David Bartholomew had a simple idea. He wanted to create a pair of Web sites where people could vote their stance on the impending war with Iraq.
One week later, his Go-George and No-George Web sites have been featured on CNN Headline News and received a half million hits.
"The idea just kind of popped in my head," he said.
Bartholomew, a Lawrence freelance photographer and writer, said most people felt public opinion polls were skewed. He created the sites to show a balanced representation of people's war sentiments.
When visitors go to one of the "George" sites, they tally one vote for either the antiwar or pro-war site they visit.
Those who visit www.Go-George.com vote in favor of war with Iraq. Visitors to www.No-George.com are voting in opposition to the war.
Visitors also can tally points for their side by ordering Go-George and No-George stickers from the Web sites. Each purchase earns five points for its side. Bartholomew designed the stickers, which cost $2 plus shipping.
"If you were to walk into a bar or a workplace or anywhere and hold up a 'Go George' or 'No George,' people would start talking," he said. "The conversation is there."
Bartholomew launched his sites Wednesday and sent press releases to a number of media outlets, antiwar and pro-war groups. CNN Headline News did a report on the sites Wednesday night.
That was when things started going crazy.
From the time the show aired until Thursday morning when he woke up, Bartholomew received 250 e-mails. The sites received 360,000 hits in their first 24 hours.
"These people are passionate," Bartholomew said. "They watch the numbers carefully and e-mailed me if the numbers changed too quickly."
He found some people were using automated robots to revisit the sites to sway the votes. Bartholomew fixed the program so such robots could not function on the sites. He also scaled down the numbers to compensate for the extra votes.
A Hollywood stuntman for 12 years, Bartholomew moved to Lawrence two-and-a-half years ago. He said he had the Web and graphic design skills to launch the site. He also said he received help from Flemming Funch, a friend in Los Angeles who is the sites' webmaster.
Bartholomew said his sites were popular because everyone had a stake in the war debate.
"No matter what way it goes down, the world is changing," he said. "I see this as a magnification of what went on in the '60s. Never before have people questioned the way they are questioning now."
Although he has a personal opinion on the matter, Bartholomew is not publicly stating his stance on war. He does not want to influence either side.
He received e-mails from visitors calling the site "fun stuff about serious issues." That was exactly his goal.
"I tried to keep people neutral and make it fun," he said. "Keep it an even deal."
Bartholomew will tally all votes Monday but will maintain the sites past that date. He said the war against Iraq was an ongoing issue and people on both sides would continue to feel passionately about it.