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Off camping for the weekend


Hey folks, I'm off for a weekend of camping and other fun with my kid! I had intended to think about restructuring the Weekend Contests a bit but I ran out of time. So instead of the contest, let me ask you how you'd prefer the weekly contests here to be run: do you think the voting works, and can you see alternatives? (Preferably those that don't involve me counting votes for hours ;-). Also, is the duration ok, or would you rather have contests that last longer, say a week? Are prizes important? Those kind of things. I won't be replying this weekend, but I'm back on Monday to dig through your feedback :) Have a great weekend!

(Image: Forest Sunset by Crimsonbard)

About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-)


  1. I think the duration and the voting are good as they are and prices would be nice :D. I would not change how it is now. Have fun at the camping^^

  2. What I personally would like and ideas for the contest are bellow
    1) Post theme on Friday
    2) Voting ends Sunday at midnight
    3) Bart has the final say on the winner (no matter what)
    4) Winner gets a post Monday
    5) Winner gets to pick the theme for the next week (released Friday)
    6) Must be work from that weekend, equal time for everybody (I don't know how to enforce this)
    7) Guest votes are monitored (20+ and their is a problem)
    8) Try to avoid money prizes (it removes the fun from the competition)
    9) Rename them "Weekend Challenges" (idea from Brian Lockett)
    That is all! Have a great day!

    • I agree with you for the most, but I would prefer a theme-post late Thursday and votes "starting" Sunday night. Guest votes will always be tricky. On a popular contest like for instance "Above the clouds" 20+ are feasible without cheating or just getting votes for just being a popular person, but of course, I get what you mean. About 8) and 9) I have no opinion for the moment.

  3. Enjoy your weekend. I would personally like to have the theme by Thursday, so I have something to look forward to by Friday evening, and a day to plan the concept whilst working the grind. The only reason I like a winner is it serves as a notice to have a look at the crazy entries afterwards. I Agree with Anamorphis and Brian Lockett after that.

  4. I think that the problema of the actual contest is that the ones that publishes their work by friday or saturday have more chances to get more votes, so my proporsal is to post the theme by Thursday and let the people post their entries 'till Sunday (Only posting, no voting). When everybody has posted their work, open an embebed survey 'till next Thursday. That way everybody has the same chance to win by the quality of their artwork instead of the time they spent creating it.

    • That sounds like a good idea, I've been thinking the same myself. If we get the contest topic late Thursday we can have it grinding in the back of our head at work and then start working in the evening. That' also kind of a light compromise towards those how wish the contest to last longer. For me, and many others I guess, (in theory at least) the weekend starts at 4 p.m Friday and last until bedtime Sunday. It might even leave room for more people to participate without making it to an all week challenge. I agree about the survey part too, but I fear that may be to time consuming for Bart.

  5. I think having weekend contest is still a good idea, but I also like the idea of having a monthly challenge as well. Unlike the weekend challenge, the monthly challenge would allow for a higher quality of art to be produced, as instead of having only 2-3 days at a max to make art, you would have at least 5 days. The weekend challenge is all about sped and pre-existing knowledge, but the monthly challenge would be about quality and perfection. Having both would make an interesting contrast to each other.

    I don't think monetary prizes for the weekend contest is a good idea, and really I don't think monetary prizes for the monthly challenges are good either. Maybe have it so the monthly challenge winner gets a prominent feature on the front page of BlenderNation.

    I think having a dedicated way to voting would really help for three reasons:
    1. It would allow for all submissions to be submitted before people can start voting, eliminating that factor involving getting your art in first.
    2. It would also make it easier for bart to see who the winner is.
    3. It would also help keep guest from voting multiple times, since people would have to login to vote, it will keep the votes from getting to fraudulent.

  6. Zach Hixson on

    I would like to see some kind of start to the voting times, instead of when the. contest starts.

    As it is now, the contest favors the people who already have something done, as they get votes all weekend, while someone who were to work on something over the weekend and finish at the last minute, won't get that many votes nomatter how good it is.

  7. Here's my suggestion:

    1. Announce the theme of the contest on Friday.

    2. Install a plugin for Blendernation that will allow people to submit their entries (rather than posting them into the comments section). The entries won't be seen until the end of the competition (Sunday night).

    3. Create a page of the entries, which will be a gallery and a simple 'vote' button next to each one. This will allow people to see each entry equally and each entry will get the same amount of screen time.

    4. Voting will continue until Friday, when the winner will be announced (might be good to keep the results of the votes secret until then, always nice to build up a bit of suspense).

