Contests

Locked: [Other] RFD Contests Forum - Frequently Asked Questions for Contesters and Posters

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  • Jan 23rd, 2013 1:15 am
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[OP]
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When/how often are the prize winners decided?

That depends entirely on the contest. Most of them will decide after the contest has closed for entries. Some contests award prizes throughout the contest period. So make sure you understand the rules and prizing to ensure that you're not missing out on anything by entering later.

Many contests will notify winners shortly after the draw has taken place, but some have a long time-frame, so be patient.
[OP]
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Am I required to pay tax on my contest winnings?

It depends - note: the following assumes that you're not a U.S. citizen, and that you're a Canadian resident for tax purposes:
  • If the contest is hosted by a Canadian company, then no taxes are payable. Contest winnings are considered a "windfall" under the Income Tax Act, and therefore are non-taxable.
  • If the contest is hosted by a U.S. company, then yes, but only to the IRS:
    [INDENT]
  • If the prize is cash or equivalent, then the sponsor will/(should) withhold 30% of the winnings for tax purposes. However some sponsors won't bother with the withholding tax (reasons vary, but usually if it's a small amount of winnings).
  • If the prize is trips or merchandise, then there are usually no withholding taxes (how do you withhold 30% of a microwave?) but you're legally obligated to file a tax return and remit any taxes owing to the IRS. Whether or not you actually do that is between you, the IRS, and whatever deit(y)/(ies) you may believe in.[/INDENT]
Keep in mind that only U.S.-source income is reportable to the IRS. So if you do end up filing a return with them, then the actual amount of taxes you're liable for is likely to be small (unless you got really lucky with your wins, or you also have other U.S.-source income from employment and/or investments). If your actual U.S. taxes are less than what's already been withheld, then it's definitely worth it to file a tax return to get back the difference (in the same way that it's worth filing a tax return when your employer has deducted too much taxes from your pay-cheque).

The U.S. marginal tax rates for the 2013 tax year are: http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneybuilde ... nal-rates/
[OP]
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I've been given a mathematical skill testing question to solve. The sponsor hasn't broken it down into nice separate steps, and I'm not sure what to do.

When you encounter an STQ that isn't presented into discrete steps, then you need to follow mathematical "order of operations" (also called "BEDMAS" or "PEDMAS"):
  1. B = Brackets
  2. E = Exponents (although the last time I Exponents in an STQ was never)
  3. DM = Division and Multiplication
  4. AS = Addition and Subtraction
So:
  1. calculate whatever's inside the brackets first
  2. then calculate exponents
  3. then calculate "X" and "/" operations in the order they're written
  4. then calculate "+" and "-" operations in the order they're written
For example:
  • WRONG: (9 / 3) + 4 x 5 = 3 + 4 x 5 = 7 x 5 = 35
  • RIGHT: (9 / 3) + 4 x 5 = 3 + 4 x 5 = 3 + 20 = 23
Or, if you have your computer handy, then just copy and paste the STQ into this handy online tool: http://www.wolframalpha.com/ (thanks to dfx for showing that to me!)
[OP]
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Am I required to subscribe to newsletters?

It depends.

If a newsletter subscription is required to enter, it should say so directly in the rules or on the entry form. Otherwise the sponsors would run afoul of anti-spam laws by sending you unsolicited newsletters.

Otherwise, if a random contest is truly random and there's no explicit requirement to subscribe to a newsletter, then it shouldn't matter whether or not you're subscribed.

In some cases (usually with blog/rafflecopter type contests) a newsletter subscription is optional but will give you additional entries into the contest

Keep in mind that you can also unsubscribe from a newsletter if it becomes too spammy to handle (but if it's a contest requirement, then make sure you don't unsubscribe until after the contest has ended and winners have been drawn).
[OP]
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Should I open a social media (e.g. Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/G+) account?

In order of how often contests are hosted on each platform:

Website > Facebook > Twitter > Pinterest > G+

So yes, there are still plenty of contests you can enter without having any sort of social media account.

But even if you choose not to enter contests that are hosted on social media, there's still a good reason to have accounts with them (especially FB and Twitter): BONUS ENTRIES. Many contests will award you bonus entries for "sharing" a contest through social media. For some shares, people still have to enter the contest through the link you provided for you to receive the bonus. For others, the simple act of sharing will award you the bonus.

Also, if you do decide to take the plunge into the world of Rafflecopter, then having a Facebook AND a Twitter account is essential, since FB and Tw entries can often make up > 90% of the entries available to you.
[OP]
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I already have a Facebook account - should I open a second one for contesting?

There are certain obvious advantages to opening a secondary account for contest use, and one HUGE disadvantage: it's strictly in violation of Facebook's Terms of Service, and can lead to the shut-down of both of your accounts. So only you can decide if that's right for you - just be aware of the risks involved.

There are also alternatives to creating a second account. For example, if you want to avoid spamming your non-contesting friends with contest shares, then you can create a custom list of only your contesting friends, and when you share contest posts, only share with them.
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I just entered a contest and it's asking me to "share" it on (Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/G+). Is this required?

Some but not all contests (including some that are hosted on websites outside of Facebook/etc.) will ask you to "share" the contest.

In most cases sharing is purely optional and amounts to nothing more than doing a favour for the contest sponsor by helping them to promote the contest to a wider audience. In these situations, whether you share or not should have no bearing on your odds of winning.

In a smaller number of contests, a "share" is an explicit requirement of validating your entry. But in that case the contest form and/or rules should state that upfront, so be sure to read those carefully to understand what's required and what's optional.

