Every day is April fool's day for Tecwyn Twmffat. And today is no exception. The urge to celebrate it is irresistible. Is this instructable an elaborate prank or does it contain useful information? I leave that up to you to decide.
Recently I have begun to feel incredibly guilty at winning so many online competitions. I have calculated that I now have enough T shirts to last a whole year without washing them! However, my use of clandestine techniques has deprived others of the said garments and I now feel that the only way to alleviate myself of my sins is to 'reveal all' and repent. May God have mercy on my soul!
Here I must now reveal all the immoral techniques that I have used over the years so that my poor tormented mind can at last become peaceful. I henceforth with confess all my sins .... Hail Mary!
People of the venerable Instructables website, please forgive my misdemeanours. الله أكب
Step 1: Enhance Your Photos With Photoshop
Photoshop is an amazing piece of graphics software that can be used to create total illusions. It does take some skill to produce an image that does not look fake, but it can be done, with particular attention to fine details and lighting.
Is this immoral or cheating? If it is openly and obviously fake, there would be no problem but if you claim that it is real in the accompanying text then that is cheating.
The first image above shows a wildlife observation tower and after I put it on facebook, people were totally convinced that it was real. Someone with a trained eye did eventually spot that it had been totally photoshopped and the tower does not even exist other than in a computer. If I claimed in the text that it was real, then that would be cheating. If I allude to the fact that the tower has not been built yet then that draws a veil over the whole thing and it is left up to the audience to be suspicious and judge for themselves. This could be thought to be immoral or a prank, but it is not cheating.
The second image is obviously fake and is not cheating or immoral.
Step 2: Get All Your Friends and Family to Vote for You
This is not cheating or immoral unless you bribe them. Do not offer your friends money or favours for votes as this will probably have the opposite effect and get yourself a very bad reputation in your community.
Step 3: Create Multiple Identities for Voting
This is cheating and you will be caught, unless you are a professional computer hacker. It's also immoral. A half decent online competition system will recognise multiple identities logged from one computer or one internet provider through the IP addresses and you will be automatically flagged and permanently banned from the system for life. Don't do it!
Step 4: Always Include an Animal in Your Entry
This is neither a cheat or immoral and is probably the single most effective way to win a competition. Many a competition has been won with little or no content but with CATS in the photographs. Dogs are cool, but CATS are much more effective and especially KITTENS! If you don't own a cat, borrow your neighbours cat. Never steal a cat but if you do accidentally steal one, make sure you look after it properly.
This technique for winning competitions is so effective that I've called it 'The Pussy Cat Sting'.
Step 5: Steal Someone Elses Idea
This is not necessarily cheating, but could be considered to be immoral in some circumstances, especially if there is some financial gain involved.
If you have a particularly inventive neighbour, you could hang out in his garage with a pack of beers and ply him with alcohol until he comes up with the 'Winning Idea'. Obviously don't tell him that you're going to enter it into a competition, but if he does find out, have a plausible excuse to hand.
Step 6: Use Someone Elses Images/Videos/Music
If you claim the artistic media as your own you are cheating, it is immoral and normally illegal.
If you claim that the product shown is your own then that is cheating and immoral.
If you use the artistic media to enhance a concept or idea related to your own completely separate and unrelated product then that is not cheating, although it might be illegal if it is done for financial gain.
Take the Breaking Bad video as an example. It's not my video or soundtrack, there's no breaking bad product involved, and it's only used in the competition to illustrate important points. I'm also not making any financial gain from it so it's not illegal.
Step 7: Never Bribe the Judges
Is bribery cheating? Yes of course it is.
Taking the Instructables competition as an example, it is probably possible for you to find out who some of the judges are in a particular competition. If you then look at their profiles you might see that they are, for example interested in chess. Never try to contact them saying 'Hey, I've got this old chess set that I never use - can I mail it to you?'
Worse still, some people actually put a luxury item in their online profile. Never send them a bottle of liquor as all they will do is get drunk and forget you ever sent it. Also, they probably were never judges in the first place!
Bribery is illegal in many countries, including the UK, and could get you locked up in prison so don't do it!
As far as Instructables goes, offering pro memberships for votes is NOT acceptable, even if you think a pro membership has no monetary value.
