Looking for judges for the monthly writing contests


judgeSome of you probably expected this post in light of recent events.  Many people have let me know they would like to see the writing contests judged by a select group, rather than an open poll.  I admit, there is simply no way to be one hundred percent sure all votes came in fairly.  No matter how much finalists stick to the rules, they can’t control who votes and how.

The trick is that I must find judges who can vote without bias.  I was able to find enough people who I knew would honestly analyze each story for its merits this last time, but many of them can’t do that every month.  They did it as a favor to me, which I was very grateful for.

Now I’m coming to the followers of this blog (or anyone reading this) to help me out.  I need, at a minimum, seven full-time judges and two back-up judges.  Their services would only be required once a month to read over the finalist stories.  I will continue to narrow down the entries the same as before because I have to ensure the requirements of the stipulations were met as well as the quality.  Of course, many great entries still get left out that probably could have made the finals, but it is up to me to make the painful decision of which ones get cut on the first round.  The idea is that the other judges won’t have to sift through everything and can concentrate on what I’ve narrowed down.  They should never have to look at more than three to four stories.  It shouldn’t take more than 30-45 minutes of their time each month.

In addition to this, writers will now email me their entries.  I will remove their names, keeping only the story and title before posting in the comments section.  This should ensure there will be no leanings toward one story if a judge knows the writer.  As before, everyone is welcome to comment on the stories as they are posted (see here as an example).  I think it’s nice that entrants can get feedback on their work.  This element is not something I want to lose. They just can’t respond anymore to thank people for the comments (or else, obviously, it would give them away and disqualify them).

Finalists’ stories will also be announced the same as before in a separate post, except their names won’t be included and there will be no poll.  It is at that time the judges will be alerted to read them over and email me their vote for their first and second favorite.  After the winner is announced and contest is over, I will put all the writers’ names back in to each location their story appeared so they can be given credit for their work.

Here are some basic rules people must know before volunteering to judge:

1) You will not be eligible to win a contest while you are a full-time judge.  You can enter a story for fun, but I will never select yours for a finalist spot.  If you later decide you don’t want to judge anymore, I’ll allow you to be eligible to win again after the last month you judge.

2) All judges will be anonymous.  They must not talk to anyone besides me about their position as a judge on this blog’s writing contest.  This will ensure they can cast their vote without bias or pressure.  If I find out you spoke about being a judge, you will be removed from that position.

3) From the day I announce the finalists, all judges will have two days (approximately 48 hours) to respond with their votes.  If for any reason you think something may prevent you from getting back to me in time, I need to know that in advance so I can get a back-up judge to fill in.

4) Every few months I will hold a drawing where anyone who has participated in judging will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.  The more times you participated, the more times your name is entered, though only one person wins.  If you were asked to be a judge in this last one and want to become a permanent/semi-permanent judge from now on then I’ll add your name an extra time for that.

5) Back-up judges can still enter contests provided they are not a judge that month.  Be aware that if one of the full-time judges says can’t participate at the last-minute, you may be called in and your story will no longer be eligible.  I will try to use a back-up person who doesn’t have a story entered first, though.

There are probably some other issues that may arise and I’ll deal with those as they come.  The above points are to give an idea of what kind of responsibilities people need to know about if they wish to volunteer.  I will be happy to consider people I don’t know and who may just lurk on this blog, but I would appreciate them giving me links to their own site/social media/Amazon Reviewer profile so that I can get an idea of who they are and if I think they would make a good fit as a judge.  A little intro into your background would be helpful.  Prime candidates would be avid readers, book reviewers, and writers.  For example, several Amazon Top Reviewers were used to judge the last contest, along with authors and avid readers.  The main thing is that judges have a solid background in picking out good stories.

I sincerely hope I can get enough judges to fill all the slots.  If not, I will have to return to using the poll, but will make the stories anonymous in the same way as described above.  For those interested, you’ll find my email address on the Contact page.

ETA-

Full time judge volunteers: 8

Part-time judge volunteers: 1

*I will need (at a minimum) seven full-time judges and two back-up judges.  I’ll stay open to volunteers until March 5th when I must set the new rules for the next contest.  This will be updated as I accept candidates.

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~ by Suzie on February 18, 2013.

5 Responses to “Looking for judges for the monthly writing contests”

  1. I think it was fine the way it was…this is not the Nobel Prize. First of all, it’s more fun. But people always want to fix things and you are sweet to listen to them. i think making stories anonymous is not a bad idea because people will have favorites and non-favorites among writers, which will influence votes. The polling worked, judges will probably work too, but i think the polling opened up the arena to many, many more voices. Truly the story that appealed to the widest range got the prize. The judges will have preconceived tastes and ideas that will influence them. For instance, I’d probably pick a zombie story over anything with, say hobbits, since i am not a fan of things with hairy feet and have my own shaved down at the lumber yard.

    Maybe after you have culled the deadwood, you could use polling to select three finalists and the judges would pick from those? of course I do tend to make things as complicated as possible. I could probably come up with a fourth and fifth layer of judging if I put my mind to it.

    • I admit the poll does draw more visitors, but people will still be allowed to comment on stories they like. I may even encourage them to do it more with the new method. The thing is some people are now telling me they felt intimidated to enter because they didn’t have a bunch of friends to vote if they made the finals. Some months that didn’t matter because no one super popular got in, but people couldn’t have known that ahead of time. I honestly hope we can try it this way and see how it works out. It doesn’t hurt to change things up a little.

      Um, not saying anything about your comment “have my own shaved down at the lumber yard” because I totally took that the wrong way. You can’t say that to people with dirty minds. Then again, maybe you were baiting me. I wouldn’t put it past you.

      As for adding layers, if you dare mention monkeys judging as an additional option…well, I can’t be held responsible for my response!

  2. Well, Suzie, surely everyone who frequents your blog must have very discriminating taste …

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