I had everything I needed to qualify for Level 2 in the contest - the 20 required questions with 2 upvotes each, the votes, and even the sharing.

I posted a picture on my website with the text "Ask and answer questions about Macs! Click to see more!", which my users quickly ate up. They click on anything.

The links were tracked with a URL shortener, which let me see exactly how many clicks I had. After a short amount of time, my quota was filled (I looked at the URL shortener's stats and I saw for each of the 11 {just to be safe} ads, at least 15 clicks on each one). One of my users even signed up and made an account.

Thus, I was feeling pretty confident that my place was secured. Knowing that the site had probably some lag, I wasn't surprised when the share progress bar told me I had 7 - it was 5 a few minutes ago. I knew, thanks to the shortened URLs, that I was in the 'way past safe' category.

This all made it a complete surprise to me that I didn't get into Level Two. See http://thenewipadishere.com/; as of now, I'm still not listed.

Is it possible for a moderator or someone at Stack Exchange to take a look at the links I posted and investigate whether they should have been counted towards the contest?

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  • Did you use the sharing feature to share a link to a question or answer? – Kyle Cronin Apr 3 '12 at 2:21
  • @Kyle Cronin: I believe that I linked to questions (that had at least at 4 upvotes) – JavaAndCSharp Apr 3 '12 at 2:27
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    This same thing happened to bmike. – Andrew Larsson Apr 3 '12 at 2:51
  • @Andrew Larsson: But he's listed as a Level 2er! How did his problem get resolved? Could someone do what they did with bmike to me? – JavaAndCSharp Apr 3 '12 at 2:54
  • @JavaAndCSharp No, he's supposed to be in Level 3 according to my calculations. – Andrew Larsson Apr 3 '12 at 2:57
  • @Andrew Larsson: And will anyone put him into Level 3? – JavaAndCSharp Apr 3 '12 at 3:03
  • Regrettably, when the contest period ended, bmike had fewer than 20 shares, so he did not qualify for Level 3. – Nathan Greenstein Apr 3 '12 at 3:12
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    The sharing part of this competition is a bit screwy, you needed to use the links that have your user ID at the end. But of course it didnt actually say this anyway in the rules. – Jonathan. Apr 3 '12 at 12:00
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    @Jonathan.Yes, it does. Go to the contest page, click the Contest Ruies button, and look at the second bullet point. Everything is laid out there. – Nathan Greenstein Apr 3 '12 at 14:45
  • I could have looked over some factors when I was checking out bmike's shares. There are so many variables to consider. – Andrew Larsson Apr 3 '12 at 15:36

Your mission progress counts seven out of ten shares; these are the seven posts that meet the sharing requirements:

To be sure that there's nothing wrong here, I looked at the server access logs, which record all requests to your shared URLs, not just those that eventually counted as a valid referral.

In looking at the logs, I made these two observations about a vast (!) majority of the requests:

  1. They came in bunches. The requests didn't come naturally in a "hey, this looks interesting, I'll check it out" pattern; instead they look like a "here's a bunch of links, all of which I shall now click within quick succession, maybe even twice for good measure."

  2. They either came very obviously from you, or the reqesting IP address belonged to one of these groups:

    • registered to an institution that you seem to have ties to,
    • registered to dedicated hosting providers,
    • well-known proxy.

I am therefore inclined to consider the assumption that you didn't meet the sharing requirements to be correct.

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  • Yeah, this seems correct. My website lists tips to be not tracked online for students. I did some investigating, and the two school buildings have just 2 IPs between them. This may have been my fault - I did tell someone 'there's this contest, I put this image on my website as a share link, I wonder if I'll win' - and he went and hit them up a lot. After inspecting my URL shortening logs, I can now see that this is what he did. I guess telling him did more harm than good. Thanks. Now, time to go yell at him. (well, he meant good anyway) – JavaAndCSharp Apr 3 '12 at 16:24
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    @JavaAndCSharp While i'm sorry that you didn't make it, I have to admit that there's some humor in getting people to click a tracked url on a website that "lists tips to be not tracked online for students." ;-P – Adam Davis Apr 3 '12 at 17:20
  • @Adam Davis: Only a few people actually use the tips. Half of them think that they'll be protected by browsing my website. – JavaAndCSharp Apr 3 '12 at 18:03

Some things to note:

  • As mentioned, links must be in the correct format (ending with your user ID, 6730).
  • You must have 10 unique links. Posting a link to the same post multiple times can only count towards one share.
  • To count as a share, each link (or all links to a specific post combined) must be clicked by at least 5 unique IP addresses. Even if the URL shortener reports that a link has been clicked many times, it's possible that it has been clicked multiple times by the same person.
  • I'm not 100% sure, but it's my guess, that links to closed or deleted questions aren't counted.

In general, the link tracking systems here are pretty reliable. They're not a new feature and are used for things other than contests.
Realistically, it is more likely that the URL shortener is reporting a different metric than Stack Exchange is recording (or misreporting altogether) than it is that Stack Exchange's tracking isn't working.

Moderators have no more access to link information or influence on contest results than you do; Stack Exchange will have to be the ones to investigate further.

Sorry that things aren't working out as expected!

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  • Yeah, I'm pretty sure that the questions I used/shared had all of the characteristics that you mention. The mystery deepens... – JavaAndCSharp Apr 3 '12 at 10:33
  • @JavaAndCSharp In that case, you'll have to post which links you shared for us to be able to help you. – Nathan Greenstein Apr 3 '12 at 14:46

Which link style did you use:




The second type doesn't count, it has to have your user number at the end of the link as with the first style.

If you want to make the contest administrator's jobs easier, provide a list of the URLs you advertised that you believe were clicked at least 5 times. I imagine this information is still in your URL tracking service.

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  • The first one. I clicked the G+ link button. Also, I'll try to find what URLs I used - I'll post them shortly (maybe tomorrow, it's a little late now for me) – JavaAndCSharp Apr 3 '12 at 3:21

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