The Strictly Spoiler During Covid-19 – FAQS

With the strictly launch less than a week away I’m starting to get lots of questions popping into my inbox on the social networks and thought it would be best to do a post to cover some of the ones that are showing up regularly.

Obviously the first thing to mention is that this is an ever changing situation (and may well change tomorrow as Boris unveils his latest plan to bring doom and ruin on us all) and this post will be updated as and when the situation changes and will be referred to during the series so please keep checking it for the latest updates.

Also while some information has been covered before on the social networks, some will be new and all will be new to search traffic who make up most of this site’s visitors.

We’ll begin with the most important question of all…….

Will there be a spoiler?

The answer to this is currently an optimistic yes with a couple of provisions.

The spoiler is normally delivered to you thanks to people who have come forward to offer their services as a mole to either myself or other sources I work closely and have a good relationship with. At present the BBC are intending for there to be an audience albeit with a reduced capacity. This could make moles harder to come by and patience will definitely be a requirement on a spoiler night.

If things change and there is no audience there could still be a spoiler in the normal way. Sources I work with sometimes get insider info which would allow the spoiler to be delivered as normal.

In addition to the above I have been working on a backup plan and intend to make use of my polling data to predict the public vote, plug it into the scoring system and generate a result. This will only be done if it is not possible to bring a normal spoiler for any reason and will contain a margin of error so may not be accurate every week but should hopefully give us an idea of how things have gone.

All spoilers have had their source/accuracy declared on them since 2015 so you will know if a spoiler has been provided through a mole or is a prediction based on my polls. There will also be a noticeable change in the format of the spoiler if polling data has been used as it will be presented as a leaderboard with my best educated guess of who lost the dance off based on the bottom two.

Why can’t I vote in your polls?

I’m receiving a few isolated reports of people getting errors rejecting their votes when they try to vote in the polls however the vast majority seem to be getting their votes registered ok.

The last couple of polls I have run have had attempted sabotage from bots automatically voting to try and skew my results. Given the potential importance of the polls this series as they may generate the spoiler I had no choice but to change my poll system and deploy countermeasures in the form of a captcha.

You will have seen captchas on the internet before. They are the things that present you with a low quality photograph and ask you to click on any squares containing trees or similar. Mine is deployed differently and the vast majority won’t even notice it is there.

Unfortunately no system like this is perfect and the captcha is producing some false positives and preventing a few genuine votes. I may be able to tweak the settings slightly but there is a balance between preventing the fake votes and not preventing genuine votes and it isn’t possible to get this exactly right.

There is also a balance between preventing false votes whilst also making the site user friendly for most people. I could deploy the captcha in the traditional way which would probably eliminate false positives but it would also reduce the number of people who vote as many people probably wouldn’t bother clicking on the squares containing trees just to vote in a poll or would give up if they got it wrong. This would reduce the accuracy of my polling by reducing the sample size in a year when I need it to be as accurate as possible

If you hit the error my suggestion would be to try a different device/browser but most importantly DO NOT ACT LIKE A ROBOT 😂

Why can’t I see the poll results after voting?

Poll results may be used to generate the spoiler in weeks when there are no moles. In order to keep the spoiler hidden until it is posted and create a sense of anticipation in it the poll results are hidden until the spoiler is posted. This also stops anyone else trying to preempt me and post a spoiler using my data before I do.

Hiding the results also helps prevent sabotage as any potential saboteurs won’t know who to vote for to skew the results

Will there be a pairings spoiler?

There was no pairings spoiler this series due to a lack of moles during the launch show. There was a potential spoiler doing the rounds on Twitter however like most spoilers on Twitter that turned out to be rubbish and I (rightly) was not prepared to stake my reputation on it.

Also unlike the normal spoiler where I can use polling data to try and predict the public vote this was not possible with the pairings.

If you can’t provide a spoiler in the normal way can’t you just shut up shop for a year?

In truth I’m between a rock and a hard place here. I pride myself on the accuracy of the information this site provides and I was genuinely upset the one time in 2015 when a spoiler was partially wrong.

