Didja win? Didja win? Didja win?

Before everyone goes nuts with the queries, here’s the official word on the now closed commenting contest.

It will take a day for us to determine the winners of the contest. We have to make sure our data is correct before making the draw happen. We will email the winners directly. If you don’t hear, you didn’t win. It will probably take a week or so to contact and hear back from the winners.

I have no say in anything, and will not know anything until the winners contact the big guys managing the contest.

You are encouraged to go on commenting to run the tally up to a million.


  1. Hank Fox says

    Boy, this honesty stuff is expensive, you know?

    You could have hinted that you had a lock on the judges’ decision, and that small but significant gifts have been known to sway you.

    I have a really nice little MagLite LED flashlight I would have sent you.

    I’m just saying.

  2. Physicalist says

    I’m a bit perplexed at how a random number generator will give us a goal to aim at that might make us suffer through the toils of commenting

    Obviously if there is a goal it can’t be random. There must be design if it is going to function. I guarantee you that randomness could never explain how I got to point of being able generate the 500,000th comment.

  3. says

    Well, what if the random number generator always produced a number that was at least as big as the previous post’s number + 1 every time a commenter posted? There would be a likelihood, however small, that the generator would produce the number of your comment, at which time you’d win a prize.

    That’d be goal enough for me. I have little ambition.

  4. says

    I figured the contest would create a flood of gassy, pointless comments intended merely to raise the commenter’s chances of scoring the 500,000th comment. Strange to say, I noticed no influx of additional vacuous comments — just the usual number.

    I think this could be one.

  5. MikeM says

    The official rules say that the count is adjusted to exclude spammers.

    Well, that eliminates me.

  6. JP says

    I’m really more interested in the number of commenters over the number of comments. Any arbitrarily small community can generate 500,000 comments over a long enough period of time. Perhaps it could even be broken down into educated commenters and trolls/creationists/denialists/etc.

    (And I would really enjoy a trip to Cambridge. Didn’t get a chance to visit when I was in England.)

  7. Rey Fox says

    For all my raining on everyone’s parade, I think it would be awfully funny if I actually posted the 500,000th comment. Perhaps we could pester the Seed people into telling us EXACTLY how many spam comments were deleted from consideration, then go check all the permalink URLs on everyone’s comment until we find the “real” #500,000. Then the “winner” can giggle uncontrollably for however long they see fit.

    Uncontrollable giggles shall also be permitted for anyone who gets a comment on the front page.

  8. uknesvuinng says

    Perhaps my memory is betraying me, but didn’t posting at or prior to the 500,000th comment merely put you in a lottery? (I just checked the rules, it does.)

    Those that were trying to score the 500,000th comment should be informed that their efforts gained them no advantage over those of us who merely commented when we actually had something to say. I am curious just how many people were actually entered in the contest. It’d be interesting to know what the actual odds of winning are, now.

    I hadn’t bothered to see what costs will and won’t be covered when you win the trip. I might be better off not winning (though I’m certainly not going to entertain any expectations of victory as it is). Maybe I’ll get one of the mugs.

  9. SEF says

    The “real” 500,000th comment was made on July 16, 2007 somewhere a bit before 3:30 am ScienceBlogs time.

    I hadn’t bothered to see what costs will and won’t be covered when you win the trip.

    It might have been almost nothing if they’d chosen someone already living there! The odds were against it though, especially given the winning location.

  10. woozy (please... please .... please...) says

    Oh, a lottery doesn’t seem as fun as being the 500,000 poster exactly. ‘course I can see why they might be reluctant to do an exact 500,000th poster.

    Interesting, the rule contest page* doesn’t actually say what the rules were or how many winners or the conditions of the drawing. (Every commentor in the last five weeks get equal chance? Get weighted chance base on number of comments? Get weighted on closeness to the 500,000?) I suppose not disclosing the rules the are safe to use whatever method they like and to modify it if it didn’t work they way they expected.

    Hurray, San Francisco isn’t the most scientific city. If it were and I won all I’d recieve would be a $7.50 BART ticket. (And if I didn’t win I’d have to put up with you hordes invading….)

    Well, good luck to everyone!

    *Of course, this isn’t the pre-contest page which may have had rules. Does anyone know how many winners there will be? Well, good luck to all.

  11. craig says

    I better have won, ’cause the only other way I’ll ever get there is if I get terminal untreatable cancer so I can just go anyway and not have to worry about paying off the Mastercard bill.

  12. says

    I’m sure it’s like framing of science. Sure, it’s the same thing as it was ten minutes ago but if you say Breaking News all the time you get more stories picked up. So I’ll install this frame:

    I won.

    And anybody who says otherwise is robbing me. Those evil thieves.

  13. Anthony says

    #17 SEF:

    The contest page states that the permalinks are about 80k ahead of the comments since they were filtering spam or something out of the contest. So it appears the contest itself was open past the 500k mark.

  14. says

    If the 500,000th comment is the winner, are the 50 runner-ups #500,001-500,050? 499,950-499,999? 499,975-500,025?

    Or is anyone who posts during the time the contest is open given an equal chance of winning/running up?

  15. SEF says

    Ooh! Look at all those gaps in the comment record. That means each comment number must have been an intelligently designed special creation. They can’t possibly have been derived from previous numbers via small increments, with some examples being elsewhere or deleted.


    PZ’s blog does appear to be responsible for about 1/3 (or more?) of all fossilised comments on ScienceBlogs though.

  16. Lana says

    I won! I won! I just got the e-mail! But instead of sending me to Cambridge, they’re giving me a lot of money. And why do they need my bank account number?

  17. Chris says

    Does the blogger get a cut of any cool prizes? It seems like the person responsible for attracting the traffic and comments should get some kind of payoff, too.

  18. potentilla says

    So, the winner is (most likely) going to be sent from the US to the UK. But any runners-up outside the US don’t get the mug, presumably because Seed think it’s too expensive to post mugs from the US to anywhere else.

    This is kinda US-centric competition.

  19. Carlie says

    There must be something wrong with the contest, because I haven’t gotten my “you won” email yet.

  20. SEF says

    This is kinda US-centric competition.

    That made it relatively safe for me to “enter” (ie carry on posting) though. Normally I have to avoid doing whatever might be construed as entering a competition, for fear of inadvertently winning whatever the revolting prize might be. This time the likely consequences were of negligible impact. :-D