It goes without saying that the Daily Mail is one of the world’s worst newspapers, but its website is something else entirely.
I have a grudging respect for the team behind the website, as its a slick operation that is as attractive as it is sticky.
My admiration for its content is muted, however, by the fact that it’s responsible for some of the worst hate-filled bile on the internet – although I’ve been told by journalist friends that many Mail journalists hate themselves for the rubbish they have to put out.
This mainly comes from the reader comments, but they’re stoked up by the content and the way it rather subtly plays to its readers’ worst fears and excesses.
The Mail Online’s polls are particularly notorious, constituting absurdly loaded xenophobic or daft Little Englander questions and generally beyond anything any web parody could muster. Here’s a random sample:
Should we give up more power to the EU?
Should immigrants be forced to respect British culture?
Should wheelie bins be scrapped?
Should Prince Charles keep his opinions to himself?
Will Brown’s Iraq inquiry just end in a whitewash?
The Twitter community is fairly diametrically opposed to the Mail’s political outlook, and I’d say it’s generally left-leaning and progressive.
As such the order of the day on Twitter at the moment is supporting democracy in Iran and slating Sarah Palin.
Brilliantly, the Twitter community has also harnessed its own mischievous spirit and predilection for railing against intolerance by mounting a campaign to deliberately skew the Mail Online’s latest polls – its most odious yet.
This particular poll is actually titled ‘Should the NHS allow gipsies to jump the queue’. Normally any such poll should be a red rag to a bull for the Mail’s readership, but the Twitterati are currently responsible for a 93 per cent vote in favour of ‘gipsies’ jumping the NHS queue.
I suppose there’s probably some kind of serious point to be made on this, but I prefer to simply point and laugh.
EDIT: A bit of digging reveals the original article the poll is based on, written by Richard Littlejohn, which contains the following charming sentence:
The actual numbers of proper raggle-taggle, Romany gipsies in Britain is minute.
Most of these ‘travellers’ are Irish tinkers, itinerant scrap-metal merchants, scruffy hippies left over from the 1983 Glastonbury Festival, or dubious waifs and strays from Eastern Europe doing a bit of freelance begging.
It’s not hard to predict the conclusion Mail readers were likely to come to.
Predictably the Mail has taken the poll in question down, but with any luck the severity of the bumming will make the Mail wary about posting such absurd polls in the future.
Then again, maybe not eh?