It's just this little chromium switch, here... (derspatchel) wrote,
It's just this little chromium switch, here...

vos opinions ici

A long time ago, back when "bite me" was an acceptable and frequently hilarious punchline, Noah Smith and I wrote a sketch involving a radio show where folks called in to voice their opinions. Every time a caller tried to call in with an opinion, the hosts would shoot them down semantically or something. One fellow called in and hollered "IN MY OPINION, DES MOINES IS THE CAPITAL OF IOWA." This led to a discussion of opinion versus fact, and an explanation that opinions needed a belief behind them ("BUT I BELIEVE DES MOINES IS THE CAPITAL OF IOWA!") and other things. I don't think the sketch had a proper ending, and probably had been done better by someone else, and that's really not the point of it all.

The point is that I use the ad-supported version of Opera for my browsing which means there's a little ad banner up on the top-left corner of the application window. This doesn't bother me at all, except for the odd occasion when I go to click on one of the browser tabs and hit the banner by mistake and take all of three whole seconds to kill the newly spawned window. No biggie. Sometimes the content of the ad banners is questionable, especially when compared with the content I'm viewing at the time, but so far nothing's been truly annoying or neon flashing or whatever. Yesterday and today, though, I've noticed two new banners that call themselves "Surveys." Of course they're not real surveys, they're just marketing banners, and it doesn't matter which option you click, you go right to the registration page and whatnot and then can proceed to give away your demographic and contact information for a "chance to win a PS2!" But the guise under which they first show up struck me as odd. They're not even surveys to begin with.

"VOTE NOW!" the first one said. "True or false: Jessica Simpson is married to Nick Lachey."

"VOTE NOW!" the other one said. "Brad Pitt is in what new movie? Shrek 2, Troy, The Day After Tomorrow"

It's easy to see what happened here: somewhere along the line someone got "survey" and "voting" confused with "trivia challenge" (and not a very good one at that, for anyone even remotely familiar with American pop culture and MTV reality programs.) But nobody picked up on it, or cared enough to make some kind of change. And why bother, really? It's all a sham, and no results are counted or tabulated or whatever. You could treat the whole thing with a disaffected "ehn" and it'd be OK. But still, it irks me.

I mean, what exactly are we "voting" on here, guys, if I were to play along with you and pretend this "survey" was real? The validity of these answers? What would happen if 75% of those participating voted for Shrek 2 as Brad Pitt's film? Would he magically disappear out of Troy and show up fully rendered and do a Tyler Durden on Donkey? Is that what we said we'd want, having cast our "vote" for the sequel? Similarly, if we voted "False" to Jessica and Nick's marriage, would that render the marriage null and void? (Wait, that's a pretty appealing prospect there.)

Displaying recognition of a fact is, in effect, answering a trivia question. "Filling out a survey" and voting is, in effect, displaying an opinion. Someone needs to call in our opinion show. (In my opinion, Des Moines is the capital of Iowa.) Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

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