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Conspiracy Theory Voter


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

This offbeat student project requires access to a webserver, or a computer with a 24/7 access to the Internet that can run a servlet womb.

Perhaps you have heard that there are unexplained cattle mutilations in Argentina. Sexual organs, tongues etc were removed and the corpses arranged in a circle. No footprints or tire tracks were found. No one heard any noise. This has happened 200 times as of 2002-06-22.

What is your favourite explanation of the phenomenon?

It would be fun to put up a website with an Applet/servlet that let people vote for their favourite conspiracy theory. The site would display a pie chart showing the proportions of popularity of each explanation. The voter would track IP (Internet Protocol), to let people change their vote as many times as they want, but not vote twice. This is not perfect. Dial up users usually get a new IP each session and could vote more than once, or change somebody else’s vote who earlier had that IP.

For a fancier version, visitors might rate each theory from 0 to 9 for plausibility. you could use a spinner or let them key a digit to register their ratings into an Applet.

If you used an SQL (Standard Query Language) database to record the responses, the project would scale up. If you used a simple serialised HashMap to track responses, you could only handle a RAM (Random Access Memory) ’s full.

The Applet would be controlled by parameters so that you could use it for a variety of conspiracies.

You could encourage visitors to come up with new wilder explanations to add to the list and email them to you. People could then change their votes if the new theories were more appealing.

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