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Unread 05-31-2013, 01:10 PM   #1
Amanita
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Awkward situations as a competitor or judge- what would you do?

This is something that came to mind recently, and I thought I would throw it out here.

As a judge, what would you do if you realized that one of the contestants in the masquerade was somebody that you really didn't like, or otherwise had a problem with?

Or what if you recognized one of your friends in the lineup of contestants?

As a contestant, what if you realized that one of the judges was a friend of yours, or somebody you didn't get along with, or really disliked? Would it be seen as special snowflakey if you said something to one of the judges, like "(insert judge name here) and I really don't get along/have serious problems with each other, could somebody else do my workmanship judging?

In the first case, if it was me judging and I recognized somebody I didn't like, I would ask one of the other judges to handle them. Either because I didn't think I could be objective enough to give that person the fair judging they deserved, or even if I could put all my focus on the costume and not the person in it, it might not look that way. Even if I had valid reasons for giving them a low score, such as poor workmanship, they might think that the only reason they lost was because I scored them low out of spite. Or others might think that way, and accuse me or the contest of being unfair.

In the second case, I'd also ask somebody else to judge my friend. Even if my friend truly had the best workmanship in the place, others might think I only gave them a good score because I was their friend. In other words, even if the high score/win was deserved, it would look like it was rigged.
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Unread 05-31-2013, 06:28 PM   #2
CapsuleCorp
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I don't hate anyone so deeply that I would be unable to fairly judge their costume.

In the judging room, setting aside one's personal feelings is essential. It is almost as important a skill to have as knowing all the sewing and crafting techniques you possibly can. I frequently judge my friends and guild members, and they frequently judge me. The key is to set feelings aside and focus on the costume itself, not on the person. The person should not matter. Our guild has gone to great lengths to eliminate even the appearance of bias, and we have rules amongst ourselves that if one of us is tapped to judge a competition where others in the guild may be competing, everyone has to make every effort not to share information or photos with the potential judge. Never mind not asking for help or advice, we don't even show off progress pictures on facebook!

The thing is, a good masquerade will have a panel of judges, so that even if one person may not be able to be a professional about it and scores with bias, the other two (or three or however many) on the panel will balance their score. And then, in the deliberation room, if that person is in the running to win something, the judges are free to discuss the merits and faults of the costume amongst themselves. It's very hard for a single judge at a good, well-balanced masquerade to sway awards towards their friends. At smaller cons with fewer judges or a less ethical interest in actually rewarding well-done costumes, it may be possible, but it depends on how they're choosing the awards.

In all honesty, most people I know who routinely flip-flop between judging, directing, and competing tend to be harder on their friends, rather than easier. Maybe because we know each other's skills, and know when we've pushed ourselves to excel versus when we really should have done better. And even then, one friend is only one voice among a panel of judges and, while they may know our past work, our past work isn't what's on display - they're supposed to only judge that costume in front of them, not what we've done before or might do in the future.

As for negative feelings...nope, not an issue. There are people I dislike, but I will still be a professional in the judging room, because anything less is a dishonor to myself and the community. People expect me to be fair, so if I am anything less, I will let a lot of people down - and not just the person I'm judging. But as I said to start, there is no one I loathe so much that I would have to recuse myself.
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Unread 06-01-2013, 06:06 PM   #3
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if your a regular to the con or even just the local costumeing community odds are your going to know someone you are judging or being judged by.

now on being judged by friends or just a person you know is don't take things personal. Now I like being judged by people I know because after the contest I can get critique from them on what I need to improve. this is how I found out about how my paper costumes were hard to judge so its given me ideas on how to better use my costumes on stage.
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Unread 06-04-2013, 12:07 PM   #4
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In cases where there is a real conflict of interest (person having to judge a close friend or family member) the judge sometimes will give their opinion, but asks the other judges to make the final decision so as to avoid any suggestions of impropriety or favoritism.

