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The good, the bad and the thrill of contest sites…part 2

As some of you might remember, in my last article i started talking about my feelings regarding design contests – i talked about why you, as a designer, need to enter contests, what are the advantages and disadvantages of participating and how getting into one might improve your stats as a professional.

As I announced, the first point i want to make in this article regards the voting system. There are different ways in which contest sites allow the designs to be rated, but first of all i want to explain the relevance votes have when designs are chosen.

Usually, there are people who run these contests (some other times, machines with evil brains do :P) and the people running a contest have a BIG word when it comes to having a design selected for printing. What i want to say is that usually, besides the votes, the winning designs are hand-picked by human beings, so the choice is obviously more of a subjective one.

Sure, you do realize that there are more factors into play, such as the image/branding of the company, and the fact that the future t-shirts need to sell, so don’t be surprised if your design scored quite well yet it was not picked for printing (i know i used to be all like “whoa, with this score, i am surely winning”, and yet…NOPE).

 

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Back to the voting systems. The most popular one lets you give a design a grade from 1 to 5, or from 1 to ten and the option of a “i’d buy this tee” button. There are variations on this theme, but most contest sites use this system.

The biggest disadvantage you might encounter when participating in a contest with such a voting system can be resumed like this: “I voted 5 for your design and 1 for all the rest”. This is not quite fair judgement, right? and yet, it’s the most common thing…people ask their friends to vote and this is how things usually go. Sure the administrators of the  site can see if some new members voted like this and can choose to ignore those votes. This is why the comments offer a better feedback in this case: if people say they like a design, and the votes show something else, it usually means someone goes around throwing crap at every single design but theirs/their friends.

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A friendlier, more exact system allows users to give their vote for a design they like and the number of votes makes the difference. In this case, the results can’t be flawed by those guys that only throw low grades – the amount of people liking the design is more relevant than how much they like it.

This system has it’s flaws too, because people with a great following will get more votes, despite the fact that some other designs are better. Also, fake accounts are made every day in order to buff the amount of votes one design has – quite the pointless effort, because the ip adresses are tracked an the administrators can see if one user made a ton of accounts to vote for their design. and yes, this usually brings discreet disqualification from the contest.

Also, the visibility of the design is very important in this case: the fact that one design stays on page one of a few hundreds automatically gives it more chances to get votes. It’s kind of a bummer to upload a design and find it on the 5th page because there were a ton of designs uploaded in the same day as yours, only later.

 

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The last type of “voting” i want to talk about in this article is not even voting. You choose to support a design by pledging money on it, and it wins when a set amount of money is collected. You get a t-shirt just like you would have pre-ordered it, so it’s a great way of knowing who would actually buy the t-shirt. The only major disadvantage i can find for this type of supporting is that you usually have to wait a bit until the design you want gets enough money support in order for it to win.

This is about it for today, next time some things that i think all contests could improve, some others that need no improvement and some fillers, because i could never write 1000 words just based on this subject, haha.

Hope to hear from you…give your oppinions, it will only take a minute and it will be the coronation of the effort you made to read all this!

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