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UK’s Next Model search: Why Internet polls are a (hilariously) bad idea

next-model-search-roland-bWe’ve all seen it before: A legitimate organization launches a competition that relies upon the opinions of the Internet at large to decide the winner. Quickly, the online poll is hijacked by a group of rascals, and any semblance of fairness is swiftly flushed straight down the crapper.

Well, UK clothing retailer Next apparently didn’t get the memo, because its 2011 Next Model search, which allows anyone bold enough to enter, has officially been commandeered by the merry pranksters of Football365.com and Reddit.com.

The fiasco started first on the forums of  Football365.com*, but picked up full steam on Wednesday afternoon, when Reddit user “chaosdestro0” posted a link on the r/funny subreddit to a Next Model entrant’s page, that of one Roland Bunce from Belfast, Northern Ireland. In place of high cheek bones and round eyes, Roland instead has the jolly rotundness and complete lack of a neck generally reserved for line backers and patrons of all-you-can-eat buffets. In other words, there is nothing remotely supermodel-like about Roland.

Roland-B

What Roland lacks in classic good looks, however, he quickly made up in votes. The 24-year-old rocketed to the No 1 spot on the list of Next Model wannabes. And now he’s so far ahead of the competition that it seems unlikely that anyone else stands a chance. Of course, we don’t know the actual number of votes Roland has so far received. But there are a wide variety of other connected factors that give us a good idea.

For starters, the Reddit post has so far received nearly 13,000 upvotes (and 10,800 downvotes) from Redditors — a massive number that kept Roland at the top of Reddit’s front page for hours. And Roland’s Next Model page has been Tweeted at least 2,845 times, according to the Tweet button, and shared on Facebook more than 17,000 times. Compare that to looker Emine K, the next closest entrant, whose page has been Tweeted only 10 times, and shared on Facebook 319 times. Poor girl…

The shenanigans don’t stop there, however. More aspiring models are constantly entering the site, and it looks like we have some hangers on, hoping to catch a ride on Roland’s tail feathers. Like this guy, for instance.

During the time it took to write this article, at least one “joke” entry had been removed from the running (see “Matt S” in the image at the top of this page), so it remains to be seen whether the suits at Next will allow the very un-model-like Roland to actually win. Either way, he’s got our vote.

Godspeed, Roland. Godspeed…

*Edit: A gracious reader has correctly pointed out that Roland’s Next profile was actually first posted to Football365.com, not Reddit.com, which came later. The third paragraph has been updated to reflect the new information.