How not to run a competition
Friday, March 25th, 2011 | Author:

I entered a competition with my school recently. We had to submit a 3minute video about education and technology. I talked about the great story of Magnie the whale visiting from Scotland and spending time with us. We wrote postcards and emailed the other school. Good times. I submitted the video. Then it all went wrong.

Ok…so to get through to the voting part of the competition, you had to have your video ‘liked’ by lots of people. That’s ok, I’ll send them a link, they click ‘like’, job done.

No. You need to register to go on the site. 10 questions, including your PHONE NUMBER(!) to register. It also asks you your date of birth. And you have to be over 18 so I couldn’t even get my kids to vote.

But then I started getting comments on my video ‘Yawn’ read one, ‘boring’ read another (amongst positive ones). These comments were from children. So had they lied about their age? Had their school told them to lie about their age? Either way, not good. I told them they should be ashamed of their rude and inappropriate comments.

Then I get a message from the organisers. Age limits have been removed. Comments will now be moderated. But they only did this after I made them aware. Utter shambles. So, despite the £25,000 prize, i have just withdrawn my school from the competition.I mean, how on earth can you allow unmoderated comments on a site that children use? This is a (very) well known company after all, you think they’d know better.

Here is my email to them. I will, of course, post any replies.

Hi

I am writing to request that you withdraw our video from your competition. I feel that the whole thing has been very badly organised throughout. There appears to have been little thought into the whole process and it appears that rules are changing as they go along.

There are many bad decisions that have been made throughout this competition. I feel it was wrong to allow comments from under 18s, where school’s had obviously broken the rules, and it was only when I informed you of the age limit that it was removed. I feel it was wrong to ask all voters for their phone number, especially if you are now allowing children to sign up.

I also think the decision to allow un-moderated comments (on a website that you say is for children) is a massive error. Again, this was only changed after I brought it up. The comments on there were from children who had lied about their age to be on the site and should have been removed immediately, especially as the comments were rude and offensive.

As I said, this competition has been a farce and I would like you to remove my school’s entry.

 

UpdateHere is the reply:

Hi Ian,

I am sorry to hear that you feel the competition has been a farce.  Clearly that was not the intention of the competition.  This is the first time we have run such a competition in the UK, and we have discovered that there are many key learnings to keep in mind for any future competitions we may decide to run.   Indeed we have made a few changes to the rules, but we have made every effort to communicate these changes to all schools along the way.

It is a shame that you have decided to withdraw your school’s entry but I respect your reasons for doing so.  I will remove your entry right now.

Thank you, and have a lovely weekend.