(8/18/2003) One of the aspects of the Internet that make it unreliable for sensitive information is that opposing concepts can often be undiscernible from each other and, thus, are often confused. Fact and rumor, news and humor - it all looks the same. This one confuses an unscientific opinion poll with an opportunity to vote on an issue.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Folks, If this matters to you, go to the website and vote. Otherwise we will be hearing this statistic for years.
Please go to the site below and VOTE! CNN is trying to prove the President wrong on his anti-gay-marriage stand, and we are losing. Forward it on to your friends. This poll will be used by CNN to show how "out of date" the President
Subject: CNN Poll on marriage - we're losing 2-1
CNN Poll asks: Should marriage be legally defined as only a union between a man and a woman?
News sites like CNN.com and USAToday.com often use informal opinion polls to create some interactivity for articles on hot-button topics. A similar chain letter circulated in August, 2002, about a poll on the latter site regarding the removal of the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. Like this one, that one called on good-hearted people to make sure their "vote" was counted.
There is a world of difference between an opinion poll and a vote on an issue. Polls like this are completely unscientific and prove nothing, as CNN.com's disclaimer explains:
"This QuickVote is not scientific and reflects the opinions of only those Internet users who have chosen to participate. The results cannot be assumed to represent the opinions of Internet users in general, nor the public as a whole. The QuickVote sponsor is not responsible for content, functionality or the opinions expressed therein."
QuickVote results are presented for entertainment purposes and are not used to shape CNN's content in any way. If you want to register your "yes" or "no" on the issue, it won't hurt anything, but don't buy this letter's hype that this is an urgent matter that needs your immediate attention, and don't pass it on. Break this chain.