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.