Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Voting Concerns

It is very disappointing that we must, yet again, address voting problems. But address, we must.

We've been reading the blog comments and fielding emails and are aware that many of you have questions and concerns about how some entries seem to move up or down quickly and often dramatically. We hear ya and we're very frustrated by the whole thing too!

While we all hoped that entrants and their friends and families would have followed the golden rule in our contest voting, it seems that some have adopted a "win at all cost" approach. To make things fair for everyone, we have been watching carefully, over the course of the contest – reviewing voting patterns and data, looking for votes that violate the rules, especially the “one vote per person per day” rule. When we find violating votes, we remove them. Obviously, if fraudulent votes are removed from one entry’s tally, its percentage of the total votes likely goes down while the percentage of other votes goes up. Contrary to concerns raised by a few of you, we are not trying to "rig" the outcome, we are working to prevent a few bad apples in the voting world from unfairly skewing the results.

We carefully monitor voting reports on a daily basis. Our system logs which e-mail address votes for which card and we're able to quickly confirm the email addresses that are created for the purpose of fraudulent voting, so for now, the bad votes come out in large chunks (hence the percentage swings). It doesn't take CSI Miami to figure out the fraudulent voting, it's just very time consuming right now but we've been working hard to get things cleaned up. It's becoming a full-time job!

We have many ways to track votes that look fishy and we will continue to crack down on them. Please continue to vote fairly and don't let this contest go to the dogs (so to speak). We'd love to spend our energy on all the goodness tied to this contest and in dreaming up what's next, not in monitoring voting reports. So please encourage everyone you know to keep things clean through the next 11 days - the cleaner it is, the sooner we'll be able to announce the finalist that won fair and square. So vote with confidence knowing that we'll get all the bad votes out before the winner is crowned: It’s just a slow process right now, but we are on it.

In sum, we hear ya... we're with ya... and the winner will be the one with the most legitimate votes at the end of the day, of that you can be sure!

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think it's wonderful that you're actually taking the time to weed out fraudulent votes. That must be a tremendous and time-consuming undertaking! That said, I'm a little concerned about the removal of votes placed by email addresses that appear to have been created for the purpose of fraudulent voting. I'm not sure how it's possible to make that determination, but I'll be the first to step up and say that myself as well as another colleague did create web-based email accounts so we could vote in the contest that just ended. (We're not entrants.) We work in the same office, use a public computer, and our work emails are not to be used for anything other than business purposes, hence, the web-based accounts. I do hope our votes aren't being thrown out!

KC.TBone said...

Hi Anonymous! The method you described is A.O.K. so keep the votes coming and know they are counting! :)

Susie said...

Hello Judgy I was not sure where to email you , but I wanted to let you know that as you can see my votes went down extremely and there hardly any votes for my Little Bird because I stopped harrasing all my friends and family about voting. However, I am just grateful that my card was printed and sold in the Hallmark Stores. I have been coping with Tick Tock being sick so as you can see I have not really been putting my 1 vote per day myself. Just today he was diagnosed with PDD (Proventicular Dilitation Disease) please read about it, but the worst part is that it can be fatal, but some birds can live with it. So I am trying to stay positive because he is my SuperStar. Imagine I have had like 6 visits to the vet, I have paid like enough $ for like 5 Tick Tocks (AVIAN VETS are not cheap)All I ask is to say a prayer for him, and again I appreciate the fact that My Tick Tock is A Superstar in Hallmark. Good Luck to the winning Card. Thanks to ALL

judgy judgerson said...

Oh, Susie!

I'm so sorry to hear about Tick Tock's condition. What a wonderful mom he has, taking such good care of him. I will definitely say a prayer for your - for our - Superstar. Thanks again for sharing him with us and good luck in helping Tick Tock live with his PDD.

Take good care,
Judgy

kmbrco said...

Dear Susie,
I am so sorry to hear of Tick Tock's illness. It is so heartbreaking to watch such special creatures suffer.

I hope with all my heart that Tick Tock can be treated and will feel much better soon.

I have 4 incredible parakeets that bring an unmeasurable amount of joy into my life. I can just imagine how you are feeling.

We'll keep you and Tick Tock in our thoughts.

Kimberly

Susie said...

Thank you Judgy & Kimberly for your thoughts . It is hard to cope with this because all you can do is try to treat him, and make him as comfortable as possible. Thanks again for your thoughts Susie

R.D. said...

I know public voting is considered all American like, and just like apple pie and all...but personally, I never liked apple pie. The American public are prone by nature to vote for their friends, co-workers, and family, or even a person they knew from their past than they are for what they feel is truly the best card. Therefore, public voting is nothing more than a popularity contest. This has been seen on American Idol voting as well, and even in that far advanced technology, the die-hards have had their way a few times.

