else would do. I think a full on pharyngulation is necessary, given Razon’s lead.


  6. iHunger says

    Can I win the #steampunk category — Please.

    “I nominate @MosquitoEater for a Shorty Award in #steampunk because his unpublished novel REALLY needs to be published”

  7. Rog says

    DrRachie has now pulled ahead of David Archuleta in the health category. If you told me even a week ago I’d be writing that sentence, I would have suggested you seek counselling. Excuse me while my head explodes…

  8. Rog says

    I checked out the education category. Creationist “Brother Eli Soriano” is actually placed 1st AND second right now. I checked out his site, and read his article on scientific proof that man was created from a handful of dust. Is it possible for one’s head to explode twice in one day?

    This must be corrected…

  9. Gus Snarp says

    11:46 a.m. Eastern time, and Mercola is about to fall behind Dr. Rachel in the poll. It’s really fun to watch this in action. Also it appears that the Pharynguloid horde does not Twitter, because this is going much slower than most polls.

  10. iHunger says

    PZ has like 10,000 twitter followers, so some of them must use it.

    My tweet was … I nominate @DrRachie for a Shorty Award in #health because the squid overlord told me to

  11. https://me.yahoo.com/hairychris444#96384 says

    Never seen any point with Twatter.

    Unless you’re some sort of international (wo)man of mystery your life is, truth be told, epically dull except to your nearest & dearest. Maybe.

  12. pixelfish says

    I’m the single vote for #squid. I posted a few weeks back in one of the never-ending comment threads, hoping other Phargynutwits would help me in my lonely crusade, but nobody seemed to bite at the time.

  13. pixelfish says

    Oh, wait, I think we’re reading the Shorty site wrong. There’s ONE contender for Squid, not one vote. You actually have a lot of votes, now that I’m reading the page again. (Although you can still see that my vote was first on Jan 8th.)


  14. wwew says

    it never fails, every time someone mentions Twitter there the usual tired comments denigrating it. They’re usually by people that have no clue at all about it and usually around 140 characters. (Commenting on a specific blog post is so superior to commenting in general on Twitter.)

    Here’s what I use Twitter for: I follow prominent atheists or atheist sites. I follow science related sites and people. I also follow sites and people in my profession. All usually post links to news or articles I can use. I also follow friends who mostly post links to things of common interest and the musicians I like so I know what they’re doing. Like any tool, it is how you use it that’s important. But keep cluelessly thinking it’s all about people tweeting what they ate for lunch. That never gets old, it just keeps getting funnier and funnier.

  15. pixelfish says

    Also Scalzi really deserves the #bacon. He has the Canonical Bacon Page on his site, and is famous for Bacon Cat.

  16. Michelle R says

    @wwew: Oh, it’S like everything mildly popular. I mean, replace Twitter with facebook or (long ago) myspace or ( long long long long ago ) Livejournal and you’ll have someone going “BAH! THIS FAD’S TERRRRRRRRIBBLEEE”

  17. Kel, OM says

    I nominate @DrRachie for a Shorty Award in #health because of her work on The Skeptic Zone podcast advocating good medical practice.

    Seriously, if you don’t subscribe to The Skeptic Zone, please do so. Excellent podcast

  18. miketv says

    Dr. Quackenranger’s voters really do say it all don’t they?

    “I nominate @HealthRanger for a Shorty Award in #health because…he tells me stuff other people won’t.”
    (Are you curious why your REAL doctor isn’t an anti-vac quack?)

    “I nominate @HealthRanger for a Shorty Award in #health because…of the excellent way this news presented and delivered”
    (Not the CONTENT, just the pretty package)

    “I nominate @HealthRanger for a Shorty Award in #health because…he tells you the things that THEY do not want you to k…”
    (THEY LIVE!)

    And the most popular nomiation speach is…

    “I nominate @HealthRanger for a Shorty Award in #health because… ”
    (because hundreds of people can’t think of a good reason)

  19. weez says

    Pointless or not, it’s woo vs science, @HealthRanger 572 vs @DrRachie 395- and PZ has >10,000 followers on Twitter. This should be a rout, but ~9700 PZ followers haven’t pulled their finger out yet.

  20. stopthatastronaut says

    Dr Rachie is running at #2, and I’m still pushing hard for more votes, people. Come on, get in here NAOW!

    We’ll need a decent margin over @healthranger to maintain a lead, so more pharyngulites would be good.

    (@drunkenmadman here btw)

  21. https://me.yahoo.com/a/86jFYdhzpdIUP4FsBU9rhsUl6HpHWpw37zHiiMQ-#5833d says

    Well I think the Shorty Awards, having been on this field for quite a couple of years, understood that first and foremost, this is a user-powered competition because winners will be declared based on the number of votes.

