New Photo Of The Month Contest - Something More Official

Eric

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Just wanted to let you all know we will be using a new system for a POTM contest, this will be more formal than the basic "like" function that we've been using. This is new to me too so let's see how it goes, the contests "should" start on the 10th of this month. Voting will be anonymous as well.

Here are the details, they use "Media" (MOTM) of the month but we've changed that to "Photo" (POTM) and we'll be using Mode 1:

An MOTM in Mode 1 is split in 2 phases :
  1. Submission phase
  2. Voting phase
Each of the 2 phases has a specified duration configurable through options.

In both modes, Contest activity can be highlighted through messages posted in a specific forum upon different configurable event: contest start, user submission, voting phase start (mode 1 only), user vote, voting phase reopened upon tie (mode 1 only) and winner award, either in separate threads or in a single thread.

To motivate your users, you can also offer an user upgrade to the winner !!!

Features
  • Lots of configurability through options
  • Fully Automatic thanks to a cron task
  • Work with pictures and video
  • Usergroup permission to participate to MOTM (mode 1), ie. post medias, vote for MOTM and unvote for MOTM
  • 2 working modes:
    • Mode 1: Monthly album generation allowing user to submit medias for vote with submission/voting phases (initial mode)
    • Mode 2: No dedicated album, each month users votes for any medias in the gallery, most voted one awarded, votes reinitialized each month (new since 3.0.0)
  • Configurable maximum number of votes per user
  • Month day to start contest configurable through options
  • Optional forum advertising through either a single thread updated during the contest or multiple threads on different events (each can be activated or not) :
    • Contest start
    • Users submissions with medias included
    • 24H prior submission phase end (mode 1 only)
    • Voting phase start (mode 1 only)
    • User votes and unvotes
    • Voting phase reopened for 24H due to a tie (mode 1 only)
    • 24H prior voting phase end (mode 1 only)
    • Winner award
  • User submission and user votes messages can either be posted using the specific user set for the different MTOM features or by the user that initiate the action.
  • Identification of medias user voted for thanks to textual indication as well as icon
  • Optional display of who voted, displays on the media page who voted for it. In mode 2, only valid during the contest duration.
  • Ribbon on winner's media, both on media page and media gallery index page, either displaying a default text or the month/year [NEW 4.4.0]
  • Ribbon on avatar of users who won MOTM in messages and profile
  • Ribbon timeout, select the number of days during which the ribbon shall stay displayed.
  • MOTM winner can be awarded user upgrade
  • Pause MOTM if you want to disable the MOTM contest during a given period, you can pause MOTM creation through option
  • Trophy criteria: number of MOTM awards
  • Alert - Sent to media owner upon user vote to media, can be disabled through account alert preferences.
  • Current contest slider media Widget: [NEW 4.4.0]
    • Displaying submitted medias [mode 1] or voted medias [mode 2]
    • Multiple order options: date, votes, random
    • Number of medias
    • Slider configurability
  • Awarded slider media Widget:
    • Multiple order options: date, votes, awarded date [NEW 4.4.0], random [NEW 4.4.0]
    • Number of medias
    • Slider configurability

Mode 1 Specific Features
  • Optional category in which to create the MOTM albums [NEW 4.4.0]
  • Usergroup permission to submit media(s) for MOTM
  • Configurable duration of the two phases (submission and vote), both can last more than a month, thus overlapping contests phases. Possibility to have voting phase stating immediately as well
  • Two possible configurations:
    • Full manual configuration where you can set start day, number of days for submission and number of days for vote.
    • Monthly contest where you configure only the number of days for submission. The contest then starts on the first day of the month and finished on the last one.
  • Configurable maximum number of medias a user can submit per contest
  • Configuration stored at contest start to allow modification for the next contest while one is running. Configuration can be modified through specific interface after contest start (usergroup permission based)
  • Number of votes and vote link display on media page and on album page's medias
  • Fine action configuration in case of tie: Award both / Award most viewed / Award most commented / Reopen votes for 24H
  • For most viewed and most commented action, the action to take in case of tie is as well configurable.
  • Possibility to configure notices to be displayed in MOTM albums (limitation to specific month as option)

