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How Open Government Data Saved New Yorkers Thousands On Parking Tickets

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    There have been some detractors along the way; a senior attorney for the NYPD said in 2012 during a council hearing that releasing NYPD data in csv format was a problem because they were “concerned with the integrity of the data itself” and because “data could be manipulated by people who want ‘to make a point’ of some sort”.

    • by AuralityKev (1356747) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @10:59AM (#47164311)
      No kidding - "Shut up before people realize we're SOAKING THEM!"
      • by plover (150551)

        Exactly. This use of Open Data just cost the taxpayers of New York City $55,000 in revenue that they'll have to make up in some other obscure and slightly unethical way.

      • Fire hydrant pun intended?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Really, it's true. People shouldn't try to make or have points. I make it a policy of my own to never have a point. Now where was I going with this?
    • by sycodon (149926) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:31AM (#47164651)

      ...how the city most likely deliberately ignored the parking issue because they were bringing in so much money. There is no doubt that they knew what was happening and made a conscious decision to leave things as they were.

      Government at all levels have become adversarial as those who are employed by it seek to protect their revenue stream at all costs.

      • by Spamalope (91802) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:43AM (#47164763)
        We'll need a follow up to see if they change the markings back in a year. Every 3-6 months the same intersections in Houston have missing signs with an officer standing by to issue citations. After a few days that sign is returned and the office moves to the next intersection on the list that 'just happened' to lose it's sign *again*.

        The traffic light and painted arrows say it's a turn lane? Well, the fine print of the traffic law says it isn't without a sign too, so pay your fine. I feel safer already, and felt even better when I found several more intersections they were playing the same trick with round robin.
        • by praxis (19962)

          The traffic light and painted arrows say it's a turn lane? Well, the fine print of the traffic law says it isn't without a sign too, so pay your fine.

          Wait, unless there is a sign saying you can turn in Houston you can't turn? So like if there is a single lane coming up to a light you must go straight? This might be the most bizarre deviation from the rest of the country I've heard of.

        • by Ravaldy (2621787) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @12:42PM (#47165267)

          If you get a parking ticket and there is no signs, you need to take a picture. That will get you off the hook without seeing the judge. At least that's the case where I live.

      • by Ravaldy (2621787)

        Are you suggesting that parking by fire hydrants should be allowed or that the fire hydrants should be moved?

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Probably not, actual. It would mean reviews data and watching trend; which costs money.
        Note: They could have ignored this guy jut as easily. A citizen found and issue, the the agency took care of it promptly. Just like it should work, and does in most cases

      • by DutchUncle (826473) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @01:37PM (#47165823)
        Every New Yorker knows not to park in front of a fire hydrant. The question is raised by the practice of making a "protected" bicycle lane (on multilane streets) by changing the "parking" lane into a bicycle lane and changing the first traffic lane into a "parking" lane through painted indicators. It is not obvious that parking in the new parking lane is still considered parking in front of the hydrant. It makes practical sense that a hose would go across that space when needed, but it is is marked as parking and is no longer clearly adjacent to, or blocking access to, the hydrant.

        The purpose of that particular parking rule is fire safety (through access to the hydrants). There is no excuse for poor markings.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...this would be resolved. It's clear from the first picture there's two competing rules. It's marked by the city as valid parking, but there's a fire hydrant. Which law supersedes the other? Probably the fire hydrant law, but a decent judge would have understood how the mistake was made and would throw out the ticket. If the city paid attention, they'd know to fix the space so as not to waste their meter maid's time.

    But nobody bothers to fight their tickets anymore. If you receive one that makes 100%

    • by itsenrique (846636) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:09AM (#47164405)
      Having been in traffic court a few too many times, let me tell you: fighting tickets is NOT what the judge is looking for. For this type of small time high volume casework they HEAVILY steer you toward making a plea and not stating your case to save time. They are usually not willing to hear people out and more punitive if you claim not guilty vs going the no contest route (what they want). I'm talking mostly about speeders, I've never been to court for a parking ticket, but I believe it may be the same court.
      • by ahabswhale (1189519) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:39AM (#47164741)

        Actually for all crimes, regardless of severity, plea bargains are the order of the day. The legal system couldn't come close to handling even 10% of the cases if they were to go to court.

