Win Prizes in TypeRacer’s First Official Book Contest

Posted on April 28, 2014. Filed under: Book Reviews, Contests |


A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of attending a book talk by author Daniel Isenberg on his new book called Worthless, Impossible and Stupid: How Contrarian Entrepreneurs Create and Capture Extraordinary Value (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013).  I was intrigued by the title, since I too, many years ago after I finished my degree, embarked on a mission that many, including my family and friends, would have seen as worthless, impossible, or stupid: to create the world’s first online multiplayer typing game, instead of pursuing a career as a software engineer at a stable company.  Although I can’t claim that I’ve created anything like the kind of “extraordinary value” that the book describes (many of the companies profiled by Daniel grew from a small founding team, little funding, and against the odds, into large, very profitable companies), I hope that Typeracer did provide some extraordinary value to the millions of visitors who have raced hundreds of times on our site over the years, increased their typing speed, made new friends, and hopefully discovered some really great books, movies, and songs from typing the quotes I selected.

Daniel conveyed some fascinating stories from around the world during his talk, but I have to admit that my mind was mainly preoccupied by two specific thoughts: 1) that I’m not a very good entrepreneur compared to these guys, and 2) that people who write books spend lots of time on the road promoting their work to very small groups of people: speaking, signing autographs, and giving away T-shirts in basements of bookstores (or in this case in the kitchen at the Cambridge Innovation Center), while, it occurred to me, they could be reaching a much larger audience by placing their book quotes on and sponsoring a typing contest 😉

Feeling inspired to do something entrepreneurial and excited by the idea of procuring some sponsored prizes for the fans of typeracing, I approached Daniel at the end of the talk.  It turned out that Daniel is actually a fan of online typing games, since many years ago, even before I created Typeracer, typing helped him recover from a surgery.  Fortunately he liked the idea of sponsoring a book contest on Typeracer, and generously agreed to donate 3 hardcover books, a bunch of T-shirts, and some cash, towards prizes!

Contest Details

We’ve created a customized typing universe for this contest (follow this link), which works just like the main site, but contains only quotes from the book Worthless, Impossible and Stupid, hand-picked by the author. Beginning on May 1st, 2014, you will be able to race there just as you would on , by clicking on “Enter a typing race” to be matched up with random opponents or “Race your friends” to race against people you invite.  The only difference is that racing in this customized universe will make you eligible to win prizes based on the points you’ve earned.

There are two ways to win prizes in this contest: one will require just a bit of luck, and the other will take some skill and effort.

  1. Complete at least 10 races in the contest universe between May 1 and May 31, 2014 using your Typeracer account.  You will then be automatically entered to win your choice of either a hardcover copy of the book, a T-shirt, $15 cash2, or a free Typeracer premium membership for a year. Some restrictions apply.1
  2. Earn the most points in the contest universe between May 1 and May 31, 2014.  We will be using a new point-based scoring system here: you will earn points equal to the total number of words you typed, multiplied by your average typing speed.3 This scoring system is designed to give everyone a chance to compete for prizes: you can beat faster typists by completing more races.  The points will be calculated on June 1st, 2014, and the top 3 finishers will receive cash prizes: $50 for the first place, $30 for second, and $20 for third place.2

We will publish a list of the winners here on June 1st.  The author of the book will be participating as well, so if you see him racing, you can try to beat him on his own quotes!  We’re looking forward to racing with you!

– Alex E.

Update (May 1, 2014): We have adjusted the point metrics for #2 to count the total number of words typed rather than the total number of races, to eliminate an unfair advantage that could be gained by selecting the shortest quotes to type.

Update (June 2, 2014): The contest is now over. Thanks to everyone who participated!  We are currently tallying up the results and selecting the winners, who will be notified by email. We’ll publish the results here soon too!

Update (June 6, 2014): The results have been announced in this post!