    So to sort things out, I think there are few safety nets that the body provides. Among there are –

    1. If you are the nominated personality, you must claim that via your Twitter account.

    2. This is just the elimination round. The Academy will decide who will be included in its top five or six nominees. From there, the people can then decide who really should be it.

    So, as of the moment, I guess there is nothing much to worry about this award-giving event.

  22. thehappysinger says

    Hey guys,

    While you’re voting in the Shortys, may I suggest the following?


    More like this! Tell Ubisoft you won’t buy their games while they pay anti-vaccine menace Jenny McCarthy for endorsements! Vote @Ubisoft in #evil because of @JennyFromMTV!

    Also vote: @nocompulsoryvac in #quacks (Twitter presence of the Australian Vaccination Network and Meryl Dorey, more antivax nasties.

    And if you could spare a nod in #humor for @HappySinger, I’d be grateful…

  23. iHunger says

    @DrRachie is still about 150 votes from the top spot. This could be a phailed pharyngulation if we aren’t careful.

  24. Gus Snarp says

    OK folks, we’ve lost Massachusetts, lets not lose this one. This may not seem important, but do we really want anti-vaccine and religious nuts to look like they’ve whipped us, especially when we’ve declared a pharyngulation? Get out there and vote for Dr. Rachael. And on journalism maybe Rachel Maddow is too political for you, can we find a journalist we can all agree to support to beat this Daniel Razon guy?

  25. tommorris says

    Less than a hundred votes to go in order to get Rachael Dunlop to #1 slot. Dunlop’s votes are growing quicker than HealthRanger’s. C’mon Pharyngulites…

  26. bigdavesb says

    @pixelfish Well, technically, other people have been bringing sclazi the bacon, as opposed to him bringing home the bacon himself.

    Bacon smoothie + Bacon ice cream + Frequent experimentation with bacon salt > Bacon Cat

    (Have travelled around Africa with Simon though, I am, I quite freely admit, biased too. http://jailbreak.ragabonds.org.uk/ )

  27. iHunger says

    About a 100 vote lead at this point, but woo-meister picked up quite a few votes today as well and could take the lead back. Anyone know if it is one voter per account or one per account per day?

  28. Gus Snarp says

    I am now entirely convinced that the Pharynguloid horde cheats to win online polls. 45,000 no votes on a poll on the afterlife in a day, but two days later after not just PZ, but a number of skeptic bloggers mentioning it, only 972 votes on Twitter for Dr. Rachael. This with over 10,000 accounts following PZ on Twitter.

    Either we cheat on simple polls or we don’t mind looking like fools when we can’t win a Twitter poll.

  29. PZ Myers says

    One of the peculiarities (or sensible arrangements) of that twitter poll is that they filter out newbies. That is, if you only registered with twitter to vote on a poll and haven’t otherwise used the medium at all, they’ll toss your vote out. That means, unfortunately, that only a small subset of readers here were able to submit valid votes.

  30. timfarley says

    Update on this Shorty Award thing…

    Based on this post, Orac’s urgings and other campaigning on Twitter, we boosted @DrRachie up above 1,000 legitimate votes from skeptics and science lovers. Meanwhile Mike Adams’ people started getting desperate, creating new Twitter accounts just to vote. I and others easily found many of these accounts, most have no followers and only one tweet – the vote for Adams.

    Several of us including myself and Phil Plait, Travis Roy and myself emailed the organizers to point out these shenanigans. We also posted publicly on Twitter that we were doing this. Adams followers responded by using the sock puppets to cast votes for DrRachie and others in spitefully named categories.

    Today the Shorty Awards people responded to our emails and told us they were looking into the allegations of ballot stuffing. Just a few hours later, they took decisive action.

    Not only is Mike Adams no longer in the top 5, but he is now not visible on the site at all. His vote page (http://shortyawards.com/HealthRanger) now throws a 404 error. So apparently he is out of the running for any award.

    Well done.

    Dr. Rachie now has a commanding lead over the #2 spot, but since only the top 5 spots proceed to the next stage of judging, and #2 is woo-meister Joe Mercola, perhaps we should some other deserving health Twitterers to similarly boost up into the top 5.

  31. timfarley says

    …and exactly as one would expect, Mike Adams has gone ballistic, accusing the Shorty Awards of rampant fraud:


    …and threatening the founders with a lawsuit:


    The man is delusional. Most of what he accuses the opposition of doing in that NaturalNews post is exactly what his supporters were doing. As for there being no evidence of any fraud, all of the votes are public posts on Twitter. We posted the names of just a handful of the fraudulent accounts here:


    Anyone can do a simple Twitter search at search.twitter.com with the search term “#health @HealthRanger” and see all the votes he received.