Man creates Twitter bot to enter competitions, nets 1,000 prizes

Developer answers age-old question of whether anyone actually wins Twitter contests

Tags: CompetitionEntertainmentSocial MediaSocial networkingTwitter Incorporation
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Man creates Twitter bot to enter competitions, nets 1,000 prizes Posts sporting text such as "RT to win" were Scott's prime targets (Getty Images)
By  Tom Paye Published  August 13, 2015

A man has built a Twitter bot which helped him win an average of four online competitions per day for about nine months - netting him a reasonable haul of prizes.

Hunter Scott, a US-based developer, wrote this week about a Twitter bot that he designed to answer the question of whether anyone actually wins Twitter-based competitions. The posts sporting text such as "RT to win" were his prime targets.

"To discover the answer to that question, I wrote a Python script that logs into Twitter, searches for tweets that say something along the lines of ‘retweet to win!'" Scott wrote in an article posted on Quartz.

"Some contests require you to follow the original poster, so after discovering a candidate tweet I made sure it wasn't an entry to a contest, but the original contest itself, and then checked to see if they wanted a follow. If so, I followed them and retweeted."

Scott said that, over the course of nine months, his script entered around 165,000 contests, winning about 1,000. That worked out to a win-rate of just over 0.5%, which he described as "pretty miserable", particularly given many of the prizes were simply logos and graphics.

However, Scott did manage to pick up large numbers of event tickets, currency for online games, as well as a number of "mysterious" items.

"My favorite thing that I won was a cowboy hat autographed by the stars of a Mexican soap opera that I had never heard of. I love it because it really embodies the totally random outcome of these contests," he wrote.

Scott said that the most valuable thing he won was a trip to the New York Fashion Week, including a limo ride to the show, $500 spending money, and tickets to some of the shows - amounting to a retail value of $4,000. However, he said that - as with many of the other prizes - he declined it because he wouldn't have been able to attend.

Having proven the viability of his script, Scott is now using it to raise awareness for charities.

"After a while of winning contests, I realised I could use my bot for good too. Lots of people raise money for charities by asking people to retweet. Sometimes they're fake, but what do I care? I added search terms for tweets like this," he said.

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