Debrief: the KB22 Ticket Lottery

Oct 11, 2021 | Uncategorized

Kia ora Burner whānau,

Wow, that was a different general sale! This year, after KB21 tickets sold out in 10 minutes flat, we consulted with the community and implemented a new lottery system.  The lottery is now live, the first round of tickets has been allocated, and we are now seeing how the new model plays out in practice. Here are some things we noticed so far:

The Numbers

Just over 3900 people registered to be in the lottery, which is very similar to the number of people who tried to buy tickets for KB21. 1150 tickets were released on 7 October, resulting in 594 randomly selected people initially being offered to purchase up to 2 tickets (note it is not directly half of the total tickets as some of those people had already been issued a reserve ticket, and were therefore only eligible to purchase 1 in the lottery). This was a smaller number of tickets than for KB21, as we have increased our Theme Camp, volunteer and artist allocations from about 23% of the total to 50%.

At the time of writing this (3 days after the tickets went on sale) only 449 of those tickets have been claimed, meaning there are 701 tickets waiting to be bought. After 2 weeks, those still unclaimed will be offered to the next people in the STEP queue. 


The lottery ran through STEP, meaning rather than the two stage process in the past (general sale, then STEP), it has been consolidated into a single process with the STEP queue issuing all the tickets and all registrants automatically assigned positions randomly through the lottery. New registrations after 7 October are added to the end of the STEP queue.


There is no such thing (yet) as algorithmic randomness in computing, which is why Quicket came up with a creative solution of generating a seed to create randomness from none other than a braai (South African BBQ).

The seed is the unpredictable thing that is situated within the real world, which would be nearly impossible to predict.

Their approach was to set up a stop motion camera that photographed the braai at intervals. A temperature sensor within the braai then monitored its heat. When the braai reached 50 degrees Celsius, the image at that moment was used to create the seed. The seed itself is an MD5 hash (encryption) of the image at that moment. This seed was then used to generate the randomness in the lottery, being the unknown element in the algorithm.

You can see this all in action here:

If you would like to learn a bit more about this approach, have a look at this video:

Kiwiburn was in no way involved in the randomisation, this process was supervised entirely by the Quicket team, and the randomisation itself was solely in the hands of Mother Nature’s very own Fire Gods.

Cheating the system

On the whole, very few people tried to cheat the system, which is really wonderful to see in our community. We issued 25 warnings to people with duplicate profiles (0.6% of all registrations) including one person who registered 4 profiles and another who registered 5 – our worst offenders. Thanks goes to the incredible work of the IT team who created a duplicate checking system, as well as a way to monitor year on year whether people are repeatedly creating duplicate profiles to the detriment of all other Burners.

Population size, demand and supply

The combo reserve/lottery system was intended to be fair across the Paddock, prioritising people contributing and participating in running the event (with an increase to 50% of all tickets being reserved for theme camps, artists and volunteers), with the rest distributed completely randomly. 

With 3900 people registered for tickets and 1150 tickets available, the chances of getting a ticket allocation are just under 30%. That is assuming that each person who wants a ticket is registered in their own name (so a couple would have two registrations for two tickets each, for example). If people have an unregistered plus one, the chances of getting an allocation are even lower. 

The elephant in the room with all the above is the fact that a population size of 2300 is still considerably less than the demand of 4171 registrations (including post lottery registrations) – meaning only 55% of all registrants will eventually get a ticket. So how do we solve that?

Every year Kiwiburn grows by approximately 10% in population. This growth rate has been maintained to ensure that:
(a) we are not overloading the volunteer teams with huge growth;
(b) significant growth can affect culture – here remember that around 30% of people on Paddock each year are first time burners. If that number increases much more then there is the risk of cultural erosion. 

For this coming Kiwiburn the growth was only 4.6%. The decision to limit it here was driven by wanting to reduce the risks from Covid uncertainties, and tenuous volunteer support for year round and prep roles. 

So why not just go bigger? That’s a good question. Thinking about growth was an ExCom priority which they have been  researching over the last 12 months, but with Covid worries the decision was made to focus on ensuring Kiwiburn could survive instead. Now the question is back on the table, and is one of the reasons why we have created our new Community Department. One of their first tasks is to specifically address this and develop a strategy for consultation with the community on what the vision for Kiwiburn’s future is. Bigger doesn’t necessarily always mean better – while there is significant demand, there might be other ways to meet that: e.g. a second burn annually; supporting and collaborating other burn inspired events; supporting regional events. 

So watch this space as it is a big topic for discussion coming up!

Theme Camps

A special note to Theme Camps: we recognise how frustrating the lottery has been for many of you. Theme Camps were old hands at getting their tickets organised in pre-lottery days – getting the whole team to log in early and refresh hard usually bore excellent results. The lottery, as much as the community agreed and supported the model, does not give advantages to punctual organisers!  As the Ticketing Lead and also the lead of a Theme Camp I can empathise – we have 50 people in our camp but only two of us got lottery allocations. 

So why when we have increased the reserve tickets available for Theme Camps, are there still apparently not enough tickets for them? This year 495 Theme Camp reserve tickets were issued, however Theme Camps indicated that their members totalled between 1551-2330 people (calculated using the top and bottom ranges given by theme camps – note that the upper number is greater than the entire population of the Burn!). Let’s take the median of 1940, which happens to be around half of lottery registrations. That means that after the 495 Theme Camp reserves, there would still be 1445 Theme Camp members needing tickets. If you are wondering why your camp is struggling to get tickets, it’s the same answer as before – demand is far exceeding supply on every front and as Theme Camp members you face the same odds as general Kiwiburn members i.e. about a 56% chance of getting a ticket.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom! It’s still early days. On the 21st October unclaimed tickets will be offered to the next inline in STEP, plus there are still 550 volunteer, crew, effigy and temple tickets to distribute, as well as the 100 tickets for art grants we haven’t even included in the above. 

Registering after the lottery

Yes, registrations are open again and will only close when STEP closes immediately before the event. You’ll also be added to the end of the STEP queue when you register now and once registered will be eligible for a transferred ticket or a reserve of some form.

Thanks for reading and we hope that answers some of the questions about the lottery!

Ngā mihi,

Craig & Maria

Ticketing Team

Blog Archives


Left Menu Icon