    5. Along with announcing the winner, the theme for next week is announced at the same time.

    Think this would help you with not having to count the votes, while making it a bit fairer on all entrants.

    Prizes are always nice, but that's down to what you have available.

    • Great idea.
      One thing I think should be different though would be the results would be announced on Thursday so the winner would still have time to pick next contests theme.
      Really picking the next theme is a good prize.

      • I agree, good thinking :) When the winner has been picked on Thursday, Bart can contact them with congratulations, at the same time as asking for a theme. The winner can then be announced on Friday, along with the theme for next week.

        I agree with what others are saying about anonymous voting, might be an idea to have them registered on Blendernation so they can only vote once...

  8. On the voting I think you could have three judges. The guest votes collectively count as one judge, The people who enter the competition andor who are signed in collectively as the second judge, Bart is the third judge. This saves having anything fancy and barts free time, it would stop the 'cheat' votes holding sway.

  9. AspiringAnimator on

    In addition to all of these ideas, what if the thread for posting your work was a separate thread that was posted on, say, Sunday morning? That way, people can't vote until Sunday anyway. Also, perhaps add as a rule that guests cannot vote? It's too hard to see if people are cheating or not (I find it annoying myself when I get guest votes, because I feel that people might think that I'm cheating.)
    Thanks Bart for your willingness to spend your time to re-structure the contests to help make them even better!

    • Hi AspiringAnimator, formerly known as "that guy" :) Indeed, your solution would make Barts job easier in terms of not having a need to create a plugin or something. But it would still have the issue which is apparent now: Early entries appear on the top of the list, are viewed first and rated first. The chance to win is higher. This is not so much an issue if you are on a laptop or desktop, but on mobile devices I noticed that fewer entries are loaded by default, before the "show more" button appears. If you miss that button, or if you are simply lazy that day, you don't even see the other entries.

      As a matter of fact, the two times when I was lucky enough to win the contest, I always submitted my result at least 48 hours before voting ends. Otherwise, little chance! Also, I always asked myself how people living in other timezones see this. Let's not forget that this contest is a global phenomenon! So if we say "let's finish it Sunday evening", then... for who? The Germans? The Brasilians? Who shall we favour? The next soccer world champion? I dunno.

      To sum it up, the ideas which were mentioned here are very promising. My favourite solution would be:
      1) post topic on Friday as is
      2) start voting on Sunday - this needs to be achieved... somehow :)
      3) let voting run for exactly 24 hours (one day for all timezones, that seems fair to me)
      4) voting for registered people only (this is not only trying to cheat, but it happens accidentally if you have multiple devices and forget to log in on one, you double vote)
      5) on the results page, post artwork which reaches more than a limit, say 8 votes only. No personal opinion added, it is always misinterpreted. Barts observation on "the quality was lower" was actually correct. But people take it as "these artists were inferior to the others". Which he neither said, nor was it true. But with art, critique is hard to not be taken personal.
      6) votes on own art are forbidden.
      7) no prices please. I participated for one single reason: It improved my skills. Why? Because it was challenging. Because time was short. Because my girlfriend kept complaining I spent too much time on it, which made my working time even shorter. And because other people decide if my results are decent or recent. :)

  10. Maybe a prize could be credit for printing with Shapeways? I think I remember you saying before that you work for them, maybe they'd be willing to sponsor such a thing (doesn't have to be much credit, €5 or something like that...).

    Or, even better, give people an option of the above or donating the same amount to the BF.

  11. Andre Strydom on

    I've been involved in a dozen or so weekend competitions. Sometimes there are fishy things going on, but regardless, I find the competitions a lot of fun. Gets me out of my comfort zone and improves my skills as a Blender user/3D hobbyist.

    This is ultimately what it is, a place where hobbyists can have some fun and improve their skills. With the inclusion of some prize, there will inevitably be people who receive 20+ guest votes, therefore the format will have to change, if winning is the goal of the participants.

    If this is not worth the effort or there isn't enough time/man power, then I am completely fine with the competition becoming a weekend challenge. Where people submit pictures for fun and Bart personally just choose some notable entries, continuing the spirit of challenge and fun. Prizes seem to bring some shady practices into the fray, if it brings problems, then remove them.

