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Newsletter Archive

RANDOM.ORG Newsletter #1
"Random Drawings and iPod Giveaway"

5 May 2009
http://www.random.org/

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Dear Newsletter Subscriber,

Welcome to the premier issue of the new RANDOM.ORG newsletter!  I
won't blame you if you don't remember signing up, because it has
indeed been a long time since the last newsletter.  In case you are no
longer interested in randomness or RANDOM.ORG, you will find an
unsubscribe link at the end of this email.

So, administrative issues aside, I am delighted to say that there are
many new services on RANDOM.ORG, and more are in the works.  This
issue of the newsletter will show how to hold random drawings, which
is something that more and more people are using RANDOM.ORG for.  To
give a real-life demonstration of how this can be done, RANDOM.ORG
will give away three free iPods over the next weeks.  Keep reading to
see how to enter these drawings.  All current subscribers to the
RANDOM.ORG newsletter can join; no purchase necessary.

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Why use Random Drawings?

Random drawings are great for promotional giveaways, for example in
connection with your blog or business.  However, there are a number of
issues that you need to be aware of when you host giveaways.  Here are
the key concerns:

(1) Fairness.  You will want to make sure that your winners are picked
randomly, in accordance with best industry practice, and in such a way
that (a) it is impossible for anyone to influence the drawing; (b) it
is impossible for anyone to predict who will win; and (c) each entrant
has exactly the same chance of winning.  True randomness is great for
this purpose, since it is completely unpredictable, even to someone
who knows the algorithm used to generate it.

(2) Trust.  Unless you have a very small group of entrants who have a
high degree of trust in you, you will want some way of assuring your
entrants that everything happens in a manner that is fair.  A
transparent draw process can be a great help in this regard, and
ideally you would like to publish the full drawing results.  You can
also enlist an independent party to oversee the drawing for you, or a
do a combination of the two.

(3) Privacy.  You will most likely want to protect the privacy of your
entrants.  For example, you probably do not want publish their names
and addresses for the entire Internet to see.

It is not exactly easy to address all these concerns at the same time,
and some of them seem to be at odds with each other.  How do you
protect your entrants' privacy but still publish the results of your
drawings?  Unless you use anonymous lottery tickets, this can be
tricky.

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The RANDOM.ORG Way

The new version of RANDOM.ORG's Third-Party Draw Service is intended
to address the three concerns explained above.  The service now has a
feature called "entrant-accessible drawings" in which RANDOM.ORG will
pick one or more winners from a list of entrants that you provide.  To
use the service, you upload a list of identifiers for your entrants
(typically their email addresses).  Next, RANDOM.ORG uses its true
randomness to pick your winners and then places a permanent record of
the drawing on the RANDOM.ORG web site.  An entrant in your drawing
can then go to the record, type in their email address, and RANDOM.ORG
will tell them whether they were entered and whether or not they won.

In this way, RANDOM.ORG acts as an independent party who holds the
drawings for you and lets entrants verify that everything happened as
it should.  Does it sound easy?  It really is.  Here is a video
tutorial that shows how it works:

  http://www.random.org/guides/video1/

The starting price for use of this service is $4.95 USD for a drawing
with up to 500 entrants.  Bigger drawings cost more, but the
per-entrant cost decreases as your drawings grow.  You will find the
full pricing details at the Third-Party Draw Service page here:

  http://www.random.org/draws/

And in case you were wondering, RANDOM.ORG will of course treat your
entrants' email addresses as confidential.  They will not be revealed
to anyone and will never be used to contact your entrants.  The
per-drawing fee allows us to run this service without having to spam
your entrants with advertising.

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How to Win an iPod Shuffle

To celebrate the launch of the new service -- and to showcase how it
works -- RANDOM.ORG is giving away three free iPods over the next
weeks.  The iPods are the new Shuffle (of course!), which is the
nicest, tiniest MP3 player that we have seen in a long time.  The
Shuffle is of course famous for shuffling your music, but Apple hasn't
told us how it generates its randomness.  It is unlikely to be true
randomness, though, so each of the Shuffles given away by RANDOM.ORG
will have a unique true random bit pattern engraved on it :-)

To enter this week's giveaway, simply click on this link:

  http://www.random.org/giveaways/enter/?giveaway=1&email=%%email%%

The drawing for the first iPod will be held on Sunday, 10 May 2009.
The winner will be contacted by email and a link to the record of the
drawing will appear here:

  http://www.random.org/giveaways/?giveaway=1

No purchase is necessary to enter into this drawing, and the iPod will
be shipped free of cost to the winner anywhere in the world.  (You may
have to pay import duty, if any.)

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Next Week's Giveaway

Only current subscribers to the RANDOM.ORG newsletter can enter this
week's giveaway.  If you have friends who are interested, tell them to
sign up for the newsletter, and they will be invited to participate in
next week's giveaway:

  http://www.random.org/newsletter/

And by the way, in case you need a strictly no-budget solution for
holding drawings, you can still use RANDOM.ORG.  The following
describes how:

  http://www.random.org/faq/#Q3.1

Enjoy!

Yours randomly,
--
Dr. Mads Haahr <Mads.Haahr@cs.tcd.ie>  |  Lecturer in Computer Science
Department of Computer Science         |  Phone: +353 1 896 1540
Trinity College Dublin                 |  Web: http://www.cs.tcd.ie/

This newsletter is copyright 2009 by Mads Haahr
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