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This is Why Contests are Stupid.

First, let me start by apologizing. I am sorry. So, so, so sorry. If I could go back in time and avoid the entire disaster that I'm about to write about, I would.

I know that many of you spent hours of your life diligently clicking so that I could win a contest. Unfortunately, that was all in vain as I have asked The Bump to remove my blog from the contest. I wanted to do some good and have a little fun by giving some toys to kids in need. However, I'm not willing to sacrifice my beliefs in order to do that.

To explain, I'll start at the beginning.

I'm not sure when it first began, but within the first day of the final round of the contest, I started to suspect that there were some shenanigans going on with the voting. In looking at some of the percentages and the vote totals, it didn't make sense how some people had the numbers that they did.

(It's not hard to predict how those contests will end. Google subscription counts, twitter follower counts, and facebook friend totals give a pretty good indication of how many votes a person can muster, and all of that information is readily available online. In fact, I very nearly didn't pay any attention to the final round of voting because I knew there were some Big Kids in that sandbox. The only way they could be challenged was if my peeps worked their clicky fingers off. I know my peeps, though, and I knew that they WOULD work their clicky fingers off, so I went ahead. Again, I'm sorry to those of you who spent time voting.)

Later in the day, the numbers became even more skewed in favor of one site. I was positive that there were shenanigans, but they seemed to be the kind of shenanigans that could be beaten. It would be a challenge, sure, but as long as whoever was behind it all didn't get too greedy, I knew that my readers and friends could overcome it. At that point there were about 30,000 votes in the contest and it looked like there were shenanigans going on for one blog.

(BTW, "shenanigans" means someone had written a script to log votes automatically in the poll. I'm nowhere near smart enough to know how to do it, but I know it can be done if the poll doesn't have the appropriate security measures in place.)

The next morning, there were very clearly suspicious votes for two blogs. A few hours later, there were suspicious votes for three blogs. By this morning, there were over 700,000 votes cast, and the percentages were rapidly changing. Think about that for a minute. 1% of 700,000 is 7,000. In order to move that single percent, a blog would need over 7,000 votes. No one in that poll has the pull get 7,000 votes in a matter of seconds.

I DEFINITELY don't have the pull to get 7,000 votes in a matter of seconds, especially on a site that loads as slowly as The Bump. Yet, I saw my number go up. I immediately tweeted:

After that, there was a flurry of communications wherein I learned just who I know that knows how to write scripts to cheat a poll like that. There were offers to "level the playing field" and such, which I shot down.

(That's just not how I roll. Although, I can understand the rationale of those programmers. If The Bump wasn't policing the site and didn't care that someone (or several someones) were autovoting, why not? At that point it was very clearly about who knew the most programmers, not who generated the most traffic to The Bump's site.)

The same people then started monitoring the site. Whatever Programmer Spidey Senses they have they used to determine that there were automated votes being logged for eight sites, including mine. EIGHT SITES.

I don't know if it was one person running scripts to mess up several of the blogs or several people working against each other, but I knew that at that point, the whole thing was a joke. A disaster. A mess.

I emailed and asked to be removed from the contest.

Since then, The Bump has acknowledged "problems," shut down the poll, and offered an alternative way of determining a winner. I'm asking that none of you follow through on that alternative way. The money is tainted and I do NOT WANT IT. Please, thank you, and I mean it.

Look. Bloggers can't control what their readers do. The people whose blogs are in that list are NOT responsible for this mess. The Bump is 100% responsible. If little me can click around a few times and determine that something is off, they most certainly could have caught it sooner. If I can find people who can confirm that hacking is possible and they can figure out to what extent the hacking is happening, so can The Bump. When money is at stake, you have to assume that someone will get greedy. The site is responsible for making sure it doesn't happen.

Again, I apologize to all of you who wasted your time on that site. I wish I could undo it, but I can't. All I can do is try to find another way to make Christmas Crazy happen for some needy kids. That's exactly what I plan to do. I will be posting a new way to bring some Christmas Crazy to Toys for Tots (via Stuff-a-Bus) and a local Domestic Violence shelter some time this weekend.

Hopefully you'll still be here to help with it.

(P.S. I expect every single one of you to smash me over the head with a brick if I EVER post about another online contest. Not. doing. it. again.)

(P.P.S. I didn't do any linky linking to "The Site" intentionally and will be deleting any prior linky links right after I hit Publish. I refuse to send any more of my readers to that site.)

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Reader Comments (52)

Kudos to you for having the principles to back out of this contest and trying to make things right.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTara R.

good for you. amazing what greed can do you people, eh? trust me, pulling out of that contest what probably the best thing you could have done for yourself.


