It’s pretty hard to win an online contest and especially when professional contest players attack every competition out there to win as many prizes as they can. Those “professionals” are not the real target of a brand’s or a media company’s contests and they can potentially have a negative impact on their business (more info about that here).

Over the years, we have developed strategies and features to help you prevent cheating in your online contests. Here are some tips against that scourge that can be easily managed through the Qualifio platform. Read on!

Back to basics

1. Terms & Conditions

This is your number one tool! You need to clearly state your rules and have a smart module to select your winners. It means that you can ban any participant as of right if you have the slightest suspicion of cheating or ask for the winner’s ID in order to prove that it matches the data provided during participation. You can also manage limits on entries (one per person, one per day or per hour) and state that a person cannot win if he has already won one of your contests in the past X months. Don’t forget, you’re the master!

2. Email validation

To verify an email address, send a confirmation email to participant’s email address. Their entry will be validated only if the link is clicked in the email. This prevents people from entering with fake email addresses and ensures you to collect consistent and qualitative data. You can also choose to send a confirmation email once or once for each new campaign the entrant participates in.

3. Use a Facebook connect or your own SSO (Single Sign-On)

Authentication is another way to discourage cheaters and avoid anonymous participation. Each participant must create an account and log in to access your campaign. Here are 4 reasons to connect your SSO to Qualifio.

4. Choose appropriate prizes & gifts

Your prizes should preferably be directly related to your activity or to the theme of your contest. First of all, you will make more people happy because it’s better to have a lot of people who win small prizes than one big winner of a car or a trip to the Maldives. Second, you are more likely to attract people who are interested in your activities, rather than professional competitions entrants.

5. IP filtering

Qualifio’s platform automatically analyses each participant’s IP address. If you have any suspicion of cheating you can immediately block the IP address. The cheater will still be able to play without seeing any difference, but their participation will not be taken into account in the statistics… so they won’t be able to win! You can do the same with some low-quality domain names.

6. Use a Captcha

It ensures that a human is taking part in your online campaign and not a robot or a software program trying to cheat the system. Though it’s not cheat-proof, it certainly makes it harder for computers if it has to recognize letters, images or numbers.

Additional tups for vote-based contests

1. Choose your voting system wisely

Prefer other voting mechanisms to Facebook Likes. They may have the advantage of being highly viral but you can buy thousands of Likes for nothing on the internet.

2. Voter’s identification

Ask your voters to identify themselves in order to prevent mass or anonymous votes. Don’t forget that you can impose entry limits (e.g. one vote per person or per day) and use identification via Facebook Connect or SSO.

3. Rely upon a panel of judges

Make sure that public votes are not the only factor in choosing the winners and involve a jury that will select the winning submission from, say, the 20 most popular entries.

4. Hide the number of votes

Certainly, you will slightly decrease your chances of going viral, but you will avoid vote races, which are responsible for 99% of cases of cheating. However, it’s still possible to use your channels to announce, midway through the competition, which photo/video/submission is in the lead.

Tip: when you don’t display the number of votes, you don’t discourage new people from entering the competition after the first few days!

Quick last one for the road

1. Unique codes

Limit participant’s access to a campaign thanks to unique codes! In order to access your campaign, each participant will have to enter a unique code they will have previously received (by email, on a flyer, in a magazine, through a bar code or otherwise). These unique codes can be generated or imported in Qualifio Manager.

Tip: furthermore, unique codes allow you to attract a specific audience on your different channels and qualify it but also to bridge the gap between the online and offline worlds.

2. Randomise your questions

In order to make it much harder for cheaters, Qualifio’s platform allows you to randomize the order in which questions or answers are displayed in, each time the test is taken. This prevent cheaters to use a little help from a third-party tools such as an automated software program. That kind of program is created to simulate a series of clicks or enter the information needed automatically until the cheater wins enough gifts.