An online polling system set up to select the best night market from a selected group of 10 — as proposed by New Taipei City’s (新北市) Economic Development Department — is unfair, a city councilor said.
The Web-based poll opened on Wednesday last week and is to continue until Sept. 15. Members of the public can either visit night markets themselves and vote by using their smartphones to scan vendors’ unique QR codes, or by voting online using their Facebook accounts.
However, New Taipei City Councilor Chen Wen-chih (陳文治) said that he has received complaints that the process is unfair, as every Facebook account holder can cast 10 votes and there are no restrictions barring users of the social media Web site from using all 10 votes on one vendor.
Chen said that once the clock passes midnight, the system is reset, after which each Facebook account user is granted another 10 votes, adding that if someone set up five Facebook accounts, they would be able to cast 1,500 votes in the 30-day period.
The system encourages Facebook users to flood the vote with their preferred vendors, meaning that it is easy to influence the final outcome of the poll, he said.
“While we support the city government in its bid to promote local food by increasing media attention, the process should also consider the principle of fairness and equality,” Chen said, adding that in the future, such events should have restrictions placed on repeated voting.
In response, the department’s deputy director Huang Cheng-cheng (黃正誠) said the regulations had been set considering Facebook’s popularity.
“We thought it would be more convenient for netizens to vote via Facebook, and that it would prompt their friends to do so as well, leading to greater exposure for night markets,” Huang said.
Huang said that the Internet poll was a method to get everyone to act together, adding that even if there is some discontent, no method is foolproof and it is still a viable process. He also said he was sure most consumers and participating vendors would not seek to operate in any under-handed way.
The competing night markets are the Sanho Night Market in Sanchong (三重), Hsing Nana Night Market in Jhonghe (中和), Le Hua Night Market in Yonghe (永和), Sijhih’s (汐止) tourist night market, Banciao’s (板橋) Nan Ya Night Market, the night market near Fu Jen Catholic Univeristy (輔大花園夜市), Miao Jie Night Market in Sinjhuang (新莊), the Shulin Night Market, the night market area near Lujhou’s (蘆洲) Yung Lien Temple and the Yingge Night Market.