US20080313026A1 - System and method for voting in online competitions - Google Patents

System and method for voting in online competitions Download PDF

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US20080313026A1
US20080313026A1 US11893839 US89383907A US2008313026A1 US 20080313026 A1 US20080313026 A1 US 20080313026A1 US 11893839 US11893839 US 11893839 US 89383907 A US89383907 A US 89383907A US 2008313026 A1 US2008313026 A1 US 2008313026A1
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voter
vote
voting
server
information
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US11893839
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Robert Rose
Camille Matthews
Kelvin Hung
Jeremy Wiles
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Social Mecca Inc
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HIGHEDGE Inc
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination
    • G06Q30/0241Advertisement
    • G06Q30/0273Fees for advertisement
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination
    • G06Q30/0241Advertisement
    • G06Q30/0277Online advertisement
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/04Billing or invoicing, e.g. tax processing in connection with a sale
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q40/00Finance; Insurance; Tax strategies; Processing of corporate or income taxes
    • G06Q40/12Accounting
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07CTIME OR ATTENDANCE REGISTERS; REGISTERING OR INDICATING THE WORKING OF MACHINES; GENERATING RANDOM NUMBERS; VOTING OR LOTTERY APPARATUS; ARRANGEMENTS, SYSTEMS OR APPARATUS FOR CHECKING NOT PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE
    • G07C13/00Voting apparatus

Abstract

Content distribution systems that support Cost-Per-Engagement (CPE) based advertising are disclosed. One embodiment of the invention includes a server connected to a network, a database connected to the server and a voter computer connected to the network. In addition, the server is configured to provide a plurality of options to the voter computer, the voter computer is configured to register with the server using a profile and to communicate a current selection from one of the options to the server, the database stores information concerning past activity associated with a voter profile and the server is configured to determine the value of the vote as a function of at least one factor indicative of stored information concerning the past activity associated with the voter profile.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    The present invention claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60,944,467 entitled “Online Content Marketing Platform” to Rose et al., filed Jun. 15, 2007, U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/958,219 entitled “Online Content Marketing Platform” to Rose et al., filed on Jul. 3, 2007, U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/961,899 entitled “Content Distribution System Including Cost-Per-Engagement Based Advertising” to Rose et al., filed Jul. 24, 2007, and U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/962,184 entitled “System and Method for Voting in Online Competitions” to Rose et al., filed Jul. 27, 2007, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. The present application is also related to the U.S. patent application entitled “Online Marketing Platform” to Rose et al., filed Aug. 17, 2007 and the U.S. patent application entitled “Content Distribution System Including Cost-Per-Engagement Based Advertising” to Rose et al., filed Aug. 17, 2007, the disclosure of which is also expressly incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates generally to voting and more specifically to detecting attempts to cast votes in violation of a set of voting rules and modifying the value attributed to individual votes based upon the past and current behavior of the voter.
  • [0003]
    The Internet enables the rapid exchange of information over vast distances. The potential of the Internet to reach a large audience has prompted many people to use the Internet to conduct competitions and surveys. In a number of instances a competition or a survey is posted upon an interactive web site and visitors to the web site can cast votes or select between different options for responding. The votes and responses can then be tallied and the information used for a variety of purposes including determining the winner of the competition, a finalist for the competition or the most popular survey response.
