MDN Weekly Update – May 8, 2011

opinion pollMDN is pleased to announce a new site feature this week: The Weekly Poll. I’ve been around websites, building them and maintaining them, since the mid-1990s. I’ve seen polls come and polls go—most of the time they are useless. So why try a poll on MDN? Seems to me with a monthly reading audience that now exceeds 18,000 people (“uniques” as it’s called in biz), MDN has a great core of people that represent a healthy cross-section of those interested in this important topic. I think it would be good to regularly understand what people are thinking on a given drilling-related issue of the day. My intent is to drill down (pun intended) into specific issues and “take the temperature” of MDN readers.

For this first question, we’ll keep it simple: Are you in favor of shale gas drilling? Just go to any page on the MDN website and along the right-hand side of the page you’ll see “Weekly Poll”. Check an answer and click the Vote button.

Once you’ve voted you’ll see the results of all votes by both percentage and actual number of votes cast. Every time you return to the MDN site, or even click to view a new page, the numbers will automatically update. You can only vote once for a given poll. When a new poll is posted, you’ll be able to vote for that poll once. How does MDN keep track of whether or not you’ve voted? A cookie (or little snip of code) is placed in your web browser’s cache. You may or may not realize it, but almost every website you visit does the same thing. A cookie is nothing to fear, and it’s completely anonymous—MDN is not tracking who you are, what other websites you visit, etc. The cookie only says, “hey, this person has already voted for this poll” and that’s it.

It is possible to “game” the poll and try to influence the results by deleting your cookies and re-voting again and again. I guess if you’re up for that, you have a lot of time on your hands and a very small existence. Hopefully we can be adults and appreciate the outcome, no matter what it is, for any given opinion poll. And a further comment: The poll is in no way scientific. It is only intended to be a reflection of those who are visiting and reading the MDN website.

So, for those who subscribe to the daily email, and for those who just happen by and read this posting, please vote! I’ll report on the results the following week when I post a new question.

Below you’ll find the “top 5” lists and this week’s calendar listings.

Happy reading,
Jim Willis, Editor

Five Most Viewed Stories This Week (May 1 – May 7)

  1. Drilling in the Utica Shale in PA – Ranges Says Yes, Williams Says No (5/2/11)
  2. The Prospects for Continued Expansion of Marcellus Drilling – Some Companies Cooling on Shale Gas Drilling (5/4/11)
  3. New Technology May Hold Key to Cleaning Fracking Fluids, Early Tests Very Promising (5/3/11)
  4. Maryland AG Sues Chesapeake Energy Over Spill in Pennsylvania (5/3/11)
  5. List of 78 Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid in Pennsylvania (6/30/10)

Five Most Viewed Stories Two Weeks Ago (Apr 24 – Apr 30)

  1. List of 78 Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid in Pennsylvania (6/30/10)
  2. Federal EPA Demands Answers from Chesapeake Energy on Well Blowout in Bradford County Last Week (4/27/11)
  3. MDN In-depth: A Close Look at the New Democrat Report on Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals (4/26/11)
  4. Chesapeake, 14 Other Energy Companies Have Drilling Permits for Utica Shale in Ohio (4/18/11)
  5. Chesapeake Well in Bradford County, PA has Blowout; Chesapeake Temporarily Stops All Drilling Until Cause is Known (4/22/11)

Five Most Viewed Stories Last 30 Days (Apr 7 – May 7)

  1. List of 78 Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid in Pennsylvania (6/30/10)
  2. Chesapeake Energy Paying $2,500 per Acre to Lease Utica Shale (4/11/11)
  3. Chesapeake, 14 Other Energy Companies Have Drilling Permits for Utica Shale in Ohio (4/18/11)
  4. PA DEP, Marcellus Shale Coalition Admit Drilling Wastewater Likely Contaminating Drinking Water (4/19/11)
  5. Chesapeake & Range Resources Peg Value of Their Marcellus Shale Holdings from $36K – $56K per Acre (4/14/10)

MDN Calendar (May 8 – May 14)

New York


West Virginia


  • Bob Rosen

    Nah, the idea of a poll is ludicrous. Half the time, you don’t even print people’s comments, unless they favor your own slanted view, so what would a poll tell us? Just more lies and distortions.

    BTW, I’m taking a screen shot of this, as evidence of the above.

  • Paul Cometx NYC

    Logically and scientifically, the polling idea is highly dubious. On the web, such polls are found on “infotainment” web sites and are not to be taken seriously.

    The core of the problem lies in the limited choices that are presented in the question. The questions can be skewed so that the polling results support the bias of the poll.

    Example: A pro-drilling poll: Do you support responsible drilling?

    Yes, because it creates jobs

    Yes, because it lowers energy costs

    Yes, because burning gas will reduce carbon emissions.

    Yrs, because progressive politicians are for it.

    No, I don’t like drilling of any kind.

    No, it’s too noisy and damages roads.

    No, because I’m not a landowner.

    No, because the NY Times is opposed to it.

    Notice that the answers don’t include any options regarding pollution of drinking water, disposal of toxic waste or issues of radioactivity. So the question is essentially loaded to support drilling.

  • Jim Willis

    I’m not sure what websites you’ve been visiting Bob, but MDN publishes almost all comments. On occasion it may take me a day or two to approve comments amidst my other responsibilities, but I always review, and unless a comment is profane or completely off topic, I always approve them–especially those that disagree with my own viewpoint. Perhaps others don’t publish contrary opinions, but most assuredly MDN does.

  • Jim Willis

    Thanks for your comment Paul. Yes, perhaps it is dubious. I don’t intentionally try to “rig the poll” to a given outcome or viewpoint. By their very nature, web polls are brief and cannot cover every possible outcome or opinion–because if a poll did, it would a) take to long to read & figure out and most people would not bother, and b) the results would be so granular as to not be useful. So by their nature web polls are “high level”.

    My first poll about drilling sentiment is simply to get a feel whether most readers (who respond to the poll) are generally in favor, generally against, or not sure. I’m not looking for (in this poll) why they are for or against–just that they are.

    Will my biases show through from time to time in the questions and answers I propose? I’m sure they will! But honestly, I’m not looking to skew my polls in any particular direction–at least not intentionally.

  • Paul Cometx NYC

    One thing I’ll say for Jim is that he does publish my comments, which is more than I can say for the Times – which despite its excellence seems to have a confused approach to what it considers “on topic”.

  • Jim Willis

    Thanks Paul. You always have interesting things to say! 🙂

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