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Cheating at Online Polls!
 
The information in this article applies to: 
  •  Windows 98
  •  Windows ME
  •  Windows 2000
  •  Windows XP
 

Everyone loves it when their favorite team wins. Everyone also loves it when their favorite team, artist, musician or movie wins an online poll. By using a couple of pieces of free software, you can make your computer vote in many Internet polls as often as you'd like - and with very little input from you!

 

To cheat at online polls you will need the following:

 
Some flavor of Windows - at least Windows 98 but 2000 or XP would be better.
The Firefox web browser (Internet Explorer will work too - see the bottom of the article for more info)
X, a free security extension for Firefox
A "macro recorder" program; I'm using Mouse and Key Recorder (free to try for 90 days)
An Internet connection
 

Summary:

 

We will install X, which will allow us to dump Firefox's cookies with two mouse clicks. We will then use the macro recorder to "record" voting in an online poll, dumping the browser's cookies and then reloading the page; we will then use the macro software to "play back" these actions as many times as you wish.

 

Why?

 

"Cookies" are a way for some Internet polls to keep track of whether you've voted or not. If one deletes their cookies, he or she can vote as many times as they wish. The Firefox extension simply makes the "cookie dumping" process a bit easier than going through Firefox's native menu options. The macro is there simply to automate the process so that you can vote several thousand times when you're away from your computer.

 

Important Note

 

The methods outlined in this tutorial are for online polls that only use cookies to keep track of who's voting. Many (most) online polls use other methods for vote tracking - such as recording your IP address. For those types of polls, the following method is useless. To tell if this will work for you, simply go to the poll site in question and vote, then dump your cookies and try voting again. If the second vote is added to the total, the following method is for you.

 
 

Step By Step:

 

1) Download and install Firefox (if necessary) and also download and install X and Mouse and Key Recorder (or some other macro recorder). You will need to restart Firefox for the X installation to complete.

 

2) After restarting Firefox, you might see a new "padlock" toolbar on your browser window that looks like this:

 

 

If you do not see the padlock icon, click right-click anywhere near the address bar and select "Customize"; after doing so, drag the X (padlock) icon anywhere on your browser's toolbar area you'd like.

 

3) Click on the the X (padlock) button; you will see the following:

 

 

Uncheck all options except for "Clear all cookies" (as shown in the picture above). Press "OK". Every time you click on the padlock button, this will now be the default option.

 

4) Open Firefox if it's not already open and go to the web page of the poll you're interested in. MAXIMIZE THE BROWSER WINDOW! I'll explain why in a little bit.

 
5) Open Mouse and Key Recorder. The program looks like this:

 

 

6) Click on the "record" button (the button with the red dot) and "record" yourself voting in the poll, then pressing the X (padlock) toolbar button, pressing "OK" for the X button menu and pressing F5 to refresh the webpage. Press the "record" button again in the macro app to stop the recording. But before doing any of that, please consider the following:

a) Windows creates an invisible grid on your computer screen, with one corner being 0,0 and the diagonally opposite corner being 1600, 1200 (or 1024, 768 or 800, 600 depending on your screen resolution). When you move your mouse from point A to point B on the screen, Windows notes (and the macro program records) these movements on the grid. Therefore, it's essential that everything on the screen be in the exact same place every single time, or else the macro will "click" on nothing, or some other poll option, or even some other link... whatever is in grid location 100, 528 will be "clicked" on. This is why I told you to maximize the browser, so that the poll options will be in the same place every single time.

b) Because of the previous point, keystrokes are more reliable and are therefore preferable to mouse clicks when recording macros. So whenever you can, use keys to do something you might ordinarily use the mouse for. The prime example of this is pressing the F5 key to refresh the poll's web page instead of clicking the "refresh" button on the toolbar. Also, be aware that most macro programs cannot record the movement of the "wheel" on your mouse, so use the UP and DOWN keys on your keyboard to scroll up and down pages instead of the mouse wheel.

c) Some macro programs include the amount of time the computer sits idle between keypresses or mouse clicks while recording macros, others do not (the program used in this tutorial does not). It might therefore be necessary to add some pauses in your macro to allow for slow-loading web pages. If you don't, the entire process can be thrown off if your poll's web page takes even a second or two longer to load in one instance that it did when you recorded your initial vote. I'll show you how to fix this in the next step.

d) Remember: macros are stupid. All they record is the mouse movements and keystrokes you tell it to record. If you accidentally move the mouse while the macro is running, the macro will click wherever the mouse ends up. If Firefox crashes and disappears from your screen, the macro software will click whatever's underneath the browser window.

