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  1. #1
    its all in the pixels css's Avatar
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    Contests forum needs improvements

    I have been around sitepoint for a while now and have participated in a number of marketplace contests. Lately i feel that the constests forum is experiencing arguments between contestants that could very well be avoided.

    Arguments mostly come up due to lack of governing rules. A lot of times i see people arguing over an idea or a concept. I see people upset over something they feel belongs to them when others feel that its free for all.

    Currently any participant can post as many design concepts and/or proposals as they like, before and after other participants post theirs. Unlimited revisions are also allowed. Contest holders may even sometimes direct one participant to incorporate a concept provided by another competing designer. I understand that this may be for the better for contest holders as it allowes them to mix and match - take a great concept from this designer and have the other designer perfect it and get the award for the finished product. From the designer's point of view this may not be always fair. A lot of time and creative thinking goes into every aspect of creating a design, be that a logo, a sticker, a business card or a web site. A designer does research comes and comes up with a concept that he feels communicates the right message. He also presents the concept to the best of his abilities. Oftern a great concept just needs a bit of work to become a great product, but the designer that created the concept, even though he may be very well capable of finalizing the design, is often not given a chance to do so. In RL, outside of sitepoint, companies and idividuals compete without seeing work presented by others. The client give everyone the same guidelines and picks the team that comes closest to creating the image he is looking for. That them finalizes the end result. Often the winning concept is givien to another provider for finalization, but even in that case the concept is first paid for.

    The contests section has no clear guidelines as to what can and can not be done by contest holders and contestants in terms of ideas and copyrights. Designers feel that their concepts are taken away from them. Others feel that those who post "first" take away their chance of posting the same concept because it could be interpreted as copying and so on.

    There are several ways of creating a warm and friendly environment with everyone feeling secure and happy about their work. I came up with a few suggestions below and if anyone can think of somethin to add, we can make things better. Some of the ideas below should simply improve the way contests are held.

    1. What if all contest submissions were closed from the public? This can happen via submissions over the PM system. In this case there should be rules in place where the contest holder must place submission deadlines, after which point chosen submissions are to be posted by the contest holder with feedback and contestant tags. Once the deadline goes by and work is posted, submissions may only be enhanced by their creators and no new submissions are accepted. Should several people come up with the same concept, no arguments will take place since all submissions were made blindfolded and nobody was able to see what anyone else was doing.

    2. Another idea is to split each contest into 2 phases: concept and implementation. The concept phase involves the creation of the idea which is to be developed in phase 2. Lets say designer A has the best idea for a logo, but designer B can implement it better. This way the price is equaly divided and everyone is happy. Should the same designer happen to be chosen for after each phase - he/she gets the whole prize.

    3. Ideas 1 and 2 can be combined - this can be left up to the contest holder.

    4. The contest holder must post answers to the general questionaire. Lets say i want to create a contest for a logo. I must post my contest along with answers to pre-determined questions which will be jointly created and maintained by designers on sitepoint. Questions such as "What is the final delivery format?", "Who is your target audience" or "What media will the artowork be applied to?". This will help contestants to fully understand the project, speed up production time and create better results. These questions should come with help content that would give clear explanation to what the questions mean. For example: "What is the final delivery format?" Explanation: If you are planning to use the work only on a web site, blah blah blah.

    5. Create a "sticky" post with all winning entries and contest descriptions. This should allow designers to learn from others, compare tasks to final products, avoid copying other designs and allow contest holders to take a look at contestant's records as well as allow contestants to check previous contests held by the same person posting a new contest.

    6. Make sure contest holders stick to the posted time frame. If the contest ends on a specific date, it ends on that date and the winner is declared within 3 business days. Nobody is forcing anyone to post unrealistic deadlines. Contest holders hould be able to determine a time frame they can stick to. After winners are chosen, it is up to them and the contest holder to finalize the end result on their own time.

    7. Contest guidelines should not be changed. There are plenty of times where i have seen something start with "I want this" and later change to "I want that". It is up to the contest holders to make sure they know what they want prior to posting a contest.

    These are my thoughts. Please comment and give your suggestions and feedback.

  2. #2
    Non-Member phacker's Avatar
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    Actually I think the board works pretty well as it is. I would just like to see a little more ethical principle on the part of the designers. I have been asked to add elements from someone else design, and I declined to do it.

    I operate on the premise that if someone else has entered a concept I thought of unless it was something specifically outlined by the contest holder, that I scrap that idea and let the first guy carry on with it. That's how I would want to be treated. I make a point of going through all the posts first before I submit my work looking for that sort of conflict.

    Anyway that's my take.

    Pat

  3. #3
    Non-Member phacker's Avatar
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    I just noticed in the "A Movie A Day" thread how Bunny's Calendar concept was copped. Good designers should be above that sort of thing, but then I've seen the prince of the board resort to those sort of tactics from his first day here.

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    Non-Member phacker's Avatar
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    But then those resorting to that sort of thing are also using the same sort of template he uses for their submissions, so maybe that's the way to win? Got sort of sick of the glassy technique others used to win so often with too. Still see some of that.
    Last edited by phacker; Jan 31, 2005 at 19:33. Reason: Just because

  5. #5
    Design Addict helix7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phacker
    I just noticed in the "A Movie A Day" thread how Bunny's Calendar concept was copped. Good designers should be above that sort of thing, but then I've seen the prince of the board resort to those sort of tactics from his first day here.
    I actually wrote a thread earlier today about this sort of thing.. ownership of a design concept. http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=229684

    For the record, phacker is suggesting that I stole a concept in the above mentioned contest. Feel free to check it out and come to your own conclusions.

    But I think this is exactly what I was talking about in the thread I started. Posting an obvious solution such as a red cross for a medical-related contest, a calendar for "A-Movie-A-Day", etc is ridculous.

  6. #6
    Design Addict helix7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by css
    2. Another idea is to split each contest into 2 phases: concept and implementation. The concept phase involves the creation of the idea which is to be developed in phase 2. Lets say designer A has the best idea for a logo, but designer B can implement it better. This way the price is equaly divided and everyone is happy. Should the same designer happen to be chosen for after each phase - he/she gets the whole prize.
    How would this work? First person to post a concept owns it?

  7. #7
    Deborah ccs111's Avatar
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    Come on, no one owns an icon. Icon and concept are two different things. You can't call using a plane for a travel agent a calendar for a day or as helix said cross for medical a concept. What I call a concept is when you use something in a unique way. For instance making a lock out of a heart(which happened to me) or making an H out of circles (also happened to me) When someone steals those kind of things that is copying. But you can't call using the same font colors or icons copying unless they are exact. Keep in mind sometimes the contest holder asks for certian font icons and colors so they all start looking alike.

    It all comes down to the execution of your design anyway not what you use. Sometimes it comes and sometimes it doesn't. Like the movie a day. I just didn't connect with that one. But I did use popcorn after someone else did. Was I copying? I hope no one thinks so.

    Lets all be nice to each other. There are Certainly enough jerky contest holders with no tact out there. If it weren't for the great designers (none of us are jerks) I don't know if I could do this.

    Just more of my rambling.

    Deborah
    Last edited by ccs111; Jan 31, 2005 at 22:15.

  8. #8
    blonde.... Sarah's Avatar
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    Deborah,

    Some good ideas here, I am certainly leaning towards the point 1., 2. not sure that could be implemented, 4. is already listed in guidelines, 5.lots of hard work keeping that up to date but will consider it, 6. things happen people get sick and its hard to restrict it like that as it means modding each thread there are a lot of them, 7. again if a designer comes up with something that changes the whole concept things can change - its not ideal I completly agree but again it does happen.

    The only thing that I can see with 1. is that people might not get the feedback that they want.

    Anyway I am going to chat about this with the other guys (staff wise) to see what they think.

    Thanks for the insight and ideas - its so much nicer to get ideas than just complaints



    Helix - Phacker - quit it please I have already closed the previous thread after your bickering I will not tolerate it. Please leave this thread unless you have something worthy to say AND not attacking each other.
    Regular user

  9. #9
    Deborah ccs111's Avatar
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    Hello Sarah, Thanks for your comments. However, it wasn't me that had all the good ideas it was css. We get mixed up all the time with our simular screen names.

    I was just the trying to calm the waters.

    But since you are listening... Everyone just needs to realize that all in life is not perfect. For the most part I think the majority of the designers here are very respectful of each other. A lot of good friendships have been formed here. Sure, there are squabbles from time to time but that is bound to happen with a variety of personalities.

    I am a member of another site much like this one and I do submit entries to contests there once in a while. But they have so many rules that it is just not very much fun there. I love how relaxed this forum is. I enjoy interacting with others that have the same interests as myself. That is not allowed in the contest section of the other site. They do have an escrow system and that is nice but that still doesn't ensure there will always be a winner and I am also aware of how much more work that would be for you guys.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that I would not like to see a lot of changes here. This is my favorite forum for contests There are plenty of other sites with more rules than you can count. I like the relaxed feel of this one. Hope thats not an unpopular view.

    There is one thing I would really like though. How about an integrated spell checker. Now thats something I am always in need of.

    Deborah.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah
    Deborah,

    Some good ideas here, I am certainly leaning towards the point 1., 2. not sure that could be implemented, 4. is already listed in guidelines, 5.lots of hard work keeping that up to date but will consider it, 6. things happen people get sick and its hard to restrict it like that as it means modding each thread there are a lot of them, 7. again if a designer comes up with something that changes the whole concept things can change - its not ideal I completly agree but again it does happen.

    The only thing that I can see with 1. is that people might not get the feedback that they want.

    Anyway I am going to chat about this with the other guys (staff wise) to see what they think.

    Thanks for the insight and ideas - its so much nicer to get ideas than just complaints



    Helix - Phacker - quit it please I have already closed the previous thread after your bickering I will not tolerate it. Please leave this thread unless you have something worthy to say AND not attacking each other.

  10. #10
    blonde.... Sarah's Avatar
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    Sorry css!!

    Thanks Deborah, I agree that to a certain point you shouldn't control everything and let things just "be" but there will always be people that through the spanner in the works - which is why we started the post limit to try and remove the majority of people who are just spoiling for a fight..

    The problem is that so many people don't think its good enough as it is - and therefore we need to consider a change - and also what that change will be.

    We won't look at implementing an escrow service as that is not what SP is about, also honestly we just don't have the time or resources to deal with that. At the end of the day I like to let people choose how they conduct themselves online, doesn't always work but we don't like stamping out orginality of the members ... but looking at these recent comments and contests might be what we need to do

    Thanks for your thoughts they are always welcome
    Regular user

  11. #11
    Deborah ccs111's Avatar
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    I don't envy you your job keeping the peace

    Maybe as a forum leader you could start a thread in the contests section and get some ideas from everyone. Find out what will make them all happy. Then they have no reason to complain.

    Deborah

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah
    Sorry css!!

    Thanks Deborah, I agree that to a certain point you shouldn't control everything and let things just "be" but there will always be people that through the spanner in the works - which is why we started the post limit to try and remove the majority of people who are just spoiling for a fight..

    The problem is that so many people don't think its good enough as it is - and therefore we need to consider a change - and also what that change will be.

    We won't look at implementing an escrow service as that is not what SP is about, also honestly we just don't have the time or resources to deal with that. At the end of the day I like to let people choose how they conduct themselves online, doesn't always work but we don't like stamping out orginality of the members ... but looking at these recent comments and contests might be what we need to do

    Thanks for your thoughts they are always welcome

  12. #12
    blonde.... Sarah's Avatar
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    whilst a good idea it doesn't always work.. but I will look at doing it - we have had one previously so maybe its time to do another.

    Thanks will chat with the another staff members and see if we can't come up with a plan
    Regular user

  13. #13
    its all in the pixels css's Avatar
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    Guys, dont take my ideas the wrong way. I was simply saying that currently the way the contests are run, the contest holder benefits outweigh those of the contestants by far. Someone mentioned that a contest holder asked them to copy someone's design and i have to say that i have seen it happen as well. This is not good.

