It’s that time of the year again.
No, not the holidays. The CommunityVotes Contest time. The time where all your fellow business friends and peers go around begging you for votes. (All right, all right, maybe not ALL of them, but you catch my drift.)
My marketing company recently was nominated to be a contestant in the infamous awards competition and I have to admit that I *was* flattered. It’s always nice to know that somebody thinks you deserve recognition for your hard work, but this is where it ends for me.
This is probably the third year that CommunityVotes takes on Cornwall. Sadly, there is no way to confirm this as Community Votes is absolutely unreacheable, at least when asked questions about the company. I suspect they are, however, highly responsive when it comes to taking your money.
The concept is simple. Nominate people–you can even nominate yourself–then vote online, and invite all your connections to vote for you so you can be the winner of the coveted award in your category. It’s not new. We do it often at the Seeker. For example, right now, we’re running a similar “popularity” contest where readers upload their photos with Santa, then invite the community to vote on their “favourite” picture, and the winner gets a cash prize. But our prizes are real, the contest doesn’t cost a thing, and participants are fully aware that prizes are awarded on popularity, not on merit alone.
The CommunityVotes contest is not a scam per se; everything is legal, there is no law that prevents you from running such a contest online. However, when winners have to pay for their own awards and recognition, one could debate that if it doesn’t quite fit the definition of a scam, it is definitely a shady business model. And when on top of that, nominees can pay to get better exposure on the website where voting happens, one could speculate that it is akin to voter interference. Or maybe it’s just like putting a sign on your lawn. I don’t know. But it isn’t representative of skills.
One thing is certain, legit or not, the concept appears to be unbelievably profitable. With some 239 categories–a winner in each–and awards starting at $39, it preys on people’s egos to rake in a whopping $9,321 in revenue potential for Cornwall alone. Add to this website advertising fees, and contests in cities all around Canada, and you will see that CommunityVotes is the only real winner in this contest.
I tried contacting CommunityVotes to find information on the parent company. I was curious and wanted to ask the mastermind behind this nationwide campaign some questions. A day later, I received a canned response that didn’t answer any of my inquiries so I tried to find the info myself. All I could find on the company is that they are “…an independent platform which allows the community to be heard.” I did find their ontario incorporation, but couldn’t find the name of the owner or the address. To be fair, I probably could have found out who the shareholders are, but I didn’t feel like dishing out $85 to do so.
As of press time, I was no closer to proving or disproving the legitimacy of the contest.
I apologize in advance if you ask me to vote and I don’t oblige. I also apologize if you become one of their 239 winners, brag about your accomplishments and I fail to get all hot and bothered about it. I’m happy for you, I truly am, however, as unpopular as my opinion may be, I find the whole thing bogus. Any Tom, Dick and Debbie can create a slew of email addresses and tip the scale, rendering the legitimacy of their win null and void.
Are some winners deserving? Of course! In my books, anybody who runs a small business should get an award. But I much prefer the format used by the Chamber of Commerce or the hybrid version of the Seeker’s Choice Awards–I know, shameless plug here–where people who nominate others actually have to indicate why they are doing so. A committee then decides on the winner based on their accomplishments, not on how many people they can get to blindly click a button on a web page.
Winners will be revealed January 18th.