This was originally posted on www.dpchallenge.com on March 22, 2009. I have made a few slight edits for this post. During my time on dpchallenge I have seen many discussions, statements & arguments in regards to some of the following topics. In some cases I have seen good photographers leave out of disagreement and/or frustration. I certainly don’t expect things to change as a whole, but if I can put a few things into perspective, hopefully it will affect some people in a positive manner.
Here we go…
01. You will not always agree with the results of a challenge
Why? Voting is made up of hundreds of votes from different people. The voters come from all walks of life; nationality, race, sex, age, experience and taste are all factors that influence votes. The photos that score best will be ones that appeal to the broadest audience. So while you may feel strongly that a photograph should have scored higher, or vice versa, understand that this is how the voting system works.
What can you do if there is a photograph you really like, but didn’t score very well? You can:
a) Leave a comment on the photograph telling the person how much you liked it
b) Add their photograph as a favourite
c) Send them a PM
d) Nominate them for a Posthumous Award
02. It is very difficult to win a ribbon
How difficult? For the first 1000 challenges, there were 204,979 entries and 3000 ribbons given out (not including disqualified entries). Statistically speaking, you have 1.4636% chance of winning a ribbon with each entry. That means for every 68 photos that are entered, only 1 will win a ribbon. Don’t get down on yourself if one hasn’t come your way.
And don’t forget…
03. It’s not all about ribbons.
If you are on DPC for the sole purpose of winning ribbons, then I must say you are probably misguided. Some of the best photographers on this site have few, or little ribbons.
There are many other reasons you should participate on this site, other than trying to win a ribbon. They include:
a) Having a reason to go out and take photographs
b) Getting feedback on your photographs
c) Learning new photographic and editing techniques
d) Making new friends
e) Exposure; Letting the world see your photographs. I don’t know of any other site that you can upload a photo of any quality and be guaranteed that hundreds of people will see it (during voting)
f) Seeing the work of other photographers
g) Getting new ideas
There are also other ways to have your work recognized.
04. The quality of a photograph and how well it fits the challenge can be two different topics
Other than aesthetics, the final score of your photograph depends on how well it fits the challenge. I often see people who have a beautiful photograph, but it does not fit the challenge well. They get upset because they think the score is a representation of their photographic skills. If you showed your photograph to someone outside of this website, and asked them to guess what the topic was, would they be able to guess it correctly? If not, then your idea might not be a good fit for the challenge.
05. The first 50 votes
The first few votes of any challenge are fun to watch in the forums because people practically have heart attacks about how much their score changes from vote to vote. Don’t take your score to heart for the first 50 votes. With such a small sample of votes, the early going can be a rollercoaster ride. People often complain about how much their score has dropped, and while some of it might be in good humour, other times, people get genuinely upset. If you really need to save yourself the heart ache, you can:
a) Not look at your score for the first day
b) Turn off “my scores” in your preferences.
06. Understanding scoring
I think it’s fair to say that many people don’t understand how votes relate to the final score. Statistically speaking, 5.5000 is the average vote using a voting scale of 1 – 10. So while a 6.0000 score doesn’t seem far off, consider this: In order to score a 6.000, not only do you need to have, at minimum, more 6’s than any other vote, but your 7 & 8 & 9 & 10 votes have to outweigh your 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 votes. In simpler terms, a good photo won’t score a 6. Only great photos that can garnish lots of higher votes stand the chance of breaking past the 6.0000 barrier. During any of the weekly challenges, typically only 15-20% of the final scores are above 6.0000.
A final score of 6.0000 or higher is a common goal for many people on this site. A more reasonable goal would be to try to beat your overall average with each challenge entry.
07. It is difficult to look at your own photographs objectively
You think of an idea. You execute it. You chose the best shot in the series. You edit it to your taste and style. You essentially give birth to your photograph. It is therefore very difficult to step back and look at your photo from a strictly objective point of view. This is why people get easily upset or offended when their photos don’t do so well in voting, or when someone leaves a comment they don’t agree with.
I sometimes find that it is helpful to have a few people look at my photos before a challenge because they can give you that insight that you might not be able to see because of your attachment. They get to see your photo in the same context as a voter; from a neutral perspective.
08. Everyone is misinterpreting my photograph, and therefore they are voting wrong
It is your job to communicate your message to the viewer through your photograph, and to a lesser extent, through your title. If the viewers are unable to figure out your message, it is you who have failed. Not all photographs need to have a message; they can be open for interpretation. But if there is a particular message you are trying to communicate, your photograph is the medium in which you communicate.
09. Participation will positively affect your photographs
This is an important point. The more involved you are with this website, the better off you will be. Joining a side challenge will push you to take more photos, and will make you try different editing techniques. You will also get valuable feedback.
Joining a side tournament, such as the DPC Olympics, The Better Than Average side tournament or Head-to-head to-the-death knockout-a-thon, will make you want to compete, and I can almost guarantee you will have better photographs. To date, 5/8 of my ribboning images were taken either for/during a side challenge. My average during side challenges is 0.25 pts higher than normal. (Not that average is the end all factor for determining the quality of a photograph – see #3)
The more comments you make on other people’s images and the more you participate in the forums, the more likely people will look at your profile, and subsequently add you as a favourite photographer or add one of your photos as a favourite.
Also, if someone has taken the time to leave a comment on your photograph, please consider marking it as helpful. I know some people, myself included, are deterred from leaving a comment on an image after a challenge if we see that the photographer does not mark ANY of their comments as helpful.
10. The trolls are out giving low votes!
There are many different ways I could tackle this topic, but most end with a mob carrying pitchforks and torches knocking at my door, so I’ll keep this simple:
As long as there is a “1” button, people will be giving out 1’s. Many people get their undies in a knot complaining about how many low votes they got, when in most cases, the 1, 2 & 3 votes are proportionately minimal compared to the rest of their votes. Everybody gets them, so why make a big deal about it? The people giving out “1’s” are probably the same people who give out 10’s, and I don’t hear ANYBODY complaining about getting those.
*Disclaimer – My typical voting range is from 4 to 10. To the best of my knowledge I have never given out a 1 vote, so please keep me out of your witch hunt *
All in all, don’t take things too seriously. If you disagree with someone regarding a comment, or point of view they might have, there is no point in getting upset. State your case, and if things don’t resolve themselves, move on.
Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s ALL small stuff.
I have written this with the best of intentions. I hope you have found this informative.