Rigged online contests and competitors doing anything to win

I would like to formally announce that I will no longer be competing in any online popularity contests, especially generic ones that don’t require a sign-up and will count anything as a vote that has a unique IP address.

Since the beginning of online popularity/voting contests, people have been out there either rigging them so their buddies win or competitors “cheating” and doing anything they can to win.

Very famous people have openly admitted to buying votes and doing things at “any means necessary” to get more “votes” or to get their competitors disqualified.

Personally, I’m not so ego driven that I really even care about winning contests like these. I just used to think they were fun. I don’t need to win a contest to prove my worth. And, I’m not going to justify going to any means necessary to “buy votes” or somehow else manipulate thousand of people to vote for me for some kind of reward or incentive. I’m not really interested in competing in contests that in actuality I have no way of winning because the contest holder is manipulating the results.

I had a recent experience, and I won’t name any names, where I was accused of manipulating votes by paying people to vote for me. I was kind of irritated and wondered if it was some kind of ploy to get rid of my legitimate fan votes and allow the competition to catch up. There’s really no way to know and it’s beyond not the point. It just reinforces my belief that either a lot of these types of contests are rigged or competitors will do whatever it takes to win and disqualifying competitors.

At the end of the day, so many of these vote contests are either completely rigged/fixed or competitors are buying their win by going on sites such as MechanicTurk, Microworkers and others or paying thousands of people to vote and/or using proxy based scripts to do it automatically.

It’s also hard to know if it’s the contest holders that have been paid a certain amount of money to “let someone win” and subsequently go to any means necessary to remove legit votes of the ones that aren’t supposed to win. Or, if in the rare case one of these contests aren’t rigged there is the risk factor of a competitor going out and putting a small “paid to vote” job on one of the sites I mentioned above. The bad referrers come in and the contest holder disqualifies the target competitor. Either way, I’m not interested in competing in such contests whether its the contest holders or the competitors to blame for making things shady.

Lastly a word of advice. If you are running a vote based contest think twice about rigging it. Or, if you are competing in a contest and think it’s harmless to cheat, again think twice. Sometimes the details come out in the end and will you do more harm than good by being seen as untrustworthy.

Stay tuned until I find a way to make a real contest, that can’t be rigged and can’t be cheated by competitors and a way to independently audit the results, with a really good prize! If you have any ideas or suggestions on how to make this happen feel free to contact me.


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  1. I love entering contests, and sometimes voting contests can look winnable. I have NEVER won a pure voting contest for the following reasons:
    1) Companies end up changing the rules to favor the entry that they like (for instance, I entered a contest open to all, it was clear that they wanted a local winner, so they allowed people to enter AFTER THE DEADLINE because they were local. Even when they have “Official Rules”, many companies will change them as they see fit. Many times, there is a clause in the official rules that allow them to do this.
    2) People cheat
    -there are vote exchange boards and groups, people have multiple facebook accounts, websites where you can purchase votes, etc etc.
    3) Even if you aren’t cheating, people accuse you of cheating…
    (I’ve never utilized a vote exchange, have never bought votes, have never done anything like that… but if you’re leading the competition, the sore losers always seem to complain!)

    My suggestion for companies would be to do a hybrid voting contest. Narrow down the pool of competitors to a manageable number (3, 5, 10… ) and then have a voting contest. Have the result of the public vote factor into the selection of the winner, but not be the deciding factor. Like, have the public vote account for 10% of the judging criteria as opposed to 100%. Even if they decide to let the voting count 100% toward the selection of a winner, if they have already narrowed down the field, then at least the best entries are the ones vying for the prize.

    I also am a big fan of voting contests that have multiple prizes. I mean, if you invest time into campaigning for votes, and narrrowly lose first place, it’s pretty cool when there is a consolation prize (or two). Companies could also have a “fan favorite” prize for their voting contest. That way, the voting has a purpose, but the main prize of a contest is selected by other means.

    I will probably continue to enter (low entry) voting contests, but hope that more sponsors pick better means of monitoring them!

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