Come Join the Best of Lawrence Fun This Year

We’re excited to support the Best of Lawrence contest this year, and in particular the computer repair category.  Last year, we had some huge concerns about the contest. Those concerns were met with resistance and profanity (I had to delete some comments!)  This year, not only were we listened to, but the Lawrence Journal-World created a privacy policy that met ALL our concerns.  Read on for the details.

VOTE

In 2017, we don’t need to explain the importance of voting.  With the recent presidential elections and all the controversies, voting has a charged meaning.  Best of Lawrence is more like a contest than an election, even if they use the same word for entering. This year Best of Lawrence is allowing people to enter every day, much like any other contest.  Yup, you can pick one business every day and give them 28 entries in the contest. That makes it clear to players you aren’t voting, but entering a business into a competition.

After a Twitter chat that eventually went to email, the members of the Best of Lawrence team addressed all the concerns local businesses like mine had in the past.  In particular

*Neither advertising nor news staff should have access to entries in advance

*Birthdays are used only to comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

*Data obtained in the contest is not sold to third parties nor advertisers

These three distinctions were why we opted out of the contest last year, which is ironic because we placed second in our category.  As computer support professionals, we respect our client’s privacy.  That privacy is a chief concern during any computer repair appointment. We see tons of privileged information on a computer and go to great lengths to protect that information.  As such, we couldn’t support a contest that could put our clients at risk.  These protections include both our residential clients as well as our business clients.

This year Nick Gerick of the Lawrence Journal-World told me that sales staff do not have access to contest results until they’re announced to the public.  That new policy prevents the sales staff from having any conflicts of interest.  The ads they sell will be independent of the contest results.  That’s a huge step forward in preventing undue influence of advertising on reporting.  Let’s face it, with sponsored stories and fake news, we need to be able to trust what we read.  If a member of the sales staff can influence an outcome in a contest, that calls into question the integrity of the company.  I don’t think people would intentionally try to change the outcome, but conflicts of interests are by definition suspicious.  If someone could gain by an outcome, they shouldn’t be involved in determining the outcome.  This new policy prevents businesses being indirectly influenced into paying for ads.  Even if you pay for a 10-page spread in the magazine, the sales staff won’t know or change the outcome of the contest.

My other concern, which was addressed by the Best of Lawrence, was how individual data would be used.  While Facebook and Google try to anonymize data, my concern with the Best of Lawrence was a lack of transparency on how they would use the data.  Your name, zip code and birthday along with what you consider the Best of Lawrence are private.  You don’t want that information to be sold to advertisers or read by reporters.  Wouldn’t it be creepy to suddenly get a coupon on your birthday to your favorite restaurant (or their competitor)?  Or what if the newspaper reported that your business’s employees didn’t think you’re the best.  That’s a huge embarrassment to any business.  That’s why your entries need to be private.

With the clearly stated privacy policy that we advocated for, your information remains protected.  You’re welcome to opt-in to newsletters (I’m a fan of Chad’s Town Talk), but beyond that, your information is protected from being used by advertisers (including the Journal-World), writers, or any third party.  In other words, your entry in the contest remains just an entry in a contest.

Another new feature this year is you get to enter a business once a day in the contest.  That makes it clear this isn’t a true “election” nor a scientific survey.  It also means you don’t have to put in all your entries on the same day.  If you have a great experience at a business, you can vote for them without having to change your previous entries.

This competition is all about the fun of entering and winning.  On Twitter, Lawrence Magazine described it as each day a new inning in the contest.  Each person gets 28 entries in the contest:  each day they can put in a new ballot with the same information.  That means you can vote for us or other businesses 28 times this month!

Best of Lawrence and the Journal-World went out of their way to address the privacy concerns I had with the contest.  Now that we think it’s safe for our clients, we’d love your entry each day in the contest.  We’re going to provide great computer repair service to Lawrence even if we don’t place.  We know we’re always the winner with great clients and a great team of technicians to support you.

Here’s’ the link to vote in our category!

Photo by antisocialtory

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