Precision Hacking

Take a look at the final vote tally in Time magazine’s online poll of the most influential people.

It doesn’t take long to come to the conclusion that things didn’t turn out quite as one would expect; I’d never even heard of a handful of the folks who ended up near the top of the list, including the winner, Moot, who both has way more votes than anyone else and a much higher average rating.

It turns out, however, that the degree of hacking goes far, far deeper than even what is at first apparent. Look back at the first letters of the top 21 finishers. They spell out the anagram “MARBLECAKE ALSO THE GAME.” I don’t know what that means, exactly, but it definitely means something to someone.

You can read the whole story on Paul Lamere‘s blog.

(Hat tip: Christopher Wolley)

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  1. Kyle says:

    It’s a bit of a stretch to call this hacking. I’m no computer science major at all, and the technologies described are quite simple. The real story is rote incompetency on the part of Time, as the methods used to stuff online polls are well known, and Time still failed to stop them.

    The impressive thing about the “hackers” is their level of organization.

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  2. Gary says:

    Well “Marblecake” apparently means something to alot of people on the net… and its not what you’d call “family friendly”

    see: urbandictionary

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  3. Phil Scott says:

    Ugh, sadly I know. “The game” has simple rules. 1) You are always playing it. 2) You lose when you think about the game. 3) You can’t win the game.

    The 4chan folk like to add “also, the game” to the end of comments or posts which is usually followed by people complaining about “losing the game”.

    Marblecakes also seems to mean “hiding text inside a picture or other text, but I have a feeling that it originally meant something far more rated NC-17 at one point.

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  4. LW says:

    explanation of ‘The Game’ in relation to 4chan:

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  5. Terry says:


    Marblecake is an IRC channel which was responsible for the ‘message to scientology’ video and general anti-scientology information.

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  6. Kevin says:

    Phil is right that ‘marblecake’ has an X-rated meaning, but in this case, it most likely is in reference to the ‘Message to Scientology’ video.

    And as for ‘ALSO THE GAME’, Phil is right that it refers to ‘the game’ of not thinking about ‘the game’.

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  7. travis ormsby says:

    It’s petty solopsism to make a conclusion about hacking in the Time poll based on whether you have heard of the person or not.

    Moot’s meme machine is pretty influential, and even if you have never heard of him or 4chan, chances are pretty good that the ideas generated/incubated there have touched your life somehow

    None of this is proof that the time poll wasn’t hacked, and I would disagree with the assertion that moot is the most influential person in the world, but Levitt should maybe use a different yardstick than who he happens to know of to measure influence.

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  8. Aurelia Masterson says:

    Hacking is clearly part of the problem, but I think the problem is also the online delusion. It’s similar to what happens within Social Media communities: Everybody gets so wrapped up in their own little universe that the top users on, say, Digg are treated as Gods, the most influential and respectable members of that little society. But in the “real world” does anybody seriously care that they sit there and submit webpages to some website? No. But how else would this happen?

    -Lil Wayne is Number 12
    -T-Pain is #34
    -Jonas Brothers are #33

    Meanwhile Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner don’t show up in the top. It’s ludicrous, really.

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