Tag Archives: contests

Writing Competition Alert!

Sully the award presenter

Alert! Alert! Just a quickie today to alert you to a fabbo writing competition over on the wonderful Mike Allegra’s blog. Join in, write something, win some prizes – click here.

I’ve closed comments here so that you can comment over there if you have anything to say.

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Do You Run Contests or Giveaways on Your Blog? Are You Sure They’re Legal?

Cartoon pic of man at computer

photo credit: office coffee via photopin (license)

Many of us run the occasional promotion on our blog in the form of giveaways or contests. Having had experience over a number of years of running competitions in jobs I’ve had, I was aware of a lot of the legislation that exists, however I had never really thought about it much in terms of my blog. I decided to look into it, naively thinking I could just do a little bit of research and then post the main rules on here for any other bloggers who may be interested. Turns out it’s far more complex than I had realised.

This post is going to be quite long, and frankly not very interesting for anyone who doesn’t run prize promotions on their blog, so if that’s you, you may as well stop reading now, I won’t be offended, see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!

For the rest of you (and I know I’m going to lose more of you along the way)…

Let’s Begin

As you can imagine there is different legislation in different countries, and in different states/territories/areas within countries. And even within those, there isn’t just one piece of legislation – depending on what type of prize promotion you are running (I’m going to use the term “prize promotion” to cover all types of contests and giveaways), you could need to refer to legislation about prize draws, giveaways/sweepstakes, competitions/contests, lotteries, promotion/advertising/marketing, gambling, gaming, data protection, equality etc. Plus there are many variances in terminology that can be confusing, and when you do read the legislation, you have to contend with all that Paragraph 6 Section 4(b) Schedule 7 type of malarkey.

I couldn’t possibly cover everything in this post (nor would you want me to), so instead I’m going to draw out some key points which you may want to think about (although PLEASE do note my disclaimer at the end).

The first question that sprung to my mind, and possibly yours is this – if you’re running an online prize promotion on your blog, and you are allowing entries from around the world, do you have to comply with the legislation of all countries? The short answer is yes (eek!). The long answer is yyyeeeesssss (eeeekkk!).

Let’s ignore that question for now (I’ll come back to it later), and answer some others…

Doesn’t all this legislation only apply to businesses/corporations?

No. A lot of it won’t be relevant to little ms/mr blogger, but much of it is, and you’d be wise to inform yourself of it.

Are there some general rules that apply in all countries?

What? You expect me to have read the legislation for ALL countries? Get real! I have however looked at the legislation for several countries, and what I can say is that there are some general rules that seem common to many.

Primarily, for the types of prize promotion we are talking about, there are three main categories:

  1. A free prize draw Also known as a giveaway, or a sweepstake. It is free to enter, and the winner/s are drawn at random. (in some countries, free prize draws are generally free of direct legislation, although you do of course still need to comply with common laws. In other countries free prize draws with no skill element required to enter are not allowed). Remember that if it’s random, it really must be random; a simple way is to attribute a number to each entrant and then use an online random number generator.
  2. A competition or contest These involve some skill or special knowledge to be demonstrated in the entry, and may or may not involve a cost, or purchase required, to enter. The winner/s are judged on merit of their entry, and not by random selection.
  3. A lottery This involves a payment to enter, and the winner/s are drawn randomly.

Be clear on those distinctions because mixing them could run you into trouble. If you require entrants to pay something, or buy something, in order to enter and then the winners are chosen randomly, you could be deemed to be running an illegal lottery or possibly a gambling operation depending on the nature. And if they are required to play a game of chance, this could be an illegal gaming operation, EVEN if payment is not involved (Whhaaattt?).

Almost everywhere, if you run a lottery, or any form of gambling, or gaming, you need a permit. Therefore if you are requiring people to pay something in order to enter, then there MUST be a skill/knowledge element to enter, and the winner MUST be judged on merit of their entry, and not randomly or by chance. And you need to have something in the case of a tie, that also isn’t random.

