4/13/2009

Yahoo! Buzz and anti-Obama people

so I've noticed something strange recently on Yahoo's news stories -- there's a feature called Yahoo! Buzz, where you click "Buzz Up" on any Yahoo News story and you can comment and rate other people's comments with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

What I noticed is that almost every single comment and rating is anti-Obama, even when the article in question is only tangentially related to Obama. As of today, Obama has a 63% approval rating and rising, with only 26% disapproving, yet seemingly everyone commenting and rating on Yahoo! Buzz stories is anti-Obama and the Democrats.

The anti-Obama comments have huge numbers of thumbs-ups alongside them -- the thumbs up/thumbs down ratings are cumulative ratings, so if there are 50 thumbs up, that means 50 more people voted thumbs up than thumbs down on that particular comment. There are very few pro-Obama comments at all, and the ones that do exist disappear under a huge number of thumbs-downs (if a comment has a negative enough rating it gets hidden). It's a pretty weird phenomenon -- does Yahoo attract conservatives? Do liberals not care enough to vote thumbs up or comment? Is there some concerted effort to make Obama seem less popular?

Most of the comments generally say that the media elected Obama, he's a socialist, he's a dumb bumbler, and various other conspiracies and pot-shots.

Here's a couple examples: an article on Al Franken being in the lead in Minnesota, one on Obama's dog (the first comment being about Chappaquiddick), the recent pirate hostage situation, taxpayers not spending their refunds, and so on. All the Yahoo Buzz responses are extremely anti-Obama.

In doing a little bit of sleuthing, it looks like the people who have the most thumbs-ups on their anti-Obama comments either don't have their Buzz activity public or they've given huge numbers of thumbs-ups without giving a single thumbs down. Here's a couple users from the taxpayers article I linked above: jessi, Noodles, Cogito - more than 1300 thumbs ups between them and not a single thumbs down. Another random anti-Obama person I saw on the Franken article, Informant, has given more than 1000 thumbs-ups and only 7 thumbs-downs. It's pretty bizarre that these folks would read so many comments without seeing one they disagreed with.

The numbers of comments are crazy too: Informant posted nearly 2000 comments while Cogito and Jessi have posted more than 7,000 comments combined -- that's a tremendous amount of comments. And those are just random ones I picked who had the most thumbs-ups on their anti-Obama comments. You can try it yourself and get the same results.

It makes me wonder what's up. Is this a group of extremely motivated Obama opponents? Are people sharing usernames? Is this some strategy from Rush Limbaugh or Fox News or some blogs? Are these thumbs-up links embedded somewhere so people can quickly go through and vote yes? Or maybe they're some kind of bot that votes for anti-Obama comments. I have no idea, but something is fishy.

10 comments:

ACHelp said...

Yahoo Buzz is not a responsible sampling...meaning the comments only prove that some people are more inclined to post than others not that americans are for or against obama. It means nothing!!

Boo00-YAH!!!

Stop whining squidpants!! ;-)

Andrew said...

I know that, but it's just strange that it's such a vast disparity. Pro-Obama people read news and comment as well, yet are scarcely represented there.

Al said...

I'm pretty sure it's a bot or a very dedicated mailing list of ultraconservatives (maybe astroturfers? Maybe Freepers?) who are trying desperately to get their lunatic message out.

See any of today's Ted Kennedy stories, all the "rest in peace" type comments are being downvoted while all the "WHAARGARBL HE'S A MURDERERSOCIALISTNAZI!!1" comments are getting rapidly voted up.

I've watched a positive comment on an Obama story get thumbs down at an insanely fast rate which leads me to believe it's a bot with multiple yahoo accounts.

Anyway, glad to see I wasn't the only one who noticed the glaring disparity.

Anonymous said...

Nice article, it's pretty obvious even the headlines are biased.

jlook said...

yahoo buzz is part of a news feed im getting and i thought 'whoa! for a news feed to be giving comments like these ? '

should this be looked into further ?

Anonymous said...

So true, and worse than ever lately. It's enough to ditch the yahoo messenger all together.

Rich said...

some people hated bush too. i think you are biased.

Andrew said...

Some people, not every single person on Yahoo Buzz.

Rich said...

well, thats the rub with a self selected survey...you will not know whether your sample is representative of the population. now buy me a pony!!

Jlook said...

problem is this is not just a blog of right wingers giving their view this is Yahoo . although its lost ground in recent years its still global and influential and yahoo buzz was treated as reliable source on news feed which it clearly isn't . A news feed is supposed to give you news and let you take your own path - not give its opinion . eg ' fascists and socialists clash in street protests ' rather than 'we'll smash those pinkos'