Monday, August 01, 2016

How not to run an online art competition

This morning I experienced an emphatic learning lesson in how NOT to run an art competition online.

An online art competition which prevents you voting

If you run an online art competition there are usually two objectives:
  • marketing your brand
  • getting engagement with your brand and website/blog
However in relation to this competition:
  • First votes are only valid via Facebook. This completely ignores the fact that there are still lots of artists who won't use Facebook. This means the host runs the risk of annoying all those clients or customers who are not Facebook fans. To my mind this runs completely counter to the notion that this might be a marketing exercise for the brand! Any online competition must have a method of voting which is open to all online!
  • Next the organisers says it doesn't seem to work with Chrome on iOS or Android accounts. So the competition appears to eliminate: 
    • the most popular browser in the world 
    • all mobile devices - which are now very much the device of choice for browsing and the most likely method most people will come across this competition and want to vote!
  • I've just discovered that not all entries will allow votes when using Firefox. After taking trouble of moving from Chrome to Firefox and logging into Facebook all over again on my Apple iMac! I got the error message "User opted out of platform: The action attempted is disallowed, because the user has opted out of Facebook platform."
  • Either that or there's a distinct possibility that this competition doesn't work on Apple platforms at all. Which is just silly! That's when I started writing this post!
"What is the point if you can't use 3/4 of the device that people use?" - comment on Facebook
The competition in question is Jackson's Art Supplies The Art of Reflection Competition.

This is last Friday's blog post announcing the shortlist and inviting votes

I want to emphasise that I really like Jackson's Art Supplies Blog - it's usually excellent and I often share content on the blog. They generally have a very good online presence and this is very much an exception to general performance. However Jackson's really do need to find a better way of running online art competitions fast!

So do go and admire the artists who took the trouble to enter and were fortunate to get selected.

But I wouldn't bother trying to vote in this competition!

What works better for votes

If you ever think about running a competition it's essential that you have
  • identified and checked out in advance a method which works for everybody on all platforms 
    • eliminating popular platforms is not an option - you need to find one which works across all platforms
    • working via the Chrome browser and Apple operating systems and all mobile devices is a basic!
  • a way of preventing multiple votes from the same internet account - experience shows that artists and their families are not above voting for themselves multiple times!
For Polls and Votes I always use Polldaddy. I've found it very reliable and used it in different contexts.

There are other alternatives available. If you have one you favour please leave a comment below.

Reasons why I like Polldaddy for Polls

  • The major advantage is that the Poll is based on their website. This means:
    • you can embed the Poll on a wide range of platforms for example I've embedded Polldaddy polls on my Blogger blog and Weebly websites
    • I can also link to it directly on my Facebook and Twitter account, in emails etc and people then vote via the website
  • You get to choose the level of feedback you give to voters after they have voted. People can also see the votes or the percentages voting for different options if you choose - or the results to date can be hidden if you want to keep votes secret until you announce the results
  • You can determine precisely when the vote closes
  • It works on Apple mobile devices (using anything which does otherwise is limiting the votes cast!). Plus it now has an iPhone/iPad app.
  • You can upload media to each voting option - which means it works for image-based competitions. (Obviously for an art competition this might mean hosting a larger image on another site - however for voting you only need a prompt that you're voting for the right image)
  • You can also restrict access by blocking repeat voters by IP address or cookie or both.
I hasten to add that I have no relationship with Polldaddy - I just like their software. It works and causes me no hassle!


  1. I hope Jackson's take note of this. As one of the people who steadfastly refuses to use any social media ( apart from email) I am constantly annoyed by the apparent assumption that everyone is signed up to this stuff. Another similar irritation are artists' blogs that won't let you post a comment unless you sign in with a Google account - another thing I don't have and don't want!

  2. They must have fixed it. I'm on Android using Chrome and I was able to vote easily. Perhaps they read your post!

    (Or possibly, it's an Apple problem.)

  3. Well there were certainly enough comments about it on Facebook! I was far from alone in terms of having problems...


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