  • [0004]
    A problem that can be encountered when conducting a competition or a survey via the Internet is the potential for a person to submit multiple votes or responses and unfairly influence the outcome of the competition or survey. Many interactive web sites (such as Bopsta.com) require users to establish a profile in order to participate in a competition or survey and in order to limit the number of votes that can be cast by a user. The limit can be an absolute limit or a limit on the number of votes that can be cast within a predetermined time period. Despite the limits placed on the number of votes a user can cast using a single profile, most sites do not prevent an individual from establishing multiple profiles and submitting a vote or a survey response from each profile. Several sites do not require a user to login, preferring a CAPTCHA to verify that a human and not a machine is casting a vote. Sites that use CAPTCHA verification often log the IP address of the voter and prevent recurrent votes from the same IP address.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0005]
    Systems and methods are enabling people to vote online are disclosed that involve detecting attempts to violate voting rules and attributing different values to each vote as a function of information collected concerning the person that cast the vote. In many embodiments, the value of each vote is impacted by a voter's previous violations of the voting rules. In a number of embodiments, the value of each vote is impacted by a variety of factors including the reputation of the voter, the activities of a voter with respect to a web site or online community, and/or the extent to which a voter propagates information across the Internet. In other embodiments, other factors that reward behavior that positively impacts an online community and/or that discourage behavior that is detrimental to an online community are used in determining the value to attribute to a vote.
  • [0006]
    One embodiment of the invention includes a server connected to a network, a database connected to the server and a voter computer connected to the network. In addition, the server is configured to provide a plurality of options to the voter computer, the voter computer is configured to register with the server using a profile and to communicate a current selection from one of the options to the server, the database stores information concerning past activity associated with a voter profile and the server is configured to determine the value of the vote as a function of at least one factor indicative of stored information concerning the past activity associated with the voter profile.
  • [0007]
    In a further embodiment, the server is configured to provide a plurality of options to the voter computer in accordance with at least one voting rule and the information concerning past activity includes information indicative of attempts to violate at least one voting rule.
  • [0008]
    In another embodiment, the server is configured to disregard selections that violate any of the voting rules.
  • [0009]
    In a still further embodiment, at least one voting rule specifies a minimum allowed time between selections from the same set of options, the server is configured to apply a time stamp to the current selection, the information concerning the past activity associated with the voter profile includes a time stamp of the last time an identical selection to the current selection was made by a voter using the voter profile and the server is configured to determine whether the current selection constitutes a violation of the voting rules by comparing the minimum allowed time to the time difference between the time stamp of the current selection and the time stamp of the last identical selection.
  • [0010]
    In still another embodiment, devices connected to the network possess an IP address and the server identifies the voter computer using the IP address of the voter computer.
  • [0011]
    In a yet further embodiment, the voter computer is configured with a browser application that accepts cookies and the server is configured to provide a cookie that identifies the voter computer to the browser application.
  • [0012]
    In yet another embodiment, the minimum allowed time is measured in units of minutes.
  • [0013]
    In a further embodiment again, the server is configured to interact with the voter computer, the server is configured to associate interactions with the voter computer with the voter profile in the database and at least one of the factors indicative of the stored information concerning past activity is indicative of the recorded interactions.
  • [0014]
    In another embodiment again, the server is configured to determine a reputation factor using at least the recorded interactions associated with the voter profile and at least one of the factors indicative of the stored information concerning past activity is the reputation factor.
  • [0015]
    In a further additional embodiment, the server is configured to determine an activity factor using at least the recorded interactions associated with the voter profile and at least one of the factors indicative of the stored information concerning past activity is the reputation factor.
  • [0016]
    Another additional embodiment also includes a plurality of member computers. In addition, the database stores a profile with respect to each member computer, the server is configured to interact with the voter computer by enabling the voter computer to establish an association with a member computer, the server is configured to record associations between the voter profile of the voter computer and the profiles of the member computers in the database and at least one of the factors indicative of the stored information concerning past activity is indicative of the recorded associations.
  • [0017]
    One embodiment of the method of the invention includes maintaining information concerning the activity of each voter, receiving a vote from one of the voters, verifying that the vote does not violate at least one voting rule, determining a value to attribute to the verified vote using a function of at least one factor that is indicative of the stored information concerning the activity of the voter and adding the value of the vote to the tally.
  • [0018]
    A further embodiment of the method of the invention also includes determining that a second vote violates at least one voting rule, and including the violation of the voting rules in the voting record of the voter that cast the second vote.
