Vinay!?! You should be ashamed of yourself!
It appears that at least one finalist in the Shoemoney Affiliate Summit West contest is cheating and paying for votes. Shocking that in 2011 a random Affiliate Marketer would not have issues with a little vote rigging huh? <—- Insert sarcasm here.
I took a look at the results of the 2009 ASW contest to see the winning entry and found something odd in the voting results. The second place finisher had 10x the votes of the 3rd place guy. And the first place finisher had 20x the votes of 3rd place and down.
Now I’m not a United Nations approved poll watcher, but twenty times the votes?
My BS detector runs a little hot, as you can see from the rest of this site. Look at last years Shoemoney ASW contest entries and see for yourself. To me the winner certainly didn’t look 20x better than the rest of the field. Maybe he has a ton of friends, and good for him. I asked my friends and followers to vote for me too. However, I have no way of verifying a year old vote and I don’t want to question it.
HOWEVER, for this year, I did a little snooping around while the trails would still be warm. If I were to stuff the Shoemoney ballet box (which I would never do, seriously, look at the rest of this site for my Ethical Marketing record), how would I do it?
It’s a Polldaddy.com poll, which have becoming increasingly bullet proof to automated stuffing the past few years since they were acquired by Automattic Back in 2009 anyone with a tiny bit of scripting could stuff the heck out of a poll by erasing cookies and the like. Now they have it locked down pretty well.
I’ve been a fan of the Amazon Mechanical Turk croudsourcing marketplace for years and that seems the ideal way to cheat and pay for quick votes for low cost. A quick search on the Turk yielded the following HIT:
My guess based on past MTurk campaigns at the $0.05 level is that he’ll get around 50-150 votes a day and the vast majority of them will be from IP’s in China, India and the Philippines.
Note that I’m posting this on January 3rd, the day before the results have been released. I have no reason to think Vinay would win this contest over the other 9 entries as the results are hidden from everyone but the Shoemoney.com team. In fact, looking at Vinay’s entry and Alexa.com ranking for amount of traffic he generates, I wouldn’t have even put him in the top three. Now though, he’ll probably get the most votes.
If I had brought this up after the results were released, people might think I was just bitter and cry “Photoshop! Faked!”
So I bring it up now. The affiliate marketing landscape is chock full of cheats, liars, and scam artists, so much so that the FTC can barely keep up. Will the Shoemoney.com team turn a blind eye or crack down on such blatant vote stuffing?
UPDATE: The official answer is from the shoemoney.com team is… any method of gaining votes is allowed. It’s their contest, their rules. And Vinay has been awarded the winner of the contest. Anyone looking to hack a Polldaddy.com poll, the Mechanical Turk is your answer.
What do you think? Comment below.