Originally Posted by KomoriChu
So nothing's set in stone? Oh, that's good. Squall's answer just kinda' confounded me more. ^^;;
My sis was just concerned because she didn't want to be unfair to other competitors by entering in the wrong category. We entered Novice because she had only won 2nd at an anime con and 1st at a game con. But I and my mom were also in the group, and I had only won 2nd at a game con, and my mom had won nothing. I thought maybe only 1st place awards counted, and the group's average of ranking, so I figured we should be in Novice. Should we have been in Journeyman, to be fair to people with no awards?
Your best bet would probably be to first check to see if the convention has any rules listed on their site regarding classification, and if not then enter into what you feel is correct. A good rule of thumb is that if you've won a few awards, you're no longer a novice, but many conventions will have a different requirement before they bump you up into the next category. When in doubt, there's nothing wrong with asking the cosplay rep at the convention where you should go. If you get any specific answer (or don't get one) it's always cool to let everyone here know.
The confusion occurs when conventions start lumping a 5-time best-in-show winner and a cosplayer who happened to make $50 styling a couple of wigs into the same category, purely because the term "professional" is so ambiguous. This is why there needs to be a set of standards that conventions can either publicly ascribe to, or publicly snub.