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Published on March 7th, 2013 | by Nidde


How the competitions are done

We just had our second AAA-giveaway on Twitter, and it sparked some reactions. The number of new followers raised by about 600%, but most of them immediately unfollowed as soon as the contest was over. No surprise there.

But we thought we’d let you know how the random selection of winner actually work.

How the twitter contests are done.

1. The contestants

Since the whole thing is done on twitter with a follow+retweet feature (which is the most common practice on said platform) we take a look at the people that follow us on Twitter and actually Retweeted the tweet in question. But there’s a problem here.

Twitter retweets 1 Twitter retweets 2

These screens are taken after the competition enden, so the people that removed the tweet are no longer visible. No matter how many retweets there are, Twitter will only list the last 20-or-so people. So we have to turn to another system to actually gather all the retweets. So we combine the email-notification feature of twitter, which will send us an email every time someone retweets our tweets, and step into Gmail.

Twitter retweets 3Here we collect all the retweet-notifications and filter them out to only show the ones regarding the giveaway we’re working with. This screenshot only show 36 of those, because we temporarily turned off the notification-emails before realising that Twitter would only show us the latest retweets. What we had to do was turn it back on, then manually make sure that the retweets without emails were included in the list before the drawing. For this particular contest there were a total of 49 retweets, if our memory serves correct; it’s hard to check since most of the retweets are gone.
Mind you that we have re-enabled the notifications permanently so we won’t miss any tweets next time around.

When we have the number of entries into the giveaway it’s time to randomly select one winner.


2. Randomising a winner

Twitter retweets 4We have our number of retweets, let’s say 37 for this example, just because we’re fans of Kevin Smith. So what we do is go to, our randomiser of choice. And in the fields on the right we enter the appropriate numbers, minimum 1 and maximum 37. We click the Generate button and presto! We have our random number. We then step back into Gmail and count backwards from the earliest retweet. So if you’re the first to retweet, you’ll win if the number 1 shows up in the result.


3. Repeated winners and the it-must-be-fate system

We’d like to make sure that no single person is always cashing in and manages to win prize after prize after prize, but since we don’t exclude anyone from entering a giveaway just because they’ve won before we’d still like to even out the playing-field just a tad. So what we do is implement what we’d like to call the it-must-be-fate system. If you’ve won a prize previously and enter again, your number must come up one more time in a row than you have previously won a prize.

For example, if a user entered at #4 in one giveaway and won and then at #17 in a later one, the later giveaway must not only draw #17, it must draw #17 twice in a row. And the odds keep adding up, so if a user has managed to win a unbelievable 7 times that would mean for the user to win another drawing that users number must come up an unimaginable 8 times in a row. But at that point it-must-be-fate.


4. Multiple accounts, no-followers, unfollowing, deleted retweets and blocking

We have no rules dealing with users entering a giveaway with multiple accounts under their control, nor do we exclude people that have only a few or even 0 followers; although there will be lots of frowning on your greedy ass, as we are pretty sure you will not comply with the charity part of these giveaways. If you do, more power to you and thank you very much for taking part in the project ^_^

The only thing we actively do is block accounts that remove the retweet and/or unfollow as soon as the contest is over, as we have no interest in catering to you when we can cater to people that have an interest in the project instead.


So now you know how we do this thing. To make it easier for ourselves we’ve decided to not hold more than one giveaway at a time. That way we can administer the filters in Gmail more easily and make sure all the entires end up in the correct giveaway.

We also remind all our winners to read the “rules” that are posted with every giveaway, it’s all in the link provided with the tweet that you retweeted.

Happy gaming!


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About the Author

For 500 days, from January 1st, 2013, until May 16th, 2014, Nidde will set aside all AAA-titles and only play indie games to find out if the indie scene can replace the big budget landscape.

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  1. Pingback: The Indie 500 Project | 500 days of indie games

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