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Contest Moderation Criteria Answered

I have entered several contests and put a lot of work into my Instructables. After the project is done it takes me 4 or 5 hours to put together the photos, write out the steps, proof read etc. I am proud of the work I have done and want to share not just the end result but my thought process and the steps for others to inpsire them give them the head start I did not have... So this being said when I see a contest that is moderated and then when it sometimes takes a week for my entry to be "Approved" I would think that there is some criteria that must be met and that they review each instructable in detail to ensure only the quality ones get the honor of entering the contest..

But then I look at some of the other contest entries.. (a small number but still usually more then a couple in each contest) and these instructables do not seem to have any thought behind them, do not show anything new and in some cases seem to be faked. I am not going to point to exact ones but one I saw had a picture of a product and the instructable had like five lines of text:
  • Go to store
  • buy product
  • open box
  • follow instructions on box
  • use product as it was intended

 and that was it!!!

What do others think? Should the moderators for the contest be "Pickier" about what gets "Approved"? I think it would help the people who are submitting to create a better Instructable if these would get rejected with an explaination. And motivate the others to raise the bar a bit.

I also feel sorry for the judges as some contest are now getting over 600 entries and there seems to be 1 or 2 being judged every week or two that they have to read through every single entry.

Just my 2 cents... :-)


Contests aren't moderated on quality, they're moderated on qualification.

If you get a contest on "lights", then a project on putting a bulb in a socket is as valid an entry as one in which the tungsten filament is hand-spun and installed in a custom-blown bulb.

The selection process after that is down to the general membership - they see, read, and possibly vote.

A lot of people do not vote based on the quality of writing and the lighting of the photos, they vote with their gut, basing their decision on a vague definition of "cool". Consequently, quite a few really well-written projects have failed to get to the final, simply because their content has not managed to catch the imagination of the wider membership. I know, I've been there.

The votes select the finalists, usually around 20-30 projects per contest, and it is at that point that the judges get involved, reading every finalist and judging them on quality as well as coolness.


Short version: everybody gets a chance, unimaginative rubbish doesn't get far, and sometimes a good idea gets more appreciation than a good write-up.

Thanks that helps, I am fairly new to creating instructables and I probably spend more time then most checking out the competition for contests. One thing though that you did not get right is the finalist selection... they do not get chosen by votes.. here is the line from the "Official Rules":

While registered voters of the Site may vote for their favorite eligible entry, such voting will not be factored in as part of the Criteria for judging the Contest.... One or more Judges will choose 18 finalists from the pool of all eligible entries. In choosing the finalists, Judges will base their decision on the Criteria.

Votes do not weigh in at all..

That section confuses a lot of people.

The votes choose who gets through to the judging. Once those finalists are chosen to be actually judged, the votes cast do far are ignored from then on, and the judges start with all the contests on a level playing field. Votes cast so far do not influence the results of judging of the finalists.

Then why does the fine print say:

"One or more Judges will choose 18 finalists from the pool of all eligible entries."

instead of

"the 18 entries with the highest number of votes will determine the finalists"?

The key word there is "eligible".

It's not "the top 18 projects", it's "the top 18 projects that have a legal right to win".

It occasionally happens that people have entered projects they did not create, or that breached somebody else's intellectual rights. The moderators cannot read everything on the internet, so sometimes these slip through, and end up getting enough votes to reach the finals.

If, at that stage, they are discovered, they are removed from the judging and the next-lower entry gets bumped up into the final judging.

So, in effect, the judges don't "choose" the finalists at all? The votes do?

The contradictory verbiage seems like one big runaround.

apparently written by politicians, Autodesk lawyers, or used car salesmen

First of all, I want to say that I'm not trying to complain or anything because I love that you can enter contests on this site and actually get some cool stuff but I do wonder about the judging process often and why some entries are accepted and some denied. Usually the contests are pretty loose on their themes so it can be surprising what gets accepted and what doesn't.

I was really confused with the Valentine's Day Challenge because some of my interlocking puzzles were accepted but some weren't, same thing with my Bendy Lego entries. At first I thought that it might have to do with the color scheme not being red or pink but that didn't seem to be the case and I still have no idea why some were accepted and others weren't. There are a lot of entries to sift through, especially if it's just one person doing it but even a pretty general auto reply explaining why an entry was denied would be very helpful. Of course I understand that it's all subjective but remembering that doesn't make it any easier when you see questionable entries accepted and yours sidelined.

Kiteman is very knowledgeable when it comes to Instructables and if he says that's how voting is then that's probably how it is but I still have a little doubt. When I entered the Play with Clay Challenge, I asked friends and family to vote for my Lego Polymer Clay Box and they all did. Somehow my Polymer Clay Cupcake Box ended up as a finalist. Again, I'm not complaining because I think it's an honor to be chosen as a finalist but I was skeptical that the entry had garnered more votes from strangers than the project that I asked people to vote for.

I've entered other contests and had a project chosen to be a finalist that I didn't feel was my strongest project and was surprised by the selection. I've also seen many finalists projects that are re-makes of projects I've seen on here TONS of times and they don't even show how to do it in a unique way or add anything new. I guess that would add weight to Kiteman's explanation about votes though because I usually don't see those entries placing in the contests.

By the way, I like your Giant Wooden Letter Block Toy Box idea and thought customizing it with her initials was a great idea!

I agree with some of the things you and the author here have said. It's sometimes frustrating, when you put a lot of time, thought and effort into creating a good contest worthy instructable and you don't end up doing as well as you would have liked. I do know that they send emails for when you're accepted or denied entry into a contest, so if you're not getting them, you should check your account settings for email notifications. Granted, its an auto-delivery message, and if you didn't qualify, it will simply say that and refer you to the official rules.

I see that the Valentines Day Challenge finalists have been displayed, and unfortunately I didn't make the cut. Although I'm disappointed, and honestly a little confused as to why some made it as a finalist, it is ultimately a subjective process. I know that votes have some part in that decision, but I hope that's not all, because I don't go around soliciting family and friends to vote. I would have to think that some other rationale is involved in the finalists selection, because otherwise projects with little originality or effort could make the cut simply through votes cast by family and friends through facebook etc. If votes are the only deciding factor, then it may very well explain why some instructables get in as finalists over others that at least in my opinion were better. The only solace that comes from a potentially unfair voting scheme is that the likelihood that those members win anything is slim to none, because the final round involves a group of judges.

I don't have anything to do with entry moderation - that is purely HQ staff, so I cannot specifically state why some entries are accepted, and some are not.

However, I do know that sometimes mistakes are made - I imagine that the moderator gets presented with a long list of entries, and has to tick a box to say "aye" or "nay", so it's probably easy to hit the wrong box occasionally.

I have had eligible entries to contests mysteriously turned down in the past, but all I did was drop a PM to the editor involved (they're all on the "About" page), and my entries were accepted. They didn't win (I usually don't), but they were accepted.

So, in future, if you think you've been turned down unfairly, the best bet is to quickly PM or email HQ to get an explanation & possible fix.


Regarding soliciting votes, that is absolutely fine and acceptable, as long as you don't descend into overwhelming spam.

Tweet your entry, post it on FaceBook, promote it to relevant blogs, and email all your friends and family to sign up and vote. All fine.

(I am always guaranteed at least three votes in any contest, because I badger Kitewife, Conker-X and Roger-X into logging on and voting.)