WordPress Theme Competition

There’s a silly competition going on for WordPress Themes.

I’ve decided to go ahead and give them the link notoriety they’re asking for, since I’ll probably end up adopting one of the entries as the appearance of this website, but my linking them doesn’t come without some commentary.

Here’s a short list of why I call it “silly”

  • The judges identities are secret
  • The entries are secret
  • The homepage doesn’t mention the secrecy of the identities
  • The homepage doesn’t mention the prizes.

Secret Judges?

The only legitimate reason I see to keep the judges identities secret is because it’s nobody you’ve ever heard of. The reason used by the site is probably to prevent personal appeals or favoritism, but come on: If it’s you and your brother judging “art”, and neither of you is famous for “art” already, then what value does your subjective opinion have?

On the other hand, if the judges include well-known (widely respected) coders on the blog project, or prolific designers with high blog traffic of their own – why not name drop? You’ll probably get more entries from people wanting to get A-listed themselves, and more competition produces better results.

Secret Entries?

This part I can’t even rationalize. Is it to prevent popular opinion from swaying “independent” judges? Is it to prevent copycat work from being submitted? Neither of those are valid reasons.

Popular opinion does influence what is considered beautiful. It just does, and always will. Get over it. Copy-cat work both inherently pays homage to the original (“I liked your idea so much I thought I’d try and improve it”) and invites artists to recognize conformity and try something different. In this context, secrecy is absurd.

The reason races are run in the open is so that everyone can see how each competitor is doing, for themselves. Sure, judges still declare winners – but everybody can observe. To have to stand outside the stadium – not even knowing who’s competing – until some official comes out and tells you who they decided has won isn’t a contest worth interest.

Poor Homepage Content

This part baffles me, but different minds consider things differently. Maybe it just didn’t occur to the organizers, so here’s my plea: Include all the relevant information in one place!

As of this writing you won’t find mention of the fact that entries are kept secret until the winners of the competition are announced, unless you read the linked comments page. That’s ridiculous – you get traffic by announcing you’re having a competition. Why do people come? To see the competitors compete. Keeping it a secret is silly, but not even telling people you’re keeping it a secret is suicide – who would go back to a site to see content that’s not there!?

Also as of this writing, you’ve got to dig as deep to find out why the competition is worth entering – prize-wise. If you’ve got sweet prizes to offer, SAY SO.

It’s as if the organizers of the contest got so wrapped up in the mechanics of having a contest that they forgot the marketing of it. Silly.