An ‘interesting’ “issue” was brought up at a recent convention that I was at. Personally, I don’t feel this is a ‘major’ issue to address. In fact, I’ve written this a couple times, then thought no — not necessary — but my mother (who is an avid sweeper) felt it important to address, so I am. First off — Sweepstakes Ninja uses “clean” links when listing sweepstakes. So that leads to the question — whats a “clean” link?
Some other sites use referral based links when promoting sweepstakes. This means that they get an entry every time that you get an entry. While this is perfectly legitimate way of promoting links (simply because, that is how ‘some’ sweepstakes are designed — get more entries the more you promote it — and a “great” way ) — the ‘manner’ in which it was being done on some sites was being questioned.
Basically, “some” of these “promotional” sites were trying to hide the “fact” that they were they were getting additional entries for promoting a sweepstakes — and instead pretending to be a neutral 3rd party with no vested interest. (I.e., saying “Hey! Enter this sweepstakes! Great odds!” — when in reality, they were saying that simply because it was great odds for “them” if you entered). If they were ‘up-front’ – that would be perfectly a-ok. It was just because they were trying to ‘hide’ that fact they received bonus entries, that some people felt that wasn’t fair, and hence calling it a ‘dirty’ link.
So… Let’s say (hypothetically) they had 5,000 people enter. (That rarely happens by the way. If they could get that many entrants — they’d have companies knocking down their door giving them a $100k/year job as a marketer). But let’s assume that magically they knew how to get that many people to enter. If it was a “referral” based entry — that would mean that there’d be 5,000 ‘individual’ entries + 5,000 entries for the person doing the referring. Meaning — that one person doing the referring would get a 50% chance of winning a prize, meanwhile everyone else would get a 0.01% chance of winning something. Now — remember — this is an ‘extreme’ example, but I am trying to illustrate a point. In reality — they’d be lucky if they got maybe 100 or 200 ‘bonus’ entries, out of 10,000. Hence, giving them an “edge” of maybe 1% or 2%.
So the issue within the community is not that someone ‘would’ get that many entries — but it was the fact that they were trying to “hide” the fact that they were doing it — and instead, pretend they were 100% neutral in promoting a sweepstakes.
So… How do you find out if it is a “dirty” link?
1. If the user/website goes out of their way to say how “nice” they are and “neutral” 3rd party they are — you might want to check. Doesn’t mean it “is” a dirty link, just means you might want to check.
2. If number one is true — then check and see Usually in the sweepstakes link, if it has something like a “referrer” tag. I.e., “referrer=sweeper123”. So — if the sweepstakes website was “http://www.win-a-major-prize.com”, and it had a ‘referrer’ tag, then it would look like “http://www.win-a-major-prize.com/?referrer=sweeper123”.
3. So if the above is true, what do you do? Well — if you feel it was not an ‘honest’ promotion (i.e., the person was not forthcoming about there referrer status) — then you can simply remove the ‘2nd’ part of the URL when visiting the website, and they won’t get an entry when you enter.
In reality though — it’s not something you ‘really’ need to worry about. It’s basically like the story of chicken little crying “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” While it’s true someone “may” get additional entries — the “number” of entries they’d get from that tends to be really small relative to the total number of entrants. Simply because — for many people running sweepstakes, it is REALLY REALLY hard for them to get people to take action. And plus — BIG thing — it is STILL a game of chance. It doesn’t matter HOW many entries someone gets — all they need is “one” entry to win. They need to be picked as the “winning” entrant.
And I remember hearing a story as a kid about a very rich man who tried to “rig” the lottery. He happened to have $1 million dollars lying around, and wanted to see if he could win $10,000,000. So what did he do? He purchased 1 million tickets ($1 each), with as many ticket combinations as possible. (Since there were about 70 million possible combinations, that means he covered about 1.4% of all possible combinations). Guess what? He lost. He did not win the $10,000,000 — let alone the price he spent for the tickets.
The reason I decided to address this is simply because at the convention — there was a lot of ‘frantic’ confusion amonst some people. But it’s nothing to worry about — so, don’t worry about this. If you are concerned about someone getting “bonus” entries — then you can always remove the referral I.D. But — it would be more important for you to worry about making sure you get entered into as many different sweepstakes as possible — thus increasing your chances of winning — instead of worrying about whether or not someone may or may not be getting a bonus entry.
That being said — good luck! And happy sweeping!