Penalty lessened for Off Limits - February 2003
If you're already familiar with the Off Limits situation, then
just keep reading. If don't already know what happened, scroll down to read my original annoucement,
written on January 23rd, 2003.
In essence, there were two seperate charges against Off Limits. The first charge is that they
gave advice to a banned voter on how to hide her identity on her vote. The second charge is that they
gave advice to that same voter on how to cast a fraudulent vote that I wouldn't catch.
I'm still certain about the first charge. Saya wrote on the Off Limits forum that her vote had been
rejected and that I had told her not to vote again. Oddy (one of the two members of Off Limits) wrote a
reply telling her to simply use a different e-mail address and re-vote under a different name. I still see
this as an attempt to manipulate the results, since Saya had been banned from re-voting. And since Saya
had voted in both January's compo and on Song of the Year, I disqualified Off Limits from both compos.
Those disqualifications still stand.
It's the second charge that is now in doubt. The reason I banned Saya from voting
was that she cast votes in which Off Limits was placed in 1st place, but the remaining songs were simply
put in the same order in which they were already listed on the CMC website. Again, this was an obvious attempt to
manipulate the results. (This technique was also copied by several other fans of Off Limits, who were also
banned from voting.)
When I first read Oddy's reply to Saya, it seemed like he was telling her to
re-vote by putting those songs in a different order. I interpreted that to mean that Saya should simply
randomly scramble the remaining songs to make it impossible for me to catch. What Oddy claims is that he meant
for Saya to listen to all of the songs and vote honestly on them.
We cannot know anymore what was originally
written there, because Oddy later edited that post. But my memory of the original post is that it could've been
interpreted either way, because it was written somewhat ambiguously on that matter.
Another post by Oddy later in that thread partially backs up
his claim, and I've also taken into account that English is not Oddy's native language. (All of the posts in
question were written in English.)
The second charge was much more serious than the first, and was the reason for the lifetime ban. Since I'm no
longer certain about the second charge, I've reversed the lifetime ban and have reinstated Oddy & Fedda into
CMC starting this month. And as a gesture of goodwill, I'm also re-instating the banned voters.
I act strongly to protect the integrity of CMC's results, because without fair results, you folks have no
reason to come here. And I have no regrets over my handling of the Off Limits situation, because CMC is not run
for the sake of the competitors. I run CMC for the sake of you, the voters and listeners. Without you, this compo
is pointless, because nobody would be around to download the competitors' songs. And I will take any measure, no
matter how seemingly extreme, to protect CMC's results from any tampering.
Why Off Limits is banned - January 2003
Off Limits is a tracking duo composed of two Norwegian trackers:
Odd Kjetil Oevestad, also known as "Oddy" or "Paladin"; and Fredrik Bruskeland, also known as "Fedda" or
"Whispering Elf." Their song "Struggle" won December's compo, thus qualifying it for voting for Song of the
Year. They also qualified for January's compo with their song "Lost Sorrows."
During the course of voting so far this month on both January's compo and Song of the Year, several ballots
were received in both compos which were clearly intended to manipulate the results. In these ballots, Off Limits's
song was placed in 1st place, and the remaining songs were simply listed in alphabetic order. Several people even
cast such ballots in both rounds of voting.
In response, I rejected these votes and contacted the voters to explain why and to express my annoyance with
their cheap tactics. (Think about this: "Struggle" won December by only 1 point. And if, say, one of Gopher's fans
had cast a ballot using the exact same tactic, "Struggle" would have ended up in 3rd place instead of 1st. I will
not apologize for wanting CMC's results to actually mean something. And if I allow votes of this nature to count,
it will simply diminish the meaning of CMC's results to the point where it will no longer be worth my time to run CMC.)
Then, after giving it some thought, I remembered that on
Oddy & Fedda's website, they have a rather active set of
message boards. I checked their
News forum, and
in the thread entitled "Lost
Sorrows In Complete MOD Compo," I found a post from Saya on page 4, complaining that her vote had been rejected by me.
What happened next gets complicated. Originally, Oddy wrote a reply on January 20th suggesting that Saya simply re-vote using a different
e-mail address and put the remaining songs in a different order, thus actively encouraging Saya to cheat in a harder-to-catch manner. Seeing this,
I started a thread entitled "Are
you TRYING to get disqualified from CMC?" and voiced my extreme displeasure with the situation. The time-stamp on
my post says January 22nd, 10:51pm.
At 11:13pm, Oddy posted a reply professing his innocence. When I saw this, I decided to start my reply by quoting
his suggestion that Saya cheat. But when I clicked over to that message, I found something odd: his message to Saya had
been edited at 11:15pm, TWO MINUTES AFTER HE REPLIED TO ME. You can compare the time stamps yourself. His original message
to Saya was written on January 20th. His reply to me was written January 22nd at 11:13pm, and his own message board
shows that his message to Saya was edited on January 22nd at 11:15pm, changed to erase his incriminating comments and
to replace them with a seemingly more innocent suggestion:
"y not use ur other mail adress and place them in a different order, hearing out the songs first this time?"
This is not what was originally written there, but Oddy has acted quite cleverly to conceal the truth.
I cannot help but compare this to a similar incident from several months ago, in which I became suspicious of votes
which were being cast for Benefit of the Boomerang's song "At the World's End." As you may recall, halfway through that
month I tossed out all of the ballots and began requiring all voters to vote with a valid, confirmed e-mail address. Up
until now, I've never revealed the rest of the story. I found a message board for Benefit of the Boomerang in which
several of his fans discussed casting multiple votes for BotB using fake e-mail addresses and identities. BotB explicitly
told his fans not to cheat on his behalf, and after that post, the nonsense with the fake votes stopped.
I can also compare this to a similar ballot which was cast in the Song of the Year voting in which a fan of Mads
Vestergaard placed his song "Daylight" in 1st place, with the remaining songs in alphabetic order. I rejected this
ballot as well. The voter e-mailed Mads to complain, but Mads responded by e-mailing me to apologize for his fan's
In stark contrast, Oddy wrote a post to show his fan a more clever way to cheat. And then when he got caught with
his hand in the cookie jar, so to speak, he tried to convince me -- and you -- that it wasn't really a cookie jar.
Nice try, Oddy. But I know what I saw.
Off Limits's songs "Struggle" and "Lost Sorrows" are hereby disqualified from the Song of the Year voting and
January's compo, respectively. All ballots which have already been cast will be amended to count Off Limits's song
in the bottom position, with the other songs on each ballot moving up one rank as appropriate to fill Off Limits's place.
In addition, Off Limits is hereby banned from entering any songs into future rounds of CMC.
However, I will not make any changes to the results for December 2002. To the best of my knowledge, no fraudulent
votes were counted in that month, and I have no evidence, let alone proof, that "Struggle" did not legitimately win
December 2002. Therefore, the results for December 2002 will stand.
I'm disgusted that I've been forced to take things this far, but I will not allow my compo to be twisted, played with,
distorted, and manipulated into meaninglessness. And if these are the measures I have to take to protect the integrity
of The Complete MOD Compo, then so be it. I have no regrets, and all decisions are final.
Whether you agree or disagree with my extreme response, your comments on this are welcome: