Thursday, October 2, 2008

Prepping, Bookhabit,

I made some quick (literally - took me about ten minutes) changes to my website to prepare for the release of Arts & Crafts. Once this is done up properly, you should be able to stream all of the audio and video as well as download them wholesale. If you want to grab the cover art early, just right-click and Save As.


Anybody know if this Zealand Poetry Society contest is legit?


Yet another brief October post. There's too much real life at the moment.


Clare said...

Hi Jeff, I'm Clare from Bookhabit. The contest is certainly legit. The Poetry Society has been running a separate international contest for years and this is the second contest for Bookhabit (the first was an unpublished novel contest). I'm not sure how I can prove legitmacy beyond that. Regards

JeFF Stumpo said...

Hi Clare,

I'm posting this both to my blog (where you left a comment) and to the Bookhabit blog.

You said "The Poetry Society has been running a separate international contest for years and this is the second contest for Bookhabit (the first was an unpublished novel contest). I'm not sure how I can prove legitmacy beyond that."

I was involved in a similar contest not long ago at It, too, was partnered with several organizations of good standing (two of Famecast's big pulls were its US $4.5 million in funding and a connection to the National Poetry Slam). It, too, had been operating for a "season" prior to my involvement.

Unfortunately, it, too, seemed to suffer from some of the same problems Bookhabit did: quietly watching cheaters, or rather, potential cheaters, since the "gotcha" system was quickly shown to be inadequate, and then changing rankings once voting was closed in a given round. Now, Famecast had more problems than this, such as not enforcing its own rules regarding content and entry length, allowing entries to compete in the wrong genre, and flat-out changing the voting rules mid-season. I'm hoping that this won't prove to be the case with Bookhabit, hence the request for comments.

I have been reading various responses to your last contest online (see and and ). The sample of complainers seems pretty small, though. That bodes well.

On the other hand, the votes are effectively secret. The judges are secret until the final round. This does not bode well.

Basically, I'm hoping for someone who isn't a representative of Bookhabit to weigh in - either "Yeah, I cheated and got away with it" or "Yeah, Bookhabit was on the up-and-up and here's how they did right by me."

Clare said...

Hi Jeff

Thanks for your comments.

Sadly, as soon as a competition is on the web people are going to try and manipulate the system, through multiple users etc (in a way that is not possible to cheat in a competition where entrants mail their submissions). It is extremely difficult to catch everyone but we do our best.

As I said in my responses to some of the criticisms in the novel contest: we did not change the rules, and we reminded the authors several times that we were watching and we would remove anything that was outside of the rules. We had quite a few people suggest we change the system during the middle of the novel competition, but I agree, unless there is a phenomenal reason to do so it is not advisable.

We thought through the set up of both of our competitions very carefully and put in place systems that we hoped would cover all eventualities – not an easy task and certainly not foolproof! The author of the critical blog that you cite admitted to cheating, but still expected to get through to the final round, and pretty much intimated that they would have cheated more if they had known that they didn’t have enough rankings to get through. The internet is an easy place to criticize when you don’t like the outcome, no matter how fair or otherwise.

For the poetry competition our report abuse button also gives people the opportunity to protest a poem if they think there is an issue with it, and we do investigate. Anyone can submit a poem and it is automatically available immediately - we don’t screen when a poem is uploaded, so in the first instance we rely on other users, until the week is being finalised.

The votes in the first round of the competition have no bearing on the poems that move through to round 2. The first round is solely judged by the Poetry Society, the thumbs up and down only determine the display order of poems. This is clearly stated in the competition information, further explained in the forums and is in no way secret. The scores will not be shown in Round 2 where user ratings do count, and the reasoning behind that is displaying the scores can lead to more manipulation. Again we will have to remove illegal ratings, and these will have to be removed at the end of the round. There is no way around this, the last 24 hours or so of the ratings see a spike that is not wholly explained by genuine ratings!

The judges are not secret either, but the work load and commitments over the 6 weeks of the first round mean that there is a revolving number of people involved to varying degrees.

We do our best to run as transparent a competition as we can, and to maintain a fair system for all entrants.


JeFF Stumpo said...

Dear Clare,

Feeling much better about everything now. Thanks for talking this through (already a significant difference between yourselves and some other online contests) and laying out specific strategies.