The Triple J Hottest 100 is an institution. On Australia Day, most young Aussies gets together with some beers and a barbecue to listen to the 100 best songs of the last 12 months counted down on their radios. That institution was spoofed last year when some clever programmers realised they could predict the countdown based on everyone's social sharing, and managed to nail a high percentage of the tracks, including the number one position. Triple J cracked it at the programmers, and cracked down on social sharing to the point that the Warmest 100 is impossible this year. Nick Drewe of the Warmest 100 talks to Gizmodo about the cool-down.
"Unfortunately, It looks like the Warmest 100 will be a one-off," Nick tells me over email.
"Triple J have changed the social sharing features of their voting system this year so that voters can't easily share their votes out to Twitter or Facebook, which is where we collected a majority of the votes that we used for last year's Warmest 100 prediction," he adds
To predict the Triple J Hottest 100 last year, Nick Drewe, Tom Knox, Andy Thelander and Jack Murphy collected 35,000 votes shared on Twitter and Facebook from 3600 entries to create a view of what they thought the list would look like.
The team would go into the social network share sheet unique to each voter which provided a list of everything a person had voted for in the Hottest 100 and scrape the data to collect a picture on what was going on surrounding the countdown.
Despite collecting what turned out to be only 2.7 per cent of the vote, 92 of the 100 tracks were successfully predicted, making them the Nate Silvers of Australian indie music countdowns.
Nick said that it was exhilarating at first.
"Most people I spoke to loved the Warmest 100, but I got the feeling that the mood within Triple J was a bit different, they were perhaps the only people in the country that knew we had a fairly accurate prediction."
But Triple J saw it differently, and didn't want its premier countdown being spoiled again.
"Triple J were completely silent on the whole thing, until a few months after the countdown when I spoke to Triple J's Manager Chris Scaddan. Clearly they weren't too happy about the whole thing, and were keen on making it hard for a similar prediction to happen again," Nick added.
Instead of giving people an interactive ballot sheet to share with their friends, Triple J is keeping it secret.
— David Quach (@QuachDavid) December 20, 2013
"Making sure the results couldn't be so accurately predicted in the future seemed like a pretty big priority for [Triple J's Chris Scaddan]," Nick said, but warned that people might be tempted to game the Hottest 100 in future following the gaming of the a recent TIME poll.
"In light of all the trolling of TIME's person of the year poll last year, I think it's only a matter of time until something similar happens with the Hottest 100. These sort of online polls are still fairly insecure, it's a bit of a cat and mouse game."
It's possible that the Warmest 100 could be replicated this year, Nick later added, saying that only a very small sample size is required to figure out what the top track will be, but instead he's just going to let the countdown play out this year.
"I haven't heard of anyone creating a similar prediction this year, but that doesn't meant it's not happening. Although last year was fun, I'm looking forward to kicking back and enjoying the countdown this year."