Every few months we are asked about the poll on our website. People ask:
How do you know it is accurate?
How do you keep people from voting more than once?
Is it a scientific sampling?
Here is a copy of an email we sent to a reader who asked about our poll.
"We regularly state that our Web poll is unscientific - no Web poll is scientific, because there is no statistical or mechanical way to weight the results.
"Unlike scientific polls like Gallup, Roper, etc., Web polls are the results of people who wish to participate, not a selection of different demographics.
"Thank you for your interest and we hope you will view our Web polls as snapshots, not statistically accurate representations of the entire community's view on the questions."
While we realize that answer may not satisfy everybody, we know other organizations have the same problems we have with people voting many times. Pacific Business News puts right on their polls: "This poll is not a scientific sampling, but offers a quick view of what readers are thinking."
Personally, we think people who try to skew polls to reflect their views are pathetic, but it does happen. There are people that pathetic out there.
So, again, look at our polls as snapshots, and do not regard them as iron-clad reflections of community opinion. They are supposed to be lighthearted and fun, not do-or-die competitions from political operatives to see who can slant the poll the most.
(Note: A version of this editorial appeared previously in The Maui News)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.