Contests vs. Challenges - what the what?? Answered
It has come to my attention that there is confusion about the difference between contests and challenges. And believe me, we understand - we're still hammering out the details ourselves! So I'm going to be super candid, and give you a glimpse "behind the curtain."
The main difference as we see it is:
Contests are pre-determined and often sponsored by awesome folks like Radio Shack or Singer. They take more planning, and are usually open for longer periods of time. Typically the amount of prizes given away is much greater than in challenges.
Challenges are determined by the editors who run them, often on a whim, or you know, for fun. Challenges are completely built and managed by said editors, so sometimes the html looks funky or things don't always go as smoothly as the well-constructed architecture we have in place for contests. (I'm still learning html!) They're meant to be smaller in scope, faster, and have a different prize structure (the more entries, the better the swag) than contests.
Challenges started as an experiment. They are labor intensive to run and maintain (I'm still working on building a system for tracking old challenges and winners). Everything happens by hand. Sometimes the rules change, and sometimes the pages look different. We're still experimenting with the best way to do these so we can set standards for them. And once we know that this "experiment" has been successful, we can try and lean on the development team for some support to make it all look (and run) much better!
The distinction between the phrases "Contest" and "Challenge" is new. You may notice that some of our Contest banners still say Challenge on them. We were originally calling contests "Challenges," and the editorial experiments "Speed Challenges." But then there seemed to be some confusion about whether or not the projects submitted to "Speed Challenges" had to be speedy themselves, and then some of the challenges needed to run for a month or more due to their theme (hard to build a robot in a week!), so we scrapped the "Speed" part. Eventually we settled on differentiating the two simply as "Contest" and "Challenge." There's even more debate about identifying the challenges with the editors running them, vs calling them "Weekly" challenges (which we know can be a misnomer), and lots more. You probably didn't need to know all that.
Please do feel free to use this space to vent your frustrations, offer your suggestions, and ask for clarification. Just today I mistakenly swapped the terms challenge and contest in our daily meeting, so I feel your pain. And really, we just want to make you guys happy.