moot wins, Time Inc. loses

This morning Time.com published the final result for their annual TIME 100 Poll.  Time reports  that the new owner of the title ‘Worlds’s most influential person, is moot’. What TIME doesn’t say is that their poll was so totally manipulated that the results of the poll are not an indication of who is the most influential, but instead they stand as a monument to Time’s incompetence.
pollresults
Looking at the poll results we see clear evidence of the hack.  The first letters of the top 21 finalists in the poll spell out ‘Marblecake, also the game’. Evidence of precision hackery for anyone to see.  And yet, Time says they rebuffed all attempts to hack the poll. Quoting from the time article:  “TIME.com’s technical team did detect and extinguish several attempts to hack the vote”.    Which leads me to wonder whether Time.com is being dishonest or is just plain incompetent. Considering Hanlon’s razor , I have to go with incompetence.  (And if you have any doubt about Time’s incompetence, take a close look at the Poll.  Notice that Oprah Winfrey and Ratan Tata have the exact same number of votes. That’s because they both shared the same ID in the poll.  A vote for either one was a vote for the other. Same goes for Michael Bloomberg and Gustavo Dudamel. If you vote for one, you vote for the other.)

How did the hack happen? I’ve already described in great detail the steps that the loose collective known as ‘Anonymous’ took to hack the poll. This group (that gathered on an IRC channel at anonnet.org) probed for weaknesses in the poll protocols and wrote autovoters to stuff the ballot box with votes that would put the candidates in the proper order to spell out the Message, adapting as necessary whenever Time adjusted its protocol in a meager attempt to keep the hackers out.  But two weeks ago, Time got serious about poll security.  They modified the poll so that you needed to prove that you were human (via a captcha) in order to vote.

290px-modern-captcha

This instantly shut down all of the autovoters.  Anonymous was offline – no longer able to submit thousands of votes per minute.  And what’s worse, when the autovoters were shutdown, the Message ‘Marblecake, also the game’ soon decayed into a meaningless “mablre caelakosteghamm”.  It seemed that Time.com had won - the Message would not survive the next two weeks of voting.  But Anonymous didn’t give up, they considered it a challenge to restore the Message.  Here’s how they did it.

Update -4/29 Professor Luis von Ahn, the project lead for reCAPTCHA,  sent me a very polite email suggesting that I change a few words here to make it clear to a casual reader that reCAPTCHA was not hacked.  I agree that the original post could be easily misinterpreted by a casual reader, so  I’ve changed a couple of words here and there to make it absolutely clear that reCAPTCHA was not compromised for the Time Poll.

First attempt – trying (and failing) to crack reCAPTCHA
The first thing Anonymous tried to do was tried to break reCAPTCHA, the captcha technology used by Time.com.  They built a program that would analyze the images, break the words into characters and apply OCR to the images in an attempt to automate the captcha process.  However, unsurprisingly, it proved to be too difficult of a task – certainly that was a nut that would take more than a week to crack.  So after a few days, they abandoned this approach.

res4

Second Attempt:  trying (and failing) to hack reCAPTCHA –   ‘The Penis Flood’

The next tactic used was to see if they could find a flaw in the reCAPTCHA implementation.  One thing they discovered about reCAPTCHA was that it always presents two words to a user for decoding – one word is a control word known by the reCAPTCHA system, while the other is an unknown  word (reCAPTCHA uses the humans to help correct OCR errors).  Wikipedia describes the process: “Scanned text is subjected to analysis by two different optical character recognition programs; in cases where the programs disagree, the questionable word is converted into a CAPTCHA. The word is displayed along with a control word already known and is labeled by the human.  Those words that are consistently given a single label by human judges are recycled as control words”. 2iasdo4 What Anonymous realized was that if they always labeled the unknown scanned text with the same word – and if they did this thousands and thousands of times eventually a large percentage of the unknown words would be mislabeled with their word. All they had to do was look at the two words in the captcha, enter the proper label for the ‘easy’ one (presumably that would be the one that the two optical scanners would agree upon) and enter the word “penis” for the hard one.  If they did this often enough, then soon a significant percentage of the images would be labeled as ‘penis’ and the ability to autovote would be restored (one side effect, that was not lost on Anonymous, was the notion that for years to come there would be a number of  digital books with  the word ‘penis’ randomly inserted throughout the text.    Update: I asked Ben Maurer, chief engineer of reCAPTCHA about this ‘penis flood attack, Ben says that they’ve anticipated this type of attack and they have numerous protections that will keep the penises from penetrating the reCAPTCHA barrier.   Update – 4/29 – Luis von Ahn, the project lead  of reCAPTCHA goes on to say ” about the “penis attack”. We serve over 400 million CAPTCHAs per week, so submitting 200k CAPTCHAS with the word penis doesn’t even come close to poisoning our database — we serve each word to multiple random users, and we require them to be correct on the other word, so to get any traction with this attack, they would have had to submit at least 100 times more CAPTCHAs. And even if they did this, we have many other measures against it. That attack simply doesn’t work.

