The Dark Side of Blogging!!!

I love being a blogger, but there are some things that really suck.  That’s when you realize people have either been cheating in their entries or other bloggers are doing unscrupulous things.  That is when I become very irritated.  I thought I had seen it all; but every day I am privy to even more underhanded tactics that taint what I do, the fabulous people I have come to know and the PR reps and sponsoring companies who so generously host these reviews and giveaways.

I know many will say one person cannot make a difference but, I will certainly try. If you frequent blog giveaways you may have noticed a new trend in the blogging community.  That trend is that many bloggers are promoting the same giveaway on their pages.  Why would they do this?  They do it for inflated stats that have nothing to do with their blog, their writing, their reviews or giveaways, but are the result of riding on the coat tails of  a blogger with good stats and a good following.

These giveaways make you like as many as 100 or more Facebook pages and follow the same number on Twitter and Pinterest, subscribe to the blog newsletters and more. All the bloggers either pay for a spot or promote the giveaway earning them one free link and pay for additional links. Confused yet? The Facebook pages that a person must like are often arranged 25 to a page and the entrant must like every one, if one is not liked, they will not receive credit.

The other thing they do, is that certain entries can count as multiple entries in an effort to drive up their number of entries. For instance a blogger may say that following them on twitter counts for 25 entries, this way they get 25 entries for one small task. Why is all this done you may be asking.  It is all done in order to gain blog subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Pinterest followers, and to boost the number of entries on their giveaways.

Why is this important?  Well, it is important to them because they believe that PR reps and sponsoring companies will be impressed by the inflated stats and send them enormous review items like washers , dryers, kitchen appliances, etc.  Sad truth is they have been getting away with it for a while now.  They are not about blogging anymore, not about content, many of them post nothing but these joint giveaways of 100 or more bloggers together for even the smallest giveaway prizes.  It hurts the people entering the giveaways because when bloggers wrote their own reviews and did individual giveaways there were more for them to enter and the amount of entries were not in the tens of thousands.

These bloggers that are doing this now are making the chances for an entrant similar to being struck by lighting with the number of entries zooming up in the hundreds of thousands. When does it end?  Well, more and more bloggers who truly care about their craft and the integrity of their blog are speaking out.  PR companies are being alerted of these inflated stats that do not mean a thing because many of the giveaways are entered by “sweepers” who will enter for any product and either sell on ebay or hoard.  They are not a representation of followers and probably have never even followed the blog prior to them having to like it for an entry.

More ugly things happening, are brand new bloggers do not put dates on their blog posts to make it look like they have been blogging longer. Another sneaky and underhanded tactic is that many unscrupulous, new bloggers are taking on the name of a very popular blog and sending that blog’s stats to the PR companies.  For instance, let’s say there is a blog that is very popular called “Rambling Mommy” a newbie will create a blog called “A Rambling Mommy” or Rambling Mommie” etc and when the PR companies ask for their social media accounts and followers they submit that blogger’s stats.  See?  They already have their blog loaded with reviews of products that they have in their house, big group giveaways and no dates so they look like this big time blogger.

If you see a new blogger suddenly getting sponsors that we as bloggers know require much hoop jumping, you can be rest assured that something fishy is going on. The last ugly thing for now is about bloggers rigging  Rafflecopter giveaways so that their immediate family members are winning the “big” giveaways.  These are on the independent giveaways but, it is more than obvious.  It really disgusts me, can you tell? I for one will not be running any of these multi giveaways on my blog and I do not rig my giveaways.  I would love to start a coalition of bloggers who feel the same and want to create a society of true bloggers with integrity.  If you are interested in banding together with me on this please contact me at carolyn@mommyramblings.org or use our contact form. Our giveaway rules can be found HERE!


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45 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Ramblings & Rants

45 Responses to The Dark Side of Blogging!!!

  1. Cristen C.

    It’s funny that you bring this up because I just found another blog called MommyRamblings.com. I also just met another blogger with a name similar to mine called naptime Review…Great minds think alike I guess.