  • [0019]
    Another embodiment of the method of the invention also includes soliciting votes in response to a plurality of options, where the solicitation includes at least one voting rule prohibiting casting more than one vote within a predetermined time period. In addition, determining whether a vote violates any of the voting rules includes reviewing the stored information concerning the activity of the voter to determine when the voter last cast a vote with respect to the plurality of options and determining whether the time between the received vote and the last vote is greater than the predetermined time period.
  • [0020]
    In a still further embodiment of the method of the invention, determining whether a vote violates any of the voting rules includes detecting attempts by a single voter to cast multiple votes under a plurality of identities.
  • [0021]
    In still another embodiment of the method of the invention, detecting attempts by a single voter to cast multiple votes under a plurality of identities includes logging the IP address of votes cast by voters and comparing the IP address of the received vote to previous votes cast by voters.
  • [0022]
    A yet further embodiment of the method of the invention also includes recording information concerning the actions of the voter and determining the reputation of a voter based upon the recorded actions of the voter. In addition, at least one of the factors indicative of the stored information concerning past activity is indicative of the stored information concerning the reputation of the voter.
  • [0023]
    Yet another embodiment of the method of the invention also includes recording information concerning associations between voters. In addition, the reputation factor of a voter is indicative of the recorded actions of the voter and the recorded associations between the voter and other voters.
  • [0024]
    Another further embodiment includes a server connected to a network, a database connected to the server and a user computer connected to the network. In addition, the server is configured to provide a candidate to the user computer, the user computer is configured to register with the server using a profile and to communicate a rating of the candidate to the server, the database stores information concerning past activity associated with a voter profile and wherein the server is configured to determine the value of the rating as a function of at least one factor indicative of the stored information concerning the past activity associated with the voter profile.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • [0025]
    FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing a system for hosting online competitions.
  • [0026]
    FIG. 2 is a flow chart showing a process for conducting a competition involving online voting in which each vote is given a value that is based upon information known about the source of the vote in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 3 is a flow chart showing a process for detecting a violation of a voting rule prohibiting the casting of multiple votes within a predetermined time period in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0028]
    FIG. 4 is a flow chart showing another process for detecting a violation of a voting rule prohibiting the casting of multiple votes within a predetermined time period in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0029]
    FIG. 5 is a flow chart showing a process for attributing values to votes according to information known about a voter in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0030]
    FIG. 6 is a flow chart showing a process for calculating a value to give to a vote in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 7 is a flow chart showing a process for calculating a cheating factor in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0032]
    FIG. 8 is a flow chart showing a process for calculating a reputation factor in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0033]
    Turning now to the drawings, systems for conducting online competitions and surveys in accordance with embodiments of the invention are disclosed. The systems enable voters to cast a vote or provide a survey response. Instead of attributing equal weight to each vote or response, the impact of each vote on the overall score is based upon any of a number of factors that are typically related to the identity of the voter and information collected about the voter. In several embodiments, the systems detect attempts by a voter to violate voting rules. Violations of voting rules are recorded and can be one factor used when determining the value that should be given to a vote or survey response. In many embodiments, the voter's positive involvement with a competition, survey or broader online community is another factor that is considered when determining the value given to a vote or survey response. In a number of embodiments, factors considered when determining the value of a vote or survey response include the number of times a voter has legitimately voted for or responded to a survey, the number of selections viewed and/or engaged with when casting a vote, and the user's efforts to propagate a selection or competition throughout the Internet. Although many of the embodiments presented below are discussed with respect to the tallying of votes, the systems and methods described herein are equally applicable in any application that involves tallying user responses. As a result, any reference to voting should be considered to include submitting a vote and any other submission involving a choice between a number of options and/or the ranking, rating and/or scoring of a submission.
  • [0034]
    An online voting system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 1. The system 10 includes a web server 12 connected to a database 14. The server 12 also communicates with a voter computer 16 via a network 18. Both the server 12 and the voter computer 16 can communicate with a number of member computers 20 via the network 18.