In many cases shares aren't required, but will award you bonus entries, so in those cases it's obviously in your advantage to do so. And again, the contest form and/or rules should state that upfront.
[OP]
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Am I required to "like" the sponsor's Facebook page in order to enter their contest?

When entering a Facebook hosted contest, it should be pretty obvious if a "like" is required, since the vast majority of them won't even allow you to access the contest entry form or contest application without a "like". In some cases you can still access the entry form, but it won't let you submit your entry until the "like" has been done.

There's a small number that will still allow you to submit an entry without a "like", but may actually require it - the sponsor just wasn't clear when setting up the contest. So it's probably safest to "like" them first before entering, regardless. You can always "unlike" their Facebook page after the contest has ended and winners have been drawn.

In some cases, a contest that's hosted from a non-Facebook website will still ask you to "like" the sponsor(s)' FB page. It's up to you to read the rules and understand whether or not a "like" is an entry requirement.
[OP]
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A Facebook contest is asking me for permission to install an application. Should I grant it?

If a contest requires an app, and you don't install it, then you won't be able to enter the contest - end of story.

If an app is required to enter a contest, then you should hold off from uninstalling that app until after the contest has ended and winners have been selected.

Keep in mind that any information captured by the app from your Facebook profile is likely to be retained by the sponsor, even if you uninstall the app later on. Some apps only ask for your basic information (name and email) so they can contact you when you win, which makes a lot of sense. But some are far more intrusive and will ask for access to things such as your list of friends, work and educational history, photo albums, and so on. So it's your decision based on how safe you feel about the application and the sponsor whose contest it is you're entering.
[OP]
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I just entered a Twitter contest. Should I also "follow" the Sponsor's twitter feed?

Twitter contests are often vague on that point. But keep in mind that Twitter's "Direct Messaging" service only works if two Twitter accounts are following each other, so it's definitely a good idea to to give them a follow to help facilitate contacting you when you win.
[OP]
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How do I read the thread titles?

Every thread title should be formatted as follows:

Expiry Date - Sponsor/Host name - Contest title/Prize description - Exclusions/Restrictions
  • The expiry date is the final date (and sometimes time of day) at which entries will still be accepted. Most contests will end at 11:59:59pm EST/EDT, so that's what we assume in a thread title. If it ends in another time zone (e.g. PST) it's usually a good idea to say so, especially if the contest is "Daily" entry. The expiry date is (usually) written in YYYY/MM/DD format.
  • The sponsor is the company/organization providing the resources (cash or material prizes) to hold the contest, while the host is the name of the website/page where the contest can be found. Contest hosts and contest sponsors are sometimes the same, sometimes not. In cases where there are many organizations sponsoring the prize(s), it's usually just easier to list the host's name
  • Some common exclusions and restrictions are:
    [INDENT]
  • "FB" - must have a Facebook acccount to enter
  • "Tw" - must have a Twitter account to enter
  • "QC no" - everyone except Quebec residents are eligible
  • "BC only" - only British Columbia residents are eligible
  • "GTA best" - you can enter if you're from outside the GTA, but the prize may only be practical for GTA residents (for example, flights only leave from YYZ, or tickets are for a Leafs game at the ACC, or prizes must be picked up at the Sponsor/Host's offices in Toronto)
  • "Judged" - selection of winner is non-random, by a judge
  • "Voted" - selection of winner is non-random, by a vote of your peers
  • "PIN/NPE" - entry requires a code provided when purchasing the sponsor's product. A No-Purchase-Entry option is also available[/INDENT]
For more information, see here:

http://forums.redflagdeals.com/contest- ... g-1284737/
[OP]
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I see "Once", "Daily", "Weekly", "Monthly" and "Other" beside each contest thread. What does that mean?

These are called "thread prefixes" and they tell you how often you can enter a contest. If you click on any one of those prefix links, it will also filter the forum to only display that type of contest.

Sometimes a "Weekly" or "Monthly" might be categorized as such, even though they don't follow calendar weeks or months. For example, a contest where you can enter once a week from Wednesday to the following Tuesday is still considered a "Weekly". Similarly, a contest where the entry window is the 16th of the month to the 15th of the following month is still considered a "Monthly".

A few (very rare) contests run on a "Quarterly" basis. Since RFD doesn't have a thread prefix for "Quarterly", these are prefixed as "Other".

"Other" just means a contest that doesn't fit the other categories. For example, contests that allow you to enter a limited number of times but don't care when during the contest you submit your entry, as long as you don't exceed the limit; or contests that have a strange schedule - the contest has specific dates when you're allowed to enter. Some contests allow you to submit an unlimited number of entries, and these would also be considered "Other".
[OP]
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The forum's always showing threads with the most recent replies first. I just want to see the most recently started contest threads. How do I do this?

You can perform a "Thread Start Date" sort in descending order. The most recently created thread will be shown first in the list:

http://forums.redflagdeals.com/contests ... order=desc (you can also bookmark this for easy access)

You can also click "Thread Start Date" in the red bar directly above the threads list to do the same thing.
[OP]
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I've been away for a while and I need to catch up quickly. How can I find out which contests are ending soon?

Because the RFD contest posters have agreed to format the contest expiry dates in YYYY/MM/DD order in the thread title, when you perform a "Title Sort" in ascending order it will display contests in order of expiry date from soonest to latest:

http://forums.redflagdeals.com/contests ... &order=asc (you can also bookmark this for easy access)

You can also click "Title" in the red bar directly above the threads list to do the same thing.

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