However this is also my job. I receive most of my annual income (which is roughly the equivalent of minimum wage) in the 3 months Strictly is on. I’ve already lost 4 weeks (which in more real terms is 4 months) worth of income due to the lateness Strictly is starting this year and that’s before we factor in the fact that advertiser’s pockets are also a lot lighter this year.

Asking me to rest the spoiler for a year would be like asking anyone else not to work for a year. Only with no furlough pay. And the government support for self employed people like myself is pretty woeful especially as it is based on historic income rather than current income and does not factor in the fact that most businesses grow year on year and in the early days a lot of the revenue is reinvested so profits can be down. I have received some support from the self employment income support scheme but it hasn’t been a lot at all and for the next 2 grants which are based on 20% of historic profits I’m only going to receive the equivalent of about £70 per month.

For this reason I have to try and operate this series as best I can. I’m a single father of two children who I have to support for the next year on whatever I earn in the next 2 months.

Will there be competitions this series?

I’ve covered this on social networking and on this site but its worth including in this FAQ. Based on the above I think you can guess what the answer is going to be and that’s that I sadly cannot commit to competitions this series.

There’s simply too many variables going on at the moment for me to be able to predict how much I am likely to earn during the series which is a factor when it comes to setting my prize fund. That coupled with me losing 33% of my annual income before the series even starts means I simply cannot commit to offering regular prizes.

Also I would hate to promise prizes only to have to pull the competition because I cannot afford to pay the prizes out. The newspapers would (rightly) have a field day with me if that happened no doubt and it would be a massive PR nightmare even though it would be covered by the usual competition terms and conditions.

Depending on my income I may hopefully run the odd spot prize later in the series but its probably only going to be the last couple of weeks when I’ll be able to commit to this and I’d rather say there will be no prizes and then deliver a couple of surprises than promise prizes every week and have to pull the competition.

Pulling the competition is not a decision I took lightly especially as the budget for competitions is normally the whole of my marketing budget year on year and the competitions are designed to increase my social presence as well as reward the people who get involved in the discussions. If there was any way I could have run a regular weekly competition I would have done but sadly I cannot commit to it. Everyone on the social networks has fully understood this decision and your understanding is appreciated.

How can we support you this series?

Ok no one has asked this but it’s an important (at least to me) question and in 2020 there are more ways than ever to support me and the work I do and help me out with the hosting costs and other operating expenses many of which don’t involve any direct financial help

Firstly I recognise that many people are struggling like I am and I always stress that the direct financial donation options should only be used if you can afford it. In 2020 this is more important than ever. I do not want others to help me out with a financial donation if by doing so they would cause themselves hardship

That said if you are able and willing to help me out there are a few ways you can make a donation. New for 2020 you can make a regular donation by becoming a patreon. Donations on patreon start at just the price of a coffee a month and if the patreon page takes off I can start looking at patreon exclusive content/rewards.

Or you can make a one time donation using THIS LINK or the button below

If you are struggling though there’s ways you can help me out for free and even make some money yourself by doing so. One way I’ve been plugging on social media a lot these last few weeks is by checking your energy prices and earning yourselves £50 in the bargain by switching using my magic link (you must complete the switch using the link and not just get a quote which you come back to later). Octopus energy have 100% green electricity, are a Which recommended supplier and were one of the few suppliers to maintain a full telephone service during the pandemic. They’re a different supplier to the one I was recommending last series and are definitely worth a look as we head into the colder months.

Switching energy suppliers is quick (it takes about 2 minutes to sign up from my link and usually about 3 weeks for the process to complete), there is no interruption to your energy supply, no engineers have to visit and you don’t need to change you meters (unless you sign up to a smart tariff and don’t have a compatible meter). I get £50 from every switch so this does help me out quite a bit.

Alternatively you can help me out by doing things as simple as liking all my content, sharing it and getting involved in the discussions on the social networks. This all helps to increase my visibility and get me noticed on those networks. Normally the competitions would be helping towards that goal however as mentioned above I cannot commit to them this year.

That concludes the FAQs for now. This post will however become a work in progress and will be updated throughout the series if and when things change with regards to the pandemic. All that’s left to say is that I hope you are all keeping well and looking forward to Strictly finally kicking off next week.

