The Monkey's Top 11 Insights on Red Bubble Challenges

My quick rant on challenges:

  1. - For those who do not want to take challenges seriously, you must remember that there are also the half of us who do. There are the half of us who want to be able to to say our pieces have placed in challenges and competitions because it is a great marketing tool and for some of us it is not some side hobby or thing that we do for giggles. For some of us, it is our livelihood and dream and anything we can add to make it more fruitful we will take. So, yes some people do take it seriously because we take our art seriously. It is not all fun and games. Sorry.
  1. - The voting system now seems to be unfair but it is actually more fair than the way challenges have been run in the past. It is the lesser of two evils. However, I think that the system still needs to be tweaked. Some people have suggested that voters be forced to rate entries from 1 to 5. I have been part of communities where this type of rating system does not work and only leads to more bitterness. Other people think that contests should have a panel of judges. I am not sure if this would work here on the site because who is going to judge? It should not be any of us, if that is the case. Some have suggested that moderators pick. Which, I think, is ridiculous because you cannot guarantee that the moderator is not going to pick someone they know or give more leeway to someone they know.
  1. - I believe that there should be two classifications of challenges/competitions: Group and Red Bubble. Group Challenges/Competitions should be group-based and offer recognition, feature placement, and maybe small prizes. Red Bubble Challenges/Competitions should be held by Red Bubble and should be open to anyone regardless if you belong to a group or not and should offer the bigger prizes: larger monetary prizes, exhibition placement, and/or publication.
  1. - Okay, so who is the cranky pants who wants to forbid people form promoting their challenge entries in their journals? Some cranky people call this spam… only no one is forcing you to read the journal. If you don’t want to hear people promoting themselves in a contest, then just don’t click on it and read it! Let those who are interested in it read it! Simple as that! Why force everyone else not to do something just because you think it is an inconvenience for your eyes to see it? And, for those who say it is “cheating”…puh-lease! There is a link, in most cases, where you can send notice to “friends and family” to vote for you – and this is directly from the challenge page! Oh, but don’t write that journal entry you filthy cheater! LOL! Um, so which is blacker? The pot or the kettle? What happens if the way I tell my friends and family about these things is through my journal and not through e-mail? What next? I can’t blog about it?
  1. - If a group is going to offer a huge prize (monetary/exhibition/publication/etc) for a challenge/competition, they should NOT take it lightly and ensure that the voting is fair. The current challenge system is not fair. It is a popularity contest and not a determination of the best work. But, even before the new system, it was like this. I remember entering a competition with two entries that I had worked really hard on and were, INMHO, outstanding and when I saw the rest of the entries I was sure I would win because all the rest looked very amateur. But, all the votes for the winning entry came from people whose works were very amateurish as well and were friends with the person. So, a substandard work won the prize – a work that would never see the light of day in a gallery or publication! Winners of challenges and competitions should be gallery-worthy or publication-worthy, the best of the best. But, because challenges are taken so lightly, a lot of wrong stuff wins!
  1. - If challenges are democratically run and group members vote for their favorites, then the system will ALWAYS be flawed because people vote for all sorts of odd reasons: they are your friend or know you, you voted for them so they vote for you, you were really nice to them last time you BM’d them and so they are voting for you, etc. Not to mention the fact that a lot of people forget about the technicalities and are not judging works based on merit and craftsmanship but on content and popularity only. If you have birds, unicorns, babies, bright pretty colors, or teddy bears in your art then you get a lot of votes because a lot of people will ignore the fact that your art is over saturated or that the composition could have been better, etc. all because that puppy dog is so cute! This hurts Red Bubble’s image and makes us no better than “Hot or Not” or American Idol, where I can vote someone off because I hate the way they did their hair!
  1. - A lot of people say that people will not take the time to vote if you make them jump through hoops. But, I say start jumping, honey! This is how it should work: Person A looks at the challenge entries and decides to vote for Person B’s work. Up pops a widget that asks Person A to vote for Person B’s work on five levels: Theme (does this piece meet the requirements of the theme? does it fully capture the essence of the theme?), Composition (evaluate the piece’s technical aspects, such as: saturation, digital or traditional effects, composition, sharpness, or grammar and spelling – for writing, etc.), Quality (is this piece worthy of being placed in a gallery or museum? would you buy it and hang it on the wall in your home? would this piece be published in a magazine, newspaper, book, or other periodical?), Inspiration (does this piece move you? does it tell a story? is it the best example of the challenge theme?) and Technique (did the artist make the best use of whichever technique they used? If it is lomography or HDR or traditional painting or sketching or vector art or writing or t-shirt design or Polaroid or TTV or whatever technique used, was the technique up to par?)