    I also have to say that generic objects can not be considered unique ideas. If you are working on a travel site, the first things that come to your mind are sails, planes, islands, palm trees and ships. If someone goes and implements these in the first post, well - that creates a problem for everyone else. Use one of them and you may be accused of copying even though your own style of interpretation of the object is very much different. At one point i remember, i even made a post before posting a design saying "i intend on using this symbol" because i did not want people to think i was copying should someone post something with that symbol before me. In that particular thread people jumped on me saying "are you saying nobody can use that symbol now?". I answered "no, i just dont want problems", still the argument carried on for a few posts.

    I am trying to see if there is a way for us to avoid these things. Blind submissions may do the trick:

    The contest opens. The deadline for the first round of submissions is set. Everyone sends in their concepts. No communication between the contest holder and the contestants is allowed. Once the deadline arrives, the contest holder pick the concepts he likes (possibly all of them) or the concepts he feels he wants more work done with and posts them all. From that point on its all open discussion. Nobody will have anything to say about copying since everyone submitted blind. The contest holder may choose to ask one of the designers to work on someone else's concept, but he needs to close the contest first, award the prize to the logo he wants work on and from that point on communicate with the designer of his choice in private and work with him on finalizing the concept for whatever fee they agree on. No contest should ever have the contest holder say "I like your style, so take that guy's work and redo it for me". End the contest, award the work you want, hire the designer you want to finish it off - plain and simple.

    I'll say this: there are plenty of great minds here, capable of interesting ideas and concepts and possibly not yet skilled enough to implement them in a perfect way. There are also those who can present any concept or artwork in a way that will make people say "Yum!", but cant think of anything on their own. There are those who do both things well. I am concerned about the first 2 categories - it is very unfair to have the first guy work on something for hours and after that take it away and give it to someone else to finish up.

    Hope i made myself clear here.

    There is another way of clearing things up: Make a sticky post that states: everything you submit is free for all. Meaning you should not get upset when people use your ideas or concepts - post at your own risk. This way requires no changes and no rules and should also stop people from arguing, but possibly make people dislike each-other behind the scenes.

    Deborah, i like the relaxed feel as well. I hate it when people imply that i copied someone. I also hate it when people bluntly copy me. For this reason i am just trying to throw some ideas on the table and see if we can work something out. Rules are not bad if they make things better for everyone. What i proposed with closed bids does not change things much in terms of what we see and what we learn from. All submissions will still be available to everyone, just with a delay. This dealay will make sure nobody starts saying "Oh, you took that from me!" thats all. Aslo, do you agree that it is not fair to ask someone to "touch up" someone else's work and award a contest to him instead of the person who came up with the idea in the first place? I clearly see the difference between graphic artists and business minds. We have those who can draw and make good illustrations and those who have the eye for business image creation and i just want everyone to be happy and to be awarded for their time and talent.

  14. #14
    its all in the pixels css's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by helix7
    How would this work? First person to post a concept owns it?

    Let me explain... we all make submissions in the blind. Once the deadline for submissions goes by, all submissions are posted. Lets say both you and i used a monkey as the key object in our design. The contest holder may say, ok you and you continue improving, etc. Or he may say you take that guys monkey and make it look better. Well, if that takes place, that guy is awarded the contest and you work things out with the contest holder regarding how you are going to get paid for making that guy's monkey better. Am i clearly explaining this or should i make another example?

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    blonde.... Sarah's Avatar
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    css - makes sense to me.. I think I still need to see any other short falls, for example will this make it harder to know if the contest holder is still "around" and guys here really don't like the no feedback side of things.

    Also I agree that whoever came up with the concept even if its tweaked by someone else should get the money - but that also means the guys here need to share more - and at the moment there isn't a great deal of that going on.

    Either way I feel it certainly has merit and am chatting about it with others.