Third Attempt: Optimizing  reCAPTCHA entry
As appealing as the notion of sprinkling the word ‘penis’ into texts, the Anonymous team knew that the clock was ticking, and if they were going to restore the Message they didn’t have time to wait for the autovoters to come back online – they were going to have to vote manually, many, many times. And so they needed to be able to enter captcha’s as fast as they could. They developed a set of guidelines that allowed them to quickly decide which reCAPTCHA words they could skip. For example:

You will be given 2 words: 1 real, 1 fake.

For [REAL FAKE] or [FAKE REAL], you can just type in REAL and it should be accepted.

If it’s [LOOKSREAL LOOKSREAL] or [LOOKSFAKE LOOKSFAKE], it’s usually just quicker to just type in both words.  Don’t waste precious time deciding which one of them is real.

Use both the appearance and the type of word to identify a fake
word.  Don’t rely on just one of them.

The whole ruleset is here: fake captcha

By understanding how reCAPTCHA worked – the team was able to double their productivity (since they usually only had to enter one word instead of two).  To further optimize their voting they created a  poll front-end that allowed you to enter votes quickly while giving you an update of the poll status (and since it is a 4chan kind of crowd, they also provided the option to stream some porn just to keep you company while you are subverting one of the largest media companies in the world.

poll-frontend

They found that with this version of the manual loader, the thing that was taking the most time was loading the captcha images, so they made a bare bones version that loaded 3 captchas at a time, in the background eliminating this bottleneck, and doubling their manual voting speed once more (and showing them vote per minute stats).

hack-fast1

Update – Just to be perfectly clear, anon didn’t hack reCAPTCHA. It did exactly what it was supposed to do. It shut down the auto voters instantly and effectively. The only option left after Time added reCAPTCHA to the poll was a brute force attack.    Ben Maurer,  (chief engineer on reCAPTCHA) comments on the hack: “reCAPTCHA put up a hard to break barrier that forced the attackers to spend hundreds of hours to obtain a relatively small number of votes. reCAPTCHA prevented numerous would-be attackers from engaging in an attack. In any high-profile system, it’s important to implement reCAPTCHA as part of a larger defense-in-depth strategy”.    As Dr. von Ahn points out  “had Time used reCAPTCHA from the beginning, this would have never happened — anon submitted *tens of millions* of votes before Time added reCAPTCHA, but they were only able to submit ~200k afterwards. And to do this, they had to resort to typing the CAPTCHAs by hand!” One thing that Time inc. did that made it much easier for the anonymous hack was to allow leave the door open for cross-site request forgeries which allowed anon to create a streamlined poll  that never had to fetch data from Time.com.

Brute Force

With the streamlined manual voting process, a single, motivated voter could cast 30 votes per minute (perhaps only 20 VPM if they were watching porn).  But some calculations showed that they needed about 200K votes to cast to get everyone in their proper position.  If they were going to succeed they really had to organize their votes.  They churned the numbers and came up with this plan:

TOTAL VOTES NEEDED 191,209

Alexander Levedev (up to 37.5) 6,541 votes
Rick Warren (more than 1,902,130) 7,255 votes
Kobe Bryant (up to 39.50) 109,174 votes
Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (up to 35.50) 5,000 votes
Hu Jintao (up to 31.50) 19,836 votes
Elizabeth Warren (up to 27.50) 43,403 votes

With a sprinkling of help from folks on /b/, the core team of about a dozen got down to manual voting. (To get help from /b/ they put together info on how to streamline the captcha process, how to configure the browser to mask referrals, deal with proxies and provided some other (perhaps not-safe-for work  incentives).  Some of the most hardcore voters  (I call them ‘devoters’) spent  40+ hours voting.  At their peak, they were casting about 200 votes per minute (compared to the many, many thousands per minute that they could cast via autovoter before Time added the captcha).

