Monday, August 20, 2012

The Bane of Voting Contests - Cadbury Commendables Story

In line with the spirit of Raya, where we ask for forgiveness for all the wrong doings we might have done, I... ah what the heck, actually I was spring cleaning my email today when I bumped across this old email from Cadbury Malaysia.

You see, Cadbury Malaysia organized a contest via Facebook, which required contestants to include creative captions to the weekly picture given in the Facebook application. Each captions will be judged by its creativity and votes. 

The problem with "votes" are, phantom voters are abundant in the contest world. Phantom voters contributes to fraudulent vote that affects the outcome of the contest dearly, most votes = winner. Unfortunately, many contest organizers are still using this mechanism to judge contests, which is the most convenient method to them and to them, the most transparent way to dictate the winner.

Like many other voting required events, it doesn't matter how the votes come in (dead, ineligible, bribed elactorates among the many examples), as long the organizers are ignorant of the vote source, for all they care, they have a winner. Voila.

I appreciate that certain organizers took the effort to monitor and diminish the fraudulent votes, but my question is, to what extend that they do that? What is the clear definition of fraudulent vote. And in line with the STOP 114A Act hype, if the votes that came from suspicious source goes to my way, am I the one who is fraudulent?

Back to my initial story, I was searching back for the Cadbury Commendables contest, and the 1st thing that popped out was my Facebook comments back in 2011.

I've also saved an email conversation between myself and Cadbury Commendable via Gmail.

At least there was a reply from the organizer's end. In the email, basically they claimed that I have cheated in the game and thus resulted in my disqualification. Nobody likes to be accused of committing something that they have not done. 

Cadbury Commendables had claimed that I have breached the contest rules and regulation, which I rebutted and demanded for an explanation (and proofs if I have indeed cheated). They replied with a generic response,

"Dear Ivan,

The judges of the contest used stringent criteria at every stage to evaluate the entries. Not only were the comments evaluated, the participants and those who voted had to undergo identification verification. Unfortunately, many of those who voted for your comment did not pass the verification test from research made on the personal information submitted.  The list of winners has now been announced and is deemed final.

Thank you."

It gets better. I found out that a number of other participants were disqualified as well and demanded an explanation via FB, mainly those who were experiencing the same accusation. What is this "verification test from research made" you may ask? I never did find out.

To be fair, Cadbury Malaysia did offer a chance to go to their headquarters to review the evidence. For me, that was the last straw for me. It could be so much more convenient to publish the evidence online, thus could potentially deters cheaters in future contests, or email me the evidence if they have the integrity to do that. It's a waste of time, since they have already decided on the winner. Not worth the trip there as well I must say.

Unfortunately, it never did materialized. And I found the following Facebook status update from Cadbury Malaysia page not too long after.

Well, after fulling ranting with sarcasm, I was replied with another generic kind of response. But maybe I was expecting too much, but really, Sheldon Cooper detects sarcasm better than them.

Ivan: We're glad to hear your side of the story as a participant. We'll always be open for feedback from everyone to continue improving our brand, products and activities. After all, we aim to share happiness to everyone. ;)

Feedback given, action taken,  but what to who's expense? *puts smiley face at the end to make this less tension :)*

Voting contests are very transparent, I must agree with that. But there is only so much time where genuine winners are rewarded. Take this scenario.

What is the most romantic thing in the world? The most "like"/"vote" wins.

Mr. Playfair - The wind that blows my broken heart away and brings my love's breeze through.
107 votes

Ms. Apakukisah - Shit
18961 votes

Is the integrity of the contest justified? From the contest organizer's perspective, WHO CARES? She gotten 18961 votes, that's like a HUGE feat!

I never claimed that my entries are always the winning material, but it pains me to find out that the less admirable materials won over mine, all the time. As much as I can avoid, I will avoid voting contests. 

Screw me once, shame on them. Screw me twice, shame on me.

Does organizers like this hampers my spirit? Heck YES, but only temporary.
We forgive, never forget, then write blog entries like this.

