#292 In which our hero helps his wife enter a contest thereby exposing some of his lesser qualities. Pt. 2
When we last left our hero, his wife was suddenly down by more than 1000 votes in an Internet contest.
This miraculous accumulation of votes seems more than a little fishy to me. The Scientist did a little Internet sleuthing and discovered that EXTREME SICK’s husband was a web administrator.
As it turns out, The Scientist’s brother is bit of a computer deity, so she asked him if he thought there could be cheating going on. He looked at how the website was set up, and reported that anyone with even a little background in web administration would be able to exploit the system to rack up a boat-load of votes without much effort. More to the point, it could be set up to be virtually undetectable for the people overseeing the contest.
There were a couple back and forth messages from The Scientist to the contest reps questioning just how things were supposed to be working. It was during this period that we were told that you could actually vote FIVE times a day (not just once, as we were told from the beginning), if you cleared your cache after every vote. This pissed me off royally. I suspected that EXTREME SICK figured this out early and that this was the source of many of these mysterious votes.
In short order EXTREME SICK was in the lead by thousands of votes. It was clear that there was no catching here. I don’t doubt for an instant that the majority of these votes were fraudulent. And I was pretty angry about. You’re taught that “cheaters never prosper” when you’re a kid, but it was clear that this cheater was going to prosper the whole way to a free trip to Kentucky.
And then something ugly happened. I started to comment on her posts. Anonymously.
I like to believe that it was the tenor of her writing that put me over the edge. Because every post was written like a 14-year-old’s diary entry, full of over-the-top expressions and snarky comments. For example, she wrote that most Dressage riders (my wife rides Dressage, remember) wore “clown make-up” during their rides. In my anger and frustration, I took a few pot-shots at her via comments. Nothing too terrible, but certainly nothing kind.
And even worse than her writing was when she wasn’t writing. The idea of the contest was to post every day for a month. She wouldn’t post for days at a time. And, amazingly, even when she hadn’t posted in days, her vote tally continued to rise.
So my anonymous comments on her posts started to become much meaner. I expressed how she was obviously cheating, and she didn’t deserve to win.
But even as EXTREME SICK’S votes reached untouchable (and unbelievable) levels, I still thought The Scientist would win the contest. Remember that it was the top TWO vote-getters that would receive the prize. The Scientist and the #3 woman were pretty close in votes, but my wife seemed to keep just ahead of her.
I should mention that this #2 placement was due to the incredible outpouring of support from our friends and family. And not just close friends… there were a lot of friends of friends who voted their asses off. I heard stories about people going to their university’s computer lab and going down the row, voting five times from each machine. It was really touching how hard people worked to prop up my wife’s vote count.
But no-one worked as hard as The Scientist. She made calls, drove out to barns, interviewed people, took lessons on horses, tried new and sometimes dangerous things and recorded everything on video so she could share her experiences. Incredibly, she managed to get first-hand experience with all eight disciplines over the course of a month. She even threw in an extra discipline when she went to train with a mounted horse “posse” so she could know what that was like.
I’ve rarely been more proud of my wife. She kicked ass top to bottom.
On the strength of her video serious, I still expected her to come in second. This would cause some awkward moments if she had to share a booth or whatever with EXTREME SICK, but that’s a small price to pay.
Then something happened in the last week of the contest. The Scientist dropped to third.
She was still regularly posting her Great 8 series, our friends were still out beating the bushes for votes… but she started to slip. Then she started to fall. It was gut-wrenching.
EXTREME SICK was about TEN THOUSAND votes ahead of #2 at this point, so no-one was ever going to catch up to that. But The Scientist was still neck-in-neck for a long time. Then about Tuesday, she was behind by 200 or so votes. Then Wednesday it was 500. Soon it was more than 1,000.
I kept a brave face for her, but by Thursday I was pretty sure she was going to lose. Did I think the second place girl was cheating, too? Yep. But there was nothing I could do about it. And at least she had the sense to keep the lead to hundreds of votes, not thousands.
The last day of the contest came and that was it. The Scientist was in third place, by about 1,200 votes.
To be concluded.