Just a contest dos and (mostly) don'ts. No actually more than that.

Note: This post is actually a not-so-literal translation of the previous one (http://nguyenhuyanhh.blogspot.com/2014/04/3-tuan-canh-google-docs-nhung-khoanh.html).

29/04/2014, 21h00. The very last time I press that "save" button in the Apps Script editor. Did a copy-paste special values-only on the data, officially locked that into the database. Done with the first round of RED Your Song contest (bit.ly/TSVNContest) organised by the fanpage Taylor Swift Vietnam (which I'm a current admin of) and sponsored by Cornetto. It requires participants to submit a YouTube video of them singing to Red by none other than Taylor Swift.

I've only been in this position for a little more than a year, done this data collection on Docs twice or thrice and I must say it's a pretty interesting job. Probably thanks to my love for El Goog (yes, their Spreadsheets are really powerful) and my general interest in stats. However this time the task is slightly different in nature - it's a contest, the prize is ludicrous and that means only one thing: extreme precision. There's a set of Terms and Conditions (T&Cs), just abide with it and if I need clarifications, ask the big guy.

Still there are problems.

Too many frustrations over the past three weeks. Some anger I have already released thanks to my bloody good friend Twitter, some I have saved until today.

The very first contest don't. DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY WITHOUT FIRST READING THE TERMS & CONDITIONS.

T&Cs are there for a reason. When there's a certain convention in place for the video title/ description, please please please follow it. Normally when I process entries, I don't leave the T&Cs opened (any additional Chrome tab slows my 4 year-old netbook down to another degree). Whenever I need to nudge someone (not one, but at least 7 or 8) over naming convention I need to open that very tab and copy & paste the exact wording. You heard it right, the exact wording is inside the T&Cs, just bloody COPY & PASTE over and update the necessary parts. One concession I have to make is when videos are mobile-uploaded - they couldn't copy & paste the wording over. But not many actually uploaded their entries from their mobile devices. The rest have completely no reason not to perform one very simple task: COPY & PASTE. So simple it hurts.

The second contest don't. Not exactly annoying to many, not really to me since I can sort of fix with relative ease when entering the data. But not very pleasing to the eye and still annoying. IRREGULAR FORMATTING.

The contest T&Cs (yes I really love them T&Cs) state that certain personal information is to be provided along with the video entry, among which the residential address. The not-so-pleasing-to-the-eye irregular formatting styles: 1. Non-capitalized street names, town names, district names, city/ province names. Or any proper nouns for that matter. Not so pleasing to the eye. 2. Use of typed punctuation marks (the comma, mostly) that does not follow the simple rule of "no space in front, exactly one after" (I don't know how to officially name it so I just give a literal description). Not so pleasing to the eye.

This is what you should do (and I highly appreciate those who did): provide me nicely-formatted info in the particular order stated in the T&Cs. By then, my task is highly effortless copy & paste. COPY & PASTE, definitely a good skill to hone in the workplace.

The last one, not entirely a don't or a particular annoyance. More like my blood starts to boil and my mind filled with rage when it's expressed or questioned. This type of query started to pop off more often closer to the deadline of submission (9pm last night. very special) and exploded when the results were announced.

A more intrinsic part to every contest, its FAIRNESS in determining the winner(s). Or in other words, the idea of every contestant gets an equal chance of winning.

Let me state this: in life generally nothing is fair. Taking the big -isms that sort of rule the world over the past century, communism and capitalism, they are only fair to a certain extent. In a communist state, everybody gets the same amount of wealth no matter what they do or how hard they work. That's really fair. In a capitalist state, there are people with everything and there are people with nothing. That's certainly fair. It seems really far-fetched, but if big ideologies only STRIVE to achieve a certain fairness, is it any easier for such a small, trivial contest to be "fair"?

People are born different, and their life experiences make people even more different from each other. There's a participant of this contest who's a former contestant on Vietnam's version of The Voice Kids. And you expect him to be the same as everyone else entering this contest? He has a fanclub 1.5 times the size of the organisers' page alone, with a YouTube channel anyone wants to subscribe. And he just so happens to be a fan of Taylor Swift.

If you really wants everyone to be treated equally, there's the set of T&Cs I mentioned earlier. As mentioned in my first don't, there are people who don't follow T&Cs. Should I just, in the name of fairness, strike them out immediately, without any probability for challenge?

We did our best to ensure the contest is as fair as possible. There's the use of YouTube to avoid shadow accounts for the sole purpose of liking/ (re-)tweeting. There's the use of a special Apps Script (I really love Google) that takes me a few hours to write and perfect, to count the views automatically, and to lock the viewcount of all videos at exactly 9pm at the click of that "save" button (you see, without that script I would have to do manual work, opening every video to get the viewcount. Introducing unnecessary errors and overall not very elegant). Participants managed to get the videos in early got the advantage of extra time dealing with the infamous "301+ views" lock of YouTube; pretty fair because they are early and they should be rewarded for timeliness. When a video is removed by YouTube we investigate. Is there any email from YouTube regarding Terms of Use's violations? Is there a replacement for the removed? How many views were recorded on the removed?

Maybe instead of the questions "is the contest fair?", "did I get ripped off?", the questions all contestants need to ask are "did I try my best?", or "did I deserve to be treated fairly?". There's no coincidence to why a need for these honest queries. While there are contestants getting to the top 5, 10 despite sending in entries in the later half of the contest duration, there's a tiny number of contestants, overwhelmed by jealousy, made hurtful remarks towards others. Unacceptable behaviour indeed.

And as the organisers, we are truly sorry for the number of contestants disappointed with the results while trying your best. To reasons like 301 or false TOS flags by YouTube. Nothing is without flaws.

The important thing is, please let this contest serve its sole purpose: picking a pair deserving of a trip to Singapore to meet Taylor and watch the June 12th show.

May all these troubles be peacefully resolved.

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