Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why not use an automatic form filling service to enter sweepstakes?

Automated form filling services claim to be able to use an automated process to submit your information to hundreds, maybe thousands of promotions a day.  By shear number this should increase your odds of winning a prize, right?

You'd think so, but there's a lot more to it.

Look at the rules for nearly any promotion and there will be a clause in there that says
Use of any automated program to enter will result in disqualification. 
So first and foremost, you're breaking the rules.

But what if you're not concerned about that?  What if you'll take the prize and not feel guilty about it?

Well, it's not that simple.  Nearly every promotional agency worth its salt has many layers of very sophisticated ways to detect and automatically disqualify entries from automated entry methods.

So in the end you're paying a service to submit "hundreds or thousands" of registrations (Do you really know how many they really are submitting and to what promotions?) most of which will never even count.

The registration service gets their money -- they win.  You don't.

There are only two ways to consistently win prizes from these games.  One is by becoming an expert, reading blogs and posting on message boards and spending a lot of time each day on your hobby.  The other is by using, which will allow you to spend just a few minutes a day and quickly enter just the games worth entering.  

Of course the experts could also benefit from  :-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Q&A: What's the difference between a sweepstakes, an instant win and a contest?

A lot of people use the term "contest" (or sometimes "sweepstakes") as a catch-all for any online, rules governed promotion that is giving away prizes.  But there are really three main types of these promotions.  And knowing the differences is very important for knowing which ones to play.

Note we are excluding things like "giveaways" and coupon offers in which everybody who registers and meets the requirements gets something.  We are concentrating on the "many will enter, few will win" type promotions.


The game is a "contest" when it is based on some sort of skill rather than random chance.  These games usually have you submit something like an essay, a photograph, a video, etc. and then judges select the best entry or entries and they receive the prize or prizes.

These tend to allow one entry during the game.


Sweepstakes collect entries during a period of time, then perform a random drawing to determine the winner or winners.

These can vary in their entry frequencies, from "unlimited" to "daily" to "once" to even "once per period".

Instant Win

Instant wins, as the name implies, let you know whether you won immediately after playing.

Most instant wins "seed" winning times evenly throughout the period the game is running and generally the first person to play after that time wins.

Most instant wins tend to be daily entry although other variations exist.


As you can see, contests can be tough unless a) you are extremely good at the subject matter of the contest or b) you happen to know that there aren't very many entries (because you use

But keep your eye open for contests that might be tough to enter due to the complexity of the subject matter.  They often get very few entries and can be worth the effort.

Sweepstakes are tough for two reasons.  They tend to have more people vying for a small number of prizes, and you're totally at the mercy of who comes in after you.  You might find a sweepstakes that no one knows about and get your entry in without much competition, and then two days before the drawing, word gets out and an avalanche of entries comes in and buries yours.

That's the great thing about instant wins.  If you identify one that has good prizes and few people playing, you can cash in immediately. consistently has instant wins among the highest rated for this very reason.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Q&A: How do I know which games have the best chance for a BIG prize? premium membership provides two main views of the rankings. 

The default view is by chance of winning any prize.  It's our opinion that this is the best way to go.  You'll do better in the long run by winning as many prizes as you can and not worrying about the size of each individual one.

But there is also a "Dollar Weighted" view available.  This will take the dollar value of the prizes into account also.  So for example, a game that's giving away a hundred thousand tiny chocolate bars might rank pretty high on chance of winning a prize, since there are so many of them.  But if you switch to dollar ranking it may show up lower in the list since the dollar value is smaller.

Sophisticated users will access both views to figure out their core list of promotions they want to enter, mark them as "Likes", then play as often as they can using the "Only my Likes" view and the built in last played and total play counters.

Try it out next time you log in to