    • I have long been a member of Blog with Integrity and the badge is on my blog. The offending bloggers have the same badges-means nothing.

      • Cristen C.

        Oh. Well that’s a bummer. I’m not sure how the bloggers can get away with submitted other blogger’s stats, fb and twitter followers…most pr reps I work with want a screen shot of my analytics and they can easily verify your followers through your links? Not sure how you can prove that bloggers are rigging giveaways, though, unless you know they are deleted everyone else’s entries. I’m curious though, who came first…Mommyramblings.org or mommyrambings.com? I’m also curious as to which bloggers you are talking about.

        • Cristen, why are you wondering about MommyRamblings.com, I have no beef with her, she is a Christian blogger and does not even do giveaways. I was using what I did as an example.

          • Cristen C.

            I thought maybe that’s who you were talking about. My bad.

          • As for how they can cheat with stats Cristen take the example you mentioned; http://www.thenaptimereview.com/ has been around a long time and has over 3,000 FB fans so with the name of your new blog you could easily send in her FB page and Twitter page most PR people do not check and will just look at the page and verify the fans or not look at all, that is what I am trying to say.
            As for rigging giveaways, there are bloggers doing that, I see winners are immediate family members, they can easily just keep choosing winners from Rafflecopter until they get the one they want, then announce it. I also see winners announced who do not even have a comment in the mandatory comments. Lots of underhanded things are happening.

  2. JD

    Wow had no idea…I knew the co sponsoring thing has got a little out of hand, even with small items having a 100 blogs. Makes it very hard to track blogs on twitter or facebook because you end up following so so many. So in the end content that could have been seen by followers is lost.

  3. Kristina S

    Wow! I have noticed the changes with giveaways but had no idea why it going on or that bloggers were rigging rafflecopter. I know if I see a giveaway that requires you to like so many pages I get irritated and don’t bother. It makes me sad that people can’t just be honest.

  4. ellen

    Thank you- this is what it is going to take- BLOGGERS taking a stand.

    As readers to those you mentioned above we are nothing but a number- and the minute we voice a concern or question someone we are banned or blackballed. It doesn’t matter if we have followed for years to those doing this stuff.
    Blogs doing this also don’t care if people are creating accounts, using multiple accounts- it pumps numbers. I saw a blog yesterday post they would share IPs of cheaters MAKE IT PUBLIC .
    All of this tiptoeing around about who is cheating/rigging etc has to be out in the open……… or it will continue.

    And you are completely right Carolyn- those badges men nothing. Some are even fake they don’ t belong to that group it is a jpg with no code (which BTW if they are legit and longstanding is a good group of bloggers)

    I am anxious to see how many join you, this has to stop.

  5. Cristen C.

    It would be great if you could let us all know the offending blogger’s sites so we can stay away from them.

    • I am working on that Cristen and I have already spoken to companies today about what is going on. I have been getting a very good response.

      • Cristen C.

        Oh I see what you are talking about now. Ya definitely share with us all so we can help spread the word too. Have you been entering these bloggers giveaways? Or just seeking them out to call them out?

        • No Cristen, I rarely enter giveaways. I get enough things from my sponsors and would rather let others have a chance at winning. I also don’t have to seek them out as they stick out like a sore thumb and there are an awful lot of thumbs.

          • I hope you are not implying that I am doing these things because I most certainly am not cheating or rigging my giveaways. It sounded like it in one of your replies above. I trust that you will directly contact the questioned blogs rather than falsely accuse them. Especially if you are notifying sponsors not to work with them. That seems a little fishy to me…

          • For some reason I cannot reply under your last comment Cristen. Why are you getting defensive? What makes you feel I am talking about you? Have you been doing anything I mentioned? Didn’t you just ask me to announce the offending bloggers? Quite confused here.

          • Oh and I have not falsely accused anyone, I have not even mentioned one blog that is an offender. I just explained I do extensive research and my findings are based on facts not emotions (screen shots, comments, etc) nor did I say I was ever telling sponsors or pr reps not to work with any offending bloggers. I said I have been speaking to them about what is happening. Please don’t try and read between the lines of what I am saying and just read what I am saying.