  • [0035]
    In a number of embodiments, the web server 12 hosts an interactive site that solicits selections between a number of options. In many embodiments, the selection can involve casting a vote between a number of different candidates. In several embodiments, the selection involves submitting an answer to a survey question. In a number of embodiments, the web server 12 hosts an interactive site that solicits ranking, rating and/or scoring of candidates. A group of embodiments include at least one voting rule and the server 12 is configured to detect violations of voting rules. A number of different examples of voting rules and techniques for detecting violations of voting rules are discussed below.
  • [0036]
    A voter can use a voter computer 16 to submit a selection and/or ranking. Voter computers are typically computing devices such as personal computers, mobile phone handsets and consumer electronics devices that are capable of connecting to a data network and viewing data via a browsing application. The server 12 is configured to receive votes from voter computers and to attribute values to each vote according to information about the voter stored in the database. In many embodiments, information concerning the voting history of the voter and the voter computer is recorded in the database. In several embodiments, information concerning the reputation of the voter, interactions between the voter and the web site, and efforts by the voter to propagate the opportunity to vote to other locations throughout the Internet are recorded in the database. Propagation is an example of one-to-many viral distribution of content that typically involves posting the content on another website. Propagation is discussed in more detail in U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/958,219 entitled “Online Content Marketing Platform” to Rose et al., filed on Jul. 3, 2007, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference above. As is discussed below, any factors related to the source of the vote can be used to determine the value of a vote using any appropriate function of the factors in accordance with embodiments of the invention.
  • [0037]
    In many embodiments, individual votes are recognized due to the server requiring the voter to register using a voter profile prior to casting a vote. Activity associated with the voter profile can be stored in the database 14 and used when determining the impact of a vote on a total score.
  • [0038]
    In the illustrated embodiment, a number of member computers 20 are connected to the network. Members of an online community can use the member computers to interact with each other and to interact with the interactive site hosted by the server 12. In many embodiments, information concerning interactions between a voter and other members of an online community is stored in the database 14 and the information is another factor that can be considered when determining the value of a user's vote.
  • [0039]
    Although a specific architecture is shown above with respect to FIG. 1, a number of different architectures can be used to receive voter selections, detect violations of the voting rules and to determine the value to give to a vote in accordance with embodiments of the invention. For example, the Online Marketing Platforms disclosed in U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/958,219 entitled “Online Marketing Platform” to Rose et al., filed on Jul. 3, 2007, can be used to implement a voting system in accordance with embodiments of the invention.
  • [0040]
    A process for conducting a competition in accordance with an embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 2. The process 30 includes commencing (32) the competition, receiving (34) votes until the competition has ended. When a vote is received, the source of the vote is identified (36). In many embodiments, the identity of the source of the vote is determined using an address associated with the voter that can be derived from the transmission used to communicate the vote. In several embodiments, the source of the vote is identified using an IP address. In many embodiments, a voter must log in using a user profile or guest profile and the profile is used to identify the source of the vote. Once the source of the vote has been identified, information concerning the source can be retrieved and used to both determine (37) whether the vote constitutes a violation of the voting rules and to determine (38) the value to give to the source's vote. In a number of embodiments, a vote that violates the voting rules is rejected (i.e., effectively assigned a weighting of zero). In other embodiments, a vote that is cast in violation of the voting rules is not rejected outright. Instead, the violation is recorded on the voter's voting record, which negatively impacts the value of the current vote and future votes cast by the voter. The receipt and weighting of votes continues until the competition is determined (40) to be over. When the competition is over, the weighted votes can be tallied to determine a “winner” of the vote. In other embodiments, multiple “winners” are selected based upon the tallied vote. In many embodiments, there are no “winners” or “winners” are determined based on factors that may or may not include the tallied vote. As discussed above, the method outlined in FIG. 2 is also applicable in applications that do not involve competitions, but involve tallying selections of one of a number of options by respondents.