With 200k votes to cast, they knew it would be close, and they didn’t know exactly when the polls were closing.  In the final days the crew was getting demotivated. But one  boost to their productivity and morale occurred when they sussed out how Time actually did the final ordering (they round the average rating to the nearest rating, and then use the total number of votes to break a tie).  With this little nugget of information, they were able to redistribute how they voted, eliminating the need for about 30K of the 200K votes.  They discovered a few more quirks in how Time.com ranked the candidates which allowed them to shave even more votes off the required total for a total savings of 46k votes.  With these vote savings, the goal was close at hand,  with their boosted morale they were able to push across the finish line.

The End Game
Finally, on Friday, Time closed the poll, but funny thing was they didn’t turn off the polling URLs, so even though you couldn’t vote through the official Time.com website, it was still possible to vote via the streamlined manual voter – and so the ballot stuffing continued.  On Saturday afternoon, the message was restored, but the voting continued – as the team tried  to gain a cushion of safety, should voters for other candidates mess things up at the last minute.  Early morning on April 27th Time.com published the results.  And there, for the whole world to see was the message, completely intact,”mARBLECAKE ALSO THE GAME”.

result

Celebrations were in order – there was cake

alsothecake
and happy faces

smiles

and a general sigh of relief from the group.

It is 12 hours after Time.com poll has been closed.  The mood among Anonymous is high – the hack was completed, it is there for the world to see.  Time.com behaved as  expected – they refused to acknowledge the hack and the Message – but the word is out there.  People are reading about the hack on 4chan, Reddit and Digg – people know that the poll was hacked and they know that Anonymous is responsible.  They started with a goal and despite some rather severe setbacks were able to meet that goal

From where I sit, I really have to wonder about Time.com.  They spent their time  promoting and running this poll that they know (or should know) is a total farce. They give a  wink and nudge to the questionable results by saying “This is an  Internet poll. Doubting the results is kind of the point.” Which is just stupid.  Perhaps the point should be “if you want to maintain any kind of journalistic  integrity, don’t conduct online polls”.

So what’s next for Anonymous? One hacker (knowing the stereotype people have for  an Anonymous hacker) says “we’re going to resume masturbating and being the total failures that we are “.  When I asked Zombocom, the mastermind of the Message , if he had any message for moot – the man that they put on top of the world – Zombocom replied: ‘ “The Game” – but still, enjoy it.’

Update: A mini-interview with moot:
A friend put me in touch with moot so I could ask him about the hack.  Since he’s so influential I kept my questions short and to the point. Here’s the mini-interview:

Time makes a joke a your expense (“To put the magnitude of the upset in perspective, it’s worth noting that everyone Moot beat out actually has a job. “).  Any response to Time magazine about this:

I wasn’t offended by the blurb on TIME.com. To clarify, I never claimed to be unaware of the “concerted plan to influence the poll,” just that I hadn’t instructed anybody to vote for me. They did it all on their own (as you already know).

Time also indicates that they rebuffed the attempts to hack the poll. (“TIME.com’s technical team did detect and extinguish several attempts to hack the vote. “).  This seems to me to be a lie.  Likewise, they ignore the ‘marblecake, also the game’ message completely. Anything to say about this?

Honestly, I think Time had as much fun with the poll as we all did. It drove a lot of traffic to their site, and after the final results were released, generated a lot of buzz about the upcoming issue.

There’s a group of a dozen or so guys who’ve devoted a couple of months to this.  Anything to say to them?

As for a response to the players: “Thanks.”

Update 10/24/2012:  

Ukraine translation by Gmail Archivehttp://www.stoodio.org/moot-wins-time-inc-loses.

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  1. #1 by Anonymous on April 27, 2009 - 10:17 pm

    There really was cake.

    • #2 by Bare Thomas on April 28, 2009 - 12:40 pm

      Looks photoshopped. The cake is a lie!

      • #3 by moot on May 24, 2009 - 4:14 pm

        The cake is always a lie!

      • #4 by troll on July 5, 2009 - 10:47 pm

        The cake wasn’t a lie, /N/!

  2. #5 by aiueo on April 27, 2009 - 10:26 pm

    Gotta say, this was indeed a triumph.