    Regardless, I'll have to make up my own challenge this weekend, mechwarrior style robot? :D

  12. I'm glad there is some discussion happening on this topic. I really think that the voting needs to be restructured somehow. I like the idea of releasing all the entries at the same time so that everyone gets an equal time to vote on them, which would hopefully encourage more fair voting and higher quality entries. I think however it gets restructured that something important is being able to vote not just for the one you want to win, but for as many people as you found did a good job that week. I know that when I participate in these its always to challenge myself to do a little better in a short amount of time rather than trying to beat everyone else. I think that one of the nice things about this contest is that a lot of beginners feel comfortable entering and being able to praise people for their good work and improvements over time is important even if its not the best work in the set. I think that is a really important aspect that keeps people coming back and helps reinforce the great community that we have here.

    I think the time frame is about right, If it were longer I wouldn't do more than a week, I'd imagine most people would still do the bulk of their work over the weekend anyways, but just have time for touchups over the week. Prizes, I could take them or leave them. Sure It would be nice to win things, but I think that completely changes the nature of the contest if they are added though, and then there definitely has to be more accountability in the voting.

  13. Have a great time Bart, sounds like you got your priorities straight:) My number one comment is thanks for doing the contests, they've been a very positive experience and everyone has been so upbeat about it... I don't care how you pick the winners, it's just been fun... thanks for doing them...

  14. Perhaps two type of challenges? A weekend challenge and a monthly challenge for those who like to spend more time on a project? Regardless, if would be cool to be able to visit all entries and sort them by rank ( perhaps this is already an option?)

  15. David McDermott on

    I think occasionally a competition that runs through the week would be good.
    Due to family commitments I am never able to work on a competition on weekends.

  16. Here are my personal suggestions. Keep in mind, I'm giving these mere suggestions in a tone as if they've already been made as decision:

    1) The Weekend Challenge is now the Weekly Challenge.

    We often find more spare time spread throughout the week than just a weekend. A week gives one more time for ideation as well as creation. As a result, not only is someone more likely to participate, but their creativity is likely to rise as well.

    Plus, anyone with a woman (or family) in their lives knows how easily a weekend gets spent. Hahaha!

    2) Entries are collected on Saturday and votes are counted on Sunday using a poll.

    If BlenderNation still runs on WordPress, then it should be pretty easy to implement a poll.

    You could set up a poll on Saturday, where throughout the day, you collect the artists' names (and the name of their entries, if any) and list them in a poll.

    The poll would be posted by the end of the night, where it stays open all the way until Sunday midnight. To keep it friendly, the poll is a multiple-choice poll, where you can vote on up to five entries. The entry with the most votes win. Any ties in votes would be determined in a final decision by the contest master, Bart.

    This method could help people hold off from benefiting from early voting, to help give everyone a better chance of seeing votes. This can also be a nice way to separate the "I want to vote you as the winner" votes (poll votes) from the "I like your work" votes (comment upvotes).

    Finally, a poll would save you (Bart) from the work of tallying up the votes. :)

    3) Prizes are welcomed, but shouldn't be expected.

    If someone is kind enough to donate a prize towards a weekly challenge, it should be welcomed. But generally, it's best if folks not expect to see prizes. Prizes are a nice bonus, but not the chief incentive. This should be stated and generally understood.

    4) Participants should start a Weekend Sketchbook at BlenderArtists

    Participants should start a new Sketchbook dedicated to Weekly Challenges. BlenderArtists Sketchbooks

    The purpose behind this one is threefold:

    To better ensure original work done for the weekly project from scratch by posting some progress shots. (No finished past work posted as a challenge entry--that's defeating the purpose of these short-term challenges.)
    To provide an easier way to share behind-the-scenes work. (When someone has more than one behind-the-scenes shot, things can get rather cluttered on the contest page, so as a general rule of thumb, if one has more than one BTS shot to share, reserve it to your Sketchbook and share the link.)
    To better encourage one's future participation. (When you have a sketchbook, you personally want to fill it more often! This adds more of a fun, personal-reward aspect to participating in these contests. You might not win, but you'll have more for your sketchbook!)

    You can use any currently-existing BA Sketchbook, or start a new BA Sketchbook somehow specifying it for Weekly Challenges (for instance, "MacroManJr's WC Sketchbook").

    Ideally, this would be where you can show at least one work-in-progress shot, as well as optionally post any additional wireframes shots, rough concept sketches, etc. The main idea is to show at least enough that the project was made from scratch by the artist.

    I'm not sure this should be enforced, but I do think it should be encouraged.

    5) This is a community effort, but Bart has the final say in all matters.

    It's nice to involve the community, but ultimately, it's your website. That gives you the final say in matters where final decision are needed or exceptions to a rule are allowed. Bart the Contest Master.™ lol

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