How to make this contest drawing fair?
October 26, 2009 2:01 PM   Subscribe

What's a fair way to chose winners for this ad-hoc giveaway? details inside...

I have 100 items to give away to roughly 10,000 people. Folks can sign up for as many items as they want, as many times as they want, but can only win once (no money was involved).

Some items received hundreds of "votes", others received very few.
What order should I draw names to make it most fair for the most people?

Should I start with the high-number items first, since they represent the items with the most interest? Or should I start with the lowest interest items - or random?

Or does it even matter that Joe only signed up for item 1, while Bill signed up for every item, since the rules allowed it?
posted by smelvis to Grab Bag (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hypothetical: You start with the lowest-interest items. Bill wins a low-interest item because he has little competition. Now he's disqualified from winning the high-interest items (that he would presumably desire more). This method could be seen as a way of slighting Bills but giving a slight advantage to Joes.

On the other hand, if you start with the high-interest items, you're more likely to give away the low-interest items to the people who really want them.

Although, if you're dealing with 10,000 people these factors are so small as to be insignificant in affecting the outcome. You're probably fine either way. Starting with low-interest could be a good way to build up hype if you want to announce winners over the course of a few days, ending with the "grand prize" that everybody wants.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 2:13 PM on October 26, 2009

I would take the stance that a person should consider all game-related giveaways "random". Sort em out on paper, put them in a hat, and then draw the prize that will be given first. Then draw the person.

Repeat for the next item.
posted by Khazk at 2:16 PM on October 26, 2009

Best answer: I would do the most popular ones first, assuming they are the most valued. Otherwise, people penalize themselves by also voting for less popular items.

Sure, people who voted for more items have a larger chance of winning a prize---but I would argue that people expect this when they enter such a giveaway.
posted by goingonit at 3:24 PM on October 26, 2009

Response by poster: Good comments all.
I like the concept all random, including the order, but it goingonit's post seems to make the most sense for this specific case. The items don't really have value, per se, so interest is the only thing to really measure. thanks!
posted by smelvis at 5:36 PM on October 26, 2009

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