ChatThreads follows up on the Zune feedback sweepstakes

This post continues the Zune review series. I received the device for free as part of a Matchstick promotion. My goal is to provide a technically engaging and impartial review for people interested in MP3 players. Other posts include


After contacting the ChatThreads team regarding their contest sweepstakes regulations, I received a response from Walter J. Carl, who is the ChatThreads founder and Chief Research Officer. Walter was very responsive and explained why the default regulations restrict Canadian residents: the company runs a number of concurrent programs, but when users sign in with an emailed link or conversation ID, the correct terms of use appear – they appear to be tied to a session ID or cookie based on the campaign.

From Walter’s email:

Regarding the sweepstakes/contests… We run a number of different Contests and Sweepstakes depending on the program in which people are participating. The page you went to doesn’t have the specific rules for the Zune program (specific rules are contained when a person is in a survey for a particular program). I can see how this would be confusing so we’ve added a message to that effect on the page that you found to help clarify this issue. The people you talk to can see the full Official Rules when they log in to tell us about the conversation. Please note that those in Quebec and/or those under 18 are not eligible to participate in the Contests but they can have us donate to charity as an alternative.

If you’d like to participate in the draw, keep in mind that the correct contest rules (I’ve mirrored them here as they appeared on July 4, 2008) require all entries to be submitted by 11:59pm this evening! (Update: The correct close date of the contest is August 4, 2008.) Feel free to use my conversation ID: go over to the ChatThreads site and enter 102 986 0195.

Walter also gave his opinions on disclosure, which I thought I’d share as it’s in line with my own thoughts. I also appreciate his reassurance that they don’t spam people:

By the way, I also read your larger blog post: I appreciated your comment about the importance of disclosure in programs, which is consistent with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s ethical standards. I just did an interview on a National Public Radio news show this morning about this and other related topics to word of mouth marketing. Regarding e-mail addresses of the people you invite… We don’t send their email address to Matchstick or Microsoft, etc. (you can see our privacy policy for details) so that people feel comfortable providing their honest feedback. The conversation cards can also be handed out as well, or you can send the email link from your own email program. Please let us know if there’s a way we can make this more clear.

Another feature of the ChatThreads program is a “web tag” – likely a Javascript snippet – that you can embed in posts, so that they can track visitors to sites and try to build a graph of conversations. I’ve decided to try inserting it in this post to see if it affects anything from my end. I’m not too concerned from a privacy standpoint because there are at least two other such tags on my site for statistics, and you can use NoScript or disable JavaScript to block such a tag. (I don’t link the URL here because Google might index spam referrers, but if you hit up the “webalizer” directory you can see everything I serve.)

More details on my experiences with the Zune itself are coming shortly – expect to see a first impressions review at some point this weekend!

Update: Here’s the Web tag – it’s not JavaScript like I’d assumed, but a link. This is actually a better solution for disclosure and I’m impressed that ChatThreads is this upfront with a visual representation.

Update 2: The close date of the contest is August 4, 2008, and not July 4th. More time to get your entries in!

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