  6. I just had my first giveaway last month. And it was really interesting to see the behind the scene’s of giveaway. It blew my mind how many people were taking credits for entry’s they didn’t complete. I would never do such a thing and never thought others would either. Boy was I wrong. Those giveaways were you have to like all those pages and twitter accounts I don’t even bother with. It would be so much better if they were just individual giveaways on the different blogs. I am a newbie but I love having a place just to share products and talk about fun stuff. My goal really isn’t to have a ton of followers. I just want a few that actually read what I write. Giveaways are fun but I find them a bit stressful. Blogs with multiple going on all the time are fun to enter but I would not want to be in charge of all of them. And rigging them is just horrible. Winning is about luck not about favorites!

  7. Margot C

    You know, I wondered about all of this. I enter blog contests all of the time. It’s weirdly relaxing; like shopping without buying anything. I have won some neat stuff, nothing huge but very nice – like a BBC documentary, some Newman’s Own Organics and a carrier for my cat.

    I end up buying stuff that I see promoted on blogs too. I just bought some of those Rubbermaid Lunch Blocks that I had seen on a bunch of sites and some Carmex that I was reminded of. I have become a Purex devotee after winning a coupon. So, I sort of (naively I guess) thought that it was all a good thing. I avoid those gigantic giveaways where you have to like 75 facebook pages (what the … heck!).

    That said I get email from one blogger who posts all of the stuff she won herself every week and I notice that the entries on her site will be one entry for say liking a facebook page and a whopping 25 entries if you ‘blog about the giveaway’; making it all seem like a hall of mirrors for a participating few.

    It depressing to think that a Rafflecopter can be rigged since they are so convenient; how on earth? I also always wonder with Rafflecopter if my entries are even being counted. Sometimes I go back to a site to do another tweet and they are all just gone. It’s also vexing that on many sites (not this one) my comments are linked to my Gmail and the Rafflecopter itself is linked to my facebook (which is connected to my yahoo mail) so I think that either my comment entries are never counted or that (worse!) the blogger might think I’m attempting multiple entries. ::sigh::

    Lastly (and completely unrelated!) that Top Mommy Blogs vote button is so frustrating. Whenever I stop by a blog, even if I’m not entering the contest just moving on, if I like the blog I give them a Picket Fence vote and a Top Mommy vote just to be nice and the Top Mommy thing doesn’t acknowledge the vote at all and makes me wonder if it even gets counted. Have a look I just did it for you today.

    Sorry you are having a blogger downer and thanks for all of your hard work.

    • Regarding the Top Mommy Vote, it is a violation of their site to ask for a vote as an entry and violating blogs will be pulled from their site. Still happens though.

      • Oh and I am not going to let it get me down. I am the opposite, a true advocate and I will fight for what I know is right. It has just made me down and determined to make sure all of the offenders are exposed and you can think of me of the Erin Brockovich of Bloggers. LOL I am sure it won’t be pretty, and that I will be attacked by the ones who are doing it, or worse they will try and act like they are in agreement in order to hide under the radar. I have a lot of research experience and I will put it to use.

      • Margot C

        It’s a violation to ask for a vote? Top Mommy votes on Rafflecopters are routine, I see them every single day, literally if I entered ever contest (which I don’t) it would be 25 votes a day. They are often tucked under the initial ‘mandatory’ entries and are only visible after you have done those, so I guess that it’s possible not to see them. Still, how odd that they don’t realize this.

        Should I notify them of each one? That could get to be a lot of work but might be gratifying.

        • this is right off the Top Mommy Blogs site

          how will i get votes?
          You’ll get votes by your visitors clicking on the TopMommyBlogs.Com banner. Place the banners on your sidebar, blog signature, header/footer or anywhere you think they’ll get noticed and clicked. You can also write blog posts asking your visitors to vote for you and remind them they can vote for you every day. Just don’t add voting as a giveaway entry option. Begging for votes is fine.. but bribing is not!