  • [0041]
    The processes used to detect attempts to violate voting rules or “cheat” depend upon the nature of the voting rules. In many embodiments, the voting rules include a restriction on the number of votes that can be cast within a specified time period. In embodiments where a web site includes multiple competitions, voters are often able to cast votes in a number of different competitions, but voting rules limit the number of votes they can cast with respect to a single entry in the competition within a specified time period. In other embodiments, other voting rules limit the manner in which votes can be cast and/or the ranking, rating and/or scoring of individual submissions.
  • [0042]
    A process for detecting attempts to violate voting rules limiting the number of votes that can be cast by a voter with respect to a selection within a specified time period is shown in FIG. 3. The process 50 includes detecting (52) the identity of the voter and determining (54) whether the voter has cast the same vote previously. In many embodiments, the identity of the voter is determined by extracting information from a cookie on the voter's browser application. A cookie can be placed in the browser during a first visit by the voter and used to detect repeat visits, even if the voter changes user accounts. As is discussed further below, other techniques can be used to identify the user. When the voter has not cast the same vote previously, then the process terminates. When the voter has cast the same vote previously, then the process determines (56) whether the time between the current vote and the most recent vote is less than the specified period. When the time is not less than the specified period, then the process terminates. When the time is less than the specified period, then a violation of the voting rules is detected (58). The time period and the number of identical votes required to be flagged as a violation of the voting rules can vary depending upon observed voting patterns and the requirements of an application.
  • [0043]
    Another process for detecting attempts to violate voting rules limiting the number of votes that can be cast by a voter with respect to a selection within a specified time period is shown in FIG. 4. The process 60 includes detecting (62) the identity of the voter. The identity of the voter is detected using a network address to prevent attempts to violate voting rules by using different user accounts from the same voter computer. Each time a voter logs on to a site, the IP address of the voter and the time of the login can be detected. A determination (64) is made as to whether a predetermined minimum number of consecutive logins have occurred from different accounts having the same IP address. When the predetermined minimum number of logins from different accounts having the same IP address has not occurred, then the process terminates. The number of logins is typically determined based upon observed patterns of voter behavior and the requirements of the application.
  • [0044]
    When the predetermined minimum number of logins from different accounts having the same IP address has occurred, a determination (66) is made as to whether each of the logins occurred over a predetermined time period. When the logins occurred over a period longer than the predetermined time period, then the process terminates. When the logins occurred within the predetermined time period, then a determination (68) is made as to whether identical votes were cast from any two of the accounts. When identical votes were not cast, then the process terminates. When identical votes were cast, then a violation of the voting rules is detected (70). The parameters used in a process designed to detect violations of voting rules can be modified as observations are made concerning attempts to violate voting rules. For example, more than two identical votes could be required for a violation of the voting rules to be found.
  • [0045]
    A variety of other processes can also be used in determining whether a vote constituted a violation of voting rules. For example, a voter computer can include a unique CPUID that is used to determine whether a single user is using multiple accounts to cast multiple votes in violation of voting rules. In many embodiments, the system monitors logins from blocks of IP addresses controlled by an ISP as opposed to monitoring a single IP address. In several embodiments, geographic location can be used to monitor voting patterns and prevent abuses such as paying voters in low wage countries to vote on behalf of a particular selection (i.e. activity analogous to “gold farming” in MMORPGs). In a number of embodiments, communication between users and voting patterns can be monitored to detect vote swapping by users. For example, reviews and/or comments could be automatically scanned to detect activity indicative of vote swapping.
  • [0046]
    Systems in accordance with embodiments of the invention not only detect attempts to violate voting rules, but are able to diminish the value of future votes cast by voters that attempt to violate voting rules. In many embodiments, a number of different factors are used in determining the value attributed to each vote and the factors are chosen to encourage certain behaviors and discourage other behaviors. Examples of behaviors that an administrator might wish to encourage are active positive participation in an online community, review of many selections prior to casting a vote, a diversity of activity, active social participation (i.e., having many friends), and propagating information to other web sites to increase the reach of a poll, survey or competition.
