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Unread 03-03-2013, 12:03 PM   #1
Amanita
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Judging standards and criteria question

When it comes to costume contest judging, are the judges expected to completely make up their own standards by which they evaluate contestants every time, or do a lot of cons try and create a framework or set of guidelines that judges can use to help evaluate costumes?

I've heard people here express frustration with being handed judging sheets that are too strict- for example, a mandatory "accuracy score", which really messes things up when evaluating a completely original character, or derivative characters (those based on an established fandom, but not a strict recreation of a specific character or costume)
(Maybe a solution to that problem would be to make that part of the sheet an accuracy/design score. "For recreations of established characters use section a- accuracy, for originals or derivatives, use section b- overall design"


But might it also be frustrating to be given no guidelines at all? I imagine it might take some time to hash things out amongst the judges, trying to decide either beforehand or during the judging how things will be evaluated, or what criteria will be used. And that's if the judges are in relative agreement. Imagine having two of them who just can't agree- the judge mentioned in the electronics thread who ONLY cared for sewn work and would not evaluate anything else ending up on the same panel as somebody who insists that hard kit is the be-all and end all, for example.

Personally, I'd be in favor of a con being able to offer judges at least a basic set of guidelines, which would try to insure that all types of work were evaluated fairly, and give the judges something to work with, without being too rigid and binding. Framework is good, reducing judging to a virtual scan-tron sheet, not so much. As a competitor, I might like a set of consistent standards- It can be frustrating not knowing from one year to the next what the judges are looking for. Am I going to learn how to build good armor, only to end up with the "only sewing counts" judge, or am I going to do a beautifully sewn costume, and get dinged for not having a more diversified kit with hard parts or lights?

Last edited by Amanita : 03-03-2013 at 12:12 PM.
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Unread 03-03-2013, 12:54 PM   #2
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I would recommend to check the website of the convention/s you are attending. You should be able to get the standards from there.
It is also very likely that bought and commissioned costumes would be banned from the costume contests as well.
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Unread 03-03-2013, 02:24 PM   #3
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Oh yeah, I know that bought and commissioned costumes are only eligible for presentation awards at my con, but they don't seem to have a set standard that they judge things by- it seems that every year, each new group of judges is left to "wing it", so we never quite know how we're being judged from one year to another. If I do a costume that's mostly fabric, will the fact that the workmanship up close is very neat and clean help? Or will it get dismissed out of hand for being mostly fabric, as opposed to a "multimedia" piece incorporating lots of different materials, even if the workmanship on that multimedia piece is not as good?

Our convention is only a couple of years old, and they're still working things out based on feedback- I'm debating suggesting that we come up with a judging sheet of sorts that would be used from year to year, but I'm not sure which is more common- for a con to have a set of standards that all judges are supposed to follow, or for the judges to create their own standards on the fly each year?
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Unread 03-03-2013, 03:10 PM   #4
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Check more established conventions to see what their standards are.
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Unread 03-03-2013, 07:33 PM   #5
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Honestly, it's as much a crapshoot as any other facet of masquerades.

I have advised one of the local cons through several different scoring sheet changes, to let them know what I actually did and didn't use or think about when evaluating costumes during judging. And also to be fair to all possibilities - original, re-creation, etc. On the other hand, I've also judged at a large and apparently well-run masquerade whose idea of a judging sheet was "here's a piece of paper with the entry numbers on it. Just write your notes and decide later." Uh...what? It was completely arbitrary and I felt so handicapped not having some kind of number system or even the vaguest notion of what I should be writing notes about.

Trying to spread around any kind of standard is a dream within a dream. But if you mean any one con trying to tailor their judging sheet to fit the needs of their judges and also provide a fair scoring system so that everyone entering feels like they're being fairly evaluated? That's something that can be worked towards, but only if the director is amenable to taking suggestions and testing out a few different ideas. It helps if the judges themselves can see the problems and offer suggestions. A judge who can say "but having these categories is unfair to someone who doesn't fit into one of them" or "I never know what to score in that category, I never think about it" goes a lot farther than other types of suggestions.

I personally enjoy it the most when I have some way of scoring tangibly, with points or numbers, it makes the deliberations go A LOT FASTER. But it should be simple and dummy-proof. No more than three categories with relatively low numbers (like, a 1-5 range), something easy to add up and easy to average. For construction, it's important to judge not just the technical proficiency but also the attention to detail - accuracy for a re-creation, creativity for an original design. For performance, it's not enough to just judge the idea, there's also execution. Too little guidance is as unwanted as too much - too many categories, too many options, etc. Balance in all things.
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Unread 03-04-2013, 09:03 PM   #6
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this thread seems to be aimed at improvign your con
and seeking advice as to how a masq is best run
so id like to relpy from hte prespective of my experince as a compeditor
ya every con seems to play by slightly different rules
some might find that frustrating
but i like that part of the game

i think the best masqs let "luck" play a small part in these things
or a least let that uncertainty loom
as the masqs with hard and set points seem to get more of the metagamers
ppl there for a bit of plastic more than the event it self
i like hanging out back stage talking shop with other craftsmen
rather than counting up criteria points as i smile at them
though i think we all size each other up to be sure

on the other hand i do like some structure to shoot for
celebrity judging can disappointing if you are hoping to judged based on skill
these seem to be the closest thing to a free for all from my prospective
wherein the most detailed costume can lose to a tshirt and good stage presents
and halloween events often brake down to drunk shouting matches in one respect or anther
i find in these events the costumes that come out on top are funny, pop culture, or T&A
to be fair there are strategies to win these events
they just are not for me

i dont think any con will be free of ppl who felt they should have won
and i have felt unhappy with other choices but i tell myself when i enter
it is their choice to make and understand that when i enter

so what is comfortable for you and your congoers
they may have some insight to share with ya

this the limit my dyslexia what it wright lol
good times to all
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Last edited by Millions_Knives : 03-04-2013 at 09:05 PM.
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Unread 03-19-2013, 10:42 AM   #7
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The system I'm used to involves a veeeeery simple scoring sheet, just for getting a judge's basic overall reaction to the entry, from 1-10. We use this rather than anything more detailed for the reasons you brought up, in that any categories you use may let someone slip through the cracks.

This score is then used purely as a sorting tool during deliberation; when we have a lot of entries, it makes it easier to sort out the high scores as ones that we want to look at more closely and decide what we want to award. All the decisions about awards are then made through discussion with the other judges.
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Unread 03-19-2013, 07:01 PM   #8
CapsuleCorp
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sarcasm-hime, I love that you and I pretty much agree on everything ever.

That's the best part of a number scoring system - it narrows things down. The judges are still free to look at one another and come to a consensus agreeing or disagreeing about whether the numbers have spoken correctly, but for the most part numbers help narrow things down so you're not picking through the entries one by one to decide whether you wanted to give any kind of award at all, let alone which one.
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