    • Margot,
      As a blogger who uses Rafflecopter, I have ran into the problem of selecting winners with different email addresses but it IS possible to verify it’s the same person. I have learned to get the IP address from Rafflecopter and search my comments for that same IP number to verify entries. I don’t auto delete people who I don’t immediately see a comment from, I always try any way possible to verify. I’m not sure how many bloggers know to do this though, so I hope if me commenting with it will show some, they will learn and it will help 🙂 I also have different email address for Facebook and my comments but don’t enter giveaways that often. 🙂

  8. Miranda Welle

    Thank you for this post! I have been thinking things like this have been going on! Now I know for sure!

    I’ve been waiting on one blogger to announce the winner of (a very nice) giveaway for over 6 weeks already. I’ve even posted on her page twice about it and NOTHING! I’ve been thinking it was a “fake” giveaway for awhile now, but after reading your post, I REALLY wonder! I was so excited about it too! There were only about 500 entries.

    About a year ago, I even contacted a company because there was a big uproar going on (on) a certain bloggers FB page. She wasn’t answering and people were questioning if she was real, if the giveaways were real, etc. The company thanked me and said they’d look into it. But when the rep got back to me, she said that the blog used RC so she’s sure that the winner was legit. She did confirm that a prize WAS mailed out as well. (But again, makes me wonder to WHO it was mailed out!? A relative!!!)

    One last “vent”. I HATE the giveaways where other bloggers get a ton of entries! I have pretty much quit entering those all together. Only other bloggers seem to have a chance! I can’t remember if this was the case, but there was a big “bounce house” giveaway over the summer and another BLOGGER won it! 🙁 UGGG. Makes me wonder if that was a set up as well….

    • You know I noticed that many bloggers do not announce the winners via Rafflecopter and on their FB pages right away. They say they send them an email first. I asked one blogger why, why not just announce it on FB and Rafflecopter and email them all at the same time. Do you know what the answer was? She said that as soon as you do that (mind you this was one of those joint huge giveaways) the people unlike your page when they find out it is not them. So I guess they like to keep the people hanging on and waiting. If a fan is a true fan they won’t unlike your page because they did not win.

      • Miranda Welle

        Even 6 weeks after the giveaway ended though??? And not to answer when I’ve asked twice if a winner was even selected…… Still sounds fishy to me….?

        • That is crazy she did not announce the winner when you asked but you know I find it so hard to find a listing of the winners on so many sites. Why do they hide them?

  9. Cristen C.

    I have not been doing any of the above mentioned “cheater moves.” My blog is a new blog and I have nothing to hide. I feel like most of my readers are just there for the giveaways because I’m such a new blog. If they like my content, they stick around. I happen to have some pretty great giveaways, in my opinion, and none of them are rigged. I allow family members to enter my giveaways. I allow close friends to enter my giveaways. If they are legitimately completing each task then they deserve the prize. Simple as that. Because I am such a new blog, the people that enter my giveaways have a much better chance of winner the same prizes that you might see on other blogs.

  10. ellen

    ” I also see winners announced who do not even have a comment in the mandatory comments.” That is entirely true. Last month I was entering a contest from a blog I know quite well. She had just posted it, and I was her 2nd entrant. The first entrant took credit for mandatory and didn’t even do it. I knew the blogger well enough to alert her ( and she DQed that person) but that always isn’t the case.

    Blogs are either getting lazy with rafflecopter and not checking or they just don’t care and they should care a great deal. Usually the mandatory is go to sponsors site (or on good blogs it is anyway) the sponsors are the ones who provided prizes/paid the blog etc ……if bloggers use giveaways to promote themselves rather than the sponsor it should raise an eyebrow.

    And blogs not providing a disclosure is another pet peeve especially with affiliate links.