  • [0047]
    A process for determining the value of a selection in accordance with an embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 5. The process 80 includes determining (82) whether any information is known concerning the source of the selection. When no information is known about the source, a default value is selected (84) and a voting record can be established concerning the source. When information is known concerning the source, a vote value is selected (86) based upon information collected about the source and the vote can be added to the source's voting record. The selection's value is then added (88) to the voting tally.
  • [0048]
    As can readily be appreciated, the processes used to determine the value attributed to a vote are entirely dependent on the actions that the operator of an interactive site wishes to encourage and the actions the operator of the site wishes to discourage. A process for determining a value to give to a vote using information concerning a voter is shown in FIG. 6. The process 90 includes determining (92) a voter cheating factor from information concerning past violations of the voting rules by the voter, determining (93) an activeness factor based upon the amount of activity that the voter has performed within an online community, determining (94) a voter reputation factor based upon information concerning the diversity of a voter's activities within an online community and the number of friends the voter has within the community, determining (95) a support factor based upon the number of times the voter has voted for a particular selection, determining (96) a propagation factor based upon the number of times the voter has propagated and/or engaged with propagated content and using each of these factors to determine (97) the value to be give to the vote in accordance with a predetermined formula.
  • [0049]
    The various factors determined in the process outlined above are simply values that are determined from information maintained about a voter. These factors can then be combined into a formula using any of a variety of functions that are designed to encourage particular activity and discourage other activities according to the significance of the activity. In many embodiments, the formula is a product of various factors. In several embodiments, the formula is a weighted sum of the factors. In a number of embodiments, the formula is a combination of products and sums of the factors. In many embodiments, a single factor or multiple factors are included in the formula and the factors included in the formula are not limited to those factors described above. Other factors that can be considered include factors that reflect the extent to which votes are received from a diverse group of voters (i.e. as opposed to a small number of voters casting repeated votes), the pier review activity rating of activity (i.e. activity receiving favorable pier reviews increases the value of a vote), nested propagation (i.e. propagation from a propagated site), a voter's success in predicting the winner of previous campaigns, status awarded to the voter by the administrators of a web site, promotion of other user's entries, the number of selections reviewed prior to voting, the number of “internal” views (i.e. views from within the web site hosting the poll, competition or survey), and the number of “external” views (i.e. views from propagated sites).
  • [0050]
    As is discussed above, a cheating factor is one of a number of factors that can be considered in determining the value of a vote. The cheating factor can be used to incorporate a voter's propensity to violate voting rules into the value attributed to the vote cast by a voter. A process for determining a cheating factor in accordance with an embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 7. The process 110 includes (112) initializing a cheating factor and setting a timer. A determination (114) is then made as to whether a violation of the voting rules has been detected (see discussion above). When a violation is detected, the cheating factor is increased (116). When no violations of the voting rules are detected, the timer is compared (118) to a timer threshold. When the timer is not yet greater than the timer threshold, then the process continues to determine whether a violation of the voting rules has occurred. When the time is greater than the timer threshold, then the cheating factor is decremented (120).
  • [0051]
    The process described above with respect to FIG. 7 increases the cheating index of a voter in response to violations of the voting rules and rewards the voter for periods in which violations do not occur. In other embodiments, the rate at which the impact of a violation of the voting rules diminishes can be determined in accordance with the requirements of the application.
