Pay Per Vote Cheating At The Shoemoney Affiliate Summit West Contest?

by on January 3, 2011

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 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:

Clicking on the link in the HIT brings you here:

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 team.   In fact, looking at Vinay’s entry and 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 team turn a blind eye or crack down on such blatant vote stuffing?

Stay tuned…

UPDATE: The official answer is from the 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 poll, the Mechanical Turk is your answer.

What do you think?  Comment below.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Vinay January 4, 2011 at 4:36 am

Hey Electron, thx for the post. Here is my response –


Danger Brown January 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Yeah, I think that people should have had to go to Shoemoney’s site to vote. Also, paid advertising is one thing, but these people didn’t even know what they were voting for.

I wouldn’t have won anyway, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Good job with the competitive research dude!

Hotdogman January 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm

All’s fair in love, war, and blogging contests. I have a free tee shirt for you in Vegas! I’d like to chat about SBI with you.


Ithamar Fenerson January 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I must admit I was devastated to read this post because it just further proves what I’m beginning to suspect concerning this affiliate marketing as a whole:

It takes money to make money, despite numerous articles stating otherwise.

But hey, Shoemoney’s contest – Shoemoney’s rules. The only reason this sucks is because I am a newbie and although I know I can do this, I don’t have the resources to achieve results quicker. I really am broke and if it wasn’t for my aunt allowing me to stay with her, I would be homeless as well. Vinay’s made no secret that he has the money and resources and he’s going just to kick it, to be a part of the ‘in-crowd’ at the casinos and the Playboy Mansion.

I could have really used the knowledge and info to really get this thing going.

No biggie. Just wanted to say it was a pleasure competing against you and I hope that we can continue to correspond as I could really use whatever knowledge and wisdom you could impart to help me make this successful.

Until next year.

Kirk Taylor January 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm

It goes back to who made up the rules. While it would never have dawned on you to think to use alternative sources to drive traffic and votes, the contest was for whoever had the most votes.

While this is far more controversial, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I wonder who the staff would have picked if they got to pick the winner? Would it have been Vinay?

mike February 15, 2011 at 10:50 am

hmmm. unethical? yes.
but also a pretty creative use of mturk.
i give him props.
more power to him. have fun in vegas.

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