It's Time to Change the Way Official Contests are Ran
James Wilson
United States
New Haven
Indiana
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I, like many of you, find it necessary at times to revise or at least think about revising rules in order to fix or improve faulty situations to make a system that is broken better conform to standards that reward strategy and punish cheating and laziness as viable paths to victory. What follows is my proposal to fix such a system here on BGG.

So, I just lost my 175th consecutive contest. Yes, I’ve entered every contest for the last two and a half years, and not won so much as a meeple (you can check my profile if you doubt this, I kept all the microbadges). This is getting rather old, especially since I take the time necessary to get all or most of the questions correct. I would not be surprised a bit if there are several other members of this community who have had much worse luck than me. It is for us, and everyone really, that I would like to propose some changes to the contest rules.

This only regards official BGG-run contests, and has nothing to do with user-run contests. Below are listed what I see as significant problems with the contest system and my proposed solution. Please add more problems and solutions or comment on the ones already here. I would appreciate reasoned responses and not comments like, “Just deal with it.” Disagreeing is welcome but I would appreciate it if people put some thought into their responses.
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1. Family: Puppet Wars
James Wilson
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Problem 1: There are many sock puppet accounts used for the sole purpose of entering contests allowing certain users the possibility to get many more entries than you and I.

Since the time I started looking, I have noticed that there are usually (sometimes as much as 25%) several contest winners from accounts that have no apparent activity other than entering contests. Furthermore, I have even had acquaintances admit me to me that, yes indeed the accounts were created to get more contest entries. Because of the system design, there is nothing to stop people from having numerous fake accounts effectively increasing their odds of winning exponentially. This is a broken and unfair system.

Possible Solution: Require contest entrants to have supported the site. I would suggest that, in order to enter a contest, a user must either have a supporter badge for the previous or current year that the contest is in. Alternately, for those users who support the site through content and do not wish to or cannot afford to donate money, there should be an entry fee (1 GG?) per contest. So there would be a choice: either have a supporter badge, or pay geekgold to enter. This should deter some of the fake account entries. I presume in most of these cases, the owner of the accounts will not spend the money needed to become a supporter or the time needed to earn geekgold just to enter contests, but even if they do, at least the site will be getting more support instead of rewarding dishonest users with free games.

Possible Solution #2: Randomize the questions and answers for the contests. I suspect that what happens is that individual contests have a single set of identical questions and answers. I assume that this is true because users are warned not to post answers. So, people with multiple accounts can simply answer the questions from one contest and then use those same answers for their other accounts. Randomizing the questions and answers would create more work for these people. However, the only deterrent would be a slightly higher time commitment, so I favor the other solution personally. But, a combination of the two would probably be even better.
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2. Board Game: For The Win [Average Rating:5.77 Overall Rank:7712]
James Wilson
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Problem 2: People entering contests for games that they will likely never play and potentially robbing people who would really like to have that particular game the opportunity of winning.

I for one (and I know there are many others out there) enter contests simply because I can. I enter contests for games that I have no interest in playing just because they are there. If I were to win, I would sell the game, give it to someone else, or just hang on to it for no good reason. To me, that is really selfish, since there is probably someone else who entered the contest that would have really wanted that game. So, for this problem, I admit that I am also guilty. My only justification – one that is completely unfounded – is that my desire to win one of these contests makes me enter all of them just to win something.

Possible Solution: Upon having won a contest, entrants would have to wait a certain time period to win again. I have noticed that some individuals have won more than one contest in the same year. Now it’s entirely possible that they really wanted the games they won; however, slowing down those individuals’ win rate is a mild drawback to deterring users who enter contests for games that they do not want. If I knew that I could only win one game in a given time period, then I would be more selective about contests that I enter and would make sure that the game I am trying to win is one that I actually want because I would not have another opportunity to win a later contest. This would have the added benefit of spreading out the winners a bit more. I was once a member of a video game community that did contests but only allowed people to win once every six months to make it less likely that people will win multiple times before others have won at all.
 
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3. Board Game: Take a Wild Guess [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
 
James Wilson
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Problem 3: People guessing on the questions.

I often see in the comments section people bragging that they guessed and got 4 out of 6 correct or something of that nature. This is a problem for a couple of reasons. First, it indicates the person entering the contest probably doesn’t really care if they win that particular game or not (see problem above). Secondly, it kind of undermines the purpose of the contest which is for people to learn about new products that publishers have available. So, with the people guessing, you essentially have people who do not really want the game and who do not really even want to learn about the game as a possible purchase entering the contests and possibly winning (again, see the problem above).

Possible Solution: Take the square of the correct answers and do away with the one free entry just for entering.

Current Contest Rules: Person A answers five out of five questions correctly. That person gets 11 entries (two per question/one for entering). Person B guesses and gets two out of five questions correct. That person gets five entries (6 less than Person A).

Revised Contest Rules: Person A above would get 55 entries (1 squared, plus 2 squared…), and Person B would get 5 entries (50 less than Person A).

Under these conditions, there would be a strong motivation for people to do the research needed to answer all of the questions correctly if they really want the game. It does not completely eliminate the chance for the guessers to win, but it greatly decreases it.
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