  • [0052]
    In general, the manner in which voter activity (either with respect to a single competition/survey or with respect to an online community more broadly) can be factored into the value attributed to a vote depends upon the capability of a server to track voter activity and the number of associations that a voter has with other voters. U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/958,219 entitled “Online Marketing Platform” to Rose et al., filed on Jul. 3, 2007, which is incorporated by reference above, describes systems for tracking user activity and relationships between users. In many embodiments, activities that influence the factors used to calculate the value of a vote include creating a user account, adding a blog entry to a profile, adding a picture to a profile, adding an album to a profile, adding a video to a profile, adding a series of videos to a profile, adding audio to a profile, rating another user's profile or content, voting, commenting on any aspect of another user's profile or content, nominating another user for an award, receiving an award based upon other user's nominations, logging in to the site, updating a profile, referring a friend to the site, having the friend sign up, and/or reporting abuse. The factors that determine the value of a vote can also be decreased for activity that is perceived as detrimental. For example, many embodiments include a reputation factor that is reduced in response to a report of abuse. In a number of embodiments, diversity of activity is rewarded. For example, reputation index is increased by voting for a number of different selections, reviewing a number of different selections, and viewing a number of different selections. In many embodiments, large amounts of activity centered on a small number of entries results in a reduced reputation factor due to the lack of diversity of activity. A reputation index can also be impacted by the number of friends that a voter has within an online community. The larger the number of friends the greater the reputation factor of the voter.
  • [0053]
    A process for determining a reputation factor in accordance with an embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 8. The process 130 includes converting (132) diversity of voter activity within an online community into a reputation factor score, converting (134) the number of associations a voter has with other voters into a reputation factor score and calculating (136) a reputation factor.
  • [0054]
    Although the above discussion refers to specific processes for determining a number of factors including cheating factor, activity factor and reputation factor. Similar processes can be used to determine other factors. As discussed above, many factors used to determine the value of a vote are simply numbers that reflect particular information collected about a voter, which is indicative of positive or negative behavior. Consequently, any process that proportionately reflects the extent of the positive or negative behavior can be used to generate a factor for determining the value of a vote in accordance with embodiments of the invention.
  • [0055]
    While the above description contains many specific embodiments of the invention, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as an example of one embodiment thereof. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined not by the embodiments illustrated, but by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Claims (19)

  1. 1. A system for collecting online votes, comprising:
    a server connected to a network;
    a database connected to the server; and
    a voter computer connected to the network;
    wherein the server is configured to provide a plurality of options to the voter computer;
    wherein the voter computer is configured to register with the server using a profile and to communicate a current selection from one of the options to the server;
    wherein the database stores information concerning past activity associated with a voter profile; and
    wherein the server is configured to determine the value of the vote as a function of at least one factor indicative of the stored information concerning the past activity associated with the voter profile.
  2. 2. The system of claim 1, wherein:
    the server is configured to provide a plurality of options to the voter computer in accordance with at least one voting rule; and
    the information concerning past activity includes information indicative of attempts to violate at least one voting rule.
  3. 3. The system of claim 2, wherein the server is configured to disregard selections that violate any of the voting rules.
  4. 4. The system of claim 3, wherein:
    at least one voting rule specifies a minimum allowed time between selections from the same set of options;
    the server is configured to apply a time stamp to the current selection;
    the information concerning the past activity associated with the voter profile includes a time stamp of the last time an identical selection to the current selection was made by a voter using the voter profile; and
    the server is configured to determine whether the current selection constitutes a violation of the voting rules by comparing the minimum allowed time to the time difference between the time stamp of the current selection and the time stamp of the last identical selection.
  5. 5. The system of claim 4, wherein:
    devices connected to the network possess an IP address; and
    the server identifies the voter computer using the IP address of the voter computer.
  6. 6. The system of claim 4, wherein:
    the voter computer is configured with a browser application that accepts cookies; and
    the server is configured to provide a cookie that identifies the voter computer to the browser application.
  7. 7. The system of claim 4, wherein the minimum allowed time is measured in units of minutes.
  8. 8. The system of claim 1, wherein:
    the server is configured to interact with the voter computer;
    the server is configured to associate interactions with the voter computer with the voter profile in the database; and
    at least one of the factors indicative of the stored information concerning past activity is indicative of the recorded interactions.
  9. 9. The system of claim 8, wherein:
    the server is configured to determine a reputation factor using at least the recorded interactions associated with the voter profile; and
    at least one of the factors indicative of the stored information concerning past activity is the reputation factor.
