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Letters to the Editor

Hacked Survey Hosted With Zoomerang

In “Survey Foiled by Fast Food Fraud”, an email I wrote to MIT Campus Dining was quoted, indicating “It is possible for a student to set up a program to change his/her IP address to vote multiple times.”

This particular survey was hosted with a commercial web survey service known as Zoomerang, which is often used for quick opinion polls around MIT. This Zoomerang survey was set up to allow one response per IP address. After closing the survey, I noticed a pattern of response indicating someone had “ballot-stuffed” the survey, most likely with a computer program designed to automatically submit responses from different IP addresses.

Web surveys run by the IS&T Web Survey Service and the Office of Institutional Research are not set up using Zoomerang. Generally, our surveys authenticate individual responses, usually with MIT web certificates or assigned unique web links, ensuring one response per person. The Office of Institutional Research recommends that any survey that is used for administrative purposes or decision-making be authenticated.

Despite the efforts of a Taco Bell fan committing “Fast Food Fraud,” the Dining Survey did yield useful data to help with directions for food services in Lobdell.

Jagruti S. Patel ’97

Senior IT Consultant

Information Services and Technology