Upon learning that the Universal Medicine cult recently won the Lismore Chamber of Commerce’s People’s Choice Award, I wondered whether it was as a result of vote spamming, as they have a prior form for that. So I wrote to the Lismore Chamber of Commerce to enquire further about their win:
I am writing an article on Universal Medicine winning the Lismore Chamber of Commerce’s People’s Choice Award, and invite your response on the following questions:
* Do you have any comment on the fact that a new-age esoteric breast and ovary massage “healer” group has won the People’s Choice awards?
* Do you think it reasonable that a charity is eligible for this award, instead of restricting eligibility to regular Lismore business for this award?
* Who was eligible to vote in the People’s Choice award?
* What if any measures were taken to prevent vote spamming by members / followers of this group?
Dr Matthew Berryman
I received the following response:
Dear Dr. Berryman
Re your email of Aug. 25th concerning the People’s Choice Award, the general public voted for their chosen business (s) so the award went to the business that received the most votes…just like an election. The voting rules were publicised prior to the awards night and the Chamber had nothing to do with the selection of the winning business…it was as the name implies, The People’s Choice Award.
I hope this answers your questions satisfactorily.
So, in other words, they have no comment other than to point out the eligibility criteria for votes, which are simply that anyone could have lodged a vote through either the Lismore Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page (poll obviously no longer appears) or through a nomination form available from the Northern Star newspaper. Thus, it was open to spamming by any business—and Universal Medicine is registered as a business, apparently you can sell kooky beliefs—that can get members / customers to vote. Their win is just further evidence of the grip they have over their members, and I wonder in the absence of that which deserving Lismore business might have won this award.