Welcome Back Facebook (plus news/info for Twitter too)

Ok first of all I have to welcome all the people on Facebook back to being able to access this site through Facebook. It’s been a long 9 months or so since Facebook blocked links to the site because it apparently breached their community standards (it didn’t) but we seem to be back up and running! Especially if you saw a link to this post on Facebook

I wanted to take the next few minutes to run through some stuff I’ve already mentioned to the people on Twitter but the people on Facebook may have missed. Twitter peeps don’t worry there may be new information for you as I’m going to go into a bit more detail.

The first thing I want to talk about are my plans for how I will source the spoiler depending on a number of scenarios. At the moment we know that Strictly will go ahead with a shorter than normal series. Also the Prime Minister announced the other week that audiences will be permitted in situations such as Strictly from October.

If Strictly goes ahead with an audience as it looks like it may be able to do so there shouldn’t be any change to the spoiler or how it is sourced and posted here. Though I will stress the importance that if you are part of the spoiler community and are lucky enough to get tickets please offer your services as a mole especially if the audience isn’t running at normal capacity as moles could be harder to come by this year!

However I also have a contingency plan for if there is no audience. Regular visitors to the website will know that I run polls every week. If there is no audience and therefore no moles my plan is to freeze the polls at a time when the the spoiler would normally be released and then plug the results of that poll into the scoring system in order to generate a result. I’ve done this with historic data for 2016 and 2017 and the results were promising with the elimination being correct a majority of the time.

I will not lie. This does not produce accurate results 100% of the time. But it does most of the time and given a choice between shutting up shop and giving up my job for a year or trying to get you guys a spoiler result even if that result is occasionally wrong there is no choice. Asking me to rest the spoiler for a year would be like asking any other employee to not work for a year and to do it with no pay. Not even furlough pay. I cannot do it! And it’s not like my self employment income support scheme grant will cover my bills as due to the years they use to assess it it isn’t anything close to the 80% of my income it is supposed to be but I’m getting political now so I’m going to move on.

I also mentioned the other week, but Facebook will have missed it, that I wouldn’t be able to run regular competitions this series and just wanted to expand a bit more on that decision and the reason behind it.

Every year for the last 5 years or so I’ve run some kind of a competition for all you guys getting involved in the discussions here and on social networks. Thousands of pounds worth of prizes have been paid out over the years with those prizes being paid for out of my income as a way to reward the people who help to make this site and the community what it is.

I am really sorry I will not be able to run a competition during the 2020 series and that’s going to be the case whether it happens socially distanced or happens normally. There’s just too many variables going on at the moment to allow me to accurately predict my income and budget for prizes. Advertisers have lower advertising budgets right now which means the income for many websites which depend on adverts is reduced and my income is down for this time of the year. I have no idea what it will be like when things start to pick up in a couple of months time.

Plus what I don’t want to do is promise and even award prizes only for my income to dry up and me not be able to pay them out. That would be a massive PR disaster and I’d rather say there won’t be any competitions and then maybe do the odd spot prize if my income and budget permits it rather than make promises I cannot keep.

The majority of you have been understanding of this decision and it is much appreciated. The competitions after all are a bonus. The majority of you are here for the spoiler!

One final thing I want to discuss is something that’s been a bit of a burning topic on Facebook and Twitter lately and that is the monetisation on this website and on my social networking channels. This year more than ever I am going to have to push the monetisation especially with the series being shorter and there being no Christmas Special so my income is already going to be down 33% and that’s assuming advertising pays the same as it did last year. Which it wont because advertising budgets are down as everyone is tightening their purses.

I also understand that those of you who would previously help me out directly with a financial donation to help towards my costs may not be able to do so this year as this pandemic has hit many people’s pockets hard!

One thing I will be pushing more and that’s been true the last few weeks on Facebook/Twitter are the energy switching links because they are a really good way to support me for free whilst earning yourself £50 and getting cheaper bills in the process. Please, please, please if you are based in the UK and are responsible for paying your energy bills just take two minutes out your time to check your prices using my link. Octopus energy have cheap green energy with 100% of their Electric coming from renewable sources.

