1. We have moved to a new forum system. All your posts and data should have transferred over. Welcome, to the new Serebii Forums. Details here
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Be sure to join the discussion on our discord at: Discord.gg/serebii
    Dismiss Notice
  3. If you're still waiting for the e-mail, be sure to check your junk/spam e-mail folders
    Dismiss Notice

Criminal Intent: A Villainous Organization One-Shot Contest

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by Dragonfree, Jul 30, 2015.

  1. Poetry

    Poetry Dancing Mad

    Damn, I'm actually quite disappointed I didn't manage to get my entry together in time for the deadline. Writing got off to a good start, but real life kind of got in the way (doesn't it always?) and what I had in the end really wasn't enough to make up a full entry - in my opinion, anyway. I said this last year as well, after the Hoenn contest deadline passed me by, but I'll say it again anyway: maybe next year.
     
  2. The Teller

    The Teller King of Half-Truths

    Well maybe once everything settles down in my life, I'll go ahead and write out the whole thing anyway and post it. Just so you know, you've just officially volunteered to critique it, in front of the entire internet. Just so you know. I have the signed contract and everything. (Void in Maryland.)
     
  3. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Was it always set that this contest would have preset judges? I thought they'd be posted and people would vote on them.
     
  4. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

  5. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

  6. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Yeah; the judging process is explained in the first post, and has been since it was first posted. As JX Valentine noted, our one-shot contests have always had a panel of judges, in contrast to the annual awards, which are popular-vote-based. Sorry if anything about this wasn't clear enough! Hopefully it doesn't affect your decision to enter.

    The very first one was actually a horror contest, started in 2005. Fun tidbit: apparently the reason our contest threads are always named "[catchy title]: A [theme] One-Shot Contest" is that that thread was originally entitled simply "Trial of Terror", and some people thought it was a fic preview and didn't realize it was a contest until they viewed the thread, so the creator asked me to add "A Horror One-Shot Contest" after it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
  7. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    The first contest held was actually this one, in 2005, so this is actually our 10th-year anniversary contest. It's also the 13th contest overall, so... lucky?

    Doing something special for the anniversary next year would definitely be cool. We'll also see the release of Go, which could make for an interesting contest topic, too.
     
  8. 10 years! That is a long time. I don't know where you could put it, but is there any way to index all of the contests so far? Would be fun to be able to browse them one by one.
     
  9. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    There's a list of all the contests in the Authors' Café rules thread! It also has links to previous years' fanfic awards and other events.
     
  10. Oh, haha. Didn't expect it to be put in the Rules thread but that's really convenient! Thanks.
     
  11. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Huh. I thought that was the point of us not posting them anywhere else. Why would that be a rule if they're being privately judged?
     
  12. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    I'm kinda curious. Why would the rule about not posting your fic anywhere else make one think that they would be publicly judged in one place? ._. Like, totally legit curious to better understand the system you're proposing. I mean, from my standpoint, one would think that the opposite would be true if public judging was a thing. As in, if the contests were judged by way of a public voting system, it would make more sense to post your fic in as many places as possible and mention it's for this one contest, so people have the option of going to vote. Restricting the places where this can be posted just restricts your potential voting pool.

    By contrast, a private judging system necessitates privacy for fics in that preventing folks from seeing what was entered means only those judges can pass the entry around and base their decision on their own thoughts and opinions. (A judge's reviews are also kept private between judges until it comes time to compile the results, afaik.) Allowing a contestant to post their entry allows that entry to become public, which allows other folks to chime in with their opinions, which could in turn disrupt the level of secrecy the judgment is going for. 'Course, having never been a judge, perhaps the reasoning is different, but it's definitely a thing that the judges' activities are kept ridiculously under wraps, so it stands to reason that entries would be too until the results are posted. (That and it also keeps drama over the differences between public opinion and the judges' opinions to a minimum. Imagine a super-popular entry only getting third place, for example.)