  11. Jenna Wood

    I have been blogging near 3 years now and have worked VERY hard to keep the integrity of my post content, giving the same time and attention to the reviews for smaller items, as the big- As a blogger who began with a giveaway a day for almost a year, I had 2-3 core followers who would enter EVERY giveaway, they would win often, 4-5 times a month. I quickly got some heat (as there was no RC back then and it was all the ‘comment’ system), so I’d have to post screenshots of the Random.com page and such, it was very time consuming, and people still seemed unhappy.

    As someone who got into blogging, originally entering giveaways myself, I genuinely want my entrants to have a fair shot- not skewing entries towards those who can blog the giveaway, not offering illegal entries for Facebook interaction or even sales- there are a lot of legalities to consider, and I am sure I still miss some! But I also refuse to limit the number of times someone can win- the best I can do is painstakingly verify each and every entry. Even then, if I see 1-2 entries out of 8-10 that the winner claimed don’t match up, I will ask them about it first. Sometimes likes don’t take, or there’s an extra click that doesnt register, things happen.

    I have also gotten rid of ‘mandatory’ entries- My blog is not about giveaways- When a review pops up, I prefer to offer a giveaway with it, but I am also learning my established readership loves my blog for the content and me, not just free stuff! With this pride I am expanding with more lifestyle posts- Though I have always tried to run my ‘reviews’ differently as well, opening with childhood stories and talking about a product from a consumer perspective with in use photos. I can tell when bloggers are selling product and ‘collecting’ items, if all you have on your posts, consistently, are photos of wrapped merchandise, or press pics, chances are you didn’t even use the product! It is frustrating that those people seem to get the same, and sometimes even better, opportunities as me!

    Now, I’ll be honest, I do sell stuff I get for review, on occasion- if I am sent something in ample quantity, that I truly did not like, or USED items on ebay and such (in relation to purses and jewelry)- I can’t possible keep or store ALL of the purses and jewelry I have accumulated over the past several years. It turns into clutter after a while. Though, whenever possible, with many food and lifestyle product leftovers or excess merchandise I have a closet where I store donation items and shelf stable food for holiday donations (and toys for tots). It is actually one of my favorite parts of the year- being fortunate enough to make these grand donations (because we are not high income, and because I have been on the extreme end of hunger before, myself).

    I don’t support the 100+ blog campaigns where blogs all post uniform content to grow numbers- and I think the average reader is quickly becoming turned of the the entire blog, not just those posts! Not to mention how harmful uniform content can be to a GPR or traffic rank…..Just me reposting one of my own articles can damage me, let alone duplicate content flagged as spam on 100s of sites!

    I’ve seen blogging, and blogs that feature giveaways, change so much in 3 years- and I’m sure it still has a long way to go. I think honest bloggers will still be part of things that seem suspicious, just as much as I know there are sketchy people out there bending ethics. I try to keep my nose out of things though….my blog keeps me so busy already, and the only one I can control is me, and my own actions!

  12. Glad to see another blogger saying the same thing we have said on our site before.

    New blogs pop up out of thin air and are gone just as fast all the time. We don’t have a button up on our site because, truthfully it’s literally just an image. It’s not a signed contract.
    Ellen, (re: October 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm) I can’t speak for everyone but the mandatory entry not showing right away has happened on our site simply because that comment went into moderation and is waiting to be approved. Now this probably isn’t always the case. By the way, thanks for the link, I spotted it from your Facebook page.

    When there is something to win there’s always a cheat in the sidelines. Whether it be on a blog or a site hosted promotion through a company such as e-prize.

  13. Margot C

    Is it possible at all that there is some misunderstanding about these mandatory comment entries? I know that when I comment on many blogs it is as ‘AnnaZed’ an old nom-de-plume that I created and still maintain for commenting on political sites and is attached is Discus comments (I think that’s what they are called). Anyway, when I win (I won on Rose’s blog once, hi Rose!) it will say ‘Margot C’ and someone might think that I didn’t do the required stuff, but I did; and the blogger knows that I did. I’m just wondering.