You can however say something like this:
"If you do vote for me, my next instructable will be: 'How to Start a Non-Violent Modern Day Revolution'." As this is a logical progression of a particular stream of consciousness. It's also a reward for voting, but it's not cheating, unless you fail to live up to your promises. You could argue here that if people did not vote then it would show that there was no interest in the proposed subject, so what you are doing is merely 'Testing the Market'.
Step 8: Voted!
If you voted for someone else, tell them that you voted or else they may never know. I would not go randomly trawling through competition entries voting for each and every one of them, I only vote for the ones that I genuinely like, even if they are serious opposition in the same competition. If someone sees that you have voted for them, they are much more likely to vote for you in return.
If you voted for this instructable, for example, just write 'voted!' in the comments box and I may well vote for you in return. No promises though!
Step 9: Emotional Blackmail
Some people will succumb to emotional blackmail, particularly if they have already succumbed to the The Pussy Cat Sting. In online competitions, I always put 'Voting will help save the planet', which is not cheating or immoral as long as it is true or it contains an element of truth.
In my own case, voting for me will not directly save the planet, but there is a real element of truth in it. In reality, the planet does not actually need saving and the slogan is a mash up of 'save the whale'. The main point is that it is plausible and will tug at the heart strings of up to 5% of viewers.
When I was busking in Switzerland I saw a Romanian guy begging on the street with a sign that said:
'Please give generously. I have a wife and three hungry children to feed'
He was making a lot of money. Well, that is until the police came along and arrested him.
The begging text could be adapted for an online competition eg. 'Please vote for me as my children have no clothes and need T shirts'. But unless your family really has no clothes, this would be unethical as you would be LYING!
Step 10: Flirting With the Competition Management Team
If you create an ambiguous online profile you can hide your true sexuality and flirt with all the members of the management team, both male and female, at the same time. There are possible problems though. Firstly, some of them may be really young and you could end up being accused of 'grooming'. Secondly, they could just get fed up with you and start voting you down. Thirdly, they may talk about you between themselves and realise you are indeed flirting with all of them. They will then get incredibly jealous and the whole thing will back fire on you!
Personally, I have never done the flirting thing and, as you can probably see from my profile image, I am very old and all my teeth have fallen out, so it probably would not work!
Never hassle the competition management team or try and 'suck up' to them as they will start to get very annoyed and will inevitably vote you down. Needless to say, the staff at Instructables do an amazing job and are always very helpful and friendly.
Step 11: Use of Mind Enhancing Drugs
When I used to be a musician we used to take various different drugs to enhance our consciousness's and then write music whilst 'high'. Just before you turn away shocked and disappointed, let me tell you one more thing ..... and that is that it worked! It is quite dangerous though as of the eight people in the band, one member is now dead and another had a heart attack due to drugs and alcohol. Oh, and the drummer was diagnosed clinically insane for 6 months after an LSD overdose. He's ok now though. And the studio engineer is now dead too.
The same technique can be applied to trying to win online competitions, but I'm trying really hard to stop using them. The problem with these drugs is not that they don't work because they do work really well, but that you get dependent on them and cant be creative without them. I used to especially like magic mushrooms.
As I said before, I'm trying really hard to stop. I don't take LSD anymore or even marijuana or the terrible ultra blow your mind skunk weed. I gave up glue sniffing more than 30 years ago. But I'm still using the black stuff - coffee.
You may say using coffee is not cheating, but I assure you that it is. Please don't drink coffee as you will become dependent on it like I am and will not be able to be creative without it. Just stop now! I used coffee for most of my competitions and I am truly sorry!
Step 12: Use Subliminal Advertising Effects
If you create an animated gif of 600 x 400 pixels you can upload it to some online competitions and incorporate subliminal frames that contain a particular message. These frames will flash momentarily before the viewer's eyes and may cause him/her to do something that they would not normally do.
When this technique first came out, it was incredibly controversial, it then got scientifically analysed and subsequently dismissed. However, recent new research has suggested that subliminal advertising does actually work, but only in the very short term. If you are in a cinema and the management want you to buy popcorn they could flash images of popcorn in the movie and people would buy more popcorn.
In an online competition, you could flash images of a voting graphic to get people to vote for you and it would probably work to some extent. Is it cheating? Probably not. Is it immoral - maybe? Is it annoying - maybe?
Can you spot the hidden subliminal message in the animation above?
Step 13: Reverse Psycology
This is often very difficult to spot and is one of the single most effective means of winning an online competition. If you tell a child NOT to do something, the common reaction is that they go off and do it.
