Contest Extension

There is a problem with the voting mechanism, which we are currently working to repair.

Because we don’t know exactly how long this glitch has been in place, much less know how long it will take to resolve, we’ve decided to extend entry and voting deadlines to midnight (Utah time) November 15, 2008.

Good luck to all!

  1. There is actually no problem with the voting mechanism – all legitimate pre-existing accounts are still able to vote. And any entrant in the contest could have told you that the glitch only started two days ago.

    The problem lies in registering and verifying accounts – which means anyone wanting to register a new account would not be able to verify their account and vote for the contest.

    But this glitch has in fact highlighted an even greater issue.

    I’ve been observing this page carefully for the last few weeks now and I’ve noticed highly suspicious voting behavior for a number of entries. There are at least four, maybe now 6 entries which systematically jump up in number in short bursts and in pairs — recently even in sets of four. There’s no way it’s natural when a pair or foursome of entries (supposedly by different people) together jump up by exactly 10 in a 10 minutes and stop for the rest of the day.

    This glitch in the last two days has actually helped verify these suspicions. For anyone watching, a number of entries stopped in their tracks two days ago, whereas some others continued to receive votes and increase. It is clear for anyone paying attention, which entries are receiving legitimate votes and which are registering and verifying false accounts.

    To Overstock Contest Admins: I would recommend one of two solutions —
    1) The ideal solution: if you have an index of who is voting, all votes with different accounts under the same IP (or very similar IP) should be eliminated. Also, all voter registration info should be checked and matched to find duplicate names and/or credit card information. All entries under different names but with the same IP etc. should also be eliminated.
    2) If looking into who is voting and entering is not possible, then I would recommend the contest rules be revised: these votes ought to be deemed no more than suspect “recommendations” and each entry should be reviewed on its own merits.

    I think this contest is a fabulous idea and there’s some really hard work in here, so I would not want to see this work jeopardized because a small minority tried to take advantage of loopholes in voting. Again, how ironic considering they are going after a prize about unethical people taking advantage of Wall Street loopholes.

    Lets keep this thing going and make sure these generous prizes go towards the most legitimate and promising entries.

    To Overstock web administrators – Please help us ensure that this contest runs effectively and fairly!

    Thank you and good luck to everyone!

  2. For future voting programs, I think the voting button should be on the detailed page, and not the index page … people are supposed to read the details.

    Of course, the determining factor here is if you want people to be able to deep link to their suggestion.

    IMHO, voting programs should require two actions to cast a vote. Click the check box, then press the button. Single action screens generate errors.

    I accidentally voted for the currently winning article while I was clicking between windows. To read each entry, I opened the entry in a new window. I then clicked back to the main page for the next entry. The windows were sized so that when I clicked back to the first page, my click landed in the area near the “Recommend” link … which caused the system to cast a vote for an entry I would not have recommended.

  3. I had several friends who wanted to vote but they could not register so I just gave up telling others about it. People are hesitant to put in their credit cards anyway, specially older folks and those who are not technical… but even then, registering an account was hell, and sometimes impossible. Even for me to get my own account registered I had to get help from the company!

    This and the reported irregularity in voting makes me want to recommend to cancel the whole thing, clean up the technology, eliminate the credit card requirement (there are other ways to verify people), and restart another contest.

  4. Hey Marketrap,

    “Please help us ensure that this contest runs effectively and fairly!”

    I couldn’t agree more. With that said, why don’t you tell us how you and Tommy received votes this weekend while the voting widget was down?

  5. My friends have been unable to access voting since Thursday and I have been checking it regularly. Now that the voting is back up, why are there new entries when the voting was down????

  6. Actually, that post was not from me – I’m interested to know why would you assume it was me?

    But I am following closely, and I already located and talked to the technical person in charge of this contest two weeks ago and shared similar concerns. I was told that they would eventually go through every vote and “clean up” what is real and what is not.

    Don’t worry, nobody will be handing out a cash prize based on fake registrations/votes.

    As for how people could still get a vote over the weekend – the direct link to the widget was still available and people registered with Overstock were still able to vote (as mentioned above).

    I would add a couple more suggestions to the administrators: Look out for new accounts created by pre paid credit cards and maybe put less weight on voters that all come from a specific area and more weight on those that are not brand new registrations.

    This is like a sad social experiment: even in a contest exposing Wall Street corruption, ya gotta watch out for some corrupt people.

    I think the vast majority, however, are conducting themselves ethically. And you would hope so. If this community cannot be somewhat ethical, God help us!!

  7. Perry,

    The method by which people accessed the voting is not the issue. Front and center on the deepcapture site where the voting widget used to be read the following: “Voting temporarily suspended pending resolution of technical issues” Those technical issues were resolved today.

    Suspended means nobody gets to vote. This message was displayed from Thursday to Sunday yet people were allowed to vote. That is my issued. When voting is suspened, nobody votes. That wasn’t the case.

  8. I agree that when the voting was suspended nobody should have been able to vote, but I noticed that some people could. That is an unfair advantage. I had some people that were pre-registered but they could not vote. It was frustrating for them and frustrating for me. There were times when I had a friend that tried to register and it never sent them the activation. When they tried again, it said that they were already registered but they still could not vote. Some people had to try the registration several times before they could finally vote. As for false or fake votes, I can only speak for myself. All of the votes that I got personally, were from real people with valid credit cards. For example, I had family and friends that visited me for a family wedding and some of them voted from my computer. That does not mean that their votes should not count. Their names, emails and credit cards are ALL legitimate. They can feel free to check them out anytime. There were times when I was tied with someone, behind them or ahead of them it depended on the day. But when the voting was suspended nobody and I mean nobody should have been able to vote.

  9. Funny to see you talking to yourself.

    I’d bet my life all four of your entries (Azkole, Miscurve6, Donnie1228) are getting votes from the exact same “family and friends.”

    It’s also revealing to see you’re already trying to cover up for how most of them come from the same computer too.

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