        • by Ravaldy (2621787)

          That is why they have mediators that you go through before seeing a judge. It allows a much higher percentage of cases to be handled/dismissed.

          If your 10% figure is correct then that tells me people aren't accountable for their actions (no surprised). If you park in a no park zone or speed excessively you should just pay the ticket. It's your fault you broke the law in the first place. And don't tell me that most infractions given aren't warranted because I won't believe it. Over the course of my life I hav

      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:46AM (#47164789)

        I've defended myself in such cases when I was in college and the local police were making a significant amount of their revenue through frivolous tickets. They brought in witnesses and everything in one case. Every time the city was extremely angry with me for taking it to court. The judge was ok with it however. The police officers were literally rolling their eyes in court. I asked one if she needed eye drops and the judge snickered.

        The problem with parking tickets is they are usually based on Ordinances which, in the USA, are often passed by committee... sometimes even by the local law enforcement and can be changed on a whim. In one case, they'd required a permit for certain parking spots which I had, but a few days before I got my ticket they "revoked" permit parking in that area with no notification or indication. I lost that case with the judges sympathy. The fines are too small to get a real lawyer for, but taking them to court at least deprives local government of any profit. Also, it's fun to play Perry Mason and give a cops a hard time on the stand. Just be respectful and don't argue with the judge. If the judge appears not to like you and/or be a "hanging judge" just sit back and lose. You might make things worse by being talking too much. In my experience though, you wont run into much of that in traffic court. Familly court however? Those judges, understandably, have a bad day, ever day... Just nod and agree with them.

      • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @12:55PM (#47165395) Journal
        Last time I fought a ticket was in Lynnwood, WA. I won - it was a bogus ticket. The magistrate threw it right out within 10 seconds of the start of my case. Of course, the administrative fee for going to court was $125 - as much as the ticket itself. So what did I gain, except the loss of half a day?
    • by beschra (1424727)

      Great idea. But fighting a ticket takes time, and the time it takes is usually going to interfere with work hours. Add in the fact that it could take a full day due to waiting your turn with the judge or bailiff or whoever. So, do I take time off work and take the chance that a ticket will be tossed out or pay the fine? It comes down to a financial decision for most people.

      • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:57AM (#47164883) Journal

        You have to fight more creatively than that. As others have noted, many authorities cynically use situations like this to "generate" revenue. They've set the system up to make it difficult to fight and change. Going through whatever process they set up is not likely to have any effect.

        I tried their system on a red light camera ticket. Had my evidence that their yellow was too short and requested a hearing. The hearing was a total kangaroo trial. My evidence was ignored. It was picture number one showing that the light was red before the car crossed the painted line, and picture number two showing the red light and the car in the intersection. Verdict: guilty. End of discussion. That the light in picture number one would have been yellow if it had been set to the correct time was not considered. The judge advised me that I could go on to municipal court and raise that question there, where it would be considered. Well, maybe. But I was through with them. What would happen next if I went on? The muni court would rule against me and tell me I could appeal?

        They've also cunningly set their shakedown price at a low enough level that it's not worth fighting. The ticket was "only" $75. I fought anyway, but lost of course. Also, to dodge around the requirement that the accused gets to confront the accuser, they made this an offense against a city ordinance, not a traffic violation. So you don't get screwed by your auto insurance company seizing on this as an excuse to consider you a more dangerous driver, and raising your rates. This dodges around another problem, which is that they have nothing to show who was actually driving the car. They simply fine the owner, never mind who was driving.

        There's a flip side to this weaseling out of those legal requirements. The simplest way to fight is to refuse to pay. Their power to compel payment is much more limited. They can't put a black mark on your record and have the state stop you from renewing your driver's license or car license, because it's not a traffic violation.