PS: Cadbury Malaysia sure do know how to rub on people. Check the screen capture below from another email after that

Cadbury never did reply to my email after that. LOL

Friday, August 17, 2012

Barcelona - Part 2

We woke up early as we only have 1 day to venture the rest of Barcelona. Our 1st stop was of course, Sagrada Familia. This unfinished building is one of the many wonders of Antoni Gaudi, a brilliant Barca architect who has a thing for colors and organic touches to his designs. Sagrada Familia is said to be his last work before he passed on, and it remained unfinished till today because no one has the blue prints, or any decent idea on how to finish the building.

Barra Gotic (Gothic Quarters) is smacked in the old city of Barcelona near La Rambla with medieval designed buildings. Somehow I feel like walking in the streets of Barra Gotic is inspiring in terms of the street design and architectures that are housed in it.

Our next stop, despite not being a football enthusiast, the next place that you should visit is Camp Nou, located in Catalonia. It dated back to 1957, which homes the famous football club, FC Barcelona. Compared to Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, the visitors who flocked at Camp Nou is significantly more. 
Hard core fans are seen around the stadium, as well as loads of merchandises that can be found here.


Our next stop was Parc Güell. With no reference whatsoever of how Parc Güell looks like, or what to expect, I was thinking luscious greens and garden benches around. I was wrong. Another Gaudi's treasure, Parc Güell is located on the hill of El Carmel, a rocky hill with little vegetation. And considering the hot summer in Barcelona, hiking up was indeed a challenge. Parc Güell won't disappoint you though. Casa Museu Gaudí is also another place of interest here, a historical artistic monument that has original works of Gaudi. Mosaic works, vivid colors and organic designs are abundant here. Don't forget to visit the iconic Dragon while you're here as well.


Other notable Gaudi architectures are Casa Battlo, Casa Mila and Palau Guell, all of which are world heritage buildings in Barcelona. Gaudi, the Catalan Architect renown for his unconventional designs was passionate for architecture, nature, religion and love for Catalonia, all of which are reflected in his works.
Given a chance, I would surely return to Barcelona and spend hours admiring his work one by one :)

Of course, if the heritage walk does not impress you much, you could always strip to your swimwear and indulge in the Barceloneta beach. Ladies in bikini, sand games, cool waves all found under the scorching sun of summer.

Our last stop of the day was The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, or the Palau Nacional to view the Fuente mágica de Montjuic, or the Magic Fountain. Once again, lack of preparation on our end and we were disappointed that the fountain was not operating on that day we went. Otherwise we would be viewing a spectacular fountain show, but too bad too sad for us. 

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
Beautiful sunset in Barcelona
Torre Agbar is a magnificent view during the night, among a few things that kept us entertained on our way back to Sant Jordi. 

Torre Agbar night view
2 days in Barcelona was definitely short for us. But considering if you're into architectures, cultural city or simply a great party scene, this would be a place for you :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Barcelona - Part 1

Departing from Atocha station, Larry and I found ourselves partially enjoying the 1st class service we deserved, after all our last minute tickets cost us approximately RM770 (Note to self, never purchase last minute tickets ever again).

It was not necessarily scenic along the journey but it was comfortable at least, plus we were treated with nice beverages and music.

We arrived Barcelona Sants station around 7.30 p.m. local Spanish time, which only give us a short time frame to get to our hostel before it gets really dark. Alighting from either Sant Pau or Sagrada Familia metro station, it is about 15 minutes walk to reach our destination, Sant Jordi Hostel

Smacked in the middle of Barcelona, this hostel is in an ideal location for pedestrian tourists to walk around Barca. Our 1st stop after checking in was La Rambla (The Promenade), the liveliest street in Barcelona. This boulevard connects to Catalonia, and is abundant with tourists, street performers and stalls.

We stopped by for a quick dinner, and tapas was on our mind. But everything was a bit pricey over there, so we did not exactly over indulge.

Port Vell is one awesome marina and it is close to Maremagnum, the most happening mall in Barcelona.
It was already closing time, so we did not manage to hang out in the mall. Instead, we strolled along the port.

We were quite drained by the end of the day, and we decided to call it a night. Our room accommodated 8 people, but the other 6 were no where to be seen, too busy partying I guess. We used the free internet provided at the lobby before heading to the showers and bed. It was a long day the following day, so stay tuned for part 2 :)