    And anon, we never lie about cake. ;)

    • #6 by A noon on April 28, 2009 - 4:04 am

      I think it’s Time to make a note about how this was a huge success.

      • #7 by Anonymoose on April 28, 2009 - 4:53 pm

        Bah, that stopped being funny in 2007 :P

        Also, Marblecake forever. Also, http://www.losethegame.com

  3. #8 by blue on April 27, 2009 - 10:59 pm

    For some reason i got happy inside ;D Meybe now moot will find a way to get out of debt ;]

  4. #9 by Ben Maurer on April 28, 2009 - 1:10 am

    Hi,

    I’m the chief engineer on reCAPTCHA. Manual typing is a well known aspect of CAPTCHAs. The goal of a CAPTCHA is to make it difficult for an attacker to acquire a lot of votes — but not to make it impossible. In this case, reCAPTCHA did it’s job — it was not able to be beaten with OCR and required many, many hours of manual labor to achieve the desired results. Typically, high-value targets use CAPTCHAs as part of a defense-in-depth strategy — it’s not clear what other filters (if any) Time applied to clean up the results.

    Two things I’d point out:

    1) The “penis” attack simply won’t work. We know about this. Each word goes out to multiple users. Because of our high volume, it’s extremely unlikely to see the same word enough times to shift the vote on it. We also have a number of filters to detect people who always type offensive answers.

    2) Typing only one word is marginally effective. We’ve generally found that people do a so-so job on this (especially people who are being paid to do CAPTCHA typing as opposed to willing volunteers).

    Btw, if anybody involved in doing this wants to have a friendly chat — email us at support@recaptcha.net. There might be a t-shirt in it for you :-).

    • #10 by Chris on April 28, 2009 - 11:30 am

      > In this case, reCAPTCHA did it’s job — it was not able
      > to be beaten with OCR and required many, many hours of
      > manual labor to achieve the desired results.

      So you are saying that in a large-scale poll, where it takes millions of votes to sway the results one way or another, (re)CAPTCHA is effective as long as there is not a massive concerted manual effort? For a much smaller poll, where the total number of results is in the hundreds or thousands, (re)CAPTCHA would be much less effective.

      > We also have a number of filters to detect people
      > who always type offensive answers.

      The only reason the word “penis” was chosen was because 4channers have the maturity level of . . . 4channers. There’s nothing about the strategy that necessitates the word being particularly offensive; a “cabbage” flood would be equally effective.

      –Chris

      • #11 by Ben Maurer on April 28, 2009 - 11:47 am

        >So you are saying that in a large-scale poll, where it >takes millions of votes to sway the results one way or >another, (re)CAPTCHA is effective as long as there is >not a massive concerted manual effort? For a much >smaller poll, where the total number of results is in >the hundreds or thousands, (re)CAPTCHA would be much >less effective.

        Sure, if you have a poll of 100 people, a CAPTCHA really isn’t going to be effective. Any poll that small is easy to influence, you could probably swing it one way or the other just by writing a blog entry that said “hey, go vote on this poll”.

        Even large polls can be “broken” without having to exploit security issues. Look at what Colbert did on the NASA poll.

        >The only reason the word “penis” was chosen was because >4channers have the maturity level of . . . 4channers. >There’s nothing about the strategy that necessitates the >word being particularly offensive; a “cabbage” flood >would be equally effective.

        Checking for offensive words is only one of the filters we have. Even without that filter, it’s essentially impossible to get recaptcha to return a false result.

      • #12 by Ryan Cousineau on April 28, 2009 - 12:36 pm

        That’s what he’s saying, and he’s right.

        ReCAPTCHA is not a ballot-stuffing prevention system. It is a Turing test, and one so good that only human eyeballs could defeat it.

        The CAPTCHAs ultimately forced all the voters to be human, more or less. There were several non-CAPTCHA weaknesses that made voting faster than it would be for non-4chan humans, but that’s not reCAPTCHA’s fault.

    • #13 by red on April 28, 2009 - 12:32 pm

      Hi Ben,
      From where I’m sitting, reCAPTCHA is a good service. It does what it does well.

      To everyone else, I don’t work for reCAPTCHA.

    • #14 by Jerry on April 28, 2009 - 12:48 pm

      So, one of the points is that Time really need to compliment CAPTHCA with other filters, such as one vote per IP. Still some room for shenanigans, particularly when you have a large audience of “attackers”, but likely would have allowed such a granular manipulation of the results.