    Any other ideas you have let me know too
    Regular user

  16. #16
    Design Addict helix7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by css
    ... we all make submissions in the blind. Once the deadline for submissions goes by, all submissions are posted. Lets say both you and i used a monkey as the key object in our design. The contest holder may say, ok you and you continue improving, etc. Or he may say you take that guys monkey and make it look better. Well, if that takes place, that guy is awarded the contest and you work things out with the contest holder regarding how you are going to get paid for making that guy's monkey better. Am i clearly explaining this or should i make another example?
    I get it.. just not sure I'd be into it. Maybe it's just my personal preference, but I don't think I would want to participate in a contest in which I was asked to take someone else's work and improve upon it. I guess I just don't agree with splitting up the concept and execution stages of the design process. Shouldn't a designer worthy of winning the particular contest be able to do both?

  17. #17
    its all in the pixels css's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by helix7
    I get it.. just not sure I'd be into it. Maybe it's just my personal preference, but I don't think I would want to participate in a contest in which I was asked to take someone else's work and improve upon it. I guess I just don't agree with splitting up the concept and execution stages of the design process. Shouldn't a designer worthy of winning the particular contest be able to do both?
    Look at it this way: if someone came to you and said "Hey, we have a logo, but its outadted, needs a bit of work, can you freshen it up?" - would you say no? Its the same logic. The client comes to you and tells you "We had a logo created for us, the designer responsible did a great job, but we want to apply a different style to it, can you help?". And to answer your last question - yes, it is possible that the contest holder will ask the same person to finalize it, it all depends on what the contest holder wants. Nothing janges except that if the client comes to you to finalize someone's concept you will be sure that that someone else got paid for it and that you are not stealing someone else's idea since it was paid for and your client now has the right to do what he wants with it. You will also be sure that the modifications need to be done since why would the client pay extra if he could have had the original designer tweak it. Does this make sense now?

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    its all in the pixels css's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah
    css - makes sense to me.. I think I still need to see any other short falls, for example will this make it harder to know if the contest holder is still "around" and guys here really don't like the no feedback side of things.

    Also I agree that whoever came up with the concept even if its tweaked by someone else should get the money - but that also means the guys here need to share more - and at the moment there isn't a great deal of that going on.

    Either way I feel it certainly has merit and am chatting about it with others.

    Any other ideas you have let me know too
    Sarah, please read the above post. I tried to explain that in the above case, everyone would be happy and sure that everything is going the right way and nobody is cheated. Think of it this way: in a design firm, would it be odd to see a team of people working on a brand identity? Would it be odd to see several people come up with an idea and transfer it over to another team which would put it "on paper"? No, it would not be odd. This is the beauty of managing your resources correctly. Why try and have one person who can do everything if you can have people working in specific areas of their best capabilities.

    This way we can have all-round pros working along with those who are good at specific tasks with no problems. What you do is recognized and you get paid for your work. You dont have to do everything perfect, just what you are good at. This should also produce better results for contest holders.

    As for feedback, everyone will still get feedback when the contest holder posts selected entries after submissions have ended as dictated by the deadline. The contest holder may even post submissions he/she rejected as well as the reasoning behind the rejections.

    I wish more designers would join in and give their suggestions in this thread.

  19. #19
    Design Addict helix7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by css
    Look at it this way: if someone came to you and said "Hey, we have a logo, but its outadted, needs a bit of work, can you freshen it up?" - would you say no? Its the same logic.
    Not really. We're not talking about an existing logo that needs freshening. These logos are all new, and are entered into a competition. I still think that a designer should be able to enhance their concept up to the client's expectations as well as anyone else entering the contest, or maybe they just don't deserve to win... no matter how good the original idea was.

    Quote Originally Posted by css
    Nothing janges except that if the client comes to you to finalize someone's concept you will be sure that that someone else got paid for it and that you are not stealing someone else's idea since it was paid for and your client now has the right to do what he wants with it.
    I'm beginning to think that this is all up to personal principles and opinions, but again, I just don't see how an obvious idea for a design deserves any compensation if the person entering it into a contest can't render it into a finished graphic. No graphic designers are getting paid to sit in a studio all day just thinking up good ideas and not executing them.

    Quote Originally Posted by css
    Does this make sense now?
    Your arguements always made sense. I just happen to disagree with them.