To add some more complication. When I spoke of “payment” to enter, in some countries, mainly the US, payment is classed as “consideration”, and other things can also count as consideration, such as time invested in making an entry, which can count has having paid to enter, and therefore to reiterate, there MUST be a skill/knowledge element involved, and the winner MUST be judged on merit of their entry. I’ll also throw in here another point, sometimes it’s ok to have a payment type entry, with a random drawing, as long as there is an alternative free entry route that is as easy, and as well publicised as the payment route entry (I’m a bit fuzzy on the details of this aspect). Rafflecopter entries presumably cover this well because whilst they may have some entry options that involve some “consideration” there are others that do not, so they’re covering all bases. I saw talk on one lawyer’s site which implied that even asking people to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ something could potentially be classed as consideration.

Are you following this? Good, let’s complicate it further…

What is meant by skill/knowledge?

In many countries, the skill/knowledge required to enter, mustn’t be so simple that the vast majority of people could do it, so it couldn’t just be a question that was say “What is 2+2?” You may be wondering where the line is drawn between what is too simple, and what is acceptable right? Well indeed, and there is no definitive answer, that would be for a court to decided if it got to that stage.

In the case of blog contests, we quite often see creative skill required, to draw something, or write something, or come up with an idea for something. These are skill contests, and thus winners must be awarded on merit and not by random drawing.

Got that? Here’s a bit more…

Does “free entry” mean completely free?

When we talk about “free entry”, the cost of a phone call, text message, internet usage cost, or postal stamp to enter would still be classed as free entry as long as they are at the standard rates; any premium rate calls, or special postal delivery costs etc would then be classed as paying to enter, unless there is also an equally valid free route.

Is it ok to ask people to buy something in order to enter?

When we talk about “Purchasing a product” in order to enter, this is fine as long as the cost of the product required to enter the contest isn’t more expensive than the product costs anyway. And in some cases, purchasing a product to enter can still count as free entry (I’m not going to explain this one further, as it’s another area I’m a bit fuzzy on).

If I’m running a skill based contest on my blog, is it ok for me to be the one who judges it?

This one is a bit tricky (you know, like most of the rest of it). The UK legislation says that where the judging of results could be subjective (i.e. it’s not something with a right or wrong answer) you must always have an independent judge, you can be a judge too as part of a panel, but there must be at least one independent person. I found this in the legislation of a couple of other countries too, but not all those I looked at; do check that one out yourself (I’m not doing EVERYTHING for you). Either way, you must state clearly what the judging criteria is.

Are there restrictions on what you can give away as prizes?

Yes, in many countries you need a permit if the value of your prize is over a certain amount (generally much higher than would apply to most of us bloggers). Also, there are prize restrictions on items that are restricted (funnily enough), such as alcohol.

Do I have to list the terms and conditions of the contest, and if so, what must be included?

Yes, listing the terms and conditions is as much to protect you as anything else. There are lots of examples online of what should, or could, be included in the Ts and Cs, so do an online search for that and find something suitable. One point to keep in mind, when you state the closing date/time of a contest, remember to take account of time differences if it’s open to residents outside of your time zone, and specify which time zone your closing time refers to.

Are you nearly finished here Vanessa because I’m getting soooo bored?

I sure am. As well as reading my disclaimer below, remember that my notes above are a broad overview of SOME of the rules that MAY be applicable in your country or area. My mind keeps going back though to my first question, about whether an online contest open to everyone must comply with the legislation of every country. Because if it’s true that it must, then we’re kind of screwed….except, I saw on one law site where they suggested including the words “Void where prohibited” in the rules/Ts and Cs, which then puts the onus on entrants to find out whether they are eligible to enter from their country or not. Although of course if you do that, then presumably you’d still need to check out the legislation yourself for the country that the winner comes from, to be sure they are eligible before you give them the prize? But maybe that’s the only way around it, and it may be the way I go from now on. Did I mention how complex this all is?