I do agree with Cap that we tend to be harder on our friends than on strangers though. It's a bad habit but it does happen.
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Unread 06-04-2013, 07:07 PM   #5
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True. Often just a word to the director and other judges will be enough to absolve a judge of accusations - as long as the director knows they're above-board, then any sour grapes flung at the judges after the show is over will be properly and correctly dealt with. I'd rather that a director who asked me to judge had no worries about my professional attitude, and could tell anyone who whinged later to politely stuff it.

The only time I've ever recused myself was when someone I knew well entered a masquerade with a costume I actually helped them on. They cleared it with the director ahead of time, under the stipulation that I would recuse myself just for that person, and allow the other judges on the panel to average their scores without mine. It was a while ago, though, and I don't think I would ever do it again - if I helped someone with a costume to the point of actually guiding them through it or standing over their shoulder while they sewed, I would probably kindly ask that friend not to enter it where I was judging. This is why I also do my best not to give advice to anyone working on a competition piece if there's the slightest chance I may be judging or competing against them.
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Unread 06-07-2013, 07:02 PM   #6
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I have judged people who have had some very unflattering things to say about me, my work and my general reputation. And it hasn't come close to affecting the marking. Some I knew about before, some came about after. But never has it cost marks- the rules are clear about what to expect from me as well as from the contestants. I'd rightly lose any respect for that and that could bring the contest into question. And there are too many people who enjoy it for that


Yes it can be a lot of work to make sure that the person is still made to feel comfortable and safe and that they know no history will affect what goes on in the room. It's a safe place and it will remain so. I may care if there have been real harassment of cosplayers and eyes will be kept open for trouble but again that is not related to marks.

If we have a small room for the one on one judging then I try and keep small groups in the room at a time- enough so that no one feels trapped and alone with the scary judge and team and not so many that people can't put space between themselves if need be. If a large room then they can find that space and put warm bodies between.

Basically for me especially given our extreme low budget and lack of facilities even most Aussie cons can provide then I make sure there is a quality and safe and fun environment where possible. And that comes down to people power
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Unread 06-22-2013, 09:38 PM   #7
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:'( I wish the people at my last con were as fair as you guys claim to be.
The directors I'm friends with are a little miffed (but won't speak to the topic directly) and simply claim there will be all new judges next year. Heavens I hope so.
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Unread 06-22-2013, 10:05 PM   #8
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I have both good and bad experiences while being judged. The problem I face is dual.
1) Most judges are unequipped to judge my work...they come from a background of sewing, and may(or may not) have a familiarity with prop making. I make giant robot costumes...an average of 3-4 times the volume of an average person...Someone telling me that they made a wonderflex sword give's them knowhow about my stuff is like saying pouring a glass of milk is equal to making a 10 course gourmet dinner. Many conventions do not or are unable to recruit a judge who has even a basic understanding of what I make.
2) Sadly, many people in the "industry" are getting a little full of themselves...I cosplay for fun, I also cosplay for money. Time and time again, I have some person give me crap about selling out...or doing it for the wrong reason. If I am being judged for quality of my costume, or for a performance....the judges opinion about my "moral standards" should not affect my outcome. I'm putting food on the table and paying the electric bill....How is that wrong ? I also like and seek recognition for my work among fellow cosplayers.
I have both won and lost masquerades, and I do not flip out if I can see the judges point of view...But I have also recived direct statements from some judges saying they would never see my work as any form of art...How can this person fairly judge me?
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Unread 06-25-2013, 11:49 PM   #9
Amanita
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BumblebeRecycld View Post
.But I have also recived direct statements from some judges saying they would never see my work as any form of art...How can this person fairly judge me?
As somebody who does completely original characters and designs, that's a fear of mine- I've had people tell me that I'll probably never get the props I deserve because of what I do, no matter how good I get.