  5. #15 by reg4c on April 28, 2009 - 4:31 am

    I think the results are earned. I mean, they spent a lot of time and effort in making the message so in a way they deserve it.

  6. #16 by Not So Anonymous on April 28, 2009 - 4:54 am

    What a complete waste of time. And way to mess up the reCaptcha system.

    • #17 by yoga on April 28, 2009 - 9:56 am

      you’re forgetting something more important than the recaptcha system, which is epic lulz

  7. #18 by Tweezer510 on April 28, 2009 - 6:24 am

    I indeed call that a win of all sorts. Time’s incompetence could not simply be overlooked, which is why I’m happy you didn’t ignore it.

    *sends 9001 internets to MusicMachinery*

    Oh, and btw, if you’re ever in dire need of a larger writing staff, I’m a soon-to-be published author with some need of work. I’m not expecting monetary sustenance, either. XP

    Here’s my email if you’re interested, or just talk to me in the irc: Tweezer510@aim.com

  8. #19 by Anonymous on April 28, 2009 - 6:26 am

    Moot prevails hurray

  9. #20 by dani on April 28, 2009 - 7:00 am

    this whole set of posts about the time.com seems to me like just marblecake self-importance wankery
    anonymous is anonymous

  10. #21 by snl on April 28, 2009 - 7:25 am

    It’s epic, that’s for sure.

  11. #22 by anonymous coward on April 28, 2009 - 7:35 am

    If it wasn’t Time one could suspect online polls couldda been “fixed” at predecessor polls. But as the poll organizer knew Anonymous was keeping books on the total amount of votes for every single top rank, so no way to “fix” the outcome of the vote. _That_ wouldda be an incentive to keep things the way they were. But of course that couldn’t happen here simply because it’s Time.

  12. #23 by Jim on April 28, 2009 - 7:41 am

    Fuck.

    I’ve just lost the game.

  13. #24 by aerotive on April 28, 2009 - 10:08 am

    All that effort for something that’s completely pointless.

    • #25 by A. Wood Jablomey on April 28, 2009 - 10:58 pm

      ‘Twas done for teh lulz. Everyone knows that lulz are the only legitimate reason for doing anything.

  14. #26 by Anonymous on April 28, 2009 - 10:27 am

    What a bunch of douchebags. Organizing a huge manual voting effort isn’t cracking anything. It doesn’t really seem especially “epic” to me. Just kind of 8th grade.

  15. #27 by notthewinner on April 28, 2009 - 10:33 am

    You ass, I just lost the game now too.

  16. #28 by Anon on April 28, 2009 - 10:39 am

    Why didn’t Time simply hacked the code/DB whatever to force the poll to read something else?

    Maybe… maybe it was Time people who did the hack, and this whole stuff is a plot to raise Time.com traffic even higher?

    • #29 by Annie Moose on April 29, 2009 - 5:54 pm

      I doubt it, known 4channers were part of it, and they couldn’t keep a secret like that.

  17. #30 by tom purves on April 28, 2009 - 10:52 am

    Are you kidding? this is a huge win for Time. I bet their online site never had as much attention as this hack (and all the stories and blog posts and digg/reddit posts etc.) generated. Who cares from time’s perspective the “integrity” of their vote. As a viral marketing campaign to drive people to time.com this little voting gimmick must have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

    Watch for them to try and do this again. They should be paying Anonymous for all this free marketing and word of mouth…

  18. #31 by Kevin on April 28, 2009 - 12:15 pm

    Wow – I can’t wait for all voting to go on the internet.

  19. #32 by llbbl on April 28, 2009 - 12:24 pm

    awesome

  20. #33 by When Giants Meet on April 28, 2009 - 12:27 pm

    What the hell is going on here? hahaha.

  21. #34 by Nebbyfoshebby on April 28, 2009 - 12:47 pm

    epic published lulz.

  22. #35 by Heather on April 28, 2009 - 12:47 pm

    It may stand as a monument to Time’s incompetance – but it ALSO stands as a monument to how influential Moot, and 4Chan, really are.

    • #36 by blahblahblah on April 28, 2009 - 2:41 pm

      Only if you’re enough of a fucking idiot to consider 4chan influential, or moot for that matter. It’s like calling some neighbourhood punk who lights a bag of dog shit and leaves it on your porch “influential” because he gets on your nerves. That’s all Anonymous really are, a bunch of social rejects who take out their frustrations on the Internet (being the only outlet for cowards like them to express their inner bitterness).

