Picture of How to Judge a Contest
At this point you have been asked by the Instructables staff to help judge a contest.  You may be a professional outside of the Instructables community, prolific author, or a past contest winner.

Your input as a judge is invaluable to the Instructable community and helps us to run the best contests on the internet.

This Instructable focuses of two parts of the judging process:
1. How to create and submit your judging ballot.
2. Understanding the judging criteria to make an informed decision on how to rate a project.

***NOTE: the images in this Instructable are not from a real contest.  They are all Instructables I (carleyy) made.  I will use them as examples in STEP 6 as a mock judging experience.
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Step 1: Look for PM

Picture of Look for PM
Now that you have been asked by our staff to help judge keep an eye out for a message in your inbox with further judging instructions.

Once you've received a PM letting you know judging has started, you can head to the contest page to see the ballot!

Step 2: Add Projects to Ballot

Picture of Add Projects to Ballot
Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 5.18.51 PM.png
Add all of the finalists you would like to judge onto the "Ballot" by clicking the "Add to Ballot" button below the photo of the project.  You know the project will be added to the ballot because it will appear on the right side of the screen.

Please note that some contests will include enough finalists to result in a second page of projects, so make sure to scroll down to the bottom and check that you've added everything!

See STEP 5 "Common Judging Questions" for information about how many entries you should judge.
violingirl1 month ago

When I judge a contest I either judge all or none.

I will also take away a point if someone says, "Vote for me."

jose m4 months ago

is someone not allowed to vote for an instructable in a contest until they've published atleast one instructable?

You do have to have an account. However, as I recall when asking my friends to vote for my entries way back when, they were able to log in with Facebook.

Carleyy (author)  jose m4 months ago

Anyone can vote in a contest

amandabestor5 months ago

Are there any requirements for being a judge? (Like how you can qualify)

shazni5 months ago

Wow, pretty impressive. Hope everyone judges accourdingly

heathbar641 year ago

Please elucidate. you say the scores are saved automatically, but next paragraph says to be sure to save your ballot so it will be counted.

unlearny1 year ago

I would love to judge a contest. I have plenty of experience following instructables, but have only uploaded one, which was not great, but /i knew it was not great!

darman121 year ago
This is very helpful. It will help while making future 'ibles because it shows exactly how they are judged. Thanks for illuminating :)

How long does it usually take to announce the winners after the entry window has closed?

It normally takes 1-2 weeks, depending on the contest. I try really hard to always announce them about a week after, but sometimes things can get slowed down if we're working with a big sponsor or the contest gets tons of entries and needs a longer judging period. :)

darman121 year ago
This is very helpful. It will help while making future 'ibles because it shows exactly how they are judged. Thanks for illuminating :)

How long does it usually take to announce the winners after the entry window has closed?
Yeah this guide underscores the deep problems with the judging system. Range voting is weak and arguably a lazy man's version of something like scorecard voting. So much to add to my instructable about instructables after having just judged a contest using this... Was illuminating.
falk1 year ago
So what makes the finals is determined solely by popular vote?
Nope! Normally that will only account for half at most. We try our best to scour all the entries for finalists, not just those who end up at the top because of votes. :D
vanweb2 years ago
This is great for us wondering how the judging process works once the finalists are picked. But what I (and others I am sure) are very curious about is the process of getting from all entrants down to those finalists...

I know votes count for part of it but I have seen finalists with very low page views (and by extrapolation probably lower votes) than projects with 10's of thousands of hits that do not make the finals. The "legal-ese" usually states that 49% are chosen by votes and the rest by the judges. But on large contests with ~500 entries how is that 51% chosen and how many judges does it take for this daunting task?

Just curious :-)
This varies a lot! Sometimes it's just a couple of folks picking the winners, sometimes it's the whole editorial team fighting over it. Sometimes employees of the company sponsoring the contest get involved too.

Everyone on staff has a different thing they look for when it comes to finalists, so we've always got something to talk about. ;)

On average, it normally takes 2-3 days to pick finalists.
Junophor2 years ago
A short "Hello" to the instructables team
Thank for this help. It is an honour to me for beeing asked to judge. And so I read this instructable very carefully and it helped me very much to understand quite a bit more about the contest and its rules.
Yours Aeon Junophor........ now judging:-)))
Ninzerbean2 years ago
Thank you for this. I would like to add that it would be most helpful if the theme and rules of the contest were posted at the top of each page of ballots to be able to refer to. That way something that does not meet the rules can be quickly 'ruled out' instead of spending time reading the whole 'ible in depth.
It's my opinion that "...something that does not meet the rules ..." should never get past the contest moderator in the first place.

Maybe it's just me (and my pet peeve) but too many entries are not Ibles, in any true sense.  Often,  the author basicly says "I made this!" and provides a few pics, but no succinct DIY information.

We're all here to learn... not just fawn over finished projects (as spectacular as they may be) with no "how-to" information.

There is no moderator. It's about how many votes they get. In the past some 'ibles with 100's of votes got into the contest and they were dreck - they got in (and it may still happen) because of the votes.... maybe the votes came from friends, family, aliens... I don't know. But what makes you think there is a moderator, as this would be news to me.
Possibly the protocol has changed since you last entered a contest, Ninzer?
Oh yes, of course there is a 'moderator to get into the contest' but there is no moderator of what gets into the finalist part. Yes, it's been a long time since I entered a contest, but I do judge them as often as I am able (it takes a long time, hours...)
I'm referring to the moderation process that accepts (or denies) an entry into any given contest.

I've never seen an Instructables Contest that wasn't moderated.
Carleyy (author)  Ninzerbean2 years ago
Great idea. We're working on reformatting the judging page and I can suggest this. We're going to have all first time judges read this before judging.
M.C. Langer2 years ago
Thanks a lot, Carley! :-)
The Rambler2 years ago
I've never judged a contest before but this seems very helpful.

I had to chuckle when you said that the examples were "all Instructables I (carleyy) made". I swear I don't watch the Disney channel.
depotdevoid2 years ago
Thanks for this Carleyy, there's a lot of good info in here the helps to clarify my own thinking on the process.

I would note that when you click on the project link on the left of the ballot, it pops out the instructable in a separate window. I don't like this, it's squished down and the picture format isn't normal. Rather, after adding projects to the ballot, I right click the link on the right side of the page and open in a new tab. That way I get to see the project the way the author intended, and I'm also able to favorite/comment etc.
Seems like you stumbled onto a pro process. For ages this is exactly how I did my judging (adding to ballot, then opening each in it's own window). I thought everyone did it this way, then I found out that many didn't even know!

We're working on a new judging interface and think it will make it much easier for everyone (soon, I hope!)
sunshiine2 years ago
Carley, this is awesome! I learned so much! Thank you for sharing this. Have a splendorous evening!
ynze2 years ago
Very useful I'ble for judges, I think. I judged one contest, this would have helped. On the other hand, there wetre no big surprises. Your examples are very useful, I think.