        So, what to do? I can't vote against the politicians who set this all up, as I don't live in that city. I can however boycott businesses in that city, and I do. It's not just pure revenge, it's also prudence. I don't risk any more tickets if I never drive there.

        In a similar vein, I fight against the MAFIAA creatively. One can pirate, of course, and millions do. But what I did was dig into the backgrounds of the people they use in their battles to terrorize ordinary citizens. Specifically, their expert witnesses. In one case, the witness was affiliated with a university, and was using their name. I inquired of that university's provost whether they approved of this activity by their employee. Turned out, they didn't even know about it. And when they found out thanks to me telling them about it, they definitely didn't like it. Haven't heard a peep out of that expert witness since.

        • by Whorhay (1319089) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @02:23PM (#47166239)

          A small town where I grew up was infamous in the area for always having a cop hiding in the immediate vicinity of a 25mph speed limit sign. They would ticket anybody and everybody that was going above the limit when they passed that sign. It was well known that the only reason they could have a police department at all was that speed trap, and it was their main source of revenue for the town. That went on for more than a decade until one day they ticketed the wrong person, he turned out to be a lawyer that knew state traffic laws pretty well. He recognized that they had illegally reduced the speed limit on a state route. the law being they couldn't lower it below 35 without an extenuating circumstance like the presence of a school. So he took them to court and forced them to repay over a decades worth of speeding ticket revenue. He managed to completely bankrupt the town government and no one has to fear a speed trap there anymore.

          There is a city about an hour away from where I live now that has a reputation for speed trapping though they haven't done anything illegal that I can tell. They've just lowered the speed limit on a 15 mile stretch of interstate from 70 to 55, for no apparent reason other than to have a ready supply of speeders whenever they want. I have to drive through there periodically and I refuse to stop and conduct any business in their municipality. And I go out of my way to bring up the whole thing whenever someone mentions that town.

    • by bjackson1 (953136) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:18AM (#47164501)

      Here is my problem with contesting parking tickets. I once had a rental in Chicago (as I did not own a car at the time) that I had for a weekend. About a month later I got a parking ticket in the mail forwarded on from the car rental agency for parking in a no-parking zone. However, I never parked there, nor was in that part of the city. I am guessing the meter maid wrote down the wrong date or time on the citation as I was never there.

      However, I was presented with two choices: 1) Pay 75 dollar fine 2) Take a day of vacation time to go to the city and contest it on a Thursday.

      At the time, I made an after-tax rate of around 150 dollars per day. Even if I could do it in a half day, I am paying 75 dollars to possibly recoup 75 dollars. If I lost the argument, I paid 75 dollars to pay another 75 dollars. This is a real kobiyashi maru type situation for me, in which I just paid the ticket. It wasn't fair, it wasn't right, but it's the choice that makes the most sense.

      I've also got a parking ticket that I didn't feel was just for being parked in front of a fire hydrant. That time it was me driving, however, I had pulled over to the side of the road to use my phone as I was getting an important call. While I was on the phone, (with four way blinkers on) a police officer came up and asked me to move, which I did. Before asking me to move, they took a picture of my car and sent in the ticket. This was completely legal (I was 'parked' in front of the hydrant), but completely unjust to me. Again, it wasn't worth my time to try to contest it. It was legal but unjust (in my mind)

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:33AM (#47164677)

        If the engine was on and you were in the vehicle, you weren't "parked," you were "standing." Most municipalities have different rules for "no parking" and "no standing" because if there was a real problem (e.g. the building caught fire and they needed the hydrant) you'd presumably notice and get the hell out of the way.

    • by fermion (181285)
      I don't know. I like the idea of funding the city with people who choose not to know the simple rules. From a safety point of view, doing the work so the people who do no know what a fire hydrant looks like can have other clues, it a good idea. Spending the money just because people don't know what a fire hydrant looks like is not.
    • My wife and I visited her sister last Christmas. Sister lives on a street where they have posted no-parking-for-street-sweeping. The day in question was Wednesday, which coincidentally was Christmas Day.. I strongly suspected they wouldn't do street-sweeping on Christmas Day, but I parked in sisters driveway anyway, just in case. Since I suspected they would sweep the following day, I made sure to have the car either out on errands or in the driveway during the time listed on the signs.. About a month late

  • That's awesome. Good work Ben Wellington. It's amazing what the "sort" button in Excel can do.