      • #37 by Tweezer510 on April 28, 2009 - 3:34 pm

        You hit the nail on the head. :D And btw, the ones who really executed this “hack” (it wasn’t a hack at all) aren’t your average /b/tards. We’re much more intelligent and compassionate than that. :)

      • #38 by david davidson on April 28, 2009 - 6:02 pm

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      • #39 by vardøgr on April 29, 2009 - 2:58 pm

        “‘influential’ because he gets on your nerves.”
        If something gets on your nerves, that means it’s influential. Nice try.

    • #40 by A quiet observer on February 22, 2010 - 8:43 pm

      Considering the poll was for the most influential person, it did precisely what it was meant to do. Obviously this moot character is the most influential, if _other_ people worked so hard to put him at the top.

  23. #41 by Rox on April 28, 2009 - 1:26 pm

    Classic – that really made my day!

  24. #42 by anon on April 28, 2009 - 1:36 pm

    I lost the game, but you sirs deserve an internet or three. Well played.

  25. #43 by Cody on April 28, 2009 - 2:49 pm

    Alas, such talent wasted on trivial pursuits.

    • #44 by Annie Moose on April 29, 2009 - 6:17 pm

      Trivial Pursuit? That’s a game…

      ARGH, LOST AGAIN!

  26. #45 by Heymans on April 28, 2009 - 3:02 pm

    This was a triumph.

    Good work guys. reCAPTCHA is for retards and TIME.

  27. #46 by aidsbaby on April 28, 2009 - 4:26 pm

    moot is a fgt

    everyone knows wirah runs marblecake and caused most of the drama of the universe

  28. #47 by 3-D on April 28, 2009 - 5:02 pm

    @Ryan Cousineau

    No, it isn’t. A Turing test has a human sitting on the other side checking for authenticity of the input, not an algorithm.

    • #48 by k on April 30, 2009 - 9:22 pm

      You seem to be missing the point of a CAPTCHA (also known as a Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart).

  29. #49 by Science on April 28, 2009 - 6:52 pm

    I hate how so many people are saying Time copped out.

    “Which is just stupid. Perhaps the point should be “if you want to maintain any kind of journalistic integrity, don’t conduct online polls”.

    Get over it, that’s how democracy works, and it’s why it sucks. What do you think lobbyists are? Autovoters IRL. Corporate money is to elections as 4chan is to this Time poll. 4chan got their guy and their message in there because they manipulated the system, just like in real politics and in real democracy. The only true “pure” gauge of what the masses want is the free market.

  30. #50 by blahblahblah on April 28, 2009 - 7:16 pm

    Yeah I’m sure the basement dwelling pedophiles that make up /b/ must have sprained their wrists wanking themselves over this one. Who gives a shit?

    • #51 by Tweezer510 on April 28, 2009 - 7:35 pm

      You obviously do by posting here. FAIL. Go back to your underachieving life, void of any happiness. No one loves you.

      • #52 by Cody on April 28, 2009 - 11:37 pm

        Way to give attention to the guy craving attention.

    • #53 by zookeeper on August 2, 2009 - 11:31 pm

      guys, don’t feed teh troll. Haven’t you learned anything?

  31. #54 by goooooooobama4ever on April 28, 2009 - 8:41 pm

    WOW! Am I the ONLY one to see the significance here??!! Hellooooo! Peeooople!! He’s finally out of Court!! Hellooooooooooooo!! Congrats, moot!

  32. #55 by A. Wood Jablomey on April 28, 2009 - 11:02 pm

    Flawless victory.

  33. #56 by posting on April 28, 2009 - 11:14 pm

    posting in epic bread

  34. #57 by kittehwut on April 28, 2009 - 11:41 pm

    I HAD KITTENS. Fapped. Had moar KITTENS. Died.
    Necromanced.

    /sigh.

  35. #58 by TIME FOR DRAMA on April 28, 2009 - 11:53 pm

    lol, moot moot moot

  36. #59 by Rogue Medic on April 29, 2009 - 1:12 am

    The marble cake could have had a reCAPTCHA pairing of words written in icing.