    There's also the fact that many entries are written for the contest, which is relevant because the results give you some level of context. Posting a fic after the results are made public allow people to go in and read the results before reading the fic to get a better idea of context.

    Soooo yep. Granted, keep in mind that I'm not saying all of this as a mod or an event runner. It's just me going, "Well, tbqh, it actually makes sense if you think of it like this," so judges past and present can totally weigh in on a more official explanation. But the point is, idk, to me, it makes more sense to use this system for Serebii contests because of both context and the level of secrecy involved.
     
  13. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Yeah, at least to me, the reason I've included that rule in all the contests I've run is that the judges' reviews and rankings should not be subject to outside influence. If the entries are posted publicly, the public response will affect them, one way or another (whether consciously or subconsciously), and that's not entirely fair. That's also why we work independently - one judge shouldn't be able to influence the others' placings or reviews.
     
  14. Creepychu

    Creepychu The horror

    To add a bit to this from experience of doing judging for a couple of different contests, including one where we had a panel of judges that did discuss entries together before making their final judgment, outside (and even inside) opinions on the work definitely have an impact on judgment. With the fixed panel of judges who judge collectively in particular, we found that our opinions got very normalized over time where we were all kind of on the same page about what makes a good entry and what doesn't. While that can sound fair because it's consistent, it's actually quite a problem because it puts everyone with a style different from the agreed upon norm at an automatic disadvantage for the contest, which is definitely not what you want in a creative contest like this. What happens when an entry is open for public view is basically the same thing to a lesser extent, since even if the judges don't necessarily discuss it with each other, the back and forth in the thread itself would have the same effect since it's going to be a conversation about the flaws and merits of the work, and where conversation happens ideas and opinions get exchanged.

    This is fine and indeed the entire point of the Fanfic Awards, since the point of those is to bring out the crowd favorites, but at least to me the strength of the Fanfic Contests is that they minimize the importance of being a big name in the community and let your entry stand or fall on its own merits rather than your popularity. What you put on the page is what we have to go on for our judgment, no more and no less, and the secrecy is essential for keeping things that way. It should also translate into more useful feedback for you, since you'll get a range of individual opinions rather than a handful of collective ones.

    Personally, I've really liked the way things are run so far. It keeps the contests and awards as their own clearly distinct entities and gives everybody a crack at getting their writing and name out there.
     
  15. Poetry

    Poetry Dancing Mad

    Just asking out of interest, but isn't there still the potential for a (however small) bias on the judge's parts concerning the names behind the stories? As in, a judge receiving an entry written by an author they like/appreciate and preemptively forming unconscious positive opinions about the entry, as opposed to an entry written by someone relatively unknown to them? Wouldn't the most fair and impartial way possible to judge would be to anonymise authors as "Author 1" and "Author 2" and so on, so the writing is absolutely the only thing being taken into consideration? Not to cast aspersions on any of the judges' abilities to carry out an impartial review of entries, of course. Maybe it really is such an inconsequential matter it isn't worth considering, I don't know.
     
  16. bobandbill

    bobandbill Winning Smile Staff Member Super Mod

    It is possible (bias can be introduced through any manner), but it'd be a bit problematic to remove given entries are sent to Dragonfree and she's one of the judges, so she'd know who sent what. Only way to fully remove that is to have yet another person accept the entries and distribute them to us, and that seems a bit more trouble than it is worth (and sometimes we would be able to tell anyway from the writing style - to be truly unbiased we'd want judges who don't know anything about the writers here at all...)

    Basically, it's there, but it's pretty minor, wouldn't be easy to remove and I try to ignore who the writer is as well anyway and just go on the story itself.
     
  17. Creepychu

    Creepychu The horror

    That's definitely a concern that's crossed my mind. For my part, I minimize that by making sure I've read the entries well in advance of actually sitting down to write the review and put out a preliminary ranking then. Once I have the preliminary ranking down, I relabel the entries with only their preliminary ranking number and make a copy with the author's name and notes removed, so that when I sit down to actually write out the review and lay down the final rankings, I won't have any distracting extras to muddle my judgment.

