Friday, April 1, 2011

Cutest Kid Contest Disappointment

I would like to start by saying the vast majority of the contestants and voters were not the problem.  The majority were happy, fun, encouraging, positive and exactly the fans I was hoping to attract.  I hope all of you who participated in the contest in a positive manner are not offended by anything I'm about to say, because it only pertains to those who were creating the problems.

This morning I woke up to an inbox FULL of complaints about the contest. 

"So and so has fake profiles!  Check theses ones!"
"They've got nerve saying WE have fake profiles, look at THESE on THEIR list!"
"So and so is sending random people spam asking for votes!"
"So and so is trying to gain pity votes!"
"I don't like your contest!"

Some of these emails were legitimate concerns, and to those I did reply.  Some of them were embarrassingly childish and did not get a response.

This contest, like the few I've done before, was supposed to be fun and silly.  We all know no child's value is determined by a Facebook contest.  There was no reason for this contest to have gotten so out of hand.

First, I would like to address what was my fault.  I said "solicitation is encouraged".  Never for one second did it cross my mind that it would be necessary to explain further not to solicit people you don't know.  People join my fan page to view and enjoy my photography, not to sign up for spam.  Nobody likes telemarketers, nobody likes spam emails in their inbox, and likewise, nobody likes people begging for votes using my fanbase as a solicitation list.  It horrifies me to learn that some of you have been using my fanbase in such a way.  Disgraceful!

Second, I should have specified that my fanpage is not a billboard.  Posting "vote for blank!" 4,000 times on my fan page is not only annoying, it will do you no good.  The majority of the people there are there to vote for someone else.  There are also plenty of people who check my fan page that aren't involved in the contest.  When you spam my page with advertisements, it pushes more important information down and sometimes off the page entirely.  Posting requests on your own page is what encourages people to come vote for you.  Please note, tagged statuses automatically show up on my page whether you want them to or not, so this is not what I'm referring to.  I'm referring to shameless spamming.

I take full responsibility for not specifying these things.  I never thought it would be necessary to do so, but I should have known.

Next, there were several accounts used to vote that should not have been.  Only people should have been voting.  Not Farmville duplicate accounts, not business accounts, and certainly not fake accounts.  I want to point out that the majority (if not all) of the fake or duplicate accounts created were not created by parents of contestants.  I'm sure that those who did vote with fake or duplicate accounts thought they would be okay since they were not the parents, but thanks to them, the entire contest was ruined. 

Throughout the duration of the contest I was receiving tons of accusation emails.  I not only have a business to run, but also 2 children to raise, a home to maintain and Sunday School lessons to prepare each week.  I don't have time to chase after grown adults.  I hoped you would all handle yourselves appropriately, and the majority of you did, but those that didn't ruined the contest for the rest of us.  I am saddened it has come to this.

Put yourself in my place for one moment.  How can I come to a pleasing conclusion with this contest, without alienating one set of fans or another?  I can't.  So in the interest of fairness, I am going to choose the winner via random.org.  I can't handle how cutthroat such an innocent, fun contest has become. 

The winner will not be determined by votes.


I am truly sorry for those of you that were good sports, supportive and encouraging.  I am sorry that it's necessary for all to be punished for the actions of a few, but there is no other way I see it can be done.  I wish I could afford to give a free shoot and prints to each and every contestant because they are all absolutely adorable!  But as I've explained to a few that have asked, due to the top of the line equipment and printing labs I use, the utmost care and attention paid to each shoot, and the premium quality of what I offer, each shoot costs me over $500 to execute (plus the cost of the prints), and I cannot afford to give a free shoot to everyone. 

Instead, due to the annoyances we all suffered throughout this contest, I am offering 20% off all session fees and print collections to any bookings made before April 30th, using the code CKC11BOMB.  Mention this code in the initial email and you will receive the 20% discount on your future booking.  This discount is open to everyone, contestants, voters and other fans alike.  This discount is not applicable to gift certificates, and must be for a shoot taking place before September 30, 2011.

Please feel free to email me any questions you may have about the discount.  Please refrain from emailing me any accusations, vents about the contest, or defamatory remarks.

Again, I apologize for the disappointing turn this contest took.  I hope you all understand why I had to change the way the winner is determined, and will all remain my fans on Facebook.  The winner will still be announced at 9pm tonight on the Facebook page.

Take care,
Alana Hawker
CEO Rare Photography

4 comments:

  1. I am so sorry your contest ended this way. I think you've handled it with dignity and grace. I also think your solutions are entirely generous!

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  2. So sorry Alana!! I wish people wouldn't have ruined it for you and for all the others!!

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  3. This is unfair to you, but I think you've been more than fair to those who entered. Sorry it was ruined by jerks!

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  4. People are amazing in the lengths they will go to in order to get something free. WOW. Hopefully none of them are my friends. I'd be embarrassed to know them.

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