We’ve all seen the NCAA 6th Fan online contest Facebook statuses and tweets pop up in our feeds, and NDSU has been one of the top schools throughout the contest.
The contest pits schools against one another in a March Madness-style bracket system and encourages fans to vote for their schools; the school that wins the contest gets scholarship money.
But did cheating play a role in how far NDSU got?
It’s hard to tell what constitutes cheating in an online contest like this one. The allegations that have spread via social media accuse NDSU’s most recent opponent, Brigham Young University, of using a script to generate automatic votes.
While I could find no definitive proof that a script was used by BYU to generate votes, some members of Bison Nation believe they did. So apparently we’ve employed the same strategy.
I received this direct message from @bisonnation on Twitter, as I’m sure a lot of NDSU voters did, that mentions a script that will boost the vote.
“The script is really easy to run and was started by BYU, email me for easy instructions to help boost the vote email@example.com.”
A following email confirmed my suspicions. While I did request the script, I did not use it. But I wanted to see if the automated voting script existed. It does.
“We have taken the script used by BYU to gain their lead. We need to step up and do the same. Here are the instructions, let me know if you have any questions,” a later email from @BisoNation said. The email included instructions on how to install the script, which would potentially increase NDSU’s odds at winning the round.
It seems to me like some of us decided BYU was cheating, so we took the same approach and rationalized cheating because our opponent was doing it, too.
So is it cheating if both sides are doing it? The simple answer is yes, but it seems the NCAA has a way, or at least they say they do, of voiding votes automated by this alleged script.
“Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means will be void,” according to the contest rules listed on the 6th Fan website.
The rules don’t say it’s cheating to do this. Since they void those votes and because the very premise of automating votes seems to be cheating, I am calling it cheating.
Maybe the votes that are being sent in by automation aren’t being counted, but the question we should ask ourselves is, should we even try to cheat to win a silly online contest?
The contest winner wins $100,000 and schools voted into the Sweet Sixteen, which NDSU was, win $10,000. NDSU won the top seed in the initial round of voting.
I don’t think money had to do with the decision of some to cheat; NDSU fans have a lot of school pride. It is the reason NDSU won the first round. If bigger schools, like an Arizona State with more than 70,000 students, really cared, we wouldn’t have made it to the second round due to the shear volume of students they have.
It’s a pride thing. NDSU has a lot of pride for a mid-sized school; it’s the reason we were neck and neck with BYU, a school that has about twice as many students as we do.
At press time, the results of the matchup between NDSU and BYU were not available, regardless, both schools and their fan bases should feel somewhat embarrassed that some of us allegedly cheated to win the contest.
Then again, it is an online competition and it isn’t surprising that both sides might resort to cheating to win.