Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have created an account. Why can't I log into the website for MyContests?
A: If you have created an account successfully, the most likely cause of this is that you have cookies disabled in your browser. When you first create an account and whenever you log in, the Contestgirl website sends a cookie to your browser. A cookie is simply a text string that your browser will send back to the website each time you access a page - why it's called a cookie, who knows? Cookies are harmless and there's no need to disable them. To re-enable them do the following:

If you're using Internet Explorer, from the Tools menu, click Internet Options. From there, select the Privacy tab and set your privacy settings to one that allows cookies. If you're using the Firefox browser, from the Tools menu, click Options. From there, click the Privacy icon at the top of the window and make sure you check the box labeled Accept cookies.
Q: When I login and I'm looking at the MyContest listings, why doesn't the Presto button work?
A: It probably does work but likely your browser is not setup properly. Click here for an explanation of what's happening and a solution.
Q: You sometimes use the acronym AOM in the restrictions section of your listing. What does AOM stand for?
A: Age of Majority. Some other acronyms I use are the common abbrieviations for states and provinces, for example PR is Puerto Rico and QC is Quebec.
Q: How many contests do you enter on a daily basis and how much time do you spend each day?
A: Each day I enter about a dozen single entry contests, the new ones I find that day, and then somewhere around 100 multiple entry ones. I can do this in about 1 hour. I've got a system where I click on the first link of the items I have listed under myContests and then click the next one before the first one opens. I will occasionally do this three or four times so I have multiple windows opened and then I will start filling in the forms and closing the windows as I complete them. Opening multiple windows saves some time because I can move from one item to the next without having to wait for the websites to respond. I use RoboForm to fill in the forms automatically - see my Contest Tips page for more on this.
Q: Which offer the best odds of winning - single entry or daily entry sweepstakes?
A: Most of my bigger wins - the Xboxs, trip to Toronto, pizza for a year and others have come from daily entry sweeps. I still sign up the the single entry contests but the odds are better on the daily entry ones as long as you enter then daily. I make a point of setting an hour aside almost every day to enter about 100 daily entry contests and I think I've been fairly successful with this strategy. I have also had some success with local contests like radio station promotions. These are generally small prizes like movie tickets but are still a lot of fun to win.

The other thing I should mention here is that any contest that requires entrants to write a story or send a photo or some other activity that takes time will often have very few participants and those who do enter will have good odds of winning. I won one of my iPods in a contest from Sun Microsystems that required a three sentance story about their new operating system. I wrote a silly little story and won the contest. This was a monthly contest and I wrote about my win on this website and recommended that other should try their luck. A woman named Cathy wrote to me a few weeks later telling me she took my advise and won an iPod from them. A month later she wrote again saying her daughter Lidsay had just won another iPod from the same contest. The moral to this story is: listen to me when I offer advice.
Q: How can I add a sweepstakes or giveaway to your site?
A: If you have a website that is running an online promotion or if you find a contest on the Internet that you think would suit this site, the best way to tell me about it is through this link. There are a number of people who do this on a regular basis and it's a great help. I think everyone who uses this site knows that I'm picky about the kind of things I list so please don't be insulted if I choose not to include everything.
Q: Do I have to pay taxes on my winnings?
A: I'm not a tax expert, so don't believe anything I write here. Having said that, I believe that in Canada, the answer is no there is no tax on sweepstakes winnings. In the United States, I believe tax is due on all winnings. The contest organizer will generally require you to fill out appropriate forms to be sure the win is recorded and that the government gets their cut. There may also be duties to be paid if a sweepstakes is run from a foreign company and the prize is shipped across the border. These duties would likely be collected by the shipping company.
Q: Why are so many sweepstakes invalid in some states, territories or provinces?
A: Each state and province has local laws that define the rules of how a "game of chance" or sweepstake can be run. Some are more stringent than others and some, particularly Puerto Rico and Quebec, set rules that make it so difficult to comply with that it's easier for the promoter to disqualify people from these areas. The problem lies with the local government. If you live in one of these areas you should write to your local officials and complain - it's the only way it will ever get changed.
Q: Some sweepstakes say you may not use a form filling program to enter. Is there a way for these sites to tell if you're using a form filler like Roboform rather than manually typing the answers?
A: There are some things a website could do to try to identify that a form filler is being used but it would take some effort. For example, they could include a hidden question on the form by changing the text color of the question to be the same as the background color. A person wouldn't see the question and so wouldn't answer it but a form filling program would fill in the answer just as it would for any other field in the form. Let's say, for example that a form asks for your name, address and email and then has a hidden question asking for your name again. If any response includes the name twice, the contest organizer could reasonably guess that it was generated by a form filling program and not entered manually.

Having said that, I don't think there are too many contest organizers who are that concerned about automatic form fillers like Roboform or the Google tool bar. These tools speed up the filling of forms but they still require that the user bring up the sponser's web page and spend some time there. The goal of running a sweepstakes is to bring people to the sponsor's website and to promote brand awareness. This happens whether the user types in the values of the form or clicks a botton to do it automatically and the sponsors know this. What contest organizers don't like are those services that try to enter you into multiple sweepstakes without you having to do anything. This defeats the purpose of running a contest and is the reason why many sites require you to enter a code, which is typically a string of letters read from a distorted graphic. The idea is that a human can understand the distorted letters but a machine likely can't.

The bottom line is that you need to make up your own mind as to when you should use a form filler and when you should do it manually.
Q: Is your husband some kind of genius?
A: This is probably the most frequently asked question. The answer of course is yes.

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