Friday, September 28, 2012

Online contests - my first (and last) one (warning...a loooooong post!!!)

Today is the last opportunity to vote for my San Francisco "Peace Over the City by the Bay" card design in the contest sponsored by I had written earlier about my "uneasiness" about requesting votes for my design as it felt it is self-promotional to solicit votes via Facebook, Twitter, and emails. Who knew that my uneasiness was just the tip of the iceberg?

Two days ago, the contest administrators emailed all of the finalists a reminder to let people know that they can only vote "once per 24 hours per valid email address". They've been alerted that there were issues concerning possible voter fraud, and therefore invalid votes were cast and that they were going to audit the vote count and potentially disqualify finalists.

For those of you who know me well..I am honest. I value honesty and so this caused a hit to my conscience. I felt that I had to let the company know that I had placed a vote a day for myself from each of my email addresses. I have separate email addresses for design, and for illustration and so I placed a vote from each. I honestly thought I could place a vote from each of my emails since they are valid email addresses, and frankly each day, as you see the votes ratcheting upwards, human nature jumps in and you get competitive. I would remind my family to "vote for me today" and then post a post on Facebook, or send an email. This went on for two full weeks...the first week was for "getting to the finals" and the second was for "being in the finals". I did not, however, ask others to place multiple votes for me..I always stated "you can vote once per day", and that was that. I also did not place fraudulent email address votes as well..but I did feel compelled to let them know that I used my multiple emails for my "once per day" vote. If disqualification from the contest resulted from that fact, well then so be it, and please do not be alarmed if you don't see my card online.

I have learned that I have some very supportive friends who have also voted with their multiple email addresses. They made me aware that they could place votes by a) voting via multiple email addresses), b) multiple (uncached) browsers allow for more votes and c) there is no validation and people can come up with fake email addresses to place votes. Now, they did not place fake email address votes on my behalf (not that I'm aware of), but they've pointed out how this is possible.

I think that the contest administrators must be in a quandary right now. I wonder how they will figure out what votes were valid, and which were not..and how they will decide, ultimately, who will win? I never thought about the aspects of putting on a contest purely by online voting and the issues that could come this has been quite eye-opening for me. They put votes on hold yesterday and may still decide to disqualify people from the contest altogether. I must say, what has offered to their clients, the opportunity to enter this contest for prizes of gift cards and printed cards is incredibly generous. I have been and continue to be a huge supporter of as their print quality, product and service has been outstanding. It is simply the process of "online voting" and casting votes that has caused my unrest.

For me, this has been a great learning experience. This will probably be my first and last online contest as I stated in my title. In a previous post I wrote about how I came to the conclusion that it's not about the prize—the winning of gift cards and printed pieces—but about the connection with others my work does for me. This card is about my love of San Francisco, the joy that city holds for me, and the hope that it resonates with others. I recently received a fun email from a friend who's never visited but just visited last week.  Ahhhh…September in San Francisco – the best weather possible – and how he was SO amazed at how beautiful the city is. The process of lettering, design, and the final outcome of this piece has made me happy. This process of the contest has caused me to really think about the goals for me as an artist/creator. For those who know me well, I am a hugely private person. I don't like to pester, bother, cause worry for anyone. I pride myself on being self-sufficient and being a hard worker. I've learned that the journey is farrrrrrr more wonderful when you are working hard at something you love and not focusing on the "prize." I feel that I have already won.

Thank you so much for the love ~ Shirley


  1. Sorry that the voting process has given you stress, Shirley. I'm glad that you have had so much support from loyal followers and friends alike. It's truly a lovely piece.

  2. Oh Shirley I'm sorry this is all happening. Rest assured that competition or no competition you are most definately a winner. You know how much I love your work, my piggie picture smiles at me in my studio whenever I am down there. Have a peaceful weekend my friend, sending you some of that love,
    Jane x

  3. VERY well stated, Shirley. In the hearts of all who know you, you have certainly already won.

  4. What the heck!!! All online contests are just like that!!! This is the way it is with online voting contests!!! Some people win houses because of this. As long as the email addresses are valid working addresses, then they cannot stop those with valid personal and business email addresses. Sigh.

