Archive | November, 2012

Contest Scores are a Right

26 Nov

As a contestant, you have a right to a copy of your scores.

Yes, I do mean that: you are a contributor to the information contained in those scores.  You have a right to see them, and to not just see them, but to have copy for your records.  (In fact, those scores are of no value to anyone other than you!)  This is basic transparency, proof that the contest was on the up-and-up.

It is a standard line fed to the non-winning contestants at almost any contest (just after the gag-inducing line “You are all winners!”): “We hope you will come back and compete again next year.”  If they don’t give you your scores, though, how can you know what you did well and what you crapped out on?  How can they expect you to improve yourself and do better next year if they won’t give you the one tool — feedback! — that could make that happen?

If you have been in contests and received copies of your scores — your scores, how your totals fared vs. those of the other contestants, and ideally, any notes from the judges — then kudos to those contest producers!  They have done their job and provided both feedback and transparency.  Contestants are not always so lucky.

It is fine these days to provide the scores information only digitally.  (You are using computer spreadsheets to do the calculations, right?  Just pump out a pertinent report to a PDF file.  Be sure that judges are only identified by number/letter on what the contestants get, not by name.)

Some contest producers may feel the need to provide only a limited set of the scoring information (such as not providing the judges’ notes).  In theory, that is fine, but it reduces transparency and feedback.  Be sure you can (and do) communicate such limits clearly.

So I submit again:

  • As a contestant, you have a right to your contest scores.
  • As a producer, you have no valid reason to refuse to provide them.

Since it is not universal that you will receive copies of your scores, contestants should inquire about this before competing.  For producers who are not in the habit of doing this, it helps them be prepared.  And if you are rebuffed or the question is dodged, cut your losses then: you don’t need to compete in a contest where the producers do not respect your rights.  If they are unwilling to commit to proper transparency ahead of the contest, figure that they probably won’t give you the support you need later, either.