  20. #20
    its all in the pixels css's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by helix7
    Not really. We're not talking about an existing logo that needs freshening. These logos are all new, and are entered into a competition. I still think that a designer should be able to enhance their concept up to the client's expectations as well as anyone else entering the contest, or maybe they just don't deserve to win... no matter how good the original idea was.



    I'm beginning to think that this is all up to personal principles and opinions, but again, I just don't see how an obvious idea for a design deserves any compensation if the person entering it into a contest can't render it into a finished graphic. No graphic designers are getting paid to sit in a studio all day just thinking up good ideas and not executing them.



    Your arguements always made sense. I just happen to disagree with them.
    No problemo, i am glad you are voicing your thoughts even if they disagree with mine - this is why i started this thread in the first place - to see if we can resolve some issues together.

    One comment you made about artwork being new - its does not matter. Who can say that a client who calls you in the next 5 minutes and asks you to do some work on a logo did not just pay for that logo a minute ago. Who can say that after you are done with your work and you are paid, your work does not go to someone else? I dont see anything wrong with the client having multiple people work on something as long as everyone involved is compensated for what they did.

  21. #21
    Design Addict helix7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by css
    Who can say that after you are done with your work and you are paid, your work does not go to someone else? I dont see anything wrong with the client having multiple people work on something as long as everyone involved is compensated for what they did.
    You got me there. I believe that what you describe is a common business practice, where work is passed from one person to another and re-worked over and over.

    I guess I just have a hard time envisioning a system like this working here without things getting out of hand. Tempers tend to flare up pretty easily around these forums, and I just think that rewarding concepts would open the door to all kinds of trouble. Maybe it could be offered as an option to contest holders to run contests in this way. I've already seen on contest in which this took place. Make it an option for people to participate or not participate in which there are prizes for concepts and prizes for final designs. At least if it is an optional thing, people like me can simply decline to participate and move on to more appealing contests.

    And I also agree with you that contest holders have far more benefit here than contestants, in many ways. From my own experience, I've won three contests but only been paid for one of them. Contest holders don't take things seriously around here and don't seem to care that people put alot of work into these designs. But I guess that is for a whole different discussion.


  22. #22
    Non-Member phacker's Avatar
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    I am a member of another site much like this one and I do submit entries to contests there once in a while. But they have so many rules that it is just not very much fun there. I love how relaxed this forum is.
    I think we both belong to that site. I would hate to see sitepoint become that convoluted.

    I'm beginning to think that this is all up to personal principles and opinions, but again, I just don't see how an obvious idea for a design deserves any compensation if the person entering it into a contest can't render it into a finished graphic.
    It's definitely up to personal principles. And the original idea holder should be given the chance to render that idea to the contest holder's specs before everyone else grabs it and calls it their own. Just because you can come up with the graphics doesn't give you the right to steal inspiration from another. Creativity involves both the idea and the delivery of the graphic in a form that can be used. Ever heard of the term "intellectual property"?

  23. #23
    blonde.... Sarah's Avatar
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    phacker - please tone it down a little.

    I think its not something that is going to be easy to police and that you will all get just as annoyed as you already do.

    Although blind submission would resolve a lot of the issues its the feedback side of thing that you guys need and want and would be hard to control, basically its a lot of hassle or the contest holders to do as well as you guys...

    Anyway its not in any way dismissed just need to think up a workable solution - basically most members don't read or follow the guidelines in that area so we need to make it as full proof as possible to reduce the amount of flaming and reported posts if it goes wrong.
    Regular user

  24. #24
    Non-Member phacker's Avatar
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    Sorry Sarah, thought I was staying on topic.

    Pat

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    Design Addict helix7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phacker
    Creativity involves both the idea and the delivery of the graphic in a form that can be used. Ever heard of the term "intellectual property"?
    Well I sort of agree with that. The first part anyway. Creativity is BOTH the concept and the execution. There is nothing creative about an obvious solution to a design problem, and this has been gone over in great lengths in my past posts (here and elsewhere).

    But these concepts are not intellectual property. They are concepts... that's all. For something to be considered intellectual property it must have commercial value. The designs presented here do not have that value until they are deemed worthy of consideration as a final design by the contest holder.


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