Also worth noting, Facebook and Twitter have their own rules if you run prize promotions on there that you should seek out and adhere to.

For any of you that have stayed with me to the end of this post, congratulations, I would give you a prize except I’m not sure if I’m allowed…

Were you aware of all of the rules/some of the rules? Do you let it affect how you run prize promotions or do you just do it the way you want to and keep your fingers crossed that it won’t ever be an issue?

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this post is correct to the best of my knowledge, however, I am not a lawyer, nor do I claim to be any kind of expert on the law. Nothing in this post should be taken as legal advice. Always do your own research and/or get legal advice before running any kind of promotional activity on your site.

These are some of the websites that I looked at when researching this post:
cap.org.uk
competitionagency.com
contests.about.com
dca.ca.gov
definitions.uslegal.com
dlapiper.com
dmaresponsibility.org
gamblingcommission.gov.uk
gambling-law-us.com
jonesday.com
money.howstuffworks.com
out-law.com
quora.com
sarafhawkins.com
targetmarketingmag.com
thompsoncoburn.com

10 Minutes More (and a Chance to Win a Prize!)

New Year 1950

After swimming a couple of months ago, I was showering next to two people (don’t worry, this post isn’t going in THAT sort of direction, I’m just setting the scene). The guy was in his 60s I guess, and he was chatting to a woman.

(I’ll get to the prize thing in a minute, stay with me).

She asked him if he still swam for an hour every day, and he replied that he now swims for an hour and 10 minutes every day. He went on to tell her that he had made a decision in his life a while back to give everything an extra 10 minutes. “If I can swim for an hour, I can swim for an hour and 10 minutes right?” he said, “If I can work in my garden for two hours then I can do it for two hours and 10 minutes. If I can do my paperwork for half an hour then I can do it for 40 minutes, see?” He explained that giving everything just that little bit more time, pushing himself just that little bit more, made him feel generally more satisfied with himself and with what he was achieving.

As we head towards the end of 2015, many people will be thinking of new year’s resolutions. We all know that most new year’s resolutions are likely to be abandoned before January is out, but that doesn’t stop many of us setting some anyway. What that man in the shower said has stayed with me, and my resolution therefore is going to be to give things 10 minutes more. It doesn’t always have to be a literal 10 minutes of course, it’s about giving things just a little bit more effort, a little bit more focus, a little bit more time. Generally when we think we’re done, we could probably give it just a little bit more. All those little bits should add up to a lot right?

So that’s my sensible, but not very exciting resolution. My other resolution is to do more silly frivolous fun things, just because. So here is where the prize thing comes in. I’m giving away a £10 (or your equivalent, e.g. $15 US), Amazon gift certificate. All you have to do is suggest something fun or silly I can do, if it’s challenging then so much the better. It does need to be something that I can practically do and that I can evidence having done with a photo or video on the blog. Anyone who suggests something in the comments will go into the random drawing for the prize, your suggestion doesn’t have to be a good one to be in with a chance of winning. Additionally I will aim to do as many of the suggestions as I can over the year.

You have until 15 January to enter. I’m giving quite a long time because some people are away from the blogs until the new year, so I’ll post a reminder at some point. And Happy New Year to you all!

—————-
photo credit: 78/100: Drink via photopin (license)

Come and Play with Lorna to Win an Amazon Gift Card!

Lorna Lee talking

Would you like to meet Lorna? Would you like to play a game called Truth or Fiction? Would you like to win a £10 (approx $16 USD) Amazon Gift card? Of course you would!

Lorna Lee has just written and published her second book, a wonderful novel called Never Turn Backwhich I LOVED. 

Never Turn Back

It is based on the life of her grandmother and is part fiction, part reality, which is what led Lorna and I to come up with this genius idea of playing Truth or Fiction. I’m SO excited to play this!

