05 September 2013

Picking the Winners, Inimitably Randomly

As I posted the other day, my friend Jim asked me to draw the winners for a contest he was holding.  All you had to do was post a review of his book on Amazon, and link back to it in a comment to the intro post for the contest.
The cutoff was "midnight Sunday" which I read as the one between Sunday and Monday, and Jim meant as the one between Saturday and Sunday.  No great trauma, except that there was a list of persons who wanted to find out if they had won or not.  And I ended up spending much of Monday helping a friend with a massive baking exercise and got home too tired to look at the names.  Had I thought about it in advance, I would have printed the list onto slips of paper and had one of my friend's children (conveniently she has only two) pick each of the winners.
Failing that, this is the method I used:
    • There are ten persons who met the criteria for the drawing.
    • My favourite numbers between one and ten are three and nine.
    • I decided that the winners would be at positions three and nine on the list.
    • I decided that since the list could be different if done chronologically or alphabetically, I'd look at both versions and see if there were any overlaps.
    • Jim ran the lists for me, partly as a reminder that I needed to get the drawings done.
    • One of the positions had the same person on both lists, so I decided that position would get the leatherbound version = TanteLiz at number nine.
    • Since position number three had different persons, I thought that if one is already getting a book, I would designate the other as the winner of the cloth-covered edition.
    • Jim told me that neither of these reviewers is getting a book.
    • I flipped a coin (specifically, a ten-cent coin from New Zealand), and CJ wins.
In case someone wonders, heads=CJ and tails=Lloyd, based upon earlier-in-the-alphabet associating.  Since the New Zealand 10-Cent coin could be seen to have a head on both sides, the obverse (with Queen Elizabeth) was deemed "heads" and the reverse (with a mask) was deemed "tails".

I tried to take a picture of the coin after flipping, but my camera washed it out.

Why use that coin specifically?  It's in my coinpurse as a memento of a trip to New Zealand that Jim and I (and a busload of choiristers and family) were on a couple of years ago, so it seemed appropriate to use that one.

Why such a complicated process?  Well, because I'm me.  To me, this is a fun sort of randomization that is harder to challenge (in my mind) than picking a slip of paper out of a hat, because there are so many elements that add to the randomness.  What if there wasn't a name at the same position on both lists? Or if there was the same name in both places?  Or the same names exchanging places depending upon how the list sorted?   What if I didn't have two favourite numbers between one and ten?  And so forth.

Probably part of this is because I am a STEM person = Science Technology Engineering & Math.  My skills are being organized, logical, and so forth.  So what looks like a Rube Goldberg way to accomplish the simple selection of a winner from a list, makes perfect sense to me.