I happened to get an email asking me to vote for a product that was being featured in one of those reader/user vote contest/award things, and what caught my eye was a bit about what they were doing to prevent fraud. Here are the rules:
- Only one vote per product category
- Voting is strictly monitored
- Employees of information security vendors or their affiliates are not allowed to vote
- Votes can only be accepted from a current business email address
- Voters will be expected to provide their name, job title, size of company, email address, company name and web address. The information is for vote validation purposes. It will be regarded as confidential and will not be disclosed to any third party organization.
- Votes received from non-business email accounts - msn,yahoo,hotmail, etc. will be regarded as invalid
- Improper voting activity can result in nominees being disqualified
The question of course is how well they can, or how hard they try, to enforce the rules. I'm not picking on this specific award, they may well be great guys. But I've been around enough to know that there are companies that will try to work the system to win and it's damned hard to catch them. Contests like these are supposed to represent what "the people" want, but does it? I'm not sure a 3 or 5 person expert panel would return any less worth results and at least then you can look to see where their bias might be.
Even if they had solid no cheating perfect evote system, I wonder if the results are meaningful. Are people voting for products they use and like, use because thats what they were given/forced to use? I'd like to see a survey that also includes which other products they've tried and liked less!