  5. Well, if they remove your card it is their loss.

  6. Shirley I have four email addresses: work, personal, for art and Facebook. These are all valid. I had these addresses for many years!!! I did not even use my work address because I thought if they may want to sell these addresses, well, I do not want spam in my work email.

    The rule says " "once per 24 hours per valid email address"

    I don't think you violated any rule as far as I am concerned.

  7. Oh my gosh! Yes indeed! The contest administrators may have suspected something was amiss. You know, the other day, I looked at all the cards in different categories I also noticed that some diid not garner any votes. Now I looked again and I am so shocked! Some of the cards that had less than 20 votes now have HUNDREDS of votes, in just a matter of two days!!! Yep.

    1. Just finally replied, Ces. EEEK! I'm runnin' away...! : )Thanks for your support my friend!!

  8. Oh yes, I hear you. Our Realtor entered us in a contest, and I must say I was quite happy with the writing I did for it (regarding my husband's terminal diagnosis)...was in the lead until overnight of the last day, wake up and my votes are gone and a new person, overnight acquired over 400 votes. The company offered to repost mine in the second week, but I told them that was not fair to anyone and just please remove my story completely. They did send me an Apple gift card, but still, I had truly thought perhaps I stood a good chance of getting the main prize, which would have paid my husband's medical deductible due again in December. I was heartbroken and disgusted that cheaters can actually win. NEVER AGAIN.
    Not worth any money. Sending you all my love, Deb

  9. Oh,Shirley! You are such a wonderful person! No matter what, your card design is amazing,and you should know that you already WON!!! We love your card,and that is all matter!!! I love how you handle with the situation,and you are a such honest person,and I believe that you follow the rule just right. Now, just relax,and create more of your amazing illustration. That is what you should do,and forget about all these! Happy creating,Shirley!!!!! ^_______________^ big smile and hug from me!

  10. Je vous soutiens de tout mon coeur... De toute façon pour moi vous êtes la grande gagnante...
    Je comprends toutefois votre déception... Je vous envoie toute mon amitié et vous confirme mon attachement à votre art.
    Gros bisous

  11. Votre carte est superbe
    Je l'adore
    MJP de France

  12. Shirley, I hope that putting your feelings into words as a blog post has helped you release some of the anxiety this has caused. It should have been a fun thing to do, not full of stress for such honest folk as yourself. The problem is in the way the votes are being monitored and verified.
    For what it is worth... I voted just once - not realising I could do so every day! Your image delighted me, and I thought it was worthy of my vote. In my eyes you are a double winner anyway because 1)I loved your artwork. 2)Your honesty has shone through this doubtful business.
    No matter what happens with the competition, know that your 'friends' know you well enough to appreciate and celebrate who you are, and all that you create.

  13. I don't think that you did anything wrong dear. It's is the nature of these things. I have in the past entered a couple of contests, but they were similar in that the votes were done by popularity and by people voting for "you" rather than the quality of your work, so I decided that it wasn't worth my time. I only voted from one address, but I don't think that voting from different ones is forbidden. It doesn't appear so anyway. Don't spend another second fretting over this. Hugs and kisses c:

  14. So sorry you had to go through this, Shirley. That is such a pain! I think you did a good thing by clairifying with them about the emails, although I don't see the problem. If they want a more secure or strict competition then they should have specified in more details. As you, I entered an online contest once and it was my last too. Just couldn't be bothered with all the hassle. I hope everything works out for you.

  15. I have vowed to not participate in any more online voting contests. Shivers. But with that being said, good luck! It sounds like you have a fabulous network of friends. That is probably the best thing anyway.

  16. You are a winner in my book, Shirley. I no longer do online contests either, after the TDAC/Dr Oz Beauty Recipe fiasco. To me it sounds like you played by the rules. One email address = one vote per day. If they didn't include their contest rules to state 'one person' either than shame on them. I am now quite partial to the contest where you submit and the entry is judged by a blind panel.

  17. I agree with everyone, you didn't do anything wrong: a vote per day, per email and that's exactly what you did. I was happy to vote for you, and to do so repeatedly -- those were the rules. No worries, and I'll be rooting for you tomorrow when the results come in!

  18. CONGRAAAAAAAATULATIONS!!!! You played by the rules, and I assure you, I did too. Your design was far and away the most original and creative and beautiful. Hands down, the winner in my book. I'm so happy for youuuuuuu!!!!!


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