  10. 10. The system of claim 9, wherein
    the server is configured to determine an activity factor using at least the recorded interactions associated with the voter profile; and
    at least one of the factors indicative of the stored information concerning past activity is the reputation factor.
  11. 11. The system of claim 10, further comprising:
    a plurality of member computers;
    wherein the database stores a profile with respect to each member computer;
    wherein the server is configured to interact with the voter computer by enabling the voter computer to establish an association with a member computer;
    wherein the server is configured to record associations between the voter profile of the voter computer and the profiles of the member computers in the database; and
    wherein at least one of the factors indicative of the stored information concerning past activity is indicative of the recorded associations.
  12. 12. A method of tallying votes from a plurality of voters, comprising:
    maintaining information concerning the activity of each voter;
    receiving a vote from one of the voters;
    verifying that the vote does not violate at least one voting rule;
    determining a value to attribute to the verified vote using a function of at least one factor that is indicative of the stored information concerning the activity of the voter; and
    adding the value of the vote to the tally.
  13. 13. The method of claim 12, further comprising:
    determining that a second vote violates at least one voting rule; and
    including the violation of the voting rules in the voting record of the voter that cast the second vote.
  14. 14. The method of claim 13, further comprising:
    soliciting votes in response to a plurality of options, where the solicitation includes at least one voting rule prohibiting casting more than one vote within a predetermined time period; and
    wherein determining whether a vote violates any of the voting rules, comprises:
    reviewing the stored information concerning the activity of the voter to determine when the voter last cast a vote with respect to the plurality of options; and
    determining whether the time between the received vote and the last vote is greater than the predetermined time period.
  15. 15. The method of claim 13, wherein determining whether a vote violates any of the voting rules comprises detecting attempts by a single voter to cast multiple votes under a plurality of identities.
  16. 16. The method of claim 15, wherein detecting attempts by a single voter to cast multiple votes under a plurality of identities comprises:
    logging the IP address of votes cast by voters; and
    comparing the IP address of the received vote to previous votes cast by voters.
  17. 17. The method of claim 12, further comprising:
    recording information concerning the actions of the voter; and
    determining the reputation of a voter based upon the recorded actions of the voter;
    wherein at least one of the factors indicative of the stored information concerning past activity is indicative of the stored information concerning the reputation of the voter.
  18. 18. The method of claim 17, further comprising:
    recording information concerning associations between voters;
    wherein the reputation factor of a voter is indicative of the recorded actions of the voter and the recorded associations between the voter and other voters.
  19. 19. A system for collecting online ratings, comprising:
    a server connected to a network;
    a database connected to the server; and
    a user computer connected to the network;
    wherein the server is configured to provide a candidate to the user computer;
    wherein the user computer is configured to register with the server using a profile and to communicate a rating of the candidate to the server;
    wherein the database stores information concerning past activity associated with a voter profile; and
    wherein the server is configured to determine the value of the rating as a function of at least one factor indicative of the stored information concerning the past activity associated with the voter profile.
US11893839 2007-06-15 2007-08-17 System and method for voting in online competitions Abandoned US20080313026A1 (en)

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US94446707 true 2007-06-15 2007-06-15
US95821907 true 2007-07-03 2007-07-03
US96189907 true 2007-07-24 2007-07-24
US96218407 true 2007-07-27 2007-07-27
US11893839 US20080313026A1 (en) 2007-06-15 2007-08-17 System and method for voting in online competitions

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US11893839 US20080313026A1 (en) 2007-06-15 2007-08-17 System and method for voting in online competitions
PCT/US2008/069097 WO2009006552A1 (en) 2007-07-03 2008-07-02 System and method for voting in online competitions
EP20080781304 EP2174220A4 (en) 2007-07-03 2008-07-02 System and method for voting in online competitions
CN 200880101878 CN101779191A (en) 2007-07-03 2008-07-02 System and method for voting in online competitions

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