Friday, November 9, 2012

Cheating To WIN?

Sometimes the internet can be like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland.  You begin by searching for one thing and suddenly you discover that you have been thrust into bewildering surroundings or situations. 

Let me begin at the beginning. I was searching something about 1800Flowers when I came across this post about Ashley Owen Hill from Mississippi. Lucky Dog Rescue who felt had cheated her out of the grand prize which included one year of dog food.

In the "There’s a New Bunny in Town.”  entrants were asked to submit photos of their pets wearing bunny ears and they offered prizes for the photos that got the most votes. Maria Mandel had won the voting sweepstakes with a photo of her service dog Stacy Mae. Upon winning she decided to donate her prize to Lucky Dog rescue run by Ashley Owen Hill.  This simple act of transferring the prize made the prize "null and void". 

Making a prize non transferable is not an unusual stipulation in sweepstakes.   I do understand why some people were upset because it was Maria's intent to help a pet rescue operation. As a matter of fact 1800Flowers received a number of posts on their social media sites from people who felt that the prize should be awarded.  In the end Lucky Dog Rescue received the prize. 


At the end of the original post were a couple of comments which spoke in a disparaging fashion about Ms. Hill and I wondered what that was about.  Was the person who commented a frienemy?  Was the poster someone with a bad case of sour grapes?  Could it be that the accusations held some truth.  I just didn't know but with a few clicks of the mouse I was off and searching for the back-story. 

This time we learn of accusations of cheating in the Chase Community Giving Contest.   There was a concern that a large percentage of votes were came from seemingly fake accounts with no activity or content outside of voting to receive the cash prizes.  Interestingly enough the name  Ashley Owen Hill and her Luck Dog organization comes up in the discussion. 

The post notes that  comments are in Spanish, Portuguese, Greek and Turkish, which is obviously highly suspicious for an English-only.

The contest centers around having non-profit organizations make a pitch for a program or initiative and solicit votes on Facebook through the Chase Community Giving App, with the top organizations receiving up to $250,000 for gathering the most votes.

In 2010 Invisible Children won $1 million as the winner of the Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook. However, in the contest's last few hours, many newly created profiles voted for The Isha Foundation, some of them with dubious-looking names, includinglike Kgtgh Fkghssad, who commented “ftdre".   Several other profiles with more realistic names voted for Isha, though these accounts have had few if any friends or activity prior to voting.

This very same cheating pattern has caused me to forgo entering voting contests.  I used to enter them and put in a great amount of work begging and pleading for people to vote for my submissions. 

I remember getting within 50 votes of a vote leader in a big contest and the next morning I learned that I was suddenly 500 votes behind.   Another time I discovered that I was competing against a blogger who was offering entries into her blog contest for daily votes.  The winner of her blog contest would receive a $100 gift card.  Small investment for a prize that was valued at over $5,000. 

I was hesitant to report the problems because I didn't want to appear to be suffering from a big case of sour grapes.   After that I simply swore off voting contests.  Not only does it promote a transactional relationship with your friends and associates but in the face of  robo votes and other nefarious actions it hardly seems worth the effort. 

What do you think?

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