With this post, I am proud to announce Polla Qatari 2022. This is the fifth FIFA World Cup pool / game / quiniela in a row I’ve organized and the sixth polla overall (since I did Polla América 2007).
With a little over 36 days until kickoff, I think this can be the best and largest polla ever!
I do this for fun and for learning. I find that it makes me enjoy the tournament, which is exciting on its own, a lot more. And my friends do as well. And I find that it forces me to play with corners of the software worlds I don’t get to use at work.
But it is a lot of work. The code is 100% custom written by me. Back in 2006 I wrote the original polla in a few coding all-nighters. Since then, every polla has started from the same codebase as the last one but goes through a lot of work and improvements on each iteration.
For this year, I had pondered a big rewrite using Python and microservices and other cool newer technologies (I do this for learning, remember?) but adulting (those pesky children! that pesky job) got in the way. I ended up reusing the same old codebase which actually required a lot of work to get back up and running with the latest versions of PHP and MySQL.
I set up Docker, Docker Compose, and hosted the code in a private GitHub repo. I’m using a package manager for dependencies. This is a nice improvement on my workflow and makes development and deployment a lot easier. It should make the code easier to maintain. And after getting it all working I made many small and big improvements both internal and external.
I am adding a few new features to the game: Winner selection, filters.
There are three things all readers should do right now:
Vive La France. The World Cup is now over, which means we can go back to feeling a sense of emptiness and lack of purpose in our lives but instead of lasting 47 months, this time it will be for 53 months.
That said, Ruskipolla 2018 was a big success with 211 participants. And on a whim, right before the tournament, I entered with my second non-admin account “marcos” which was originally created for test purposes.
And I’m glad I did, as I managed to make it to third place, beat that cheater “Rolando”, and win a modest percentage of the polla.
Congratulations to the winners. We had a three-way tie in first place and a two-way tie in second place. Ties weren’t that common with less people playing but this is something I’ll have in mind for next time.
And an unexpectedly high percentage of those who played took some time to submitted feedback, 74 and counting. I don’t know when or if there will be another polla, but rest assured I have a bunch of improvements in mind, many of them coming from you. This usually means I won’t be able to help myself so…
The system is 100% custom and written from scratch by me, with a bit of help from a few others. It’s all for fun and for my friends and friends of friends. I really think it makes the tournament more fun for everyone involved.
It all started as a bunch of furious all-nighters writing code twelve years ago. On every subsequent polla there have been many improvements. This year, I’ve added the ability to play for free through referrals. We’ll see how it works out.
To be honest, since the last Polla a couple of little kids have taken all of my free time and I wasn’t thinking of launching it. But enough people asked about it… so what the heck.
Join now and spread the word. There’s only two weeks until kickoff!
The World Cup ended, leaving us all with that familiar giant void in our hearts that comes back every four years. Oh, and there was the Polla.
Here are some notes on it:
Record participation: 156
Some people complained that the entry fee was high, even more people complained that it was too low. Unsure what it will be next time if there is one.
I added the ability to create your own polla groups, but they weren’t used very much. I think the idea is good but the implementation was too barebones. Food for thought.
A surprisingly large number of people complained or were even scandalized about the use of the term “polla” which is slang for penis in some Spanish-speaking countries. I used the name originally in 2006 as suggested by Jaramillo and kept it since. Interestingly, as people wanted to join, we discovered Wells Fargo disallows transactions with the word “polla” in the description.
Users came from all over the world but mostly from the United States. Is this a tipping point in the popularity of soccer in the US? I doubt it.
Over 60% of all visitors were using an Apple doohickey. Less than half of those were trapped in Windows hell. And only 6% decided to visit from giant Android phones.
I know whose Windows Phone those 77 hits came from.
The Polla system had some massive internal restructuring and it all went surprisingly smooth considering. I am already thinking of improvements for the next round, whenever that is, but it’s not a sure thing.
I made heavy use of Facebook and replaced the internal blog and comment system. It helped spread the word but made the Polla more… sterile. Also, less things to code.
Here’s a photo of the very last place. He won restitution. He’s a good looking guy with enough money to buy you dinner at Burger King. Sadly for all of you out there, he’s married:
Those of you who helped out with the website and the running (Eva, Jose Antonio, Moi): Thank you for the help. Those of you who played: Thank you for playing; do you have any suggestion or feedback? Please use the comments.
The World Cup fever keeps increasing, and I’m about to make it better:
Announcing Polla Brasileira 2014. I have run other successful pollas (note: under definition #5) before. What made them so much fun is that instead of using some manual management tool such as paper, email, or Excel spreadsheets, I went through the trouble of developing a full online system from scratch which made everything very real-time and interactive. Back then I wrote the system using PHP and stored all the data in plain text files – no database. It was simple and limited, but it worked.
This time, Polla Brasileira is back with a vengeance and it is better than ever. I’ve been making some massive improvements to the system, working through nights (as I said, the Polla is known to cause health issues). Amongst them:
A proper login/account system. You can now stay logged in to the system, change your information, use Gravatar, email verification, captcha… This is a huge improvement over what I had. I’m using code from The PHP-LOGIN project and they will get a donation.
Security enhancement: Passwords are stored only in hashed/salted form – nobody, not even I can retrieve them.
Security enhancement: We are using SSL so all the information is transmitted securely. You may not care about the NSA knowing what you predict for Croatia VS Cameroon, but your passwords are transmitted too.
Responsive layout. When we last did the polla, there were no iPhones – Blackberrys ruled the world and they were only useful for texting. Now the website should scale and display nicely across all your devices. Try it out!
New and improved look.
Full use of MySQL. No more plain text junk, we now have a proper database system. This is a gigantic back-end overhaul and has been worth it so far. I’m using code from ezSQL and they will get a donation.
Facebook page replaces the forum and news sections. Last time we did the polla, Facebook was not popular… Go and Like it!
And many other enhancements across the board.
Doing the polla is a lot of work for me, but it would not be possible without the support of my friends helping out:
Moi, CSS guru
José Antonio, SQL consultant
Shlomit, proofreader and hasn’t divorced me
And everyone else who’s helped in one way or another…
Last polla winner has invited a bunch of us (interested? leave a comment) to join an ESPN Fantasy League for the Euro.
I tried joining, but apparently the internet has finally caught up to me and they have me flagged me as a filthy word. I called customer support and they verified that I’m filthy. In order to play, I need to come up with a fake user name and last name. I’ll make sure to teach them a lesson and come up with something truly filthy, like “poo” or “vomit” or “dirt”. Click on the screenshot below to see the full error message.
Additionally, the following processing errors were encountered. These are listed below in order to help you determine the problem. If you feel that you cannot fix these errors, please call ESPN Member Services at 1-888-549-ESPN.
INVALID_LASTNAME – The LastName provided matches a filthy word in the system
INVALID_USERNAME – The Username provided matches a filthy word in the system
Yes, comment spam hits popular blogging systems such as WordPress all the time. But how about little, innocent, low traffic, 100% custom coded websites made by some random little guy? Surely, these websites are not targeted by spammers. It’s not worth the effort.
My two little soccer pool websites FIFA 2006 World Cup Polla and La Polla America were hit by comment spam. Not kidding. In order to post to these forums, someone (a spambot, I’m sure) had to go in there, open an account with a password using fake info and then go back and post. Unbelievable. I deleted the spam, but captured a screenshot to prove it. It’s both flattering and annoying. Click to zoom in.
Next on this series… Jinuj.net, Akismet, and a worthy CAPTCHA.
to be continued…