Now, I do sewing, but I try not to get tunnel vision, only considering that kind of fabrication valid, or being unable to understand other things. Even if I don't do a lot of prop building, I think I could still evaluate workmanship- are things neatly assembled, or are there rough edges, gobs of glue, or other sloppiness in evidence? How is the paintwork if applicable?
How well does it work? Is a suit of armor well articulated, or is the poor cosplayer in it barely able to move because the joints don't work properly, or are in the wrong place?
And I'd try my best to understand what somebody was telling me- if I needed clarification on the process they used, I would ask. And if they could show me some work in progress pics, I would appreciate the heck out of that

BTW, I think I've seen some of your giant robot costumes (in pics, not in person), they're hella cool, and good on you for not letting close minded judges tell you differently.
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Unread 06-26-2013, 04:51 PM   #10
BumblebeRecycld
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....But awards tend to elude me, If you have a chance. Check out some videos of my costumes in motion...That's wear I really shine. Plus almost no one ranks "durability" as having value...most of the people I know who make "BIG" stuff tend to be very fragile, my stuff is built to survive Nightclubs and drunks. I will only strive harder, and hope for success.
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Unread 06-26-2013, 06:56 PM   #11
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Well, no, durability is not a factor in a costume. It might make a knowledgeable judge smile to know it was taken into consideration, but it's not a factor for a workmanship judge compared to the skill to create and complete the costume itself.

I always say vote with your feet, though. If a particular competition has proven itself to be staffed with judges who don't consider a certain type or style of costuming to be legitimate, or show obvious bias to genres, or don't have the know-how to judge props or mascots or whatever, then don't patronize those competitions. Generally, though, when it comes to something like a quadsuit, mecha suit, etc, lack of experience with the techniques involve doesn't lead to shafting people on awards - the opposite tends to happen, in my experience. Judges who can't fathom how you built a Transformer are likely to just go "ooh shiny" and skew toward throwing awards at you because holy crap how did it get like that. So if you're not winning awards, there might be something else at play. It may not even be about money, because professional tailors are still allowed to enter in Master class and take awards.
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Unread 06-27-2013, 02:58 AM   #12
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Actually yes. Durability is a big part of workmanship. It's parts of the process. And part of what a master craftsman would look for in the work of their novice before calling them a journeyman. When did this became of no value? I can whizz up all manner of pretty but disposable but it's not hard. Building gear to last and be stored is not one skill set it's multiple and is also applied differently to different media. If you are checking seam allowances and hems of fabric costumes why are you not checking that armour isn't going to tear under duress?

If anyone thinks about comparing my costumes to those falling apart during or after I show I would be giving them wide berth because that durability requires a lot of skill.
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Unread 06-27-2013, 09:54 PM   #13
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Well, you got me there Satine - I think I sort of took for granted that what I'm looking for in workmanship often automatically includes durability.

But then, if I were judging a suit of armor (any armor, any mech or robot), I think noting that it was made out of a nice durable plastic or fiberglass or metal instead of cardboard or un-sealed craft foam would be an instinctive nod toward quality and making good choices, and not so much thinking about "but will it stand up to a drunk trying to glomp it?" So we are talking about looking at and valuing the same thing, just under different names.
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Unread 06-27-2013, 10:49 PM   #14
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Well, my next test is in a week, but the competition will be FREICE. I hope I can finish in time. At least one of the judges has made some props and sets. He might or might not understand about how difficult it is to both make all the parts move and still look "Right" in proportion, but at least one of them will understand some of the construction. Who knows what the others will bring At least it will be fun to watch the others skits and see the other cosplays up close.
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Unread 06-30-2013, 09:43 PM   #15
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remeber judges are usally volnteers who give up alot of time at the con to judge. they should have costumeing exsperineces but like the rest of us they will not know every thing. its up to you as contestent to educate them on what work you put into your costume. I run a pannel on intro to costume contest and I tell everyone when there is prejudging this is your time to crow, brag, show off every part of the costume your really proud of, show how its made take parts off if you want to show them the internal construction.

if you really want to get serious make a binder with your reference material some picture of your work in progress.
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