November 30, 2007

Contest News and Heartfelt Thanks

Please forgive the delay in here. For the past two days we have been dealing with legal issues over at the Homeschool Blog Awards. A comment was made by someone on the HSBA site which basically asked us to look into the legitimacy of our contest and in a round-about way suggested that we should inquire of a lawyer. I spoke with three or four lawyers individually over the issues and discussed it all in length with our team members at the Homeschool Blog Awards. After much thought, prayer and late-night drafting of policies and procedures, we all plan to update the general blogosphere regarding the issues as soon as the lawyer has finished reviewing our documents. At this piont, there has been no change what-so-ever to the contest besides the authors at HSBA being disqualified from winning. Never fear, if you have been nominated, you will still be allowed to compete in the voting stage. Hopefully we will not have to push the voting start date out, but we will know more after discussions with counsel.

I appreciate the kind emails, phone calls, and comments from everyone on my last few posts and from some members of the Homeschool Blog Awards yesterday. I assure you that even when I am sad about things, I always have a certain joy that does not go away. I wish that all people had the kind of joy that my savior has given me. I've been preoccupied with the HSBA issues, but in the last two days the kitten's health has improved, I've been able to listen to lots of Christmas music on my PC with Windows Media Player, and my husband will be home for dinner tonight. How is that for solutions to my three pathetic problems from my last post?

Somewhere in all the busyness of this week, however... I have heard quiet reminders from the Lord that seem to be urging me to get my priorities back in line. Occasionally during the school year I find that I am operating on fumes (lack of enthusiasm and focus), and having pressing legal issues with blogs - blogs that are fun, but not a paid profession - and a sick cat have further distracted me. Putting up the tree, drinking hot chocolate, talking with friends, enjoying dinner with my mom, and listening to the Spirit's promptings about redirecting my focus have been nice reminders of what is truly important this season and always.

I'll be in and out this December while we are traveling, homeschooling, and enjoying this magical time of year. I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your thoughts and comments - even if I don't respond to each and every one individually. Thanks so much for stopping in.

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Meg_L said...

Thank you.

I truly hope that the legal hurdles can be over come and things can continue.

I posted the comment on HBA pointing to the discussion because I thought it was something that needed to be checked out and dealt with.

I am sorry to have given you all such a quandary to deal with on short notice. Dealing with anything at a rush is not fun.

Elaine said...

I sorry that so much has come down on your shoulders at this time of year. May the Lord reveal Himself in a very special way through all of this.


my blog:

AllyJo said...

Hey Heather. What's up? Not much I see. How is Texas? Is it cold? Please Fed Ex me some Tex Mex. Much obliged....

Kind regards and blessings.

chickadee said...

i've read some of the things you've linked to during this time and who knew hosting these awards would bring such turmoil? i'm sorry you've had to bear the burnt of all the negative comments.

Sprittibee said...

Meg - Yes it hasn't been a big cup of holiday cheer, that is for sure.

Elaine - No worries. ;) We actually have a fifth lawyer involved in it now, and this one is reviewing the final documents before we move forward. Hopefully we can still do the voting starting Monday, but if not we will start Tuesday or so and just cut it short. Thanks for the hugs! ;)

Allyjo - I'd love to send you TexMex. ;) However, by the time it got there, you might not want to eat it! And then there's the legal ramifications, so I'd have to send you out a Disclaimer signing over your rights to sue me. LOL

Chickadee - Nice to see your pretty face on your icon! :) I hadn't seen a photo of you before. Cool. Yes, it has been a major pain in my bohunkus doing these awards. However, I refuse to let a minority of disgruntled people ruin the fun for everyone else - even if it means that I have to bear the brunt of the snarky remarks and end up working overtime to make sure that all participants, prize awarders and authors on my site are legally covered in the event that some psycho tries to sue over this. We live in a fallen world, don't we? Thanks for your comment - it is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...


jennifer said...

Wow, Sprittibee, there's some real grinches out there. Very sad. Thinking of you and wishing you Christmas cheer and God's blessings!

Anonymous said...

Yes, very grinch-like for someone to point out that the entire award process is unlawful. And very Christian to refer to "someone" as a potential psycho, ready to sue. Doesn't seem unusual at all that anyone would question their participation in an illegal contest.

Heather said...

Anonymous #2:

First of all, the entire process is not unlawful. I have no idea why you are assuming that just because I chose to protect myself and those who are associated with the awards from malicious intent that I am somehow conceding the fact that the contest has EVER been unlawful. It isn't. If you know the law so well, tell me exactly why that you feel it is unlawful???

An illegal "lottery" is one that has 1. Prize, 2. Chance, and 3. Consideration (meaning that money is exchanging hands). That is NOT the case here. No one has to pay to be in this contest so we do not require money in any way from others. Plus, we are not a corporation and are not advertising for a product. Sure, we all LIKE certain products more than others, but we are just average citizens and the site is not making any money off of the public. Therefore, the awards are a legal contest. The only reason I'm putting rules up that have been approved by a lawyer is because of those who have shown such hateful attitudes about those of us who are just trying to reward people for their contributions to the homeschool blogosphere. If I was trying to ruin your contest and bringing to your attention that you might want to seek counsel, you would do the same thing.

