What is wrong with doing a lottery next time this way?

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What is wrong with doing a lottery next time this way?

Post by carefactornil » Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:09 am

Full disclosure: I have tickets to BM 2019, so this is not written by someone who just missed out in the sale. But I did take part in the sale for some friends who couldn't be online then, so witnessed the horrors firsthand and didn't get tickets. I can fully understand and relate to all the frustration. I'm disappointed with the Org's official response as it just feels too familiar, year on year.
I've also been burning since 2009 and fully remember the lottery fiasco of 2012.
That was a different time - it was the first year after selling out (just) in 2011. And 2012 had some other "perfect storm" aspects that meant the lottery wasn't going to work well then, hence the birth of the DGS.

But I honestly think a revisited lottery is the best solution we NOW have for the main sale. But I'm genuinely keen to pick holes in my idea. FYI, my job often involves picking holes in ideas so I'm fine with this. :)

We have supply that is far, far outstripped by demand. That is now unlikely to change unless something drastic happens.
The profiles are a good idea. You shouldn't have to do something every year and they're the gateway into a whole host of other stuff too, like Work Access Passes and DEATHPony.
Registration is a good idea. You get a chance to weed out known scalpers, problems, etc. There's a reason they do this for the DGS.
But having everyone try and hammer a server at the same second is a difficult thing to cope with. I work with IT systems so have some knowledge about how all this works. It just gives so many things to go wrong. Internet connections. Latency. Browser compatibility issues. Surge. The amount of system testing you need.
And it rarely seems "fair" (unless you get a ticket and then not always). You already registered that you want to go. You might have some tech knowledge that helps you sometimes like this year, such as about caching, etc. See Token's thread about loving a geek. But there shouldn't be advantage to the tech-savvy - that's not radical inclusion.#
So a "lottery", if done properly, seems fairest to me.
A key part of this is making sure it's as "random" as you can get. I say "random" because it's a concept that doesn't really exist in the real world. We proved that a few years ago with the waiting room that was supposed to be random but actually ended up advantaging others. But "close to true random" isn't hard with computers. Certainly you can make it so that when people apply/register makes no difference to success, nor nothing else about their application.
And then you just select X from Y registrations once you've been through the registrations and are "happy" with the list. Those people get an email to buy tickets for 2 days (say) just like the DGS. If someone doesn't use it within the timeframe then the ticket goes to the next in the queue until they're all gone or maybe even the OMG sale. One possible disadvantage here is that if the next person in queue doesn't act on that then it means 2 (say) days delay each time which means the "sale" process could drag on. But I expect it would be minimal with the demand we now have.
The advantages of a lottery over a queue are many.
If you have browser, credit card, tech issues, you have a chance to solve them without as much stress - you have a couple of days. You can try another computer, browser, etc. You can call your bank to unblock the card. BM ticketing can help with issues, although they need to staff up enough for that - and predicting it could be tricky. Although the DGS would give a good indication.
You don't have to be on the computer for hours during a lunch break or the middle of the night waiting for the green man/wheels, etc. You can go to the toilet without fear. As someone who has been through DGS I can tell you it's a breeze and far less stressful. Usually takes a few minutes.
Because you use the registration process with unique ids/URLs it should mean it's hard to game or hack the system.

What I suspect is the main issue with a lottery is the registration process. i.e. how do you stop some people creating dozens (or hundreds) of fake profiles and registering them all? i.e. "buying" more lottery tickets. It doesn't guarantee success but it does give you better odds. The DGS is different here because you are invited through good past behaviour. The main sale can't do that.
The only thing I can think of is unique user verification of some kind. Credit cards being pre-authorised/validated are one way of doing this. You give your details in the registration process and no money is taken until the sale takes place. You may have to move all the ticketing-buying stuff into registration (i.e. how many tickets, VP, method of delivery) etc. One challenge with entering card details into registration a few days before and then doing the sale transaction after is cards can expire, be stopped, etc. So how that is resolved in the gap to main sale needs a solution but that's only for a tiny minority of people I imagine.
Yes, using credit cards does allow those wanting to game the system some unfair advantages. You could set up several profiles, each with a different email and each with a different credit card. But you're making it way harder. Bots don't help as much when it comes to credit cards. And there are things you can check for like duplicate use of the same card, a lot of cards with the same IP address. It's not perfect but there is no perfect solution here. It's about minimizing risks and making it seem fair.
There are other ways of verifying people but they could have their own challenges for radical inclusion and fairness.

Anyway, intrigued to see what flaws people can see in the above. Even if I've missed some obvious stuff then at least people will be able to see what the problem with a lottery of this nature is nowadays.

Thanks for reading & I look forward to my knowledge about this being broadened! :)

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