    It's not a perfect solution, of course, and I'd be all for a system to make things that bit more anonymous, but rest assured that the effort is being made either way. I would second bobandbill on the point that there is a pretty harsh margin of diminishing returns at play though, since even if you did make things anonymous it wouldn't necessarily stop the judge from being biased simply by what they assume from the writing style.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
  18. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    tbh I've always been kind of uncomfortable with the non-anonymous submission process as well. I think the judges do a fine job, and I think the variety in terms of winners, and the relatively unknown writers who've placed high in or won a contest, suggests that popularity or judge familiarity doesn't play a big role. Nonetheless, I think people do undeniably bring certain expectations to a piece of writing based on who wrote it and may approach it differently than they would one where they have absolutely no idea who was responsible for it. I also don't think it would be a huge hassle. I mean, there's already a point person who accepts all the entries, sends them to the other judges, and collects the reviews when they come in; in an anonymized system, the only difference would be that that person wouldn't also be a judge, and they'd be removing the names from the entries before sending them out to anyone else. Ideally I think you'd also want to not publicize who actually entered so the judges don't even know what entrants are in the pool.

    Obviously people would still talk about entering and whatnot and the judges would have at least some idea of whose work they'd gotten, but I think there would at least be a couple entries unaccounted for that would make it difficult to know exactly whose work you were looking at. It's also true that we're a fairly small community and some writing styles/choices of topic are bound to be associated with particular members, but I think the majority of entries you wouldn't be able to nail down for sure, especially if you didn't know who entered for sure to begin with. On the whole I think it wouldn't be a huge burden and might have some benefit, even if it doesn't actually change the results; I think if nothing else it might give the judges some piece of mind, since at least I, when doing my contest reviews, do sometimes worry that my approach to a review is to some extent influenced by what I know about the author.

    I considered doing some form of anonymization for the contest that I ran, but ultimately decided to keep things simple (plus also I was a little excited about ORAS, so sue me) and keep the same format as always. Probably I would give it a try if I were to run another contest.
     
  19. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Not if it's meant to be anon though, which was presented from the beginning.
     
  20. Creepychu

    Creepychu The horror

    I dunno, the opening post seems pretty frank about the format of the contest to me.

    Between 'We will each independently read the entries, write reviews for them, and rank them according to our individual opinions.' and the mention that the judges' ranking of entries is the sole determining factor of that entry's score, I'd be hard pressed to find a way for a popular vote to be involved. There's also no mention that it's an anonymous judgment, only that it's an individual one. Did someone say something past the first post that convinced you otherwise?


    With regards to the anonymity/bias thing, I'd just like to add one thing that occurred to me, which is the issue of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. While a basic author name blanking from entries is easy enough to do and something I'd be all for, I think not making it known who the contestants are at all would do more harm than good on balance. Yes, it'd be another layer of protection against individual judge bias, but it'd also frankly take a fair bit of the fun out of this for the contestants. Pre-results chit-chat and discussion is a normal part of the contest, but that's going to be tricky to do if the contestants aren't allowed to identify themselves. I'd also rather not put the additional burden on contestants to constantly have to be on guard about what they say and don't say regarding their entries. Sure, the contests should always be organized in a way that promotes fair judgment, but at the end of the day that only matters if the contest also remains as an event that people can enjoy and have fun with it and I feel getting that restrictive would be putting things on the wrong side of that line.

    I'd also like to add that while bias is always a bad word, some measure of individual bias is just part of critique no matter how it's regulated, and it's usually better managed by making sure that you get a good spread of viewpoints with your panel of judges. So long as no larger group biases take root, conflicting biases between judges should usually even each other out. Considering the rotation of judge lineups so far and the amount of entries that have gotten vastly different judge rankings, I'd say that part is pretty well covered.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2015

Share This Page