  • Bad coloring. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You could also paint your fire hydrants fire engine red or bright green so people would notice them instead of the blackish brown in street view. But seriously, if you have a hydrant on the sidewalk, you should have some sort of marking in the space saying its illegal rather than the standard markings.
  • by Ecuador (740021) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:08AM (#47164391) Homepage
    There was a fire hydrant on the sidewalk, with a bike lane between it and drawn parking spaces. In US cities you can only park where there is a parking space explicitly drawn, so this spot had exactly what you were looking for and people parked. And got ticketed. And this happened all the time, since it looked like a perfectly fine parking spot, but the NYPD disagreed. Apparently no-one had complained loud enough (I'd think such tickets would be very easily contested), but when this guy blogged about it after seeing the data and it went viral, the DOT fixed it relatively quickly by marking it as a no-parking space.
    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:15AM (#47164461)

      I do find the whole fire hydrant thing in the US a bit odd - we have hydrant points here in the UK, but they are below ground with a small manhole cover over it, and are also positioned so they cannot be trivially blocked (either in the road, or on the pavement). We don't seem to have any major issues with inaccessibility, so why the US?

      • by iMichka (3681663)
        I thinks it's a question of money: "underground" hydrants in the streets are more expensive, and have to be checked regularly for dirt ... (once in a year in Germany if I remember well). So the US went for the cheap solution, which is fine but needs to make sure nobody leaves his car in front of the hydrant.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oh you poor Brits... You guys would cry that the US is confusing if you found out that the average American tea drinker used his left hand to hold the cup instead of the right. You people are simply never happy.

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        I do find the whole fire hydrant thing in the US a bit odd - we have hydrant points here in the UK, but they are below ground with a small manhole cover over it, and are also positioned so they cannot be trivially blocked (either in the road, or on the pavement). We don't seem to have any major issues with inaccessibility, so why the US?

        It's not a question of the hookup being completely inaccessible, it's a question of it being accessible enough to quickly service both sides of the street (as hydrants are generally only installed on one side). So, no parking next to them, and firefighters have a decent chance at getting hoses hooked to pump trucks or run across the street to fight a fire.

      • by RobinH (124750)
        I don't know about in the UK, but over here in North America, whenever you encounter bad design, the knee-jerk reaction isn't to fix the design, it's to put the onus on *everybody* to change their behavior to adapt to it. This is reinforced by a general public that loves to point out when other people do things wrong because it makes everyone else feel good about themselves. "Of course you got a ticket! What kind of idiot parks in front of a fire hydrant?" Seriously, a guy cut the end of his thumb off her
      • by gurps_npc (621217) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @01:00PM (#47165433) Homepage
        Snow. The design you talk about works well if there is no snow on the ground. But you can't find underground hydrants if there is snow covering them. But the US has a lot more snow in a lot more urban centers. As such, we standardized on a design that works well whether it is in the snowy north or the hot south.
        • by lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @04:21AM (#47170013) Homepage

          Snow. The design you talk about works well if there is no snow on the ground.

          Well, thing is we have the same kind of fire hydrant in Sweden as well. So the snow argument doesn't "hold water"... They're not difficult to find since being in the street there's not much snow on top of it (we clear our streets, if the fire engine can get there, then the fire hydrant can be used) and there's a sign on a post marking the direction and distance to the fire hydrant.

          It bugs me though that I haven't ever gotten the "why are manhole covers round" when interviewing in the US. My first answer would be, "They're not. Fire hydrants are rectangular for instance. Next question please..." :-)

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Still, when you gte out off you car it's right there, so you should notice it and move. becasue paring that close to afire hydrant is a ticket-able offense

    • In US cities you can only park where there is a parking space explicitly drawn

      Well, this isn't really true, it varies by state and city but a lot of times parking spaces are not drawn (it seems to me they are usually only drawn if there are parking meters, but that is convention, not law).