    • #60 by Heymans on April 29, 2009 - 7:26 am

      Little ahrd, sorry. Next time :3

  37. #61 by Anonymous on April 29, 2009 - 1:45 am

    Looks like SOMEBODY (article writer) doesn’t understand the definition of ‘hack.’ This poll was not hacked. Stop saying it was.

  38. #62 by Friedbeef on April 29, 2009 - 2:37 am

    Absolutely 100% brilliant!

  39. #63 by Anonymous on April 29, 2009 - 3:54 am

    Shut up. Of course this was a hack, and a brilliant one to boot with. Check the jargon file for a definition.

  40. #64 by Someone from Ragnaboards on April 29, 2009 - 4:53 am

    So Manny Pacquiao is the winner??

    Still, 4chan is the real winner.. LOL!

  41. #65 by simplybill on April 29, 2009 - 7:00 am

    A win is a win. No matter the method was.

  42. #66 by balqisqudeimat on April 29, 2009 - 7:06 am

    interesting!

  43. #67 by s on April 29, 2009 - 9:47 am

    is there a solution to stop this hack..?

  44. #68 by tam on April 29, 2009 - 10:03 am

    what a laugh. ^_^

  45. #69 by Xydexx on April 29, 2009 - 11:40 am

    “There’s a group of a dozen or so guys who’ve devoted a couple of months to this.”

    I only wish I had such Copious Free Time.

  46. #70 by Amake on April 29, 2009 - 11:49 am

    Time: Bastion of journalistic integrity or spearhead developer of online polling systems?

    I doubt I’ll trust a word they say in the future, especially if they try to spin this like “There’s no secret message, you’re just seeing things”.

  47. #71 by Flint Fredstone on April 29, 2009 - 12:20 pm

    None of the other fgts on the poll had enough influence for troops to SPONTANEOUSLY rally and rock the vote. moot wins the internets; all else is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  48. #72 by villagethinking on April 29, 2009 - 2:37 pm

    This is proof that the world’s most influential person is the anonymous Internet user. Also, the game.

  49. #73 by Brad Neuberg on April 29, 2009 - 3:28 pm

    One other thing that all Internet polls should do: they should _not_ show the results of the poll until the polls change. This is for two reasons:

    * For a politically charged poll, the side that is ‘losing’ can see that and then send out a call to their supporters to swamp the site again.
    * For those who are building automated tools to influence polls, they get real time feedback on their progress.

    It’s better to keep everyone in the dark until the poll is closed, like real voting.

  50. #74 by dc21337r on April 29, 2009 - 5:14 pm

    Its hard to overstate my satisfaction.

    Also, anyone who doubts that this is in any way hacking doesn’t understand the word hack. Just because they’re not breaking into the site and changing things manually doesn’t mean that they didn’t break the system for their own use. In terms of network security, most hacking is done offline. The easiest way to hack a network is to gain access through legitimate means, such as convincing someone to give you a real username/password. Social engineering is the hacker’s best friend.

    • #75 by Annie Moose on April 29, 2009 - 6:24 pm

      This *was* a triumph, I agree!

      And I also agree on the “hack” business- if they described it as a crack, that’d be incorrect (a crack is literally breaking into the system and changing it), but a hack is more like a clever (mis)use of something, usually exploiting a loophole.

      So it sort of fits.

  51. #76 by Charcer on April 29, 2009 - 8:43 pm

    Anon wins.

  52. #77 by Moi on April 30, 2009 - 10:48 am

    ABSURD! Everybody knows there is no cake.

    • #78 by dc21337r on April 30, 2009 - 12:31 pm

      That’s not true. It shows up on the table, next to the radio after you beat GLaDOS.

  53. #79 by democratsarefascists on April 30, 2009 - 3:14 pm

    So this is how Obama’s poll numbers are faked.

  54. #80 by pigeon on April 30, 2009 - 7:17 pm

    It’s hardly a “hack” if people had to spend 40+ hours voting! Seriously, I can think of 100 other things I’d rather do with 40 hours than create a message on some idiotic online poll.

  55. #81 by angryanon on May 1, 2009 - 6:41 am

    a “triumph”? a “win”? what are you talking about? this is a tragedy! newfagflood

  56. #82 by ron on May 1, 2009 - 10:00 am

    It would be terrific if you guys could somehow donate .01 percent of this effort to, I don’t know, curing cancer or unlocking some riddle of the universe. Why don’t you approach the NCI or WHO and say that you have an inexhaustible team of highly intelligent, er, information engineers that would put in countless hours of labor? If there are lulz to be had, I mean.

