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Tuesday, December 6, 2011


judgingpresent participle of judge (Verb)

  1. Form an opinion or conclusion about.
  2. Decide (a case) in a court of law.

For those who I allow to know me, know that I hate contests that involve subjectivity.  That includes most Second Life contests starting with the ever popular contests that you see at clubs.

The reason for this is exactly the subjectivity aspect of it, though my friend Tiffany1 would tell me, I'm a sore loser.

In 2002 Winter Olympics, a childhood memory stuck out in figure skating where the Russian figure skating pair beat out the Canadian pair despite the Russian pair making an obvious error versus the flawless Canadian performance.  What had happened was French judge had admitted she was influenced by head of the French skating organization, Didier Gailhaguet, to vote for the Russians regardless of the performance.  In exchange the Russians would vote for the French in the dance competition.

What this told me was that any judged event was inherently flawed.  People have opinions, people have different tastes, people have different moods.  What I find artistic, another might find distasteful.

As another example, I used to enjoy watching the dance competition "So you think you can Dance".  In season 3 my favorite Dancer and the dancer the judges themselves said was the best dancer, Danny Tidwell.  Though the judges could push the dancers to the finale, they would leave the decision of the overall winner to nationwide audience vote.  The lead judge could not refrain from making one final comment to influence the audience, that he would like to see a female win the overall competition.  And sure enough in a weeks time the winner was awarded to Sabra, the female finalist despite the fact that it was painfully clear Danny was the best dancer in a DANCE competition.  That turned me away from reality TV and I would not watch shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and So you think you Can Dance again.

Obviously leaving the decision to those who don't have expertise in a subject is nonsense.  As mentioned people without expertise will vote on subjective things like who had the cutest outfit on.   But not take it in the context of the event itself.

The worst cases of this happen in Second Life contests.  I remember being at a club where the winners weren't even in the theme.  They just dressed up in something sexy and won the popular vote.  The unfairness is obviously that the others were constrained to be within the theme of the evening.  For example, if the contest was Best in Burlap sack and everyone was trying to look good in an oversized potato sack, you expect the judgement to be based on the Burlap sack and not awarded to the thong bikini wearing person dressed out of theme just because she looks better than the others.

All this is a round about way to background my views on competition judging.

1.  A judge has to judge within the context of the event.  For this the judge should have knowledge about the event topic or theme itself.  For example I could not be a judge in a best barn building competition because I have no clues about the topic.  I could only judge it on how symmetrical it looks, or how pretty the coats of paint are.  I would know nothing about whether or not the barn is built with quality, or if it was good for housing livestock.

2.  A judge has to be impartial.  I admit it, there are some models I regard highly and others I regard less so.  Though I might be elated that a former student has improved so much, I must compare her against her possibly more talented peer and not on my personal affection towards that person.  To show favoritism jeapordizes the integrity of the organization.

3.  A judge has to be patient, wise, courageous to go against the popular opinion, firm, alert, scrupulous, sympathetic and insightful.  Though the audience may be screaming for one particular contestant to win, the judge will decide impartially.