      The most important rules are to look at the curb color; if it is painted red, or yellow then you can't park there for example; then make sure you aren't parking in front of a driveway, because then you won't just get a ticket, the owner will have your car towed; then another important rule is nev

      • by Bazman (4849)

        There's a fire. The firepeople can park in the middle of the street and run a hose past your car.

        I'm guessing its because they won't be able to **see** the fire hydrant rather than be able to physically get to it. We have "H" fire hydrant signs on the pavement (US: sidewalk) in highly visible locations to indicate hydrants which are usually accessed via flat metal panels in the ground.

        • lol are you saying people should be able to park next to fire hydrants?
        • by dcw3 (649211)

          Yeah, so just keep being a jackass. I hope this happens when you do...
          http://boston.cbslocal.com/201... [cbslocal.com]

          For more...
          https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          There's a fire. The firepeople can park in the middle of the street and run a hose past your car.

          I'm guessing its because they won't be able to **see** the fire hydrant rather than be able to physically get to it. We have "H" fire hydrant signs on the pavement (US: sidewalk) in highly visible locations to indicate hydrants which are usually accessed via flat metal panels in the ground.

          A fair compromise would be an understanding that if there is a fire, the firefighters can run the hose *over* your car to get where they need to be. Seriously, have you seen a 6" fire hose in use? It's not like they get a real choice in which direction it goes: under pressure you can't make cute little S turns to get around vehicles, you lay it as straight as possible from the hydrant to the fire.

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        In US cities you can only park where there is a parking space explicitly drawn

        Well, this isn't really true, it varies by state and city but a lot of times parking spaces are not drawn (it seems to me they are usually only drawn if there are parking meters, but that is convention, not law).

        The most important rules are to look at the curb color; if it is painted red, or yellow then you can't park there for example; then make sure you aren't parking in front of a driveway, because then you won't just get a ticket, the owner will have your car towed; then another important rule is never park next to a fire hydrant. That is so if there's a fire, the firemen can get to it.

        Next, if you have picked a spot to park that isn't explicitly allowed (via a meter) scan up and down the street for any signs with arrows on them. They probably contain fine print about specific parking restrictions (standing but no parking, no stopping certain times/days, etc) and then look for "permit parking only" or better yet eye any other cars for identical hanging tags or stickers to see if you have found yourself in a permit area. Yes, inner city parking (in just about every city of any appreciabl

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        That is so if there's a fire, the firemen can get to it.

        Maybe it's just different places, but if that's why you can't park in front of a hydrant, then I couldn't park in my own driveway, as there is a hydrant less than 3 feet from the left edge (in the easement section between the sidewalk and the street).

        Parking my car in my driveway puts my car closer to that hydrant than parking in the street would (it's about 5 feet from the street).

    • by mythosaz (572040)

      Thanks for the summary.

      [Apparently /. editors think tumblr is a great place to link people to. Nobody ever blocks that at work...]

    • by praxis (19962)

      In US cities you can only park where there is a parking space explicitly drawn...

      Wait, what? In Seattle you can park at the side of any street where there is not a prohibition against or restriction (by payment, time, permit, etc.) of parking.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:10AM (#47164409)

    Why is he left wondering why the DOT didn't analyze the parking ticket data? BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE TO. DOT and their associated fines act as the Executive, as opposed to the Legislative or Judicial Branches.

    It's trendy to consider society as a single organism in which everyone works for an optimal outcome, but the approach is flawed. The DOT is not in the business of analyzing which parking areas generate the most money, if anything, they should be in the business of optimizing the parking areas which make the LEAST money.

    +1 for geekiness and making the data accessible, but righteous indignation is really out of place and show a remarkable degree of insulation from the real world.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Actually, you are insulated from the real world.
      They didn't analyze becasue of man power. Agency love to look through their data and improve service, but it takes time and cost money.

