When you enter a competition, do you put your heart into it? Do you really want to win? Or are you just feeling lucky and taking a halfhearted chance?
Recently, Daniel Smith of Smithereen’s Blog asked me to both sponsor his “Can You Put the Wit in Twitter” contest. He invited me and Dustin Wax to be entry judges. Cool. Sure. I can do that.
After a week or so, Daniel emailed me the list of entries so I could start making the cuts. I did… and stared at the blank page wondering what to do now. Entries were poorly written, stupid, not funny, not understandable or just incomprehensible. Some were written in language so abbreviated with netspeak that I wondered what planet the person came from. (Wen U rit lik this, U need 2 gt some srius help frm a tchr, K? This iz nt English.) Some were okay, but they were groaners.
Some that I thought might actually be worthwhile ended up being ripped off the ‘net. I check for those things, you know. Losers. Write your own goddamned work and don’t steal.
So I went back and chose an entry that I thought had merit. It was little bit of a groaner, it was witty enough, it was well written and showed that the person had put in effort. (It won first place, and I’m pleased.)
In short, I wasn’t judging for witty tweets anymore. I was judging for who actually gave the contest a shot.
This pisses me off in a big way. Contest sponsors donate all kinds of good stuff. They take the time to think, “What would winners like? What can they use? What could I offer to make this contest appealing?” (Or at least, they should think those questions. I’ll admit some don’t bother.)
When you do a half-ass job at an entry, the sponsor may feel disappointed. You didn’t really want his or her prize. You didn’t deserve to win. Seriously.
Then you have the person throwing the contest. That person was excited, happy and wanted to make things look good. A bunch of lackluster entries takes the wind right out of those sails. It puts the person in a position of embarrassment.
Then there are the judges, who volunteer their time to choose a winner. Sifting through entries saying, “Ugh, this is bad,” isn’t fun, people. It’s a case of having to choose the best of the worst. But of course, no one sees all the entries so everyone wonders why the judges chose something so boring or silly as the first prize winner.
I will say one thing – I had a blast judging with Daniel and Dustin. I made two new friends and we discussed Les Têtes à Claques, which country won the war of 1816, and how Quebecers were the most friendliest, nicest and pleasant people you’d ever meet.
(Well, at least that’s what I think Dustin meant when he mentioned the Faux French, the trouble with Canada and something about intellectual fortitude.)
The whole point of this post? If you’re going to enter a contest, put your heart into it. Don’t be stupid, don’t just fire something off the top of your head and show some respect for all the people who set up the contest, donated prizes and who have to spend time reading drivel.