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Gaming the System

Posted Monday, July 2nd, 2007 3:49:00 pm
Perhaps Trax in Space's first major failure was revealed yesterday when for the first time in six years TiS generated a new set of charts.

xerxes's "emmy" debuted at number one. Having listened to the song, it is very deserving of the spot, although I think this one got some extra attention and perhaps a couple of extra stars out of the fact that, well, it's xerxes. Still, though, a great musician, and I'm not going to argue over that.

Number two, however, was a gag song (classified as rock instead of humor) that, well, maybe some people find funny, but many musicians are serious about what they do, and to find that such a ridiculous song so high in the charts is disturbing.

How is it possible that something so bad can climb so high on to the charts? What's happening here is known as "gaming the system". Basically, a bunch of people get together to manipulate the formulas used for the charts by giving it high ratings and reviews, usually in protest of something, or perhaps as an attempt to prove a point. It's difficult to peg the reason why this happens, but when you attract a large enough audience like Trax in Space does, something like this is bound to happen, and websites have to eventually deal with this.

Thus far, it doesn't look like Trax in Space is capable of dealing with this.

Granted, the site is young. The song in question had two ratings (a 1 and either a 4 or a 5) and a 5-star review that clearly exists for the sole purpose of gaming the system. The review did not have any feedback on it, neither from the artist nor other users who wished to agree or disagree with the review. There just wasn't enough data to provide the charts with accurate information that would have placed this song more appropriately, like off the list entirely.

But on the flip side, more people can come along to game the system even further by providing more empty 5-star reviews and ratings. Trax in Space needs a better way to handle this type of abuse, and hopefully they will come up with something soon.

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