Judging: What Happens During A & S Competitions

A competition of any sort is an activity requiring you to enter using your skills to try and win. The skill amount needed depends on what the competition is asking you to do. 

If the competition is well defined and uses Kingdom judging criteria you already have a leg up on how your entry will be judged. The criteria tell you what to look for, the expected results and how values will be given to your work. Ultimately your judges give you points and a total value for your creation.  

But more goes on during judging at a Calontir Kingdom level competition than evaluating an entry and ranking it among others. It’s a way for a judge to mentor entrants, to encourage and teach them. It’s also a way to encourage and teach a newer judge.

The Kingdom criteria for a craft limits a judge’s biases focusing their attention on the specific qualities to consider and rate. 

Calontir has a long history of coaching judges to use gentler tactics, especially at Queens Prize, where everyone is newer. Like asking you how you want to be judged? By a grade or just chatting. And including any critical points sandwiched amoung way more praiseworthy comments.

Judges, yes there should be more than one, should be knowledgeable in the area they are expected to judge. The knowledge multiple judges bring to a  competition gives you a sense of fair play. It also allows a “teachable moment” to naturally happen between you and your judges. 

So a lot happens during each judging session at a Kingdom A & S competition.
But there’s also a competition shortcut. It is the popular “populace vote”. The one where you choose your favorite among entries. This competition type is well liked because the written documentation is almost none. It’s mostly listing the 5 Ws. Who. What. Where. When. Why. On a 3×5″ card.

There are drawbacks to populace “fav voting”. While the SCA and Calontir emphasize honor in the Society, it’s possible an entrant’s friends may vote their friendship rather than for the best quality entry. And the number of beans for each entrant may influence the choice others make. 

Populace choice competitions seldom have ties because when the designated deadline looms heralds announce to all the selection deadline is looming. So those who haven’t seen the entries may make a selection just to break a possible tie.

Judging at the 2018 12th Night event.

And what do you do if you are running the A & S competitions at an event? What if there is a tie? Do you have a formal plan B or pull one out of the air? 

It’s good to have any possible need for a backup defined in advance. If Kingdom Criteria are used you could designate “In the event of a tie, the score for Documentation” will be used as a tiebreaker.” Or  “If a tie occurs, a special tie-breaking Judge will apply the same Judging Criteria to determine the winner.” 

Contests are worth the effort. They’re fun and generate an arts and sciences buzz, awareness and potential entrant attention. But more goes into judging than you can see.

Related Prior Post: 
6 Links To Remove Scary From Writing SCA Documentation

Categories: Musings

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