I belonged to a few photo clubs who have photo contests. The best one is where the professionals who ran those sites, like www.betterphoto.com for instance, were the choosers of the best photos. If something like that website can have enough staff to choose the best out of 10,000 (and we all trust and respect their decision), then Hallmark should definately have enough as well.

I know I myself would be perfectly fine with Hallmark staff choosing the best cards and respect that. Quite frankly, and as sad as it is to say although factual, and it's just human nature, but America cannot be trusted to vote based on merit and not on who knows who.

I am disabled. I don't have co-workers. My family is disjointed throughout the eastern sea board, and they are not all intune to computers. Because we stay in more than go out due to illness, we don't have "friend" base. Therefore, if I ever get on the short list, I could only be a winner purely through my talent, and that is exactly how I want it. That would be a win worthy of pride. But it is also a win I don't expect to ever have as long as public voting is dominant.

I would suggest to Hallmark that it do away with the public voting, and leave the choices up to your staff, the professionals whom have ample experience to know what America will want to buy and enjoy. I don't see how anyone can deny that as respectful if they enter at all to your well-known name and contests.

Just my 2 dah-lahs worth.

R.D. said...

Susie

You make my point prudent. IF you had to harrass family and friends to vote, and then saw your scores going down when you didn't, doesn't that speak words to those beyond what was said?

Harrassing family and friends for votes has been "SO done". It's like getting a link letter in your email that you must send to 12 of your other friends or have bad luck. It's just, well...annoying.

And lets say you do have a great fan base, and you do win the grand prize because of it. Does anyone really think that their friend base won't feel they were the reason why you won? Wouldn't you and others rather win based on your talent, and not on how many people you can harrass to vote? I know I would.

Hallmark, this is a perfect example of what is happening here that I don't feel is a more professional approach. Not singling out this poster, it is happening at Hallmark, and at many other sites for contests. Pet photo contests are infamous for puplic-pop votes. Does Hallmark want to rank up there with a pet photo contest? Or would you rather leave your own professionals to choose wisely?

All you enterants should just imagine what it would be like to win based on being "chosen" by Hallmark, and not by the amount of people you know who felt some kind of obligation to a family member, friend, or co-worker. Wouldn't the win be sweeter?

I think that is something to be seriously considered.

Again, just my 2 dah-lahs worth.

Vicky A. from CT said...

I have to say, I do agree with R.D.. I would feel more worthy (and honored)of a win attained by “wowing” a panel of experts, than one decided by my Mom (or husband, who would unfortunately have to suffer dire consequences
should he vote otherwise).

Knowing that I am already a finalist in the “your Holiday” contest, I have been composing a brief email (in my head) that I’d like to send out to my friends in preparation for the mini-contest/voting stuff. Prior to reading R.D.’s entry, I had already
decided to put the clause “only if you really like it” along with my “invitation” and instructions to vote. My objective is to drive people to the site to see ALL the
cards, and draw attention to the contest itself and the cause that it will serve. Maybe if
everyone did the same, we can drum up some awareness for Hallmark(Product)RED, and see the best card win at the same time… if we tell our friends to vote for the card they actually like best, that is.

Anywho, although I would be absolutely THRILLED to win using any method Hallmark chooses
(Let’s be clear about that!), I must say that I am MOST honored with my “Finalist” status , since it was, in fact, determined by the Randys, Paulas, and Simons of the Hallmark world (poor, poor Paula).

Whatever happens, I must make this very clear to our friends at Hallmark:
And that is that the English language alone is inadequate to express the gratitude , excitement,
and hope that I feel and that you are responsible for. If this seems like a regular old contest for you, you are taking for granted that you work for Hallmark--- and that the rest of us really want your jobs---the creative ones, anyway (ha ha…no, seriously…ha, just kidding, um, yeah).
You’ve stirred up some old dreams, given us all a creative outlet, and given me something new, exciting, and very different than the norm to look forward to. So, what I’m trying to say is: THANKS
To all the folks at Hallmark who are involved in this contest… (and to whoever created Hoops and Yoyo, by the way---totally unrelated to anything about this post---but truly worthy of my admiration and laughter!)

GOOD LUCK TO ALL.

dmiller said...

Sophia is entering the last week of competition very thankful for all the fun she had this summer with Hallmark! It was probably even more exciting for me to hear on a weekly basis from friends and family that found, bought, and/or received her card.

Sophia would also like to share some exciting news: she will be a mommy at the end of the month!

Anonymous said...

It hasn't been mentioned, but I think sales figures are a good "winner' determinant!

Wordy McGee said...