Conversely, If you want somebody to vote for you it's perfectly effective to ask them directly: 'Please vote for me!' However, in some circumstances, it's equally effective to say NOT to do something to persuade someone to do the exact opposite.
This 'ible will not be featured on the home page .......... Will this work I wonder? Will the Instructables staff be fooled by my pranks? Surely, they are more perceptive than that?
Step 14: Professional Salesman Techniques
When I did training as a professional salesman, the single most useful thing that I came away with was this: "Never tell the client how good something is ....... Telling is not selling". The advice I was given was to ask people if they wanted the product, ask them if they needed it, ask them if they could afford it - basically, keep asking questions and make a quick note of their answers. When I actually managed to consciously do this WOW what a difference it made! I suddenly turned myself into a successful salesman!
The same tactic applies to online competitions, even though it is through the written word, it still works really well. It's not cheating and it's not immoral, it's just a very cool thing to do!
Of course, this technique is not quite as effective as The Pussy Cat Sting, but it trumps emotional blackmail.
An example would be as follows:
- "How well have you done in winning online competitions?" ...................
- "Do you think that your entries could have done a little bit better?"..............
- "Why do you think that your entry was not featured?"......................
- "Would it be helpful if you had a list of techniques for winning online competitions?"................
- "If such a list was available, would you be inclined to vote for it in a competition?".................
- "How do you feel about the list of techniques that is published here?"...................
- "Do you think that they are moral and ethical?".......................
- "Would you use any of these techniques yourself?"........................
- "Do you think that these techniques might work for you?"..................
- "How do you feel about voting for this instructable?".......................
- "Are you ready to vote for this instructable now?" ......................
Always ask questions that lead a positive answer. For example, in the above I could have asked:
- "Do you think that these techniques are immoral and unethical?" ..........
"Are you ready to vote for this instructable yet?" ......................
Notice that there is a fair attempt to 'Close the Deal' here as well. A salesman would advise to 'Always be closing the Deal'. Can you spot other ways that I am trying to 'Close the Deal' in this instructable? Basically, closing the deal here is getting people to hit the 'vote' button. Are YOU ready to hit the button?
Another technique that a salesman uses is to make sure that they consolidate the deal. In theory, after the button has been hit, your voter might return later and unvote it because they felt that they have been 'ripped off'. A good salesman will get the required result and then bring the client down gradually, constantly reassuring them that they have made the right decision. In the case of this instructible, I aim to do that in the comments section. So, after you have voted, and declared that you have voted, I will congratulate you and tell you that you have done the right thing.
Step 15: Make Up a Storey
In my instructable: 'Earwig Chutney - A Grandmother's Confession' I talk about being at my grandmother's bedside when she confesses to me that she fed her family earwig chutney during the hardships of the second world war. I now confess that this was a complete lie - I made it up! The instructable won a prize in a competition - I am so sorry!
It definitely helps to write a good storey around the product and if it can conjure up the image of your grandmother revealing her inner most darkest secrets on her death bed, then why not?
Is it cheating? Maybe, but I am not lying about the actual product, just a side issue. Is it immoral? Yes, if the rest of my family found out I had written that they would certainly think so. Fingers crossed they never read it. X.
Just for the record, my instructable 'How to survive the Rock n Roll Lifestyle' was not made up and contains a very serious message for young musicians.
Step 16: Pander and Placate Your Audience - Never Be Truthful
Always be positive about everything, especially about ourselves as human beings. Remind people how intelligent and thoughtful we are - we are the only animal that can think and we are indeed superior. We can make nice things for ourselves, not smelly, insect and faeces ridden nests like mice, crows or rats. We as a species live in harmony with each other - basically everything is NICE.
Never get involved in religious or political debate as this will certainly alienate a substantial proportion of your potential voters. For example, saying 'God does not exist' will probably reduce your chances of success by at least 10%. If you then start going on about how Cuba has got such a wonderful health service, you're starting to get political and could expect to lose another 20% of the voting potential. Combine this with something like the following: 'Human beings are a blight on the planet', you've then lost another 50% and it goes on. In fact, it would be possible to write quite a good and popular competition entry and get absolutely no votes at all! This highlights how fundamentally flawed democracy is - oooops, I've just lost 15% votes. I should not of said that!