October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKell

duuuuuuuude -
that sucks so bad. Something that could have been fun in spirit went South so very bad. We still love you!

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterdesignHER Momma

We can do it WITHOUT the fuckery. I always give to Toys for Tots, anyway, so I'll do it in whatever way you come up with.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGina

I must admit that I never voted in this round. I love you and all, but voting against the Spohrs just seemed wrong. Even for a worthy cause. I have a proposition to make, however. I wanted to contact you about it from the beginning but didn't. How about, instead of your dearest friends clicking we open our wallets and raise $1K for kids in need. I, for one, would absolutely love to do that.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

It's too bad, because you were a shoo-in. And not that I'd turn down $1,000, but is that amount really worth cheating to this extent? I mean, it's not like they were giving away a million bucks. Cheez.
I'd love to help with the Christmas crazy, as I think most of your readers would.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimly P.

I saw that when the contest first came out. It's very easy to see that the appropriate thought wasn't put in to this. Let the lesson be this: Internet Marketing is not for third graders.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCass

I wore my fingers down for nothing?!?!?

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrebelliousflaw

I wholly support your decision on this. This doesn't take balls of steel, but it does take your good heart.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenda

Your heart and your head is in the right place. I salute you, and I know you'll find a way to meet your goals and we'll be here to do what we can to help. (Not really anonymous- LizAnne56)

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I'm sorry, M. :-(

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBurgh Baby

Glad to read your decision and your response to it all. I'm sure we can make something happen - as you've said before: Pittsburgh is awesome!

Thank you for your honesty and good heart.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScrumpy Daddy

I was by there a few times and thought something was off myself. I couldn't put my finger on it but at the time one sight was taking off like no one's business.

I'm so glad you stood by your principles. The thing is this was supposed to be a family sight right? I think that in itself makes what was going on greedy and immoral.

Then again I've seen what the pursuit of popularity will do to some people. Sorry hon, I don't blame you in the least. I'm rather proud of your actions. (Hugs)Indigo

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterIndigo

Your apology is most certainly NOT needed. You were trying to do something wonderful for people in need. It is not your fault that someone got greedy and that the site wasn't responsible enough to make sure that the contest couldn't be hacked.

You know I'm in for whatever it will take to make Christmas Crazy happen. Just tell me what, where, and when.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertehamy

Boooo Hisss! Shame on them. You are number 1 to all of us and that is all that matters. Lets do it - have our own fundraiser for a Christmas Crazy in the Burgh. I am totally in :)

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commentererinmarton

One of the greatest pleasures I have now that I quit blogging is knowing that I'll never again participate again in another online best-blogger contest. There is no way I can describe how much I hate them. Except to say my wife hates them more.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Aw shit. I'm proud of ya kid. Winning the wrong way is just bad karma.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjames Bainbridge

these things never seem to amaze me. don't blame yourself. You could have said "hey I want the dough yo!" but instead you were ready to give it right back to the kids and that shows how strong your character is.

Don't be ashamed of who you are, flip the bird to those jagoffs and move on. We'll do shots sometime.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterspoon

I blame The Bump people for not realizing something like this would happen!

Also, we need to organize a fundraiser for Stuff a Bus and the woman's shelter thing.

I know a few peeps (me and some others) who are well versed in planning event fundraisers. We can do it!!!

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbobboblog

Good for you!! I am roud ofyou for standing your ground and I will be so happy to help with whatever plans you have upcoming!!

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

You rule.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheJim

Didn't we learn our lesson w/the last contest? LOL. I remember a couple of conversations w/you about how horrible contests are. It's selling links. Grrrr.... stupid contests that suck us all in. I even voted on this one for you too!

Good for you!

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOHmommy

Shit! I feel terrible for you! I wish I was super rich so I could just mail you 1000 dollars because you deserve it! Good for you for not winning the stupid way. You earned your votes, you know. That matters HUGELY. I could never cheat. Not even in High School or University.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLoukia

You are awesome and I'm proud that you stood up and said ENOUGH ALREADY. I think it's also great that you called them out on the mess it became.

I just can't believe that The Bump didn't secure themselves a better polling system when there was a $1000 prize at stake. I mean: REALLY. What were they thinking?

I think Karen is on to something- if all your Tweeps were click-click-clicking, surely if we all gave $20 we could raise $1000 for the kiddos in no time...

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Well, good for you! :)

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKat

Good for you :).Count me in for whatever you end up doing.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCrista

Good for you. (I saw your tweets earlier so I knew something was up and you were withdrawing.)