We've been getting suggestions on changing the way our contests work, saying "bye-bye" to public voting and saying "hello, there" to Hallmark-only judging. Here's the deal, though. We want these contests to be about you, our friends, not just about Hallmark. It's more about the larger community and less about us.

Plus, we'll be honest; we're not always right when we pick finalists we think will be favorites. For example, in the YourFunny*ness contest, Kristi Hillard, our top seller, started out as an alternate. She became a finalist when one of the other finalists didn't turn in his or her paperwork. It's a good thing, too. People love her card!

We're always working on new ways to do voting. But one thing's for sure; we're keeping you involved!

Wordy McGee said...

Dustin,

Yay for Sophia! Please pass along our congratulations on her upcoming mommyhood! We'll look forward to pictures!

mamapup said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
spiderprincess said...

Hi Dustin and Sophia (mom-2-be),
I just wanted to let you know that I love your picture and have voted for it from the beginning (well, when I found out about the contest). I vote for a couple more....rufus, and the teeny dog with the fire hydrant. Anyway, I was a finalist in the funnyness contest, and didnt come close to winning (mine was the pot of puppies), but I agree with you that the best part is having people tell you they bought your card from Hallmark...pretty cool. (; Anyway, congrats on being a puppy grandpa and good luck in this final week....I'll keep voting....
AND congrats to the holiday finalists....beautiful work so far. I wish I was artistic like that other than photography. (;

Holly said...

Speaking as one of the chinchilla voters, I can pretty much guarantee that the votes aren't by automatic anything. It's on a popular chinchilla forum and the thread about it has over 15000 hits. There are over 2000 active members who want that chinchilla to win and they vote daily.

I am voting from a gmail address because I don't use my personal email for anything. The votes better count.

tuneses said...

Perhaps next time, instead of having the contest run for a year and a half (or maybe it just feels that way), a shorter period of time would be more prudent. I understand that Hallmark wants to sell as many cards as possible, but a shorter contest would lead to less griping and less chance for mistakes.

Also, as one of the people voting for "the little mouses" I can tell you I vote faithfully every day, so do the other 4000 members of the forum we all belong to that are voting for them. I highly doubt it's auto voting (since I don't even know what that is) but rather "volume" voting being done legitimately.

TAF said...

This has been a great contest. It's fun to see the results of so many creative brains and more than anything ...adorable pets.

mamapup, it's just that the chinchilla folks have a huge following on our forum. There's a reminder thread so we tend to vote en masse when the thread pops up.

Jelous Much? said...

Mamapup - it is poor sportsmanship to accuse another entry of cheating. Especially on the hallmark blog. Shame on you.

The chinchilla picture is very popular and is all over the internet, so it's not too difficult to believe that lots of people are voting for it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
m1stressnine said...

Is it really that hard to accept that the chinchilla community has come together in order to vote for our favorite fuzzy? Look, there will always be dogs and cats and even birds on cards. This was a great opportunity for chinchillas to have some exposure too. It is unfortunate that our enthusiam for this wonderful critter is criticized, flamed, and punished.

Anonymous said...

once again, i just stating my wonderment over the amount of people involved in voting...be they chinchilla people or dog people..i prefer hedgehogs.

Rich said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Go Chinchillas!! This blog may actually increase the chinchilla votes since it seems many of the votes keep getting taken away for some unknown reason. People on the forum are now all fired up about our "little mouses" potentially losing so thanks for the lighting the fire!!

Anonymous said...

mamapup.. there is more than one anonymous(anonymi). i am still with ya.

wendog said...

I'm one of the finalists and I'd just like to chime in on this debate. Overall, I'm just super, super grateful to be part of this. To have been chosen in the top twenty? Having my christmas cards already picked out in September? Priceless. Thank you.

However, asking my friends and family to vote everyday? Gives me the heebie jeebies. Have you considered having people to be able to vote just once?

I would also offer the additional feedback that my friends that I have directed to the site, they have alot of trouble finding any info on the contest. I know it is under the menu for "what's new" but they don't.

Perhaps closer to the active voting period there is a direct link on the homepage? Anyone born before 1972 can't figure it out. Also if your major base - the people who love hallmark cards like us - knew it was there, it would promote the concern about "winning based on the card you made vs. popularity".

Best of luck to everyone. This has been really fun to be a part of.

Wordy McGee said...

Wendog,

Congrats on that snazzy finalist status. And congrats on getting those holiday cards picked out early (whew)! We're glad to get your feedback on any contest issues and we're glad to report that we're already working on making the process easier and more fun for everyone. That includes voting, finding out about the contest, etc. So we hear ya. And we're work, work, working to improve the contest experience. In the meantime, it might help to point your friends and family to hallmark.com/you instead of hallmark.com. That way, they'll find your fabulous design more quickly. Hope this helps for now. Glad you're along for this exciting ride.