    Or form your own rogue organization and crack cold fusion, perpetual energy, or self-mutating vaccines.

  57. #83 by SadistiX on May 1, 2009 - 10:16 am

    some people are too bored. LOL
    all hail boredom

  58. #84 by tourinchina on May 1, 2009 - 10:43 am

    Sometimes, “‘Worlds’s most influential person” is still believable for us.

  59. #85 by Joeby on May 4, 2009 - 4:38 pm

    This is the most pathetic and sad thing I’ve ever seen a group of people on the internet get together and do and that’s saying a LOT.

  60. #86 by Slowpoke on May 7, 2009 - 8:10 am

    Great job /b/rothers. Could we bring down the New World Order nao?

  61. #87 by Not Anon#niggerkiller on May 7, 2009 - 10:37 am

    mARBLECAKEALSOTHEGAME

  62. #88 by i586 on May 8, 2009 - 10:58 pm

    Time to resume work on Scientology.

  63. #89 by Darb on May 11, 2009 - 10:22 am

    Is it just me or was that an advertisment for REcaptcha…. I feel dirty… Also, You all lost the game. Except those of you who won it.

  64. #90 by R.Sole on May 11, 2009 - 3:44 pm

    15 years ago an 18 year old seppo told me that Time magazine regurgitated the conventional wisdom about 12 months after it went past its sell-by date. I.e. by the time something gets into Time, it is pretty much played out, old news, and about to lose any relevance, energy or interest it once had.

  65. #91 by Katch on May 13, 2009 - 3:46 am

    great!

  66. #92 by Anonymous on May 23, 2009 - 5:23 pm

    fail article is fail

  67. #93 by Joakim on May 25, 2009 - 1:30 pm

    Love this, they deserve the results :)
    and reCAPTCHA is very good .

  68. #94 by KoolKatz on June 13, 2009 - 12:51 am

    cake was delicious

  69. #95 by David Kudmipz on June 19, 2009 - 7:46 am

    i lol’d so hard at this article.

  70. #96 by Anon on June 19, 2009 - 12:23 pm

    This article was harsh on time. I voted for moot myself over a thousand times…. Over the course of a day I would vote like 30 times.

  71. #97 by Jonners on June 26, 2009 - 3:25 pm

    Ah!

    lol…

  72. #98 by Pontifican on July 14, 2009 - 6:04 am

    Accusing someone of ‘cheating’ in an influence poll is meaningless. Obviously whoever came out with the most votes – cheating or not – is the most influential.

  73. #99 by Watchmaker on September 15, 2009 - 12:47 pm

    What a pointless waste of (T)time… :P

  74. #100 by Technopenguin on September 20, 2009 - 2:19 pm

    Hey, Carlos Slim has more votes than Eric Holder! (#s 6 &7)

  75. #101 by nightstalker777 on October 6, 2009 - 5:09 pm

    Hi, Bastion Host for Uni research project to be up in approx two weeks. Cake for root. No F@g__try in endeavor pleeeese . If box does != failbox, more projects will be allowed meaning more cake. Check out blog and do not spam, admin cats keep careful eye. Butt seriously results will be posted at IT conference, credit to handle of non-F@g__ who can gain root and provide documentation. Seriously guys, got my hands tied, real research project by 3-1 c_H_A_N supporter. Defacing blog would be useless and just prove to people that lack of maturity will prevent people like M T from making $$. Leave mature comments plz.

  76. #102 by Mobile tracker on December 1, 2009 - 2:31 am

    Epic, without any doubt.

  77. #103 by influence on December 11, 2009 - 6:11 am

    “Accusing someone of ‘cheating’ in an influence poll is meaningless. Obviously whoever came out with the most votes – cheating or not – is the most influential.”

    I was thinking that the whole time.

  78. #104 by TG on December 17, 2009 - 5:00 pm

    lost the game

  79. #105 by Damn you 4chan on December 25, 2009 - 4:23 am

    If not for this, Pacquiao would have his rightful place at the top.

  80. #106 by nutflipped on January 18, 2010 - 12:37 pm

    Moot and Anonymous are my heroes. Down with the corporate lie/death machine!

  81. #107 by coffeemakers on January 29, 2010 - 5:57 am

    top 100, you gotta be kidding me! and carlos slim should be a #6

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