Bird of the Year hacking due to ‘a lot of passion’ – Forest & Bird

Long Lunch 05/10/2018
Photo: Getty.

Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year competition has “shut down” the hacker who logged over 300 fraudulent votes.

The votes, all for the shag (otherwise known as kawau), came from a single IP address on Wednesday night.

“I think the fact that it has come from Australia maybe says something,” said communications adviser Kimberley Collins with a chuckle.

People get desperate and they want to get votes any way they can.

Luckily, the organisation hired Dragonfly Data Science to keep an eye out for spikes in votes and dodgy-looking emails.

Forest & Bird says there have also been 28 dodgy votes for the blue duck, and five for the orange-fronted parakeet.

The kereru has received the most votes so far. Photo: Getty.

Other "naughty birds" with more than one disallowed vote include the kākāpo, kererū, kārearea, gannet, takahē and little penguin.

In 2017, around 110 fraudulent votes were placed for the white-faced heron. According to Ms Collins, those votes came from a Christchurch IP address.

“We did end up finding the culprit last year,” said Ms Collins, adding that the hacker eventually fessed up.

So far, the Bird of the Year competition has received over 16,000 votes. Last year’s competition raked in some 40,000 votes in total, which Ms Collins expects to surpass this year.

“I think people see it as a very serious competition. There’s a lot of passion out there for people’s chosen bird. People get desperate and they want to get votes any way they can.

“I guess people are pretty passionate about our native birds,” she said.

Voting closes at 5pm on Sunday, 14 October. 

Listen to the full interview with Kimberley Collins above.

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.