Some of you have noticed an addition to the Rafflecopter forms when you enter a giveaway I am organizing and hosting. If you've missed it:
I've banned Sweeps/Giveaway Accounts.
**EDITED**: It's come to my attention that people seem to think I am targeting ALL sweeps/giveaway accounts in this post, and I apologize that this post is worded as such. If this is your hobby, something you do to relieve stress, I am not judging you! This post is meant to explain how a group of rude accounts made your life more difficult, and even offers some options on how to work around it.
Please see the last 2 sections of this post to help you understand what we're watching for and how to avoid it.
This kind of change warrants an explanation and that this what this post will do. It will also give you, my readers, the opportunity to weigh in and get additional questions answered. Understand I will not change this new policy. I may remove the entry option on the giveaway forms but the base line of them being banned will ALWAYS be in my Terms and Conditions.
The rogue sweeps/giveaway accounts have been an irritant for most bloggers for quite awhile. There's not a few days that go by where someone isn't complaining about them in some fashion. If you check closely on things you will notice that I'm not the only one with these kinds of rules, and chances are even if they aren't listed directly, most bloggers follow similar personal rules when pulling winners.
I'm not the only one who dislikes this, I'm just the one being vocal about it at this moment.
Let's start with the definition, as Me, My Shelf and I sees it, of a Sweeps/Giveaway account.
I view them as an account that is used only or mostly for entering giveaway. Where 75% of the tweets/posts shared on a daily basis are for giveaways that that person is NOT hosting, but has entered and is hoping to win.
Currently this issue exists almost 100% only on Twitter and Instagram.
What exactly does it mean that they are "banned"?
So they can't enter a giveaway you host/organize at all?
No, not at all!!
Basically what this means is, if you have a sweeps/giveaway account you are still more than welcome to enter – you just are not allowed to use that sweeps/giveaway account to do so. Use the other options, there are always many to pick from. Simple.
To make this easier to understand, when I check your Instagram or Twitter entry when pulled- if I see ONE non-giveaway tweet/post in 2-3 scrolls, you win. JUST ONE!
The 75% is really more of a 90% when you think about it – I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm trying to weed out a major hassle for myself and protect my clients and their current and potential fans.
So Wait, You Check The Entries?
Yes, I do and I'm not entirely sure why people find this so weird or shocking.
To not check that the person did what they said they did is like giving someone a A+ on a test simply because they handed in the paper – and not bothering to check to see if any of the answers are correct.
I have always checked entries, and I will continue to do so every day in the future. And this goes for 98% of all blog hosted giveaways.
Memorize this: YES – Entries are checked and verified before you are picked as a winner. Always!
Here's how the pulling the winner goes:
1. Click "Generate a winner"
2. Raffelcopter spits out a winners name, contact e-mail and entry (one of the however many you did is chosen)
3. I take that entry, be it a tweet, the fact that you followed on Goodreads…whatever…and I check it. I follow the link. I verify it.
4. If it meets the rules and regulations of MMSAI, and is complete in what was asked of you (for instance, those of you who think you're super sneaky because you "Tweeted then Deleted" are actually not sneaky at all) then that person wins!
This process should take me 5-10 minutes per giveaway/per prize. Unfortunately because of the over-population of Sweeps/Giveaway accounts (and the sprinkling of cheaters…who I will touch on in the coming days), this process takes me now closer to an hour per giveaway, particularly if the giveaway has 2-3-4-5 items being given away in it.
How could Sweeps/Giveaway Accounts be causing you this extra time?
Take the above and do it approximately 46 times (Interesting Factoid: this is my record number of entries pulled for one giveaway…), for each prize in each giveaway. Understanding that once determined to be a Sweeps/Giveaway account I "Disqualify" them from that particular giveaway by clicking a button that takes them out of the pool of names.
No, seriously I'm not kidding. Between the Sweeps/Giveaway account and those that think that they are beating the rules by faking entries, I spend a huge amount of time pulling winners.
Also, please put this into perspective – if I have 9 giveaways that all end on the same day – which happens quite a lot, that's approximately 9 hours of pulling winners. An entire work day. I am ONE person running this blog, this tour company and this design business. I do not have a staff – and I needed to cut out wasted time, so here's the cut.
Who cares? You run the giveaways, this is what comes with it. Quit complaining and just let it be.
You'd think so, wouldn't you – only I found a way to lessen the blow. By alerting people up front and making the the first option to enter stating you should not use a sweeps/giveaway account to enter, making sure they know that they will not win here– my time for pulling winners has dropped back to near the regular amount of time.
Also if I did this, only about 6 different people (depending on the giveaway) would ever win. Ever. Seriously, like EVER. So, if I didn't put in the effort to make things fair – why bother having a giveaway at all since these professional giveaway people literally spend 10-12 hours a day entering contests. You stand no chance at winning unless you too quit your day job and stay home to do nothing but enter giveaways all day.
Wait hold on, so what is exactly wrong with them – I mean you can't hate them just because they take up your time…why not just let them win?
I don't hate them, that's a strong word. I am irritated with them, and frustrated and a little befuddled. But hate, no. I shouldn't have used that descriptive.
The short story of my dislike is this: It came to my attention several months back that several of my sweeps/giveaway regulars were using their winnings for nefarious reasons. Winning signed books and selling them for profit, publically announcing they tossed out things won because they just wanted the gift card or another part of the prize pack. Taking what they won from me and turning around to use it for a giveaway of their own. This last one will always happen once in a while, I mean, who hasn't won a book – read it and decided to pass it on? But every, single time?
Throwing things away?
Selling for profit?
No Sir. You will not win here.
It's very sad, because some people choose to enter giveaways as a way to unwind from their day, a stress reliever or just as a hobby. But the big bad "in-it-for-the-wrong-reasons" group has thrown elbows and pushed all the "innocent-and-trying-to-have-fun" group out of the way.
Bottom Line *or* How Can I Help Prove My Sweeps/Giveaway Account Isn't One Of The Bad Apples:
Giveaways help my clients generate new followers across all social media, it puts their book in the faces of people who might not otherwise know about it. Also, they LOVE to do it – to give back to fans and potential fans. They are a necessary part of promotion, one that I will not stop doing because we have a few bad apples.
Is every account that's mostly/all giveaways in it for horrible reasons?
But a few have ruined if for you, and I'm sorry.
I am doing my best to pay attention to accounts when I stop in, make note of who's fine, who just entered a lot today but not every day. These things take me seconds to note and I watch, and I am paying attention I promise!
Helping me know you're not a bad apple: Throw out a non-giveaway related tweet/pic on Instagram on days you spend a lot of time entering – anything, something vague. Type in the color of your shirt for all I care, take a picture of an apple – basically - prove you're not a bot – or just forego the Instagram or Twitter options on the giveaways. That's pretty much it. Should you HAVE to do this, no, but it's an option for you.
Entering a lot on a Giveaway Hop – don't worry – I know it's a giveaway hop – no judgment, no banishment from just hopping along. That's the whole point, right?
There are real people out there who WANT these prizes for what they are – not for what they can get for them when they win them. Why not just walk up to a 14 year old who finally got the ARC they were dying for and rip it out of their hands? To me it's the same thing.
Have any questions? Drop them below.
Planning to be rude in your comment – I'd skip it. I don't tolerate anything like that here. Rude and nasty comments will be deleted.
*This post was edited to include extra information on 8/30 to clear up some things brought up in the comments section.