The open source community has cast its vote


Things seem particularly contentious this election year, and everyone can only really agree on one thing: there’s an awful lot at stake. Are you nervous? We are too. To settle the debate, we polled over 250 random and Slashdot users on a wide range of political issues…because, after all, you guys are not known for mincing your words. We figured that if anyone can get to the bottom of this, you can.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s no need to wait until next week because the results are in! The open source community has spoken.

Our polls showed Obama with an almost 2:1 edge over McCain in the US, but internationally the ratio was a staggering 37:1.

Q: Who is your political candidate of choice?


56% Obama
30% McCain
14% Independent


93% Obama
5% McCain
2% Independent

But there’s more.

When those of you in the US were asked, “What’s the most important thing that should be done by the U.S. government in the next four years”, the most common response was “it’s still the economy, stupid!” Nearly 20% of you thought so, at least – and that’s not counting those of you who answered with more specific priorities like “employment” and “government spending”. The second most notable response amongst our US-based community was foreign policy, with 7% of you mentioning Iraq. Those of you outside the US also felt the economy was #1, but your polite requests for change in US foreign policy held a much closer second place.

But even that’s not the entire story – we also wanted to know your thoughts about potential chief technologist appointments, reliable sources for political news, and whose email account you would be most tempted to hack.

Q: Would you appoint a Chief Technologist?


51% Yes
49% No


62% Yes
38% No

For the write-in Chief Technologist candidates, Linus Torvalds and Bill Gates were tied for first. Larry Page, Steve Jobs, Lawrence Lessig, Vinton Cerf, and Richard Stallman were also at the front of the pack, and honorable mentions go out to Leo Laporte, Steve Wozniac, Al Gore, and Stephen Hawking (among others.)

Q: Where do you get your political news?


71% News websites
53% Television
42% Blogs
21% Official candidate sites


74% News websites
46% Television
36% Blogs
2% Official candidate sites

Those of you outside the US were a lot less likely to seek political news at a candidate’s site, and when asked which news source has the least amount of bias or media spin, the BBC was first. In the US, Fox News ranked at the top, although it’s worth noting that 70% of those who think Fox is unbiased also said they prefer John McCain. CNN, NPR, and the New York Times weren’t too far behind, and a few of you slightly more intrepid, adventurous readers rely on Digg.

Q: What political figure’s email would you love to hack?


31% George W Bush
11% Barack Obama
10% Nancy Pelosi
9% Sarah Palin
8% Hillary Clinton
6% John McCain
2% Joe Biden


34% George W Bush
12% Hillary Clinton
12% Sarah Palin
8% John McCain
2% Nancy Pelosi
0% Barack Obama
0% Joe Biden

Needless to say, we’re not suggesting that you go out and hack anyone’s mailbox…or, at least, not one that will get you in the kind of trouble you’d get in for hacking one of those.

So why did we even ask for your opinion? We realize that being an open source “maverick” (I know, sorry, sorry..) endows you with very strong opinions and ideals, and we were willing to bet you feel as strongly about politics as you do about tech.

Also, it seems to us that the kind of skepticism found in someone who knows how to debug a broken system applies itself naturally to the political arena – especially to how you receive your news. And rightly so! With all the information that campaigning politicians force feed to us, a strong dose of cynicism is essential to know what’s true and what’s crap.

We were looking for the perfect combination of awareness, passion and cynicism that only the open source community can possess, and I think we found it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

(In case any curious reader is wondering how we ran the poll: The sample was drawn from SourceForge and Slashdot users who elected to take the online survey, which ran over a 17 hour period spanning Oct. 15-16. Percentages for each answer set are out of the total users responding to the question. Respondents self-identified their geographic location. This is an informal poll and the results are not statistically significant or projectable.)

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