  1. Due to the high cost of international shipping, we can only ship the books and T-shirts within the United States, but everyone is eligible for the other prizes.  We will conduct the lottery on June 1, 2014, where each contestant who has completed 10 races there will be assigned a random number.  We will be contacting the winners (starting with number 1, then 2,  and so on, to offer you a prize, while supplies last; since we have a limited number of T-shirts, we cannot guarantee that your size will be available).  The number of prizes available is as follows: 3 books, 3 cash prizes of $15, 3 premium memberships, and 10 T-shirts.
  2. The prize money will be transferred to your Paypal account, so you must have access to a Paypal account to be eligible for the cash prizes.
  3. We use the convention of 1 word = 5 characters for English text. Cheating (by using any program, script, or anything else) will disqualify you from this contest.

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47 Responses to “Win Prizes in TypeRacer’s First Official Book Contest”

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I live in Pakistan so it seems that I won’t be able to get a T-shirt or the book but I would race for a premium account.
I hope to see more and more authors contact Alex for such kinda contests.

Tell Mr. Isenberg he just sold a book. 🙂

I have a concern about using the point system (i.e, the typists with the highest three points) to select 3 winners. How do you weed out the obvious cheaters, such as the ones with 150 WPM or more? Thanks.

We will be looking at all the information we have very carefully before determining the winners (including the saved replays of their races).

Typists who type 150wpm and above are not necessarily cheating. I can (fairly) easily type 150wpm 🙂

David Pritts

Funny, I was going to complain about longevity being a major determinant in deciding the winner rather than actual speed. However, I still prefer this to awarding it SOLELY to the person who completed the most races. I understand the logic: this is to attract more traffic to the site, so longevity should be rewarded. I’m gonna hate losing for that reason though.

Well, I know that. 😀 Today, I got 139 WPM playing with gtypist on my Linux machine. It’s just that statistically it’s unlikely.

//if you complete 10 races with an average speed of 75 wpm, you will have 750 points//

Does the average speed here refer to all time average?

Yes, it will be the all-time average in that universe, to keep the calculations simple.


Somehow, make the number of points directly proportional to the number of characters typed.
In the present system of scoring, SHORT TEXTS have DOUBLE BENEFIT.

Firstly, the races finish in less time, and secondly, it’s easier to type on such texts.
So speed and well as number of races, both increase.

Make sure you get rid of this as soon as you can. 🙂

Reetesh, you’re absolutely right. Thanks for pointing this out! I’ve adjusted the rules accordingly.

Oh, sure, been a pleasure. After all, I’m gonna benefit from it too. 😉
And the new system of scoring works amazingly well, no particular advantage either to the marathon typist or the championship winner.
Fantastic. 😀 (Y)

By the way, I had a query regarding identifying cheaters using ‘the saved replays of their races’.
I think I’ll have to type a lot to explain myself. Is this the right place for that or is there any e-mail address I should contact?

Hi Reetesh. You can email me at david @ typeracer . com.

David Pritts

The problem with adjusting the points system in this way means that it’s a lot harder for us to calculate the standings at home without knowing who raced which text however many times. Alex, I’d recommend that you create a special points leaderboard if you change the points system like this so people can know precisely where they stand. I honestly preferred multiplying average speed by number of races because it’s something anyone can figure out, but doing that you have to award 0 wpm for somebody bailing out of a race and that would solve all of these issues (in the main universe as well…)

The position of the leading three, and that particular user’s, at the very least on the leaderboard, please. 🙂


I’m playing from this morning at now and I’m asking some questions :
– Can we have a live ranking of the competition scores ? (I must use calc.exe…)
– How long is a short text ? A long ? How many of which text would we type to do not be disqualified ? Are they a ratio ? Can we see it well ?

Thanks for answer.


I’m playing from this morning at now and I’m asking some questions :
– Can we have a live ranking of the competition scores ? (I must use calc.exe…)

– How long is a short text ? A long ? How many of which text would we type to do not be disqualified ? Are they a ratio ? Can we see it well ?

Thanks for answer.
Ancient webmaster of TypingZone.

Hey David, mailed you with the subject: ‘The catch in using saved replays.’

It’s hard to say cheating is banned if you’re still going to let people bail out of races.

A penalty for leaving races?
That’s the evilest thing I can imagine.
Would be good, though. 🙂

There’s nothing wrong with leaving races.

