Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Ugly Side of Comping Part 2

There have been a few more examples of competitive ugliness that has come to my attention this week!  A hobby that is such fun and which opens your eyes to so many opportunities and experiences should not be tarnished in this way.  To me, the comping world is a place where I can use my creativity and have fun, doing things that I wouldn't ordinarily do.  I make mad films like my Ski Sunday Theme Tune effort.  I have fun with my children Playing with toys!  I take photos of Ella in a face mask. !  To me, the thought of winning is not the incentive.  Any prizes that come our way are an absolute bonus.  It's taking part and having a focus for my creativity and ideas for family fun that drives me!

Shame that this is not the motivation of others.  Toys R Us held a snowman competition on their Facebook page.  Mums and Dads took time to go out into the unseasonal snow and build snowmen with their little ones and posted photos on their wall.  The winning effort was an acrobatic snowman standing on its head. Within minutes, their wall exploded with accusations of cheating.  Apparently this fabulous snowman appeared in the Telegraph Snowmen feature online, and the winner had googled it and used it as her own, even having the cheek to write how she had "had a laugh" building it with her kids!  Thankfully, after a feverish witch hunt with outraged parents demanding the cheat be banished from Facebook, Toys R Us issued a statement stating their disappointment and re-chose a genuine winner!  The one positive thing that this has highlighted, is how competitions on Facebook are becoming self-regulated by vigilant fans!  They spot a scam and out the cheats.  The fact that Toys R Us took the moral high ground was reassuring, in what was an embarrassing position for them to find themselves in.

Another thing that made my suspicion sirens go off is an entry in a competition that I am in the final three of, the Ski Sunday competition for Alpine Elements.  This Facebook competition had a shockingly low number of entrants given that the prize was a £2000 ski-ing holiday.  On the final day of the competition there were five videos, all produced at home with homemade props and recorded on camcorders.  At the eleventh hour an entry appeared, not posted on the Facebook wall by a Facebook fan, but uploaded directly by the company from YouTube.  As the t & c's stated that the video be uploaded to their wall, I wondered how they discovered it out there in the ether of the virtual world?  I have to say the entry itself is something you'd see on a TV advert.  It incorporates split screen and green screen technology, with an expertly recorded soundtrack.  It is incredibly professional...not a DIY Flip job like mine!!  It is way beyond the capabilities of the average comper.  Now the skeptic in me wonders if a company, embarassed by a poor turnout, would commission such an entry to justify the prize pot on offer?  Or is it just that professionals are recognising a lucrative sideline to their expertise?  Will this squeeze out us genuine compers with our limited capabilities but with bags of enthusiasm and original ideas?  The results are due in on Monday...we will see what happens!

As ever, the voting element of comping has seen some ugly dialogue on Facebook.  Firebox ran a competition to win your wishlist judged on a most likes basis.  The same players who can call on huge banks of voters immediately accrued likes in their 100's, negating the chances of the average Joe to zero!  The comments box was soon a virtual battleground between the pro-voting and anti-voting lobbyists.  The Antis threw around words like cheat, scam and fix. I understand the frustration of people who despise this system  of allocating winners, as I do also disprove and find it a forum in which it is not worth competing.  I can't command 400+ likes.  I am not prepared to sign up to vote exchanges with American Pageant Mums in an attempt to secure prizes.  However, the people who do are not breaking any rules.  They are doing what needs to be done.  As long as these competitions exist, there will be vote exchange groups, and compers who are big players in these circles able to call up their supporters.  It is wrong for the opposers to attack the people who enter and win these competitons.  Several people have had direct hate messages sent to them.  The antis need to put their energy in trying to create change among the companies who run these competitions, and in trying to educate them into the problems of voting comps.  Then perhaps the current trend of change will snowball and create a level playing field for us all.  Personal attacks are unforgivable.

The Tesco Diets Competiton is still courting controversy.  Although the liking element was reduced, it still plays a big part in the judging process and all previous winners have been in the top three most liked.  I have seen some lovely recipes slip under the radar due to only having the mandatory 15 likes needed to enter.  It's a pity!

I have from time to time entered tentatively into the realms of asking for support from other compers in return for supporting them.  I've made a few good comping friends who I am happy to help out.  But the way this community escalates into begs for votes from far flung countries is just not somewhere I'm willing to go.  I now get direct messages from strangers asking for me to vote for all manner of entries on all manner of forums. It's overwhelming and certainly not where I want my hobby to take me. There is almost an arrogance and expectation of winning among some of these vote seekers. The effort taken over the entries is minimal.  To win is their perceived right, regardless of the quality or deservedness of the entry.  How this is good for the companies I do not know.  How many of these likers will return to Facebook pages after they have clicked the mandatory 'like' or 'vote' button?  There must be a better way!


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