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April 14, 2010 12:17 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to set up an online lottery to pick a winner for a small contest. There is no money involved. What's the best way to do this?

I need a transparent way to pick 2 winners out of a small pool of entrants. I want to do this online so that there is no impression of favorites being played, etc.

Ideally, each participant would go to a website to enter into the contest, and then the program would randomly pick two winners.

Are there any free websites that do this? Or an easy way to set it up myself? Googling finds lots of sites where I myself could randomize the names and come up with winners, but I want something where the contestants themselves would enter their names in and get the results from a third party.
posted by lunasol to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
Assign each entrant a number, and then use Random.org to pick the winner.
posted by dortmunder at 12:20 PM on April 14, 2010

I should have pointed out they have a drawing service for this sort of thing, but it costs.
posted by dortmunder at 12:22 PM on April 14, 2010

Which still means that in theory she could see the winner, decide that person shouldn't win, and pick a new winner.

I don't know of anywhere where you'd be able to show the same results to everyone and not have it open to the possibility that you doctored it in any way. But have you considered recording you doing the drawing somehow so that there's video of you doing it?
posted by theichibun at 12:24 PM on April 14, 2010

@theichibun: No, it doesn't. Check out the drawing service link dortmunder posted again; the entrants can independently verify their winning/losing status.
posted by speedgraphic at 12:44 PM on April 14, 2010

If I recall correctly, in the olden days of the numbers rackets, some people used the last n digits (n being something like 3 or 4) of the closing price of the Dow Jones on a given day to select winners. It had the benefit of being a widely-available, transparent number that was pretty much immune to manipulation.
posted by mhum at 12:46 PM on April 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

I was typing between his answers and missed that.
posted by theichibun at 12:46 PM on April 14, 2010

On second thought, it might have been the total trading volume on the NYSE, not the closing price of the Dow. More digits there.
posted by mhum at 12:47 PM on April 14, 2010

I've always picked a number from random.org. You could even videotape doing it or something
posted by radioamy at 4:23 PM on April 14, 2010

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