form - rob enslin

The Pros and Cons of Autofills

One of the most annoying things you find when you start comping (apart from the fact that you don’t always win straight away) is the tedious task of filling out all the entry forms. Most competitions require quite a bit of information in entry forms, which fascinates me sometimes. Like, why do they always need my birth-date? And I sometimes also wonder whether all the personal information I am typing in is simply going to some database that will be used for identity theft further down the track.

However, so far nothing too dubious or disastrous has happened despite the thousands of forms I have filled out except for the occasional spam email (which is quickly deleted) or the odd telemarketing phone call (quickly dispensed with).

Anyway, back to the tedious task of form-filling. After many months filling out forms by hand some time last year I finally decided to use Chrome Autofill which immediately starts filling out a form as soon as I enter my name. On the surface this seemed like a sensible idea but after using it for a while now and with a bit of reflection, I can see that there are a number of pros and cons to using auto-fills.

On the plus side, it does speed up the form-filling a little, especially if you are entering quite a few competitions in one session. It is kind of magical watching the form instantly fill without touching the keyboard. Chrome Autofill (and most of the others I suspect) is a free function and very easy to set up. You can also trial Roboform for your desktop computer or mobile device for a specific number of applications before paying a relatively small fee for its ongoing use. However, I am still quite happy using Chrome Autofill at this stage.

One of the downsides to using an auto-fill function is that not all forms are the same: some want more information; some want less and depending in the competition, some want additional information (e.g. your Flybuys or Seniors Card number). Very few are laid out the same. So you have to double-check each fill-in to make sure the information is right, in the rights slots and everything that needs to be filled in or ticked, is. Sometimes I find that vital information such as my suburb is omitted which would make it very difficult for the sponsors to send me the prize if I won.

If you use a couple of different emails with one specifically allocated for comping, you will also need to double-check it has filled in the right email as it probably has both in the system. And, of course your auto-fill can’t write that amazing, unique prize-winning WOL answer. Would that be great if it could?

In the Ts & Cs of many competitions, it states that ‘automatic entries will be excluded from the draw’. So should we worry that by using an auto-fill this might happen? Probably not because the automatic entries they are probably referring to (but I can’t swear to this) are those bulk entries being placed by third parties services for a fee. Many competition organisers design their entry forms to avoid these sort of entries by adding a CAPTCHA feature or some other way of checking that is it actually a human being filling out the form.

So, all in all, what is my assessment of using an auto-fill function? I think they can be quite useful but not totally relied on. You still need to check the form has been filled to your satisfaction before hitting the ‘enter’ button. Then as always, it’s just a matter of crossing your fingers! And waiting….

 

Photo Attribution – Rob Enslin

 

 

 

After working for thirty years as a journalist/historian, Jenny started writing sci-fi for children and adults and occasionally illustrating them (when she was not spending time with her grandkids). Most have been published in The School Magazine, anthologies and online. She has also been contributing to a wide variety of magazines such as Antiques and Collectables for Pleasure and Profit, Australiana and Nurture. Now essentially retired Jenny has taken up a challenge of entering and (hopefully winning) competitions. Jenny will track her journey through this challenge here at www.competitions.com.au.

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