Twitterers claim victory over loaded Daily Mail gypsy poll


The UK-based Mail Online was forced to shut down one of its online polls yesterday after a concerted campaign by Twitter users and, can reveal, UK-based psychologists, nearly brought their servers to a halt with an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote.

The poll, which asked the somewhat leading question “Should the NHS allow gipsies to jump the queue”, attracted ridicule from many within the Twitter community leading to, at one point a 96% vote in favour of the proposition.

Brighton-based senior lecturer in experimental psychology Dr Sam Hutton contacted today to reveal that there was also an email campaign among UK-based psychologists who, as part of their jobs, take questionnaire neutrality seriously.

“One reason I think there were so many yes votes was because a psychologist got hold of it, and sent an email which quickly got copied to virtually every psychologist in the country, suggesting that we all vote yes as a way of protesting against such a ludicrously loaded question (psychologists care about questionnaire design),” Dr Hutton said.

“It clearly worked – it was actually 96% YES when I looked, but the server was struggling, and they have removed the poll completely now. A nice example of an online newspaper getting it wrong…”

This is the email that Dr Hutton, and psychologists all over the UK, received:

Here is an excellent example of how to phrase a neutral question from our friends at the Daily Mail… for all those interested in questionnaire design:

Please do vote “yes”

Angered Twitter users have now vowed to take their campaign to all of the Daily Mail’s online polls, taking the opposite stance to the expected response, given the Mail’s reputation for having a ‘Middle England’  readership and an editorial line against what it sees as the liberal establishment.

Footnote: Readers from outside the UK might be also interested to read about the Mail’s history – in the 1930s it openly backed the British Union of Fascists, aka the Blackshirts.

38 thoughts on “Twitterers claim victory over loaded Daily Mail gypsy poll

  1. Pingback: The NHS, Twitter and the Gipsy Kings «

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  4. Peter Hobday

    People laugh at the Guardian and Telegraph as they push their opposite agendas. Mild and amusing stuff.

    But do the people at the Daily Mail really appreciate how much people in the UK seriously dislike them?

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  6. Colin Meek

    We must remember that the Daily Mail isn’t the canniest when it comes to the interweb. In 2001 its Chief Executive famously said that online news sites were not the place for breaking news……

  7. Pingback: Daily Mail says let Gypsies jump NHS Queue (sort of): Twitter | The Wardman Wire

  8. Learned Fool

    I am sure the Daily Mail are revelling in the extra attention and publicity. Brainless mass instinct does not always yield desirable results, as I am sure our friends at the polytechnic will agree.

  9. Harriet

    Interesting article about ‘loaded journalism.’ Of course your line about British fascists is strictly neutral and doesn’t skew things at all?

  10. Steve Jackson

    I’m guessing there’ll be a few Daily Mail journalists finding their way to this piece.

    I just wanted to say, however much they are paying you, is it worth it?

    Owners and editors have their own agendas but it’s about time journalists stopped accepting and promoting racism.

    We can say what we like about the BNP but if you’re a Daily Mail journalist then you need to accept that you’ve done more to promote racial hatred than any small time skinhead with political pretensions.

  11. Gridlock

    “Why have they spelt gypsies incorrectly?”

    For the same reason that I can say everyone reading this should go out and bash the head in of some random seekh, or burn down some dew’s houses without fear of prosecution.

    It’s a dodge to get round the race act (or something like that).

  12. admin Post author

    @Harriet It’s not an article about ‘loaded journalism’ (I don’t use that phrase anywhere), it’s an observation about the perils of unscientific polling. And I think the Daily Mail’s history is important to the story because not all of our readers are UK-based and would understand the paper’s history and reputation.

  13. Lord Voltron, Wasp Overlord

    Gypsy has historically had many different spellings. It’s a matter of newspaper house-style, not grammar.
    Gipsy is another.
    A gypsy woman told my mother, before I was born – “You got a boy child coming, gonna be a son of a gun.”
    Romany gypsies/gipsies/ are devout catholics.

  14. Jim

    The Daily Mail makes my blood boil at times.. on a few occasions I have, politely, corrected some blatant factual errors in their web articles in the comments secsion, they have never once published them. They clearly only agree to post comments that align with their disturbed agenda.

  15. Peter Lamb

    I’m led to believe the derivation of Gypsy comes from the fact that the original gypsies came from Egypt therefore gypsy with a “y” makes most sense, unless of course Egypt has another spelling that I’m not aware of.

    The Daily Mail is an awful rag. Why would anyone buy it? Andrex is far more absorbent.

  16. How Tenji

    I think the Gypsies should be allowed to sell lucky heather to people already in the queue.

  17. Sean Ellis

    Peter Hobday asked “But do the people at the Daily Mail really appreciate how much people in the UK seriously dislike them?”

    Probably not. If they actually believe even 50% of the stuff they print, they’ll be too scared to leave the house and find out.

  18. Peter Hobday

    Thanks Sean – I agree.

    The Daily Mail’s political stuff probably goes right through the soft heads that read it anyway, without stopping.

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