      And it's a out parking fines not creating parking spaces.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:44AM (#47164767)

      The point of good governance is not to trick people into breaking the laws. Because if the law is fair it should be their for the public good. No parking next to a hydrant means that fire fighters can have quick access to it. Parking could delay the firefighting time, and cause far more damage then the fines would produce.
      So it is important that people follow the laws, and not just put things so we can just bring in revenue.

      As with any big data project. We just don't just store the data and magic happens. There are questions to try to figure out and answer. Having the public ask the questions means you get more out of the data.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Why is he left wondering why the DOT didn't analyze the parking ticket data?

      Because the DOT is responsible for EVERYTHING having to do at all with roads. No question they analyze data on a regular basis, at the very least, to find which areas have the most accidents and therefore require upgrades. Plenty of logistics involved in DOT operations, so they definitely have staff that is capable.

      Personally, I think the NYPD should be the ones throwing up red flags, and alerting the DOT to a very poorly marked s

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:19AM (#47164513)

    How NYC has to increase taxes because of "increased costs" of Open Data, which will amount to about 60-100k a year...

  • The person writing the tickets saw the obviously incorrect DOT marking and did nothing. The like that people were being trapped. They probably found it easier to meet quotas. Ignoring this obvious issue is egregious and this person/people should be punished.
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:23AM (#47164565) Homepage

    "Hacker arrested for stealing $57,000 from NYPD"

    "After breaking into government computers and accessing unauthorized data, in much the same way that Aaron Swartz and Andrew Auernheimer did before him, notorious terrorist Ben Wellington manipulated government records to steal over fifty thousand dollars directly from the people of New York City. In the interests of protecting freedom and democracy, SWAT teams arrived at the homes of Wellington, who hides behind the non-de-crime of "I (redacted) NY", along with members of his immediate family and his dog who was shot while trying to resist arrest.

    "The criminal mastermind is being held without trial in a secure, undisclosed location and has been denied access to telecommunications equipment for fear that he might use a pay phone to break into the Pentagon and whistle the correct codes to launch nuclear missiles at Mayor Bloomberg."

    "The Attorney General's office then went on to congratulate itself for protecting freedom everywhere, and urged everyone to enjoy their new twenty gramme chocolate ration."

    • whistle the correct codes to launch nuclear missiles at Mayor Bloomberg."

      You do know that Mr. Bloomberg doesn't get to keep the title forever, right?

      • by Minwee (522556)

        You do know that Mr. Bloomberg doesn't get to keep the title forever, right?

        ...and that was the only thing about that story that seemed wrong?

      • by alphatel (1450715) *

        whistle the correct codes to launch nuclear missiles at Mayor Bloomberg."

        You do know that Mr. Bloomberg doesn't get to keep the title forever, right?

        But he "thinks" he does. Eight years wasn't a legit reign. Another four was not nearly enough. No doubt there's some hidden clause that lets him invoke the title for eternity.

    • by gnu-sucks (561404)

      Straight from 1984's Ministry of Truth.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

      Excellent writing.

  • I glanced at the Google Street View link in the ITWorld.com article, and the 2007 imagery [google.com] for that location shows that the bike lane didn't exist at that time... and likewise, it shows that nobody is parked in front of the hydrant. Move forward, and all three of the subsequent snapshots of that location show cars (which were no doubt all ticketed) parked alongside the newly painted bike lane, directly adjacent to that hydrant -- but more interestingly, the photos also show "no-parking" markings on the stre

  • I actually RTFA and was shocked with the police comment about releasing data because "..people would use it to make a point."

    Shocked is probably the wrong word to use, because at this point I expect it, but it was surprising that the police would be so public about their desire to not release data because people would use to redress their grievances with them.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      "Shocked" is indeed the wrong wordt to use.
      Here's the bit of citation you accidentally edited out: “data could be manipulated by...".
      The complete comment is; "data could be manipulated by people who want ‘to make a point’ of some sort”.
      It's still not a very good argument, but atleast you needn't be shocked about them being so public about their evil intent, as they state no evil intent (merely an irrational fear of having to disprove easily disprovable lies).

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