PayPal X; Where counting is not a requirement and compliance with requirements is optional..

If you ran a competition and stated that;

The number of votes your concept receives will decide whether it makes it to the top 10 for the next round (unless we find gross abuses such as scripting in the voting process).

How many entries would you expect to find in the next round?

Well, if you’re PayPal, that’ll be 11.

And as for “gross abuses”, well, apparently “incentivized voting” (i.e. offering rewards for votes) isn’t a gross abuse (or certainly doesn’t appear to be enough of a gross abuse to warrant doing anything about), which I’m sure is something that any entrant into a voting process would be interested to hear.

So, going through the list of 10 11 2nd round contenders, we’ve found 2 that didn’t comply with the entry requirements;

Chittai – This app doesn’t show anyone using the application in the video, which was a requirement.
Rentalic – Another failure to show anyone using the app in the video.

So in both cases they could have easily developed their app way beyond the Feb 14th deadline that was stated in the rules.

And the compliance of a 3rd is in question;

Zippy Quiz – Where the question is; Should a video which must showing a user using the app include showing the parts of the app required for entry into the competition (i.e. how they’ve integrated PayPal into their app)? If you think yes then this is another entry that shouldn’t have been allowed, if you think no then it’s safe.

So there we have it, in our view PayPals’ Developer Challenge has completed it’s decent into a farce. Several people (including me) have asked for a copy of the vote counts for each entry only to see an Email from a senior PR manager to the director of the Pay Pal Labs saying “I hope we’re not making that public” which made us wonder why as this is a fundamental requirement of most open voting processes. We’ve even asked for anonymized stats to avoid any embarrassment to a particular project, but we’re still waiting, and I suspect we will be for a long time.

The only thing we’re now left pondering is whether  one or more of the 10 11 has special relationship with PayPal, if some entrants took the hint from an Email PayPal sent out about incentivized voting and “incentivized” PayPal into including them in the second round, or if the same person who had trouble with working out what 10 entries means was also responsible for checking the vote count, in which case who knows what the voting results should have been.

Either way, we’re now aware of what PayPal consider an acceptable way of running things, and it be something you want to consider the next time you hand over your credit and/or bank details to them or leave money in your PayPal account.

7 thoughts on “PayPal X; Where counting is not a requirement and compliance with requirements is optional..

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  1. this contest has left a bad taste in my mouth. You and I wouldve made it to the top 10 1 contest had we simply signed up fake member, unconfirmed accounts and voted for ourselves. The voting ended friday night, and the top 10 were announced monday morning – they saw what they only wanted to see (7k votes!!! Wooow!!) and didn’t take the time to audit and verify.

    I’ve asked for the numbers from just the top 10 repeatedly, since it would solve the whole ‘save from the low voting number embarassement’ argument. But still, they’ve just ignored my request.

    all I know is

  2. oops, continue…

    all I know is there are a lot of real contestants that were honest, even if they had 1 or 5 votes. These votes were real, as supposed to deceptive gaming of the votes. And in the end, you’d think paypal were the CSIs of log files and all, but nope.

  3. As mentioned in comments to another of your blog posts, one of the big problems we saw in voting was using direct links to the page where you could vote for the entry and bypass the whole x.com thing. This was repeatedly forbidden.

    As far as we could tell, there were some who only used this method, with large numbers of clicks. That would indicate, to me, that all the votes were coming through direct voting links.

    I have heard that a number of votes were removed for exactly this reason (in the region of 200). However I am still finding it difficult to believe that such a low number of votes appeared through those direct links.

    I think one of our mistakes was probably not making our video particularly entertaining. We simply did not have the time as we were hacking to get the app complete until the last moment, and of course we were abiding by the rule to show the application in use 😉

    1. Actually Rentalic (who broke the rules by not showing their app in their video) won, appbackr came second.

      Mixcloud were just cocky, but didn’t get anything.

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