Saturday, February 04, 2006

Rule 13

I opened up my e-mail this morning to find that Fully Booked had entered a new post in their mailing list -- specifically, their mailing list for contest updates:

> To: gaiman_writingcontest @
> Date: Fri, 03 Feb 2006 09:31:43 -0600
> Subject: [gaiman_writingcontest] VERY IMPORTANT REMINDER! *gasp!*

The MOST IMPORTANT RULE is the ominous # 13.

Visit your group "gaiman_writingcontest" on the web.
To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.

Yup, that's it. That's all it said.

It makes me wonder just how much effort they're putting into this endeavor.

It's funny, really: You're one of the biggest sources of high-profile literature in metropolitan Manila. You're running one of the most extravagant writing contests in the history of the Philippines. You're being sponsored by an influential author with an international repertoire. You're giving details to more than a thousand people, all of whom are most likely scrambling to reach the deadline for your contest.

And in what's supposed to be a "very important reminder", this is all you tell us?


Frankly, I'm disappointed. Who writes these "updates", anyway?

Are they aware that the contest rules on the Fully Booked web site were inaccessible for the longest period of time early this year because something was wrong with their registration system? For that matter, were they aware that said registration system was very inconvenient (and easily bypassed) for anyone who just wanted to read the rules?

Are they aware that the contest rules are displayed as an image on their site? This makes the download extremely slow for anyone who isn't on a Broadband connection. Heck, the contest rules are all in text. Why don't they display it in text format, to begin with?

Are they aware that the contest rules still show the deadline date as "January 31, 2006"? Sure, there's now a label that indicates the deadline extension, but as of their last message, plenty of people still assumed that they were running under the original due date. Either they made the change too late, or the addendum just isn't very noticeable. And why don't they just edit the darn January listing in the first place?

Put all this together, and you can understand why just placing a reference to "Rule Number 13" just isn't going to cut it.

Does everybody have convenient access to the contest rules? No.

Can everybody efficiently acquire a copy of the contest rules? No.

Is everybody aware that the contest rules have been updated? No.

I still have a copy of these regulations from when I first heard about the competition, which was sometime in early December. And based on my little reference here, Rule 13 reads as follows:

"13. For comics, all artwork should be in black and white. No signatures must appear on any of the pages of the entries."

Yup, I'm sure that that must be plenty important.

Obviously, the contest rules have been updated since the time I first right-clicked on my browser window and saved these words for posterity. I know that they've been updated -- I visited the site just this morning.

In fact, when I visited the site this morning, I found it offline. I did manage to find what I presume is the most recent version of the contest rules, but it took quite a bit of trial-and-error on my part.

You're running a competition that rivals the Palanca Awards, people. You're organizing an effort that's supposed to help put alternative Philippine literature in the spotlight. You're speaking to over a thousand people whose entries hang on every detail in every one of your words.

There is a way to do this right, and believe me, you're far from doing it.

Throw us a bone, people. Give us something to work with. Toss us a line. We're your audience, for God's sake. We may be writers, but we're still your audience.

You may have one of the biggest contests to come around since contests were even invented, but we're the people who make your endeavor possible. We populate your little marketing-based world. You need us.

Don't sell us short like this.


Sean's Note: The current Rule Number 13, for those interested, goes as follows:
"13. All rules and guidelines of the contest must be followed STRICTLY. Non-compliance will subject the submission to immediate disqualification."
My reference for what I presume is the most recent version of the contest rules is at the following address:

You're welcome to have a look, everyone. Do keep in mind, however, that this may or may not be the final set of regulations that we're supposed to be follow. For your inquiries, please reference the Fully Booked web site (assuming that it's available, of course).

Sean's Note 2: I'm sending a copy of this article to the only referenced Fully Booked e-mail address I know of. They may not like me for it, but at least I know that I'll be saying exactly how I feel, and at least I know that those feelings are justified. And hey, if worst comes to worst and it takes me out of the running, then that means less competition for you, doesn't it?


g :3 said...

So have they responded about it?
Yeah they should be a little more professional about it... I just have a screenshot of the rules myself for reference back by the end of January when you told me that they extended to Feb 28 (which in my reference still said jan 30) I got tired of registering over and over just to make sure I got the rules right, and to pass it on to other people.

Well maybe someone did take notice since the guidelines to the contest is no longer clickable (all reference still pointing to the jan 30 deadline) exept for that extended burst slapped over a part of the front page.

jeff-reiji said...

He, he, good thing I don't have any intentions of joining. :P

Sean said...

Reiji: Er... why not? I'll grant that the competition is tough, but it's likely to be one of the few sci-fi/fantasy/horror writing contests around here.

g:3: Their response message arrived the next morning. It read as follows:

Subject: Re: [gaiman_writingcontest] VERY IMPORTANT
REMINDER! *gasp!*
Date: Sat, 04 Feb 2006 18:57:07 -0600

Hello Sean!

It's pretty simple. :) Rule 13 is the most important, in that it states if any of the other rules are not followed properly the submission will be disqualified. The rules have always been available at, as noted in one of the first messages to the mailing list (viewable through the public archive; you don't even have to be a member to read it), which asked members to bookmark the url of the rules page, and so we are assuming that if you have access to the internet to read your email announcement then you have access to the internet to look at the rules page. If the rules were updated in any way, the mailing list would've been the first to know (and they were, the one time we updated). That's why we set up the mailing list in the first place. :)

That said, the web department have been unfortunately slow to move on certain things; this has been brought to our attention and we are doing our best to improve it.

Thank you for your input and we look forward to your submission! :)

To which I responded with:

Subject: Re: [gaiman_writingcontest] VERY IMPORTANT
REMINDER! *gasp!*
Date: Sun, 05 Feb 2006 03:51:48


I KNOW it's plenty simple. I have access to Rule 13, and I'm thankful that I have the resources and facilities to look it up.

What concerns me is that posting a message that says nothing BUT "Remember Rule 13" may be terminally misleading to others. The message by itself holds practically nothing about content, intent or substance. It gets people wondering exactly what "Rule 13" is, with no ready reference in sight.

You mention that one of the first messages to the mailing list noted the address of the contest rules, as well as a request to bookmark them. I believe that the last such message was sent on January 3. I count over 300 people who joined the mailing list after that date, and who most likely missed that post. They may or may not have access to your archives; E-mail access, unfortunately, does not and should not imply a certain degree of skill in internet use.

Could you offer us even a bit more detail next time, please? It would mean better help for us plebeians here.


g :3 said...

You can bet that they'll be watching out for YOUR entry. ;)

Anonymous said...

i'm a neil gaiman fan since forever and i've heard about the contest early this year, too. but i have to disagree that this contest rivals the palanca awards.

Sean said...

g:3: Hopefully not. That would put a damper on both our credibilities...

Anonymous: Yeah, it felt awkward comparing this to the Palanca Awards. But in terms of participation audience, it does: Plenty of people join the Palanca Awards because of the status involved in winning them. Plenty of people are joining the Fully Booked contest because of the sheer amount of money being awarded.

Otherwise, it remains to be seen as to whether or not this contest will turn out entries comparable to the Palancas in terms of quality. With that said, however, I don't think the Palancas have done a very good job in acknowledging non-social-realist styles of writing. A venue that actively seeks to recognize these is long overdue.

banzai cat said...

Hehe the email link on the ground rules Fully-Booked sent you says "HTTP 404 Not Found".

The irony is killing me.

P.S. How's the story going?

Sean said...

Banzai Cat: What story? I haven't written a darn thing yet. :)