  14. I’ve been blogging for 4 years and this is a new trend. Yes, I did one of these group giveaways when they first started but now it’s gotten crazy and ridiculous and refuse to be a part of anymore. I do love this post, even though I am guilty of being a part of one, I swore them off and don’t even enter them (I’m like you and don’t enter many anyways since I get enough sponsored items) it’s horrible odds to win. I think I tried to enter a Kitchenaid mixer a few times but now my feed is filled with rubbish I don’t care and it’s taking me forever to un-follow them all.

    Most PR will ask for a screen shot of UVPM and not worry about FB and Twitter followers.

    I saw in a comment above about not announcing the winner right away…I don’t do it until I get an email back because if they don’t email back within 48 hours I choose another winner. It also may take me a bit of time to get to rafflecopter to announce as well since I have kids and a household to take care of as well as everything else blogging entails.

    I would love to join a group with you for integrity bloggers! I hate that some blogs are trying to cheat the system and it honestly makes all of us look bad.

  15. “The lady doth protest too much” turns out to be entirely true in this case.

  16. Donna C.

    Well said!

  17. BRAVO to you for posting this! I am a giveaway entrant and am not ashamed to say so. I enter giveaways as a way to obtain bday and holiday gifts for family and friends that I otherwise could not afford, as well as items for myself and my immediate family that I use regularly or want to have or try. I don’t sell any of my winnings but will donate anything I win that I would not use to charity. I also have a blog but do not do giveaways on it. Its very new and small. I have recently written two posts about things that make me nuts as a giveaway entrant and the things you are talking about here are top of those lists and affect many of the things I complained about. I personally hate rafflecopter and all the forms like that out there that have made these sorts of giveaways so hugely popular. I miss the good old days of leaving comments directly on one blog and getting to know the bloggers directly. I wish you so much luck in your endeavors and hope that your post speaks to other bloggers out there and really starts a revolution!

  18. Wanda McHenry

    Great post! I have noticed these mass blogger giveaways and I usually just say “ugh” forget it. I’m disheartened though that some are rigging Rafflecopter for friends and family. It’s kind of getting out of hand. My question is, I thought having a blog was to utilize one’s writing skills and review products. Things have changed since 2009. LOL!

  19. Wanda McHenry

    One other thing, I have been entering and reading blogs for years and I have never sold anything I’ve won. We are a middle class family and anything has always helped, so I can’t say I fit in that category of a sweeper. No offense.

    • Hi Wanda,

      I never meant to imply you were a “sweeper” nor do I think that. I totally agree with your comments and was just thinking myself, these people don’t have blogs they just have copy and paste shared giveaways, no content, no original pictures or comments, just generic multi shared giveaways. Also with these shared giveaways since so many bloggers that used to do individual giveaways have banded together there are less products to be won since they are all promoting the very same giveaway. That sucks for the people that are entering. I enjoy to help people get extra things in this economy especially and strive to bring you as many giveaways as I can. Giveaways you have a good chance of winning. I care about my readers and will not crowd my blog feed with mega blogger giveaways just to get some phony inflated stats.

  20. this is a big one that I notice. a giveaway will have a comment as a mandatory entry on the main blog or whatever. you go there to leave your comment and see that there are maybe 300 comments or less but then rafflecopter says there are over 100,000 entries total…how is that even possible? if there are only 300 people who did the mandatory comment, where are all these other entries coming from!!??

  21. I have bloggers do r and g’s for me occasionally. I look for quality blogs with content and engaged loyal followers. I don’t like the blogs that do just r and g’s.

    I prefer my r and g entry forms to be fairly simple.

    I want to gain loyal customers from r and g’s and not just get more Facebook likes. The only way to do that is to find a good blog with a loyal reader base who trust the blogger and her opinion.

    I have had better R and G’s with small blogs (sometimes just 100 followers) than I have with huge blogs that do a ton of reviews. Sure, not as many people enter the giveaways with the smaller blogs, but the ones who do are actually interested in my product, instead of just trying to score FREE stuff.

    I am a new blogger now also. I want to provide content and not just reviews. I want followers who like me and what I write. Not just folks trolling for FREE stuff.

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