  1. - In addition to the above, voters should be clueless about the artist who submitted the piece. The artists names should be hidden and they should not be allowed into an artist’s portfolio until AFTER the competition. This way, if it is a group or site-wide vote, it is fair. It is like taking the names off of three poems and then having someone else read them and pick their favorite without knowing who wrote them…a blind taste test if you will. This way, the truth comes out and only the best survive.
  1. - If you would rather not have group voting, then you would need to have judges from outside of Red Bubble pick the winners. This only works for larger challenges and competitions that offer exhibition or publication because then you could have the venue or publication choose – if they agree to, which many do not have time for. Otherwise, how can you guarantee that a panel of judges from Red Bubble will be non-biased? THE ANSWER: You can’t.
  1. - Challenges and competitions are a promotional tool for artists and writers and some can even bring in extra money. So, some artists and writers will do anything (and I do mean ANYTHING) to win. It is sad but true. So those of you who do not think that someone will create multiple accounts or do other dishonest things, be aware that there are people out there who are not as honest as the rest of us and will use and abuse the system and we have to be on the lookout for said individuals. If something smells fishy, it usually is fish…or deceit. And, honeys, this is not Red Lobster!
  1. - This is to Red Bubble higher ups: If you are going to host a challenge/contest/competition for people to have their work exhibited/published then make sure everyone is able to participate or at least that there are these types of things all over the world for people to be a part of. It seems like a big job, yes I know, but you are not alone. There are members from all over the world who could contact local galleries and the like for Red Bubble sponsored exhibitions. It seems like most of the stuff on Red Bubble, for the moment, is all for those in Australia. I know that you all are based there, but this is not an Australian website. It is world wide but seems catered, which could hurt you. The last few major challenges offering exhibition seemed to cement that. Maybe you should create a team that searches for exhibitions all over the world that way NO ONE is left out?
  1. - Everyone should take this seriously. Sure, some think it should all be fun and games, but it is not. For a lot of us, this is life and we do not toy with it. Sorry if our seriousness frightens or offends you in your hobby-eqsue world, but not all of us live there. Some of us live in a world where putting a blurb about winning a challenge can help us sell a few extra pieces and thus give us extra money for things like medicine and food and gas. it is serious business. Plus, a lot of things (i.e. a game of “Monopoly”) start off fun, but it isn’t long until rules are bent, egos crushed, tempers flare, and some are left disgruntled and vowing to never participate again. And, if you start off handling it serious, then the fun can come later because everyone will be happy. But, when you try to make it all fun up front it usually ends in disappointment. To quote Dr. Malcolm from Jurassic Park: The Lost World: “Sure, that’s how it all starts…but later there’s running and screaming…”
  1. - There will always be ways to cheat and there will always be people trying to learn those ways. Did you know that there are programs that can switch your IP Address every few seconds? Or that no matter how many right click blockers you put on your profile, someone can still download your images from the web? There are people that will create fake accounts and e-mail addresses. And, some people will even hack into your e-mail, set up an account on eBay and sell fake computers in your name! (I had to add that last part because it actually happened to me. True story.) So, this stuff is real and does happen. All we can do is try to come up with something that is not so relaxed and something that will ensure that even if it is not 100% accurate, it is still close enough to count.

I think Red Bubble is doing an admirable job in making challenges even better and that they still have a lot of work ahead of them. There will always be disgruntled people and you can’t make everyone happy. All you can do is assure that voting and entry are completely for the sole purpose of finding the “best of the best” and NOT the “best of the most popular”!


~ b.chris
a.k.a. Brian
a.k.a. The Monkey

P.S. I am a host over at the Twisted Tales Group and we welcome any and all RB members to come over and participate in our challenges. Our Challenges are very fair. Only entrants can vote and no one can vote for themselves. We have yet to have a problem with this type of voting and everyone seems happy! Come check us out as we are a great place for writers and readers!

P.P.S. Check out this thread for more challenge/contest feedback.

Journal Comments

  • solareclips~Julie  Alexander
  • bchrisdesigns
  • Melissa Park