“building a the pioneering” needs to be corrected, because I attempted to enter that as “building the pioneering” and it registered a typo.

You’ve GOT to make sure you do not allow people to use Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V. I miss entrepreneur and extraordinary so much (and they appear in almost every quote) that even I want to cheat in that way. I’m obviously not going to, but I’m certain somebody will.

I almost did that too…
I mailed it to David. 😀

I believe the errors in the texts have all been corrected. If you still see any other ones, let me know. Thanks Sean!

David Pritts

If someone tries to cheat, they will be disqualified. Thanks for the heads up, though. This is a good thing to look out for, given the context and similarity in text content.

David Pritts

I just want a premium account, even if it’s for one day.

This contest sounds cool.

One thing that seems dubious, you talk about making friends in this community. Where’s the community module?

And what about Canada? You think they could qualify for shipping?

Okay, been playing a bit, here are my thoughts.

A leaderboard is necessary so you can see where you place, and see yourself rising up the ranks.

I find that some texts have a lot of ‘-‘ hyphens in them. Are they supposed to be there or is it a problem inputting the texts?

And after all this typing I seem to be able to type ‘entrepreneur’ a lot faster!


This is really awesome! I’ve loved playing typeracer for years and I think it’s awesome that you have created this site!

Do practice races count?

Practice races don’t count unless you 1) have a premium account (which gives you the ability to save them) and 2) actually save them

Would like to see more quotes about political freedom. The ones I’ve seen lend themselves to statism.

I hope they cross out this Chanman since he is an obvious cheater. He did over 400wpm in the capture which is recorded in his accountdata.

Hi, how will you know if you are a winner? will winners be sent an email notification about their winning in the contes? Thank you.

We are currently tallying up the results and selecting the winners, who will be notified by email. We’ll publish the results here soon too. Thanks for participating!

Any news on the winners? Like Christian said, I’ve gotten really good at typing “entrepreneur” haha… could probably do it half asleep 😉 But we are anxiously awaiting results 🙂

We are currently tallying up the results and selecting the winners, who will be notified by email. We’ll publish the results here soon too. Thanks for participating!

Let’s just save you guys the trouble and declare me a winner. Haha.

guys don’t get premium account here, just waste of time, these ppl are not intereseted in solving ur issues then why pay. I paid for premium membership, I have been facing issues while checking my messages it’s going to be a year soon, but these guys didn’t help. they just ignore ignore and ignore. If valikor you are reading this message mail me

Hi Techaholic Hary,

I’m sorry it’s taken so long to fix the bug with your messages. I’ve actually spent a lot of time on the solution, and I assure you, it will be fixed soon. Basically the problem was you got a private message from someone whose account we deleted, and it turned out that the deletion algorithm didn’t take the private messages into account. What I needed to do was rewrite the entire user deletion code, which turned out to be very complex.

I’m sorry, I messed up. I didn’t realize that deleting that cheater’s account would mess up your messages.

Since this bug only affected just a couple of users (I think it was just you and Sean Wrona), I decided it wasn’t worth trying to do a one-off fix which could have created inconsistencies in the database until the underlying issue was solved. Would you like me to refund your subscription fee? That would be fair.

Hi Techalolic Hary,

An unexpected database bug caused some problems with the private message feature in your account. I assure you this problem will be fixed eventually. In the meantime, we have already offered you a full refund for your inconveniences. If you haven’t received your refund, please feel free to contact me directly.


David Pritts

no I haven’t been refunded yet.. !!!

I’m sorry about that Hary: Paypal is saying “We’re sorry. We’re not able to complete personal payments to account holders in India at this time.” Since Paypal’s official refund period of 60 days has expired, I have no choice except doing it as a personal payment. How about we give you a free membership for 2 years to make up for this problem?

how do you guys type so fast

Hi Anonymous,

I think it was playing piano as a kid, as well as lots of time chatting/gaming/etc. Practicing on Typeracer is also a good way to stay “in shape”!

David Pritts

I want a prize i want typing one year expiriance

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