Thankyouverymuch Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

It is so sad that it’s come to this, that there are people in this world so offended by moral decency (the family-friendly requirement) that they’ve turned the awards into a controversy that resulted in the elimination of the people who cared enough to keep it going in the first place.

Meg_L said...

Dear Heather,

I was not trying to ruin your contest, I was trying to give you a heads up to protect you from yourself.

The fact that it's taken 5 lawyers to tangle it, makes it clear to me that there were some concerns to be dealt with.

Heather said...

Meg - I wasn't saying that YOU in particular were trying to ruin the contest. I have been around the net and have seen the types of things that others have been saying - such as buying up our domain to shut us down, personal slurs, etc. I wasn't meaning YOU in particular by my comment about a "psycho trying to sue". I mean that if someone DOES actually sue the HSBA over winning a Christian book - that is just plain crazy. Especially if that person is NOT a Christian and doesn't care about the book in the first place. I'm thankful that you did comment - by the way - so that we could do the research and get to the bottom of our legal rights if such a person did go off the deep end. So take this comment as my personal thanks to YOU (not the others who started the whole controversy).

Secondly, It didn't TAKE 5 lawyers. The reason that many individuals have spoken to us is that #1 - a personal family lawyer of mine gave me advice over the phone. #2 - I called a lawyer who specializes in internet lawsuits and he gave me "off the record advice" on the phone but wouldn't give me much since I can't afford to PAY him for his time. #3 - I emailed someone online who wrote a legal article about laws regarding online contests with questions and he replied to me (sadly for the disgruntled ones he said that we were doing nothing illegal and aside from saying that he ALWAYS suggests disclaimers... which is why I wrote them), #4 - a member of the HSBA had 2 lawyer friends of hers that she mentioned this to after reading your comment (apart from me). The first one told her he didn't deal with civil stuff but gave her a personal opinion about it. The second one is the one who has helped go over all of our documentation, give us detailed legal advice, and offer to represent us should the need arise.

NONE OF THESE LAWYERS have said we should be "worried" because we have done NOTHING illegal.

That being said, I'm glad to know that definitively and am breathing easier now that my "butt" is covered should someone break out the "Christmas cheer" on us.

Ahermitt said...

problems like this is why so many top notch bloggers dissapear!

Dana said...

If a bunch of people getting together to vote on what blog they like is illegal, that is a sad testament on what our country has come to.

I understand that having prizes totaling so much brings a slightly different aspect to it, but who is going to sue and how? Who can show how they were harmed?

Most of the disclaimers I have read regarding who can win the prizes has to do with corporations protecting themselves from theft from their own employees, anyway, I think.

Principled Discovery

Anonymous said...

Dear Srrittibee -
You have done a wonderful job keeping the peace as much as you can, and doing what is right.

I am proud to be a part of the HSBA Team and proud to call you my friend. I know that whatever you find out of place or in the wrong, you will do what is right to fix it and so you have done.

Thank you for your sweet comment. It is always an honour to receive a comment from you.


Sprittibee said...

Thanks Jocelyn.. and I agree with what you guys said, ahermitt and dana.

christinemm said...

Yesterday I remembered that voting was open and went to vote. When I read the rules and the new legal stuff it was the first time I knew of that whole issue going on. I felt sorry for you and others working on the HSBA because I know that behind all those rules was a lot of grief and work, so on and so forth. I had no clue all of that was going on.

Welcome to America, land of the lawyers.

It is interesting today to learn more about what is behind it all, such as reading your blog. I have been busy tending to a sick child and have not been online much so am just promoting the HSBA voting now.

Sorry also that some on the blogosphere are being so negative.

I hope you are not being harrassed. I will share that in the past a certain blogger who will remain unnamed has lightly harrassed me, I say lightly as it remained on the blogosphere and didn't turn into personal phone calls to my home or anything THAT intrusive. However I have been named and slammed by a certain person and then the readers of that blog would join in. I ignored it.

I do appreciate the HSBA and imagined that they might turn into a time-consuming project. I am sorry that the legal stuff came up.

I wonder if the give-aways on blogs also are considered a contest and need rules and legal counsel?

Please enjoy this holiday season.

If you choose to be involved next year how about changing the timing to another month like October or ending in early November? Just an idea so that Thanksgiving and Christmas are not interfered with for your families.

Thank you.

Meg_L said...


I've been poking around some more and may I point out that there is at least one blog that violates the organizers' voluntary removal from consideration?

Either that or there is an amazingly gifted 8 month old child, whose blog doesn't have any posts by either her mother or oldest 2 sisters.

I respect that the lawyers said that you aren't in any sort of violation, but you went ahead and withdrew all your names anyway. I'm afraid that it falls very flat to discover that you were just sweeping it under the table.

Sprittibee said...

Meg - I was unaware until today that a blog for an infant was even in the awards. 1. There's no way it will win, 2. I have already spoken with the infant's mother about this after finding this out, 3. WHO GIVES A FLYING PANCAKE?

Give me a break. I'm going to go on with my life and have a Merry Christmas. I hope you will, too. This back and forth and blogger bashing stuff is really stale and old. There's only two days left for voting and the contest is over. Who cares who is in the nominees now?



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