 
9) Click on the "Macro Code" tab and examine the code your macro just generated. You will probably need to add a second or two between most of your clicks and keypresses. You can do so by moving the cursor to where you want the pause and pressing the "Hourglass" button. Each press of the hourglass will add 300 milliseconds to the macro, therefore three presses will add 900 milliseconds, or almost 1 second.
 

 

Here is the code that I'm using for a current Madonna poll:

{{Mouse 1, 1, 245, 611, 0
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{DOWN}
{{RelativeMouse www.hitz.fm :: Double the hitz - Mozilla Firefox, 1, 1, 273, 970, 0
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{RelativeMouse www.hitz.fm :: Double the hitz - Mozilla Firefox, 1, 1, 304, 41, 0
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{RelativeMouse Clear Privacy Information, 1, 1, 93, 193, 0
{F5}
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds
{{Delay 300} {{' Milliseconds

 
It's been running smoothly all day long on my machine. You will probably need to play around with your macro to get it just right, but once it's good, it'll run forever.
 
10) Once you have a macro that runs well, set it to repeat as many times as possible. To do that, click on the "General" tab in the Mouse and Key Recorder window and set the number of "loops" to 99999. For example, in the picture for step 5, Mouse and Key Recorder is set to run 50 times and stop. 
 
What If I Don't Have Firefox or these Extensions?
 
You can use the macro recorder to record just about anything you can do with a mouse or keyboard, so there's nothing stopping you from recording yourself voting and dumping the cookies manually (in IE, click on Tools > Internet Options > Delete Cookies > OK > OK... in Firefox click on Tools > Options > Privacy > Cookies > Clear). You can then refresh the page in either browser with an F5 keypress. This is slightly more cumbersome than my method, but it works too.
 
Legitimate Uses of Macros?
 
I feel as if I might have done you a disservice by introducing macros in such an unethical (and possibly illegal) setting. Please allow me to rectify this situation somewhat by describing a completely benign use for macros: repetitive computer tasks.

You see, one of my many tasks when I worked for Digital Equipment was "closing calls". Each morning when I came to work I was presented with a list of 60-70 "ticket numbers" and their accompanying Airborne Express airbill numbers. To actually close the call, I had to enter the ticket number into our call tracking system, click a few buttons, type "this laptop repaired by Nashua, NH repair center and shipped on [date] via Airborne airbill # [airbill number]" into a text box, then click a few more buttons to actually close the call in the system. It wasn't a lot of work, but closing 60 or 70 of them was boring, repetitive and usually around an hour's worth of work. And that was one hour I could have been playing Quake instead of closing calls!

And so I developed a macro that would close all of my calls for me using carefully formatted text documents. I'd open Notepad and enter the ticket number on one line and press ENTER and then enter the airbill number on a separate line and press ENTER again, repeating the process for all the ticket and airbill numbers. I also had a separate text file that contained the "this laptop repaired..." text; this file contained that text only and needed to have the date updated daily. By placing the two Notepad windows (and the call tracking software window) in the same exact place on my screen each day, I could run a macro that used CTRL+X (Cut) and the DELETE key to move the ticket and airbill data "up" my list, while I used CTRL+C and CTRL+V to cut and paste the "this laptop repaired " text into each call. Typically, I'd set the macro to run while I was at lunch. I'd just make sure everything was aligned carefully and BAM! the computer did the rest!

 
 
Last Updated: Friday, 07 April 2006 16:37