Don't be controversial, especially on American websites. In the UK such activities would be celebrated as 'good old British eccentricity' but there are massive cultural differences across the globe. Whilst wandering across America sleeping in the woods and trying not to get attacked by bears and alligators, I was really shocked by the whole white American culture thing and found that I could only really identify with black and Latino Americans. There are still massive racial and cultural divides in the USA, and being controversial in the USA will get you blacklisted, even though you've done nothing wrong. Just don't do it! Also, don't ever openly criticise white American culture.
Don't ever confront people with the truth, like you would never say to your friend who has just had a baby "Well, that's another nail in the coffin for human population collapse" or someone who's just gone on a 1 week beach holiday to some far flung exotic location: "Thank you for taking us one step closer to the global warming apocalypse".
People don't like to hear the important truths so try to avoid them or you will get voted down.
If you don't pander and placate and you do the opposite, you will also fall foul of the corporate sponsors ....... Hmmmmnnn ..... That's a nasty old can of worms to open! ........ Hand me my tin opener!
Do you think Radio Shack are going to want to be associated with someone saying, for example, 'Drugs are ok'? No of course not! They're in it to make money, not to help disadvantaged teenagers survive in a hostile environment. I promise you that my instructable: How to Survive the Rock n Roll Lifestyle will NOT win a competition and it will NEVER be featured, even though it's the best instructable I've ever written and will possibly actually save people's lives. That said, I wrote it knowing full well of these facts so I have no cause to complain. On the contrary, I am massively grateful that I have the opportunity to publish such stuff.
If you want to change democracy start changing the way you vote. Don't vote for things that are pleasant and nice. Vote for something that is true and meaningful, even though it might seem unconfortable. Don't be a quiet mouse, be courageous and brave. Start right now by voting for this instructable. Remember that our grandfathers fought and many lost their lives fighting for democracy in the second world war. The right to vote is precious, but it is slowly and continuously being eroded by the unethical behaviour of politicians who pander and placate the voters. Do you really want to be part of that?
It used to be that the enemy of the people was the government. That's not true anymore. The government are just puppets of the corporations, just like Saddam Hussein was a puppet of the government. If the government step out of line, the corporations will invent an excuse like WMD to get rid of them because they are the ones who hold the real power. What we actually need is a full scale revolution so that the people can take back control and at least get themselves a decent health service like in Cuba.
If the revolution does not happen ASAP the corporations will get stronger and eventually they will actually take full control, like in the Hollywood terminator films. It may not be quite as dramatic as that, but it should be said that corporations are already like machines, they even have legal rights. Corporations have no morals or ethics and only exist to serve themselves, not the human species or the environment. (Autodesk may be an exception).
Please watch this documentary on the subject: The Corporation
VOTE, VOTE, VOTE ........ VOTE WITH YOUR HEARTS ! The revolution starts here today !
If this instructable gets enough votes, my next instructable will be: 'How to Start a Non-Violent Modern Day Revolution'. Probably not as difficult as you may think, what with crowd funding and everything?
Step 17: Ethnic Profile
If you are white, young, American and middle class think very seriously about changing your ethnic profile. People reading your work may realise that you have a massive social advantage and may well vote you down, particularly if they come from a disadvantaged background themselves.
If I were to create a new profile it would probably be that of an old, ugly, female, dyslexic, working class Inuit Indian who speaks English as a second or third language. My own profile is that of an old, ugly gipsy traveller so I have already ticked quite a lot of the necessary boxes. Is this immoral? Not necessarily, as I am in fact championing old ugly gypsies making them look really cool in flying jackets and star trek uniforms. Some of my closest friends are actually incredibly ageist and this annoys me intensely so, in part, this is my reaction against discrimination.
The worst thing you can do is to have a photo of yourself looking young, white and healthy as this might attract votes through sexual attraction, but personally, if I were a judge, I would be very strongly tempted to vote you down because you come from an highly advantaged background.
Step 18: Forgiveness Is Now Required
I feel that now I have revealed everything, I may never win a competition ever again. A certain sadness has descended upon me mixed with a sense of relief that there is a chance that the burden that has been with me these last few years can at last be lifted from my aching shoulders.
Now that my confession has been made public my soul will hopefully be set free from the anguish that threatened to consume it and my life can resume it's normal routines without the torment of guilt turning it more and more into a nightmare.
I fear that now people know my tactics I will be blacklisted by the corporations and nobody will ever vote for my competition entries ever again. Do you, the Instructables audience, feel that my sins should be forgiven? Please express your forgiveness's in the comments section below.
Please Vote Generously!
Voting will help save the planet