Contests and user voting Answered
As someone who focuses on contests here on Instructables I find that it helps to try and enter other contests on other sites as well to get a feel for how it is to be on the other side. It's fun to have a new challenge and it's even paid off in unexpected ways. So far I've won a gift certificate to Home Depot, a laptop, and a Kodak video camera.
Well, I entered another contest on YouTube recently that Olympus was sponsoring. I didn't think I'd win this one, but I hadn't entered a contest in a while so I made a video. I had more fun playing with some motion graphics than coming up with some compelling story to win it and the results showed it. But, it's always worth trying, right?
So then I submitted my video into the site only to find out that the only way that I could become a semi-finalist was to be in the top 20 in terms of "likes" my video received. I was urged to promote via twitter and facebook and any other method possible. I thought about the merits of spamming everyone I know and promptly forgot about the contest. Screw it, it wasn't worth it.
Now, I understand why this would be a filter for semi-finalists. YouTube contests can get a ton of entries and this helps narrow the field without judges doing any work. It's also a way to promote the contest, and therefore Olympus, to all of the entrant's friends. As an entrant, though, it just stinks. It's a popularity contest only.
So that's why our process for choosing finalists combines user votes and staff selections. Half of the finalists are the top user votes and the other half we pick out. Many cool Instructables are submitted that are looked over. We really appreciate the time and effort it takes to make an entry and make every step we can for the contests to be fair for people who enter.