Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blacklist Professional Online Contest Joiners

Got a call from a prospective client requesting for a proposal to manage an online contest. He had one handling his campaigns in the past. Some went pretty well while some turned a bit messy due to participants gaming the system. Usually this occurs when the winner of a particular contest gets chosen based on the highest number of "like" votes especially if done via Facebook.

However, I was caught by surprise when he mentioned about excluding "professional online contest joiners" referring to a list he got online that includes names, contact number, and other info. Excluding means their entries will be disregarded or be prevented from joining. I am wary of such an idea as it might be perceived as violation of consumer rights. Furthermore, if permits will be secured in a contest, will DTI even tolerate such a thing?

When I asked to cite names of people in the list, it irked me as some I know personally and are very active inviting me lately from coffee brand Facebook application, fan page promotion, to photography contest.

It is the contest organizer's responsibility

I disagree with the idea of tagging people as "professional contest joiners". A good contest guideline or mechanics will ensure looking into scenarios that will avoid the contest from being "game" (such as creating fake accounts to spike up likes).

There are many suggestions to minimize an online contest from being "game" by aggressive participants such as:
  1. If participation of usual contest joiners is not encouraged, then add that to the rules citing those who won in the past are excluded from joining to give others a chance. (if it is legally possible to do so).
  2. Don't have "like" votes as one of the criteria for winning. Do not allow participants to cast a like vote for themselves and/or to other entries.
  3. If "likes" included, give minor credit to it. Or only those who are fans of the Page prior to contest launch shall be allowed to vote only. You can also set maximum number of votes allowed in an hour or in a day. 
  4. Another way for likes or votes is to have an authentication process. Assuring each person is real and shall cast votes only once.
  5. Consistency in name of participant profile online and actual winner.
  6. Make your contest tough enough where winners are determined based on creativity rather than by voting. Or require more effort to cast a vote rather than just click a button or two.
If a contest fails or gets controversial due to participants accusing others of "gaming" the system and the likes, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of its contest organizer. One is expected to have think through the contest guideline if it can be abused or manipulated.

It is unfair to pass the blame to participants who only wanted to compete and win. Blacklisting professional online contest joiners is definitely not a solution.

(P.S. I agree with your comment Dexter. Added that as #10 in my politics of blogging post.)

(P.S. After answering all your comments, I thought that perhaps creating a registry of online contest managers is now necessary.)


  1. From a brand's POV, "likes" is a way to increase fan/follower base (as long as these are not dummy accounts). "Likes" allow the brands to be exposed to more people, especially those who may not yet be aware of the brand. However, "likes" must be kept to a minimum, say 10% of the judging criteria.

    #3 is not feasible especially if a fan page has 100,000 fan base. And there are bots now that jack up "likes"

  2. I agree Ms. Janette. Basing winners on the number of "likes" obtained in an entry is pretty irksome. I find contests like these very disheartening and annying. So do a lot of other people I've met.

  3. It would be hard to classify "professional online contest joiners" because I don't think there be any objective standard for that.

    Granted that there is, my question is: Why hold a contest where you want to limit the participants? What is the end in holding the contest? and What is the rationale in blacklisting selected people from joining it?

  4. "professional online contest joiners", the advertiser should know that this so called "professional online contest joiners" are also the type of person who have lots of contacts and could possibly give influence.

    So this could turn other way around. They could start a negative campaign about those products that will prevent them from joining.

    Better to make a strict guidelines rather than blocking those personalities

    This is just my opinion.

  5. I also am against the like contest in facebook it can be easily manipulated ... it should always be based on creativity of entry and the relevance to the contest and also if the entry helped the campaign as it wanted it to do....

  6. I don't think blacklisting would prevent them from joining if they are really considered professional online contest joiners. It will only provoke them to do unlikely things to the contest, to the organizers and to the brand.

  7. Rochelle - I agree with you. That is also the reason why "likes" voting can't be done using Facebook inherent features but must be carried out using apps.

    The Average Jane and Earthlingorgeous - that is the challenge though in using "likes" as a basis for points majority. Parang wala ka ng panalo.

    Roy - the initial feedback I got was the list contains people who frequently joins, some tend to complain if they don't win, some capable of acquiring big number of votes. But then again it is subjective as it did not gave any background on a per person basis. Only got surprised when it included contact information.

    Dexter and Yashiro - It will be damaging not only to the persons who contributed to the list but also the brands and companies they represent (regardless whether they are multinationals, advertising agencies, PR companies, freelance online contest managers) if the list will go out.