How we used Twitter + gSheets to run a raffle at Hacks/Hackers Nairobi

… and how you can run your own too.

Screenshot of the gSheet used to track tweets and pick winner at #HHNBO

We sat around the office trying to come up with the best way to give out a drone to one lucky community member. Print numbers? Business cards? Lucky seat? A question?

Most of the ideas we came up with were either time consuming or had loop-holes. Also, techies are lazy — we’re not going to start cutting up papers for a raffle.

“Why not use tweets? Pick a lucky tweet.”

The community had already been using #HHNBO during the meetup so actually why not use that?

How we did it:

  1. Track tweets: Twitter Archiver is an add-on that allows to search Twitter for any keyword or hashtag and save matching tweets in a Google Sheet (gSheet). It polls Twitter every hour for new tweets or you can run it manually.
  2. Pick winner: First, we assigned a number to each tweet on gSheets (piece of cake) and then, used an already existing Excel function (RANDBETWEEN) to generate a random number between 1 and the maximum assigned number.
  3. Display winner: (Optional) For ease of showing the winner, we used VLOOKUP to display the corresponding username, full name and tweet.

You can find the gSheet we used here. The sheets are as follows:

  1. DRONE WINNER (FINAL): Sheet with snapshot of the final winner.
  2. DRONE WINNER (GENERATOR): Sheet that generates the winning random number and displays the tweet. *please note that this sheet changes with reload, sheet/cell change, etc.
  3. LIST: Sheet where we assigned numbers to each tweet. This sheet automatically pulls the tweets from #hhnbo sheet.
  4. #hhnbo: Generated by Twitter Archiver and is updated hourly or you can trigger the update manually.
  5. [Logs] Twitter Archiver: Also generated by Twitter Archiver for its purposes.

Bonus: tulanana was doing a live periscope video of the raffle draw when the universe conspired for her to win…

The worlds of hackers and journalists are coming together, as reporting goes digital and Internet companies become media empires.

The worlds of hackers and journalists are coming together, as reporting goes digital and Internet companies become media empires.

Journalists call themselves “hacks,” someone who can churn out words in any situation. Hackers use the digital equivalent of duct tape to whip out code.

Hacker-journalists try and bridge the two worlds. Hacks/Hackers Africa aims to bring all these people together — those who are working to help people make sense of our world. It’s for hackers exploring technologies to filter and visualize information, and for journalists who use technology to find and tell stories. In the age of information overload and collapse of traditional business models for legacy media, their work has become even more crucial.

Code for Africa, the continent’s largest #OpenData and civic technology initiative, recognises this and is spearheading the establishment of a network of HacksHackers chapters across Africa to help bring together pioneers for collaborative projects and new ventures.

Follow Hacks/Hackers Africa on Twitter and Facebook and join the Hacks/Hackers community Nairobi community group today.




Journalism x Technology. The umbrella group for African chapters of Hacks/Hackers, where civic tech pioneers play with ways to rewire the media.

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David Lemayian

David Lemayian

Maker. Helped kickstart @Code4Africa and @AfricanCIR . Fmr @ICFJKnight fellow supported by @GatesFoundation.

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