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Contest Scores: Stories

3 Dec

Following up on “Contest Scores Are a Right” with some less-than-good stories:

  • One of the first contests I was in, the only score info I got was at the bar the next day, with one of the producers telling me the rough point spread between the top three contestants.
  • After another one, one of the board members took me into the office and let me look at my score sheets for three or four minutes, apparently doing this on his own initiative.  The score sheets had no judge names attached, of course, but one judge scored me massively lower than all the other contestants in every category.  That is one of the value points of “Olympic Scoring”, to remove likely bias.
  •  I was in one where they apologized to the contestants the next day that we would not get our scores because the sheets had been lost.
  • I know of another one where one of the non-winning contestants asked for her scores several times and was not refused, but was not given them either (but they would still like her to compete again next year, of course).
  • The worst case was a contest where I asked for a copy of my scores and was told no, that they were not going to provide the scores “because that just causes drama.”  Hmm, by refusing to provide the scores, doesn’t that really add drama, encouraging me to wonder what you are hiding, whether the contest was fixed?  I didn’t wonder that before they refused to provide my scores, but I sure did after.  (That contest no longer exists.  They went from a contest weekend to an unspecified panel selecting the winner in advance from applications received [ahem!], and then got no applications for the round after that.)

Of note here: the International Mr. Leather, International LeatherSIR, and American Leatherman contests all provide the scores to the contestants.  Kudos to those organizations for treating their contestants right.

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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.