Mode 2 Specific Features
  • Users can vote for any albums or category medias, except if specific gallery categories are selected through options
  • MTOM awarded the 1st of month and votes reinitialized
  • All Medias awarded in case of tie
 

Clix Pix

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This kind of sounds like the contest format used in another site where I hang out, the forum at https://www.alphashooters.com/community/
which is meant for those who shoot with Sony full-frame or APS-C cameras and lenses, plus Sony's other products such as the RX10 and RX100 series. They start a new contest at the beginning of each month, either with a specific topic or theme or more recently they've been going without designating a specific theme, so participants submit whatever subject they want. After a given period of time, the submissions are closed and after that begins the voting, which continues to the end of the month. Members may (anonymously) vote for as many of the images as they like. After voting has been closed the image with the most votes wins, and there is a second place winner and a third place winner as well. There haven't been a great number of submissions each month, surprisingly, even though that IS a photo-oriented community. Anyway, maybe they are using the same add-on or a similar one as is described here.??

Personally, I find that by designating a specific topic this gives participants a more level playing field because all are at least presenting some interpretation of the same theme, whatever it may be. By having an open-ended, no-theme contest, people post whatever they want and, at least to me, for the viewer it becomes more difficult to evaluate image against image when there is a disparate selection of subjects presented. It's too easy to simply vote for Image A because it presents a favorite kind of subject rather than taking into consideration factors such as overall appeal of the shot, presumed difficulty of the shot, quality of various factors such as composition, use of light, use of contrast, creative approach, overall skill in both photography itself and the (usually necessary) post-processing techniques. Even those who aren't well-versed in the techniques and such of photography can usually spot a really good shot even if they can't quite pinpoint what makes it so outstanding. So, as an example, if someone loves cats, they're likely to choose the very nice photo of a cat over, say, an image of a different subject or even a subject impossible to identify (abstract) even though the latter image might be immediately noted by most people who are into photography as being the better one due to many of the factors I listed above, such as originality, technical merit and artistic vision. Of course people can vote for more than one image, so to a certain extent I suppose that issue becomes moot....

It'll be interesting to see how this all works out here!
 
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Clix Pix

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Still thinking about this....

What is the intended purpose of the competition? Is it to challenge participants, nudging them at times out of their comfort zone, encouraging them to learn and benefit in some way from the competition? Is it simply to show off nice photos? Is it just another popularity contest? Something else of which I haven't thought?

If it is to challenge participants, this is another good reason to have a specific theme for each competition, as that way if they choose to enter, participants can try out something new that isn't in their usual wheelhouse -- for example, a landscape photographer works with shooting an abstract or a macro, or a portrait photographer experiments with landscape images, or someone who hasn't shot much at night takes a try at that. That makes the competition more meaningful for participants, as it becomes truly a challenge and a learning experience.

This new add-on contest is actually rather similar to the current thing we have now where the number of "likes" in the end determines the winner. Only difference is that regardless of the name, the thing at the top of the thread is not specifically a contest and there is no theme. Because a POTD is usually not a contest or competition people just post whatever image they've shot that strikes their fancy. On MR's regular POTD the use of "likes" is encouraged, of course, but there is no thingy shown at the top of the thread displaying the ranking. In its list of guidelines and policies, it is clearly stated there that it is NOT a competition or contest. One can ascertain that, though, by at the top of the thread, clicking on "View in order by reactions," which is essentially the same thing.

To me, especially if there is no chosen theme, this new add-on thing looks as though it is more-or-less going to do the same thing as our current POTD thread here except that this is formally designated a contest and there is a restriction on the number of entries a participant may submit. It occurs to me that many members of a forum will tend to post images they like daily, frequently or sporadically in a casual POTD sort of thread but some will be hesitant to participate in an actual contest. Actually, I think that may be what has been occurring on that Sony forum, particularly if one person tends to win frequently, which is also something that has been happening there as well. That forum does not have a monthly POTD, just the challenges / competitions.

