General Question

girlofscience's avatar

How do you feel about cheating on charity web contests?

Asked by girlofscience (7567points) September 11th, 2008

After an exciting and successful day with this post, it was disheartening to see that some competing organizations are clearly cheating. Second Chance Pet Adoption in Elk Grove, IL went from less than 500 votes to over 3000 votes in a matter of about 15 minutes. Having been an active voter recruiter for the past 24 hours, I know how unlikely this is. Clearly, that organization (along with likely the organizations in second and third place) are cheating. The organization in 4th place (Gainesville Pet Rescue) and on have not cheated, as I’ve been monitoring their progress, and although they’re doing a great job, it has been over a reasonable amount of time.

My current question is a sincere one, and I don’t believe the answer is immediately obvious. There’s a lot at stake here, as $5000 will do a lot for the two organizations who win.

If the webmasters at Petfinder are savvy enough, they should be able to moderate cheating. But is it fair to disqualify organizations because someone cheated in order to advance the score? The person who cheated may have had nothing to do with the organization, and it is potentially unfair for Petfinder to disqualify an organization because of something that had nothing to do with them.

Another thing to consider is that “cheating” is part of the contest. Maybe part of the contest is seeing if you have smart-enough supporters to put forth the effort and that any way you can achieve votes is fair game.

It was upsetting to see us go from 5th place to completely off the Top 10 Chart because of those who cheated. Still, I’m honestly not sure how I feel about such “cheating” in this contest. Please share your thoughts.

Either way, I haven’t given up. I have a facebook group going, and depending on how it snowballs, anything could happen. Thanks again for all of your wonderful support.

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14 Answers

sarapnsc's avatar

girlofscience – Well, it isn’t over yet!!!!!! Hang in there! We’ll just vote again tomorrow!
How do you think they are cheating?

girlofscience's avatar

@sarapnsc: By using IP-anonymizing software that can continually change IP addresses. If you download the software, you could keep changing your IP address and vote under an unlimited number of IP addresses. I could do it too, but I’ve resisted the urge in an attempt to be fair.

poofandmook's avatar

@girlofscience: It’s not really disqualification if they’re put back to their rightful place in the top 10, right? And even if you guys don’t get the $5000, some animals somewhere will benefit from it, and that’s the most important part, right? (Though I do think it’s sort of dispicable over a charity thing.)

eambos's avatar

Paulc posed the idea of writting a little code to give your votes a little boost, but then we’d be as bad as them.

girlofscience's avatar

@poofandmook: Yes, I suppose it is benefiting animals somewhere, but the extent to which it will benefit the animals varies by organizations. There are certain animal organizations whose principles I do not agree with, and there are some that do not use all of their money for the right reasons. (And those types may also be the ones more inclined to cheat.) In our hands, the donation would be put to excellent use.

girlofscience's avatar

@Eambos: Yes, but I guess I was trying to get at the argument over whether such a thing is actually “bad” and why… although it may be a bit philosophical for my tastes.

eambos's avatar

I do believe the cheating is bad, because it deprives the truer, honest shelters from getting money that they deserve. Why should the shelter that uses software to gain an advantage get money that is meant for the best shelter? It seems to me that cheating goes against the point of a charity.

richardhenry's avatar

The problem here isn’t with the people participating in the competition, it is with the way that the competition is designed.

I agree, it’s immoral, but the problem is that it isn’t the organization doing the cheating, it’s individuals. The other problem is that you can’t spot the cheating either, because there isn’t a way to really link the IP addresses in the log to spot people using anonymizers.

The best option for the people organizing the competition is to add more hurdles before someone can vote, like email confirmation and only allowing one vote per address. People might have more than one address to vote with, but it’s sure as hell more cumbersome to vote AND have to create an email address somewhere too. You could easily spot people using lots of email addresses on a personally owned domain, too.

scamp's avatar

As long as there are proxy sites and web contests, there will be cheaters. Sad but true. But poof had a good point, the animals will benefit from this, not the cheaters. That is the important part.

Snoopy's avatar

I think that cheating is wrong. While it might not benefit you or your organization this time…..I think it would make you feel better and benefit the process as a whole if you contacted PetFinders w/ the info you and richardhenry shared.

I also agree that the organization itself cannot be held to account. It could just be one very bored person in the hometown of one of those organizations.

tWrex's avatar

The reason they don’t filter by IP, is because there are some organizations that use a shared ip so only 1 person from that organization can vote. And the reason they don’t make you fill out a form is because less people would vote if they had to give out that information. It’s just the way it is. And the site uses cookies so you can clear them as some of the people on the other thread have pointed out so it’s an easy circumvention system as we’ve seen since the shelter that @girlofscience has gotten loads of votes from the same people. So now it becomes, is it ok for everyone to cheat or just those that aren’t winning? And if another organization wins is everyone going to be pissed that they cheated, even though they did the same thing?

bluemukaki's avatar

Doesn’t the website use cookies? I don’t think that people need to use IP blockers at all…theoretically if I told my browser to not accept cookies and refreshed the page which submits the vote, it added a vote (when I was putting in my 3 or so votes, shhhh). Maybe they’re just auto-refreshing the page with cookies turned off?

I think we should tell the website that it can be done very easily so they can stop it for next time.

By the way, 1950 votes, we’re not too far behind the cheaters!~

girlofscience's avatar


When I went to sleep last night, we had 700-some votes!! This is unbelievable!

briana's avatar

i think that its funnie i mean i still dont know how it feels but i laugh every time i see that question up there on the screen

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