We’ve launched many contests to attract more subscribers to our email program. While we have extensive development resources, there’s no way we will be developing the contest ourselves. Why? Well…
I’ve cheated in an online contest. Years ago, we had a regional social media contest to find the most famous man and woman in town. After I viewed the source of the contest page, I quickly figured out that I could add a vote just by going to a specific URL embedded in the code. The contest developer thought he was being clever and blocked anyone from the same IP address.
So, I added an iframe on my site that pointed to my voting link. Everyone that opened my page that day inadvertently voted for me. Throughout the day, I would check the voting scores and remove the iframe whenever I got ahead on the votes.
Before you judge me, I came clean before winning the contest. I wrote the developer and let him know that I cheated. And then, I spoke at the event about how easy it was to cheat in online contests. Chances are that if you have your developers whip up an online contest, you will open the doors to cheating. I’ve viewed hundreds of online contests and am amazed at how many use these simple methods that welcome cheaters.
How People Cheat In Online Voting Contests
Online contests work through embedded site widgets, and social applications have extensive features that prevent fraud. Of course, they also help you optimize the contests, use them across digital mediums, and measure the response.
This infographic from Easypromos walks through three practices that lead to fraud in online contests:
- The use of vote automation software.
- Online vote buying.
- Using stolen email accounts via phishing to cast votes.
How Easypromos Prevents Fraud In Online Voting Contests
Easypromos employs a comprehensive Fraud Control System with several security controls to detect and deter fraud in online voting contests. Here’s how they ensure the integrity and fairness of their contests:
- Detection of online vote buying: Easypromos has measures in place to identify instances where participants attempt to buy votes online to gain an unfair advantage.
- Detection of fake accounts: The system can detect and flag fake accounts that are not linked to authentic identities. This prevents participants from casting multiple invalid votes using fake profiles.
- Database of suspicious users: Easypromos maintains an up-to-date database of accounts that have been previously involved in vote buying or identified as fake. Users with accounts in this database have to go through an extra verification process to prove the authenticity of their accounts before they can vote.
- Control of IP addresses and vote automation software: The system can detect when a user tries to cast multiple votes in a short period, which is often done using automation software. Alerts are sent to the administrator in such cases.
- Detect patterns of fraudulent votes: The system keeps a record of patterns commonly associated with fraudulent voting activities. This data is referred to each time a vote is cast to identify suspicious behavior.
- Use of captchas and extra verification system: To prevent the use of robots or other automation systems, captchas and additional automatic checks are implemented if suspicious voting activity is detected.
- Double opt-in (optional): Contest organizers can enable a double email opt-in process, requiring users to verify their identity through an email link before their vote is counted. This helps minimize the use of stolen or fake accounts and provides organizers with a database of authentic email addresses.
- Fraud alert registration: When an invalid vote is detected, an internal alert is recorded and linked to the participant’s entry. These alerts are categorized based on intentionality or seriousness, and administrators can analyze and download them for review.
- Fraud Index Calculation: Easypromos calculates the Fraud Index, which indicates the probability that a user’s votes were obtained through fraudulent means. Contest organizers can use this index as a factor to validate a participant’s entry.
- Validity Report for participants: A report that includes the Fraud Index is generated for each participant, based on the alerts registered to their entry. Contest administrators can share this report with the user to justify the validity of their entry.
By implementing these security controls and measures, Easypromos aims to ensure fair and transparent voting contests for their community, detect and prevent bad practices, and minimize disputes between participants.