On MR, at some point a while back we had a discussion about our competitions, and the upshot was that for those, which are weekly, we would continue the current format, which is that a theme is chosen each time, members may submit something new and fresh or something from their archives, shots must be their own, and the winner of the week becomes the person who is responsible for the following week's competition, choosing the theme and serving as the sole judge. At the end of the competition, constructive comments on each entry by the judge are encouraged, but not required. However, one thing about which we are strict now is that during the time frame the competition is running there will be no "likes" posted under any entry, and no comments by anyone. We realized that showing "reactions" on entries could be detrimental and could unconsciously sway a judge in his or her decision-making, etc., etc. As it happens, many of us prefer to be in second or third place on the virtual "podium" so as to not have to deal with the responsibilities of being in charge of the competition, serving as the sole judge, and it's become a sort of running joke there. After the weekly competition has finished and been judged, comments by others and "likes" are fine.

Sometimes competitions can turn out to be problematic, with bruised feelings and so on, which is a reason why on yet another site in which I hang out, there are no formal competitions and contests at all. There we have group activities such as the weekly "collective shoot," where participants shoot on a specific theme and share up to three fresh new images per post on that theme, and "likes" and comments are permitted. Sometimes this leads to interesting and lively discussions! Each week a member volunteers to post a new theme, but no one serves as judge and jury. There are month-long and week-long projects, too, such as "Octoberfest" and "50-50," and participants commit to posting on a daily basis, using gear that they specify for the time period (i.e., for the "50-50," which is Week 50 in each calendar year, each member shoots with a 50mm lens). This offers members the opportunity to have fun with each other and their gear, and to be challenged in various ways without it becoming a popularity contest or a potentially subjective "who's-the-best-photographer" competition.

Just some thoughts.....
 

Eric

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Well, for now it's just intended as something a little more formal with no real theme intended. Frankly, after looking at how it's setup I don't know that it will be a good fit for us for a couple of reasons, first is that it forces people to post them into an album at the request of a thread. The other is we really don't have enough traffic to generate the interest.

So if we see no real use here I'll just yank the addon entirely. However, I wouldn't mind a blind vote every month where the photo is sent to me (excluding myself of course) and I can then post them in a thread with a poll, that sort of thing. Let me ponder it and see if we can't come up with a less convoluted solution.
 

Clix Pix

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That is the other thing I forgot to mention -- at this point we really don't have that much traffic in the photography area at all anyway, so that there probably would only be a few of us even participating, and the choice would be up to each individual. As I mentioned earlier, some people don't think twice about posting images in a casual thread but when a thread is labeled or becomes a "contest" or competition, that puts a whole different connotation on it.

Years ago I participated in MR's POTD, then went through a rather lengthy period of not shooting much at all and dropped off the thread. Eventually I began shooting again and decided to dip my toes cautiously back into the waters of MR's POTD, mainly posting older images from the past and occasionally tossing in something new as I was beginning to shoot more frequently. Over time I found myself shooting on a daily basis and posting on a daily basis. The inner flickering flame of my love of photography had not gone out, after all, and it gradually, gently, burst into full-out enthusiasm again. Others have participated on the POTD threads there starting out as a novice or as someone using a P&S and as time went on, found an interest in developing their skills more and learning more, and their confidence bloomed. I suspect that at least in part that's because there is no formal competition or even implied in the general POTD thread. If someone wants to check out the "likes" ranking they can but it's not right out there in front of us. Those who do want to compete have the separate weekly competitions. In the POTD, people post, they come-and-go, we have a wide range of gear and skill levels, and in some ways that more comfortably relaxed atmosphere works as a learning tool.

Yeah, that album concept is something I hadn't seen in other forums' competitions; usually a competition is just right in a thread dedicated to that competition. Interesting...
 

SuperMatt

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I often enjoy the photos posted here. I don’t consider myself a good judge, but if a competition means we will get more pictures to enjoy, I’m all for it.
 

Eric

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I've disabled this for now, it's confusing frankly and I don't think we have enough interest for something like this. We'll just keep the informal thing we have going.
 

Clix Pix

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Thanks, Eric! I agree -- I read the info a couple of times and it was really rather confusing! Maybe in actual operation it becomes clearer but in the meantime, yes, we really don't have enough photographers on this site at the moment to make it worth setting up and doing.
 
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