Home > Articles > Programming > Java

Networking in Java

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Some Light Relief—Using Java to Stuff an Online Poll

The email to me was brief. It just read:

From billg@Central Mon May 4 11:57:41 PDT 
Subject: Hank the Angry Dwarf
To: jokes@Sun.COM

Hey everyone. If you've got five seconds to spare, 
go to the following url:

and vote for:
   Hank the Angry, Drunken Dwarf 

This is a huge joke. We want to try to get Hank way up 
there on the People Magazine 50 most beautiful people of 
the year list. As of 2:00AM, he's already up to number 5!

Well, I can recognize a high priority when I see one. I put down the critical bug fix I was working on, went right to the website, and checked what this was all about.

Every year the celebrity gossip magazine People prints a list of "the 50 most beautiful people in the world," and this year they were soliciting votes on their web site. People had started the ball rolling with nominations for actors like Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, who were in the public eye because of their roles in the Titanic movie.

People magazine gave web surfers the opportunity to write in names of people for whom they wanted to vote. A fan of the Howard Stern radio show nominated "Hank the angry, drunken dwarf" for People's list. When Stern heard about Hank's nomination as one of the most beautiful people in the world, he started plugging the candidacy on the radio. A similar phenomenon took place on the Internet, and many people received email like I did. Another write-in stealth candidate widely favored by netizens was flamboyant, blond-haired, veteran pro-wrestler Ric Flair.

Hank, the angry, drunken dwarf, is an occasional guest on Stern's syndicated radio program. Hank is a 36-year old dwarf who lives in Boston with his mother and has made a name for himself as a belligerent, if diminutive, devotee of beer, tequila, and Pamela Anderson.

The People website soon crashed under the strain of incoming votes for Hank. When the People poll closed, the results were as follows:

230,169 votes

Hank the dwarf

Angry, drunken dwarf and Stern radio guest

17,145 votes

Ric Flair

25-year pro-wrestling performer

14,471 votes

Leonardo DiCaprio

High school dropout

7,057 votes

Gillian Anderson


5,941 votes

Kate Winslet

High school dropout

Hank Nassif, the angry, drunken dwarf, was officially the most beautiful person in the world, by a margin of more than 10-to-1 over the runner-up! Unhappily, People magazine showed their true colors at this point, ignored the clear mandate from the website, and went ahead with a cover story naming the guy who came in third as the official "most beautiful person in the world" for 1998. What a rip-off.

The Java Votebot

There were dark allegations here of automated voting programs, or votebots. I was shocked. But not too shocked to show you how to write a votebot using your new-found Java networking skills.

First, find any online poll. Lots of sites run them because they are a lot cheaper than having actual meaningful content. Let's pick on, I don't know, say, CNN.com. The goofballs in the media are always running some kind of "scientific" poll in an attempt to seem "with it" and "hip" to the latest trends and "cool slang." In October 2001, they were running a poll asking, "Is al Qaeda sending coded messages to followers via video statements?" You could answer "yes" or "no." There wasn't a box for people to respond, "This kind of inane question only trivializes serious matters, and distracts attention from the real issues".

Do a "view source" on a poll web page in your browser to see how they are submitting the results. You're probably going to want to reread the chapter on servlets to get the most out of this. The part of the HTML page that deals with the poll will probably look something like this:

<FORM METHOD=POST ACTION="http://poll.cnn.com/poll?1682781" TARGET="popuppoll">
<!-- Question 1 --><INPUT TYPE=HIDDEN NAME="Question" VALUE="1">
<SPAN class="BoxStory">
Is al Qaeda sending coded messages to followers via video statements?
</TD> </TR>

<!-- Answer 1 -->
<TR> <TD>
<SPAN class="BoxStory"> Yes </SPAN>
<TD align=center><INPUT TYPE=RADIO NAME="Answer168279" VALUE=1>
</TD> </TR> <!-- /end Answer 1 -->

<!-- Answer 2 -->
<TR> <TD>
<SPAN class="BoxStory"> No </SPAN>
<TD align=center><INPUT TYPE=RADIO NAME="Answer168279" VALUE=2>
</TD> </TR>

So that tells us this is a simple form which is posted to URL "http://poll.cnn.com/," the script is called "poll," its argument is called "1682781," and the name/value posted is "Answer168279=1" for yes, and "Answer168279=2" for no. There is a hidden attribute giving the question number, too.

It doesn't matter which way you stuff this poll, the point is that a news organization needs to decide if it is in the news business or the entertainment business. Here's the program to do it:

// implements a votebot to stuff Internet polls
import java.io.*;
import java.net.*;
public class votebot {
  public static void main (String args[]) {
    try {
      for (int i=0; i<1000; i++) {
        URL u = new URL("http://poll.cnn.com");
        URLConnection uc = u.openConnection();
        OutputStream os = uc.getOutputStream();
        PrintStream ps = new PrintStream(os);
        ps.print("GET /poll?1682781p\r\n");
     } catch (Exception ex) {
      System.out.println("Excpn: "+ex.getMessage());

If this doesn't work for you, there are several possible reasons. There could be a bug in the code. Or the polling site may be employing "electronic countermeasures," such as discarding multiple inputs from one IP address. Or the "poll" may in fact be completely fake and discard all input from anyone at all times.

After writing several more test programs, I reached the conclusion that the "results" of the CNN online polling are completely unrelated to the web votes cast!

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020