Better handling for Facebook contests

I finally got around to fixing a nagging problem – contests from Facebook won’t load properly in LookContests because Facebook has settings that prevent any of their pages from loading a frame.  My fix is to automatically load the contest in a new tab.  Twitter and Youtube have the same problem, so this fix will work for all of these sites.  I hope you find this useful.

No more weekly emails

As you probably know, there is a weekly LookContests email that gives you a quick rundown of your recent activity.  I had originally planned to expand it into a more useful weekly summary, but it’s never been a high enough priority for me to actually spend some time on it.

So, for the time being, I’m going to stop sending the emails.  If you really want to continue receiving these messages, feel free to send me an email and I’ll set it up for you.

This does not impact any reminders that you’ve set up in LookContests.  You’ll still get those at the appropriate times.

Sorry for the multiple emails

It  looks like there was a bit of a hiccup today with the weekly email that goes out each Friday morning.  Unfortunately, the process that generates the emails restarted itself a few times and it looks like each recipient will have received 3 or 4 copies.  I apologize for the inconvenience, and I’ll make sure this if fixed so we don’t have this problem again.

Mike

No more Waiting List!

I think it’s safe to say that the waiting list has outlived its usefulness.  When we first launched LookContests.com, I wanted to make sure that the site would be reasonably fast and responsive, so the waiting list was a way of managing the number of users and ensuring that new users were added only when I was comfortable that they wouldn’t negatively impact the existing users.  So far, the site is holding up very well, so I’ve approved everyone who was currently on the waiting list, and I’m comfortable with the idea of opening it up to anyone who wants to join.  Tell your friends!

Also, the old way of creating an account was, admittedly, confusing.  You had to go to our partner-site, ContestCanada.net, and create an account there.  This has been changed.  Clicking on ‘Register’ now lets you sign up directly on LookContests.com, and your account is active as soon as you hit the ‘Submit’ button.

Lastly, you can now request a password change by going to the Login page and clicking “Password Reset”.  I’ll be adding more functionality for maintaining your account soon.

As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.

Mike

webmaster@lookcontests.com

LookContests on Contest Queen’s BlogTalkRadio

Carolyn Wilman (a.k.a. The Contest Queen) was nice enough to feature LookContests.com on her BlogTalkRadio show last week.  I thought she ran a very thoughtful and intelligent interview, and Dan (representing LookContests) gave a lot of background information on the ideas behind the site and our plans for the future.  Check it out if you get a chance:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/contestqueen/2009/04/07/Take-a-Look

A few of the discussion points were focused on the areas of the site that are confusing to use, so we’ll be making some changes in the next little while to simplify LookContests and make it easier for new users.  Stay tuned!

Mike

Moved to a new Server

I’ve just finished moving the site to a new server.  There really shouldn’t be much change in performance, but this will allow the site to grow in the future.

If anyone’s interested in the technical details, the server is an Amazon EC2 instance, which means LookContests.com has moved into the cloud.  Being in the cload has the advantage of allowing me to start up new servers on demand when teh extra capacity is needed.

If you encounter any problems with the site as we make the transition, please let me know:  webmaster@lookcontests.com

LookContests Featured on “From the Contest Queen”

The Contest Queen wrote a very nice post about LookContests today. If you haven’t checked out her site, please do so.  There’s a lot of great material about contests there, and she’s got a very active blog.

Here’s a link to the post:

http://www.contestqueen.com/fromthe/2008/11/29/why-now-why-not/

Performance Improvements

I’ve just implemented some changes that should make the site consistently faster than it has been.  I suspect regular users will notice a fairly decent improvement.

By Request: New Features

I’ve just updated the site with some new features which are, for the most part, geared towards power users. I’m just going to give a quick run-down of the changes here, and I’ll try to elaborate on them in the next day or two.

  • On the Settings page, there is now an option to exclude ContestCanada.net contests from your listings. This if for people that like to enter all of their contests rather than using the ones that are automatically included from ContestCanada.net.
  • On the Settings page, there is now an option to select which page should be used as your default start page. In the past this was always set to “new” contests. Now, you can choose any page you like.
  • On the Settings page, there is now an option to change how contests are sorted. The options include Expiration Date (the current default), Contest Title, and Company Name.
  • At the very bottom of the Settings page, there is a link that allows you to retrieve a file containing all of your contests. The file is a CSV (comma-separated-values), which includes the contests title, company, url, and your last entry date. You may use this file in the unlikely event that LookContests.com becomes unavailable so that you don’t fall behind in your contests.
  • You may now make changes/corrections to contests that you’ve added without having them approved by me.
  • I’ve also added a feature so that certain users’ changes/corrections for any contests will be automatically approved rather than going through me. If you’ve been submitting changes and I’ve noticed that your changes are usually accurate, I’ll give you the authority to make this changes instantly. For those individuals, I’ll let you know when I’ve granted you the authority.
  • As you may have noticed, some contest sites take over the whole screen and mess up our nice tidy listings. If you come across a site like this, click the “correction” button and check off the checkbox that’s labelled “Contest takes full screen”. Then, when you see the same contest in the listings again, the “Open in new window” button will be highlighted in red to remind you. It’s not a great solution, but it’s the best I can come up with so far.
  • The “Activity Log” button has been replaced by a “Reports” button.
  • A new report has been added: Upcoming Expiration Dates. More reports are planned, and I’d hoped to include them in this release, but I just haven’t had the chance to complete them.

The biggest changes in this release are that I’ve done a lot of work to allow for even more contests to be automatically included. These won’t start showing up quite yet, but they’ll start coming in over the next couple of weeks. My hope is to double the number of contests that are available. The extra contests will be considered “Premium”. Eventually, I plan to change the site so that you have to pay in order to see the Premium contests, but in the meantime I’ll consider everyone who has signed up so far to be a Premium member for the next few months. The Premium contests will have a different icon to help differentiate them.

Anyway, those are the changes in a nutshell. I’ll post more details soon. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let me know.

Mike

P.S.  Special thanks to Raycaster for many of the ideas in this release.  Keep the comments coming, Raycaster!

Do you have Suggestions?

I know it’s been a while since I’ve made any changes to the site, but please rest assured that I’ve been steadily working away on some new features. In fact, now would be a great time to let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas that would improve LookContests.com.

One of the main problems that I see right now is that the site is confusing at times. To help new users, I’ve been considering recording a short video that would demonstrate the basics, and I hope to complete this very soon. An even better solution, though, would be to make the site more intuitive.

Some of you have been using it for quite a while now, so it might be difficult to remember what was confusing when you started, but if you have any feedback that might help me improve the site for new users, it would be much appreciated.