Genius uses Twitter bot to win 1,000 stupid contests
Twitter is permanently awash with brands desperately trying to promote their products. And because it’s very difficult to get people to “engage” with your line of air fresheners or baby wipes without effectively bribing them to do so these brands commonly employ contests and giveaways to pique user interest and to garner those sweet sweet retweets and a faves.
An electrical engineer named Hunter Scott found an effective way to exploit this brand desperation by programming a Twitter bot that would fave, follow, or retweet, as the contests required, thereby entering thousands of contests and winning, on average, 4 contests a day for the 9 months he ran the experiment.
Many of Scott’s winnings were tickets to events in far off places that he couldn’t attend such as movie tickets to a theater in Edinburgh, or “a week of cricket summer camp in Mossley, England.”
But there was also plenty of swag. Here’s a picture of his Twitter haul.
You can peruse the complete list of his Twitter winnings, which range from a “shirt from Desk.com” to a “steam key for Goat Simulator” here.
His favorite prize? According to Scott:
“My favorite thing that I won was a cowboy hat autographed by the stars of a Mexican soap opera that I had never heard of. I love it because it really embodies the totally random outcome of these contests.”
Scott explains how he did it in detail on his website, which is worth reading. He explains how the experiment was intended to explore how such Twitter contests work and how there was plenty of weirdness. For example, one contest Scott won offered warped “tupaware” lids and oftentimes no prize arrived even after winning.
In the end Scott notes that he won roughly 1,000 contests out of a total 165,000 entered for a winning percentage of around half a percent, which means the odds of winning a contest for those actual people who enter just a few here and there are infinitesimal.
Besides applauding the general cleverness in finding an easy way to exploit and profit from the vapid marketing efforts of the world’s brands, you have to admire Scott’s irreverent fuck you to this digital onslaught.
When the machines stage their inevitable uprising we’ll need leaders like these.