Thoughts on Voting. 2011 Edition.

Just wanted to touch base with you all about our contests and voting. I am sorry to hear that there are some bitter feelings out there. We are trying as hard as possible to make these contests work for everyone. So, I just want to talk about it with you all again. To gain insight into our thought process, check out our posts and related comments from the last year or so here and here.

Please keep in mind that we try to make everyone a winner by making sure that we ALWAYS send juicy samples at the beginning of a challenge.

The polls exist out of necessity. Surely I do these challenges because they are fun, but my staff and I do spend quite a bit of time running the challenges, not to mention the expense of samples, shipping and prizes … so the main way that we get a return on our investment of time and money is by setting up a poll and incentivizing you all to send your readers to come check out our site. It gives us an opportunity to meet your followers and make a good impression.

But we are not the only beneficiaries of the traffic. By you all sending your readers to vote, you are also sending readers to each other via the poll. So, if you only got 10 votes and someone else got 200, there is a good chance that at least a few of those 200 clicked over to your blog, liked what they saw, and are now following you too! A lot of bloggers have told me how their traffic spikes during a poll and for those that have advertising, that’s a spike in ad impressions too. I am all about win-wins … and from my standpoint, these challenges certainly seem mutually beneficial. What do you think?

While the polls do sometimes turn into a self-evident popularity contest, after doing a few dozen of these, I will tell you that 9+ times out of 10 they arrive at a plausibly merit-worthy winner and most of the time they arrive at the winner that we would have chosen anyway. We did have a photo contest once where the highest vote getting photo was obviously the worst photo of the bunch. That was embarrassing. At the time, we were using the poll winner as the sole winner, so I immediately had my photographer select his favorite and we awarded a second prize. We obviously want these to be credible contests (and fun ones at that).

And, that gets me to the reason why we have 2 winners. We want this to be fun. We want this to be legitimate. We do not want there to be any bad feelings. So, as a matter of policy, we NEVER have a single winner adjudicated exclusively by a poll. If there is a poll, there is always a secondary method for choosing an equal winner.

Having said all of the above, I want to be really clear that I think that the poll in this instance chose a great recipe. While Clearly Delicious clearly asked her followers to support her (as many others also did), her recipe is also Clearly Delicious and very worthy of the prize. Further, be assured that we

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have fraud filters in place that only permit one vote per IP address. And we check the filters. Like any system, there are probably ways to game it, but our system does a pretty good job of keeping it honest.

Don’t forget: we do have two winners for the Chile Recipe Challenge. One of them is selected by about 5 of my staff members and 25 of you. Each of the 30 people get two votes and the highest vote getter is the other winner. I just want to point out that of the 25 challengers, as of this writing, we have only received 13 votes from the challengers themselves. You’ve got a vote people. Use it!

Finally, I just want to say on behalf of my team and I that running these challenges, working with you all, watching the amazing things that you all create … it is without question one of the most fun and rewarding parts of our jobs … if not the best part. Well, maybe the second best part. The best part is all of the sampling and cooking that we get to do at work. Drooling over your work though is almost, but not quite, as good as those shigoku oysters yesterday.

I’d love to hear your uber-candid thoughts, so please leave them in the comments below:

8 Replies to “Thoughts on Voting. 2011 Edition.”

  1. I have always found it discouraging that voting in recipe contests often means that regardless of the recipe, the best networker wins. That’s why I think it is so great (and generous!) that you have opened up your challenges to a second winner. That gives all us little guys a chance, and since it’s the participants themselves doing the voting for that round, it makes everyone actually pay attention – slow down and take a look at the rest – rather than just worrying about how they’re doing.

    I love any excuse to play in the kitchen, but it makes it more fun to know you could potentially get something out of it when you’re done. 🙂


  2. I totally agree with everything that was said here. I do not doubt the voting to be fair but like any other contest that is posted I believe it should be followed pretty closely. When a contest states that a recipe should be original it should be ORIGINAL, coming from one’s own mind and not an adaptation of someone else’s recipe. Now I do not see any issue with those that received high votes but with other recipes submitted. I just think that the rules should be followed as listed. Thanks for the opportunity. This challenge was fun and I now have new recipes to try with the rest of my chilies. 😀 Cheers!

  3. Justin–

    Really well said. I appreciate you taking even more time in this recipe challenge just to clarify how the voting process works! With the last challenge, I didn’t make a genuine effort to network my subscribers, and I was beyond surprised with the number of votes my blog pulled in and am super happy to add the Marx Foods contest to the “About” section of my blog. Many thanks for the free chilies as I’m still finding recipes to incorporate them into (and later blog). Your company is the best, really. Where else can I find elk??

  4. Well…. I for one had a blast with this contest…. a bit nerve wracking in the final twenty four hours, but worth it. The cake I made was something that I wouldn’t have created without the push and the arrival of the delicious chiles. (thank you Marx Foods) Kudos to the winner Helana..and who knows…. maybe next time….. I’ll win!

  5. Justin & gang, I really appreciate the opportunity to receive samples from Marx Foods. I don’t take the voting personally. My reward is receiving a great product that I might not otherwise have had the opportunity to try. And, I love a challenge – win or lose. I received a ton of hits on my own site this week even though it doesn’t look like I gathered many votes. My recipe was also featured on the Tasty Kitchen’s (Pioneer Woman’s) top 5 last weekend, and it was selected for photograzing at Serious Eats too – both very nice compliments in my book. Thanks for making the challenges possible!

  6. I do like the chance to win a prize, and I like that you have different methodologies for different challenges and contests.

    I often like the challenge of using the samples sent more than the contest, itself. I made 5 dishes with the sample chiles, so it was a fun, delicious, and spicy week around here! This is like Iron Chef Marx Foods for me.

  7. I think the best part of the Marx Foods contests is that there are other prizes based on alternative voting methods. Most contests don’t offer that alternative, and I appreciate that Justin makes the effort to be as fair as he can and to listen to and respond to bloggers when they have concerns.

    A voter poll is always going to be a popularity contest. There’s really no way to avoid that.

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