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Very noble of you! I was on there yesterday and wondered how on earth the numbers for one other site were so high so quickly. Oh well... At least you did the right thing.

And I'm guessing you have a kick ass idea on some Christmas Crazy and I'll be happy to join in the fun!

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMy Two Army Brats

Well if that didn't suck the big one, I don't know what does. I hate cheaters, plain and simple and what I hate more is people who allow others to cheat.

Add me to the list of wanting in on whatever you do for the kids. I've sold some more candy bars at the salon and I am looking for a charity to donate the money to.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Purple Pinkie

I noticed the shenanigans as well, and quit voting. I guess that is what happens when the site hosting the contest doesn't limit the number of votes. Its such a shame, and I hope the cheaters don't win.
As for Crazy Christmas... let us know how we can help!

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Screw the Bump. Let our Christmas Crazy Commence. Let me know how I can help. Good job, love for staying honest. Makes me support you all the more.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDina

Some people just ruin it for everyone. I noticed yesterday that when I clicked to vote, the number increased by about 3,000. Really? 2,999 people clicked at the same moment as me? Suuuuure.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter3carnations

i'm so impressed with you right now.
imagine me dry humping your leg.
don't imagine that.
even if i totally would right about now.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

This makes me so mad. The Bump is OFF my Christmas list!!!

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpam

Do you even know how much better I feel reading this?? I have felt sick over this, and just can't shake the icky feeling. I would never want to win a contest like this and would never take that money. This whole thing is just so very sad. The one plus? That I no know it's all bullshit and I will NEVER get mixed up in it again.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScary Mommy

Bring on the Christmas Crazy!!

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterIzzy

I'm in for whatever else you have in mind to bring Christmas Crazy to the kids. Like I said last night via twitter, I'm feeling very "mothery" proud. You did the right thing (and I see from above you're not the only one). And from the looks of these comments, us Burghers are more than willing to help raise the money. Probably end up with more than that $1000.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Aw, kiddo, don't be so hard on yourself. You couldn't have known, and as soon as you figured out something was wrong, you did the most admirable thing. Alexis is going to be so proud of you! And we'll totally help you with whatever legitimate (Christmas) craziness you come up with. Go head. Challenge us to raise the $1000. :)

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatie in MA

I've been avoiding contests since an incident about a year ago. However, I did pop over to support you. That said, I'd love to help with Christmas Crazy. I have a ton of unopened toys and products that arrive on my doorstep (without my permission or asking) and I never touch them. I would love for them to go somewhere besides my garage.

YAY for you! So easy for a good thing to go bad. It is a terrible shame.

I've got to admit that I made three clicks in the final round and then never went back because I felt too much internal conflict over who to vote for. I find it appalling that people were cheating in such a manner.

That said, Dawn and I are working on a fundraiser for our charity of choice. I know you have enough pull to do one of your own. Go for it. :)

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFireMom

Its funny that you think "contests are stupid". You never mentioned anything like that before in your blog, especially when the votes were up in the 260K range and you were a front runner in the poll. They announce that the site was hacked by cheaters and now you are all against it....hmmmm, I wonder who it coulda been???

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Skipper

Skipper, are you implying that Burgh Baby is the perpetrator of the shenanegins but because she didn't win now she has sour grapes?

Um, do you read this blog regularly? I don't think you do because that seems COMPLETELY out of character for Burgh Baby.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermattieflap

Good for you! I am happy to help out the kids in need! We can surely raise more than that $1000 for the Christmas Crazy...we are Burghers!

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPriscilla

Cheating is silly, isn't it? I am working on trying to teach Little Bear this... that besides the fact that cheating is just rude and unfair to others, cheating takes all of the FUN out of games and contests! If you're just going to go ahead and do something to be CERTAIN you will win, then you lose out on the excitement and challenge! I think this goes for any situation, don't you? Good job on not taking part in the shenanigans!

October 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNicki

It's just sad that these things can't be legit. Sounds like this one turned into a real cluster(BLEEP!). Sorry you even had to write a post like this...

October 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElaine A.

I was wondering what the heck was going on with the contest; sorry it ended up as so much suckage. As others have said, though, do NOT feel bad for trying to rally everyone around what you thought was a good cause. No apologies needed.

October 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenniferC

I am not surprised, but still disappointed for you babe.

You are amazing and wonderful for doing this.

October 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelley @ magnetoboldtoo

Good for pulling out. Definitely sounds like a scam and completely unfair!

October 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa @ Boondock Ramblings is pretty well fail in more ways than this.

Way to go for pulling out of the contest. Good luck with Christmas Crazy!

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTrinity

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