submit to reddit

Benny_cutest_dog The grand prize in the Cutest Dog Competition is a million dollars! All you need to do is take a picture of your dog, upload it, ask your friends to vote for your dog. A new contest every week for 12 weeks.
The problem? One million dollars is a lot of money. The contest promoters appeared unprepared for the more than 50,000 entries they received, with more than 300,000 votes a day. Their site has been down repeatedly, and it’s certainly appeared that ballot stuffing was taking place.
Could that perhaps explain explain why the average dog contestant – including BennyBix Ochman Labradoodle, who clearly is the cutest – was getting 25 or 30 votes, but the weekly winners were getting 5,000?
The contest blog has a post “Cheating will not be tolerated” . “While we have done our best to develop systems that make it difficult to cheat, there are still people who find ways to cheat.”
The post has more than 200 comments by frustrated pet owners, and it’s been clear that the issues have not been resolved, because the site has repeatedly had error messages and refused to allow legitimate votes.
Like most people, I beg my friends and family to vote for Benny every day, and, being the sweet people they are, they try. But they can’t access the site most days.
Having run a successful contest or two, I have some advice for contest promoters>
1- Make sure your servers have the capacity to handle traffic beyond your wildest dreams. Dream big! Then multiply your top number by 1000 and be sure you can handle the traffic.
2- Hire a security consultant to help you make cheating hard, even for the most determined. It’ll be worth whatever it costs.
3- Monitor your site 24/7. This is the Internet. It doesn’t sleep.The big complaint on the cute dog contest blog is that emails weren’t answered, blog comments weren’t run. In other words, the contest wasn’t being monitored 24/7.
4- Disqualify people as soon as you can prove they have cheated. Immediately. No second chance.
5- Make your contest more than a popularity contest. Everyone thinks their dog is the cutest[ (Except me. I know my dog is the cutest.) Anyone can upload a photo. People will show you their dog’s best trick, or something, for a shot at $1 million.
6. If you do run into problems, fess up right away. The comment responses in the Cute Dog Competition Blog are from “admin.” Who the hell is that? We want to talk to humans. A human needs to take responsibility and talk to the other humans like, well, a human.
7. Do usability tests Sure you understand how your contest website works. Do usability testing on people with all levels of Internet skills. Do more. Rinse, repeat.
We hope the cute dog folks are able to overcome their issues. But it seems to that they should trash the results of the first month and extend the contest with new anti-cheating measures in place.
Because instead of being happy and having fun, people who think they’ve been wronged – and possibly cheated out a $1 million – are going to use the Internet to make their gripes heard. They’ll be doing that for a long time to come.
Even though I’m sure Benny’s going to win, you should enter your dog too. :>)