First, let’s meet the lady herself. Hello Lorna, welcome, could you please tell everyone about the game?

Hi Vanessa, thank you, yes certainly I can, but first maybe we should tell them about…

Hang on! Sorry to interrupt, but I’m too excited! I’ll just tell everyone about the game myself! Is that ok?

Er, well yes, but maybe first we should tell them about the bo…

Wait! First we should tell them about the book. I’m surprised you didn’t think of that Lorna!

Indeed, glad YOU thought of that Vanessa. Ok, here’s the book blurb:

Meri Vaarsara had a dream and something to prove. She also had incredibly bad fortune and even worse timing.

Her dream was to become a famous fashion designer in Paris, a dream born from a need to prove herself worthy of love and a happy life, something her stern Finnish mother never fostered but her seafaring father always knew was hers for the taking. So at the tender age of eighteen, Meri left the security of her family and her home for a country where she didn’t speak the language and she didn’t know a soul.

Paris in the late 1920s was not friendly to immigrants, even those with extraordinary talents. Forced to find work as a domestic, Meri forged ahead through turns of fate and misfortune as Paris braced for Hitler’s invasion. By choice, Meri becomes a single mother caring for her half-Jewish daughter throughout the occupation of France. Once the war was over, she used her feminine wiles to find her way to America, the land of milk and honey, with the hope of finally being able to work as a designer in a New York fashion house. But that too was not to be, until fate and a kind stranger stepped in to help.

Great, thanks Lorna. Now do you want to tell them about the game? Oh no wait, I’m too excited! I’ll tell them! No, you tell them…go on!

Ok, well if you’re sure. I’m going to read out eight statements about myself, and some of them will be tr…

Hush now Lorna, I need to tell them about the game!

But you sai…

Sshhh! Some of the statements will be true and some will be fiction, and all everyone has to do is guess which are which! The person who gets the most right wins, and if there’s a tie then we’ll do a random drawing from those! Anyway, go ahead with the statements Lorna, we haven’t got all day.

Whatever you say Vanessa, right…

POST UPDATE: As the deadline has passed, I’ve put the answers to the statements below in red.

1. I hate chocolate and never eat it. TRUE

2. In my spare time, I crochet afghans (the blankets, not the people). FALSE

3. I have been struck by lightning twice. TRUE

4. My biggest phobia is of worms. TRUE

Worm saying he won't hurt Lorna

5. I am so enamoured with gorgeous blonde cultural icons, that my engagement ring is a replica of Princess Diana’s ring. TRUE

6. As someone who loves and respects language, I ensure that I always use proper English in my blog posts. FALSE

7. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to have a large family. FALSE

8. I am a non-violent, Buddhist who happens to be a great shot with a pistol. TRUE

Thanks Lorna! Now, tell them that regular followers of your blog, and those who have read your memoir, may be at an advantage with some of those.

Erm, well I think you already…

Also tell them that they have until Monday, November 17, to submit their answers using this form (nobody else will be able to see what is entered and submitted using the form) –


Again Vanessa, I don’t think I need to tell them because you already tol…

Tell them that the contest is open to anyone, from anywhere in the world, and the winner will receive a £10 (or equivalent in their currency) Amazon Gift Card. Go on, tell them!

You want me to repeat what you just said?

Oh I’m so excited! Anyway, no need to tell them those things Lorna, I already did, why would you want to repeat what I’ve already said?

Good point Vanessa, good point. Sigh.

And finally, tell them where they can buy Never Turn Back from. Never mind, I’ll tell them, you’ll probably just get it wrong:

amazon.com
amazon.co.uk
amazon.fr

And they can also read my review of the book on those links.

Well thank you so much for stopping by Lorna. A little bit of advice for you – in future try to be a bit more prepared, I had to cover your back a few times there, I don’t think anyone will have noticed though.

Sure Vanessa, I’ll keep that in mind, thanks for having me, and good luck with the contest everyone!