Winner of the First Annual Libertas Essay Contest’s People’s Choice Award

With 30 submissions in our first annual essay contest, three essays emerged as contenders for the People’s Choice Award—the $500 prize given to the author whose essay received the most Facebook “likes” by last night’s deadline.

As the deadline neared, I watched the numbers accelerate on the Facebook “like” box on the pages of these three essays; at midnight last night, the winning essay was "Opt Out and Take Your Freedom Back" by Jacob Vidrine. He received 1,808 “likes.”

As it turns out, however, the number Facebook shows on its “like” widget is deceiving, and does not accurately reflect the number of people who have “liked” the post. Instead, it is an aggregate count combining likes, shares, and comments. Here is the breakdown of the top three essays as of midnight last night:

(This information was obtained using Facebook’s API that shows the breakdown. For example, here is the live count breakdown for Jacob’s essay.)

While Charity’s essay came in third place in this aggregate count, she actually received the most number of “likes” by far! Whereas the other two essays had been shared quite a lot, thus boosting their count, Charity’s was “liked” the most.

So, who wins the $500 prize?

If we go by what everybody was going off of—the aggregate count visible on the Facebook widget—then Jacob won. If we go by the rule itself (“The essay with the most Facebook ‘likes’ by August 24, 2012 will be declared the winner of the people’s choice award and will receive the $500 prize.”), then Charity won.

Because of this confusion, we are going to give each of these two contributors a $500 award!

For next year, we’ll explore a better method at more accurately determining whose essays has actually been “liked” the most. Congratulations to our winners! Stay tuned for the announcement next week as to who wins the $1,500 grand prize!