Thursday, September 29, 2016

Quick Poll: How Do You Feel When a Contest Deadline is Extended?

Last year I was asked to serve as contest chair for a conference occurring this fall.

In the past I've enjoyed attending this conference, have paid to sponsor contests, have been a guest speaker, and have served as a volunteer judge. So, I agreed to volunteer for the conference chair job, as well as help with registration.

One of the benefits of attending this conference is that anyone registered (except of course the board members and conference chair) has the opportunity to enter the dozens of contests -- at no additional cost.

The contest entries (two copies each) began to arrive in July. I was excited when they appeared in my mailbox and started sorting and organizing them right away.

Dozens of people entered multiple contests. (There were 31 categories in all.)

One person who entered several contests sent each entry in a separate envelope, which made a lot of extra work for me, and added expense for her. I wrote and suggested she bundle her entries together to save money but did not receive a response. Some folks included notes thanking me for being conference chair, which made me feel good.

The original deadline for entering fell a few days before the Labor Day weekend, so I suggested to board members that the deadline be extended until the day after Labor Day.

The only drawback I could see was the judges would have a few days less time to complete their judging. All but one judge was fine with the shortened time for judging, and that was because he was leaving for vacation the day the entries arrived at his house.

The biggest (and most hurtful) complaint about the deadline extension came from someone who felt cheated because other writers would have extra time to submit their entries and thus more opportunities to win contests she might've won. (Although she also had the additional days to submit more entries if she chose.)

I'm trying to keep a positive attitude, so I won't go into all the ugly details, but I would like to take a quick poll of my writer friends out there:

How do you feel when a contest deadline is extended?

Do you feel relieved to have a few extra days to submit?

Do you get angry if a deadline is extended?

Do you feel cheated that it's unfair to those who entered at the original deadline?

Have you ever been a contest chair and had to deal with an issue like this?


  1. Feel cheated? No.
    Feel angry? No.
    Feel relieved? Yes.

    Donna, you can't make everybody happy all the time and when it comes to some people, you can't make them happy any of the time.

    If I were you, I'd indulge in a beverage (a red one, a pink one or a white one) and forget that crabby snotbox. Just let that stuff roll off you, and move forward.

    1. Thanks for your answers and support, Sioux. What concerned me is this person said extending the deadline was illegal.

  2. As one trying to wrest the Princess of Procrastination crown off Sioux's noggin, I also feel relieved. I sometimes wish I had a rushed piece back to fine-tune it, but I don't think an extended deadline is unfair.

    The people who are going to beat me in a contest are not the ones who submit at the last instant like I did. They are more likely the ones who submitted way in advance of the deadline.

    I don't want to place 5th in a contest with 5 entries. I want to place 5th in a contest with 100 entries!

    1. Hi Val,
      I'm up there with you in the procrastination group. And I agree that it's much better to come in 5th of 100 than 5th of 5.
      Guess I'm still learning.

  3. Usually I'm relieved if a contest deadline is extended. I might have a fleeting moment of irritation if I have gotten all of my entries in on time when other writers didn't, but more competition is better. And especially in this case when there's no separate entry fee. I don't think this contestant really has any legitimate cause to complain.

  4. Usually I'm relieved if a contest deadline is extended. I might have a fleeting moment of irritation if I have gotten all of my entries in on time when other writers didn't, but more competition is better. And especially in this case when there's no separate entry fee. I don't think this contestant really has any legitimate cause to complain.

  5. I've never entered a writing contest, but I can't see how a few days could possibly make a big difference to anyone.

  6. It would probably annoy me a bit if I had pushed to get my entry in on time when it turned out I didn't have to, but not to the point where it would really bother me, where I would get upset, etc. One of those minor irritations/first world problems kind of things.

  7. I agree with all the comments so far. If I submitted a piece that I knew could have been better if I had more time, then the fault really is mine. A few more days gives me a chance to send something else I may have not gotten to. I usually do submit at the last minute, just in case I can improve something, but that's on me, not the contest chairperson. Sure, more competition is a bummer, but as has been said, I'd rather win on quality than quantity.

    Let me say that as a judge, I'd sure like to have some worthy entries to award instead of having to award not so worthy ones because I didn't have enough to choose from. Perhaps the judges should be asked before the deadline is extended, just in case they do have a conflict, but that could be a lot of trouble to do, especially with 31 (!) categories.

    As far as illegal? Nope. High quality, respected contests do it all the time. Just today Zoetrope announced an extension. It's not a sweepstakes! The winner should be judged on merit, not odds.

    You are to be thanked for agreeing to chair. It's a time consuming job with no real perks. You are appreciated. Just tell the complainers that you're sorry they feel that way, but the contest will proceed as decided. You need not cajole or explain. No matter what, someone will think they have a better way - one that they think improves their own chances.

    1. You know, If we stuck to hard and fast "rules" a lot of entrants would be disqualified for things like margins and spelling. I do hate it when entries are not formatted correctly, but I'd still rather award on merit than on computer skill!

  8. I can see it both ways, however, everyone has to be respectful and consider the "why." I'm like the rest... if there's more entries, more competition and the better I'd feel if I won.

  9. I am always grateful when I see a contest deadline extended. You cannot please everyone.

  10. I'm usually a procrastinator, so when a deadline is extended last minute (like right after I pressed the submit button or put the piece in the mail), I'm bummed out because no doubt my work would have been Pulitzer-worthy if I knew I had a few extra days to work on it (LOL).

    I suppose the only real drawback with extending a deadline is it tends to fan the fires of discontent, and gives the contest chair one more headache they don't need.

    BTW, I'm blown away with what a great job you did handling hundreds of entries. Your patience amazes me!



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