If you have a smart meter and drive an electric car they have a fantastic tariff called Agile Octopus which has prices changing every 30 minutes allowing you to choose the best and cheapest time slot to run energy hungry appliances or charge your vehicle. I don’t have an electric car and I still save on average 40% compared to a regular electricity tariff just by doing things like running my washing machine and tumble dryer in cheaper time slots. Plus if there is surplus energy on the national grid on this tariff you can even get paid to use electricity!

Don’t worry if you don’t have a smart meter though as they offer normal tariffs too. Plus there is no lock-in and no early exit fee should you ever decide to leave them.

If you are lucky enough to be able to support me with a direct financial donation you can do so using THIS LINK or the button below to make a one off donation. In the current pandemic and with my income likely to be down significantly this year your donations are appreciated more than ever but please only make a direct financial donation if it wont cause you any hardship!

Or why not make a regular donation and get a warm fuzzy feeling by signing up to my patreon page. You can pledge various levels of support from £3 per month and if enough of you sign up I can start looking at exclusive patreon content!

While we are talking about monetisation if you guys have any ideas of the sort of things you’d like to see, perhaps something you’ve seen on other sites, let me know and I’ll look into implementing it here. You can get in touch in the comments or over on the social networks.

We should be just a matter of days away from the contestant announcements although there is a chance they will be delayed. Either way as soon as the BBC start to reveal them I will post them here at the home of the strictly spoiler too! Until then keep safe and keep dancing!

Strictly Spoiler 2019 Thanks

It’s that time as we approach what will be the final spoiler of the series that I take a few minutes to reflect on the 2019 series and say some words of thanks to those who have made this year another huge year for The Strictly Spoiler

And it has been a huge year. Over the course of this series (including the pre series when contestants were being announced) this website has been viewed 5.5 million times (an increase of 46% on 2018) by 1.44 million people (an increase of 87% on 2018). During the busiest weekend this series the spoiler was viewed a whopping 907k times by 328k of you. Thank you to each and every one of you who comes to this website each week to view the content I produce.

Providing the required web servers to keep up demand is not cheap though and like last year those costs have been helped out by a few of you who have chosen to use the donation link or button. Donating is entirely optional and for the overwhelming vast majority of you this site is free to use. Donating does however help me out with the spiralling web hosting costs which continue to rise as more and more people access the site at the same time and I am grateful to those of you who have been able and willing to spare the cash to help me out with these costs.

Anyone who wants to get a last minute donation in or if you just want to buy me a Christmas present or a cool refreshing beer to thank me for all the spoilers you can do so using THIS LINK or the button below

Also thanks go out to the various sources I work with. These days I work closely with several other spoiler sources on social networks or on other websites and together we help each other out by sourcing moles to provide us with the spoiler each week. Between us we’ve had moles for each week of the 2019 series with only one or two close shaves. Also thanks to anyone who has approached me offering their services as a mole over the course of 2019 and anyone who has provided the spoiler to one of the other sources I work with. Without you moles there would not be a spoiler here or anywhere else online.

I also want to thank those of you on the Facebook page who have been very patient the last few weeks. Unfortunately Facebook have blocked the direct linking of this website on their platform in what appears to be an automatic decision on the part of Facebook following malicious complaints from those opposed to what I do in providing the spoiler. This has caused problems with delivering the spoiler and other content to Facebook and also resulted in the purging of a large number of competition entries prior to the prize draws which meant those entries had to be voided. Everyone on Facebook have been very understanding of the situation and I have worked hard to try and restore partial service on that network over the last few weeks.

What this means for the future of the Facebook page I cannot say as its primary purpose was to drive traffic from Facebook to this site and if it cannot meet that purpose anymore there may come a time where it is simply time to call it a day on Facebook. That will be a decision for 2020 though.

Finally I want to thank those of you who are reading this far into the post. You are the people who actually read and engage with all of my content rather than coming, reading the 2nd paragraph of the spoiler post, and then going away again. You are also probably the people who had a far easier time entering the password competition this series 😂

So that’s it for the annual thanks post. Don’t forget there is still The Christmas Special Spoiler available for your viewing delight and the normal discussion/poll posts and spoiler posts will be coming later on tonight too. All that remains is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2020 when The Strictly Spoiler will be back. Assuming the BBC don’t do anything crazy like a live results show!