Sometimes the Mountain climbs you

You’ve probably heard a lot in the past week about the My Mountain contest I’m a finalist in. The prize is a feature on Schachenmayr’s website, a Ravelry ad, and an iPad Mini.

Last night, my wife and I had a conversation. She said, “Why do you care so much about winning this contest?” I said, among other things, “because I want to see one of the hats that does something really interesting and unique with their yarn get recognition … and I could use the publicity”.

The contest started out as “one vote per person”. Then, “one vote per person per IP”, because they couldn’t keep people from voting twice using multiple machines. Finally, they changed it to “one vote per person per IP per day”. When SMC made this last change to the rules, this contest became something different from its intended goal. Originally, it was a contest at least partially based on the merit of the design — sure, people with larger/more active social networks and/or smartphones would be able to get more votes, but people whose designs were interesting and innovative would still have a fighting chance. Now, the contest is unfairly skewed toward people who have large and loyal followings — the very people who don’t need to win. Now I’m not saying that I need to win — after all, I’m ostensibly a successful designer in my own right — but I feel like most of the other hats that are truly creative and unique are not getting the votes they deserve.

Perhaps this is because, like me, their creators spend time being creative and unique people, and don’t spend as much time being social butterflies. Unlike me, they probably realized they weren’t going to be able to compete on this playing field a while ago and just let the votes fall where they may. But when one person can add 200+ votes to their total in a matter of hours while the rest of us are asleep, I cannot hope to compete. Also, I found myself in the unenviable position of competing with someone who I consider a friend, and if I can help him win by letting myself fall behind, then that is the better part of valor.

My conversation with my wife ended with a realization and a resolve — not to double-down on my vote-whoring, but to back off. The contest is not about who has the best hat anymore. It’s about who’s able to get Schachenmayr the most Likes on Facebook, and who’s able to keep their vast networks engaged long enough without alienating their followers. I barely post on FB and Twitter. I don’t even make one blog post per month! I am clearly not going to be winning this one.

The other part of the conversation was to ask myself what’s really important to me? Is it to spend the week worrying about a silly game? Or would I be better served by working on my many unfinished knitting projects? Do I want to be a prolific knitwear designer, constantly jumping from contract to contract, deadline to deadline? Or do I want to continue developing techniques and working on new patterns in pursuit of an eventual second book? The answers are fairly obvious, if you know anything about me.

All that said, I’m going to stop with the daily posts and go back to my usual periodic updates. If by some magic I win anyway, I’ll be happy but I’m not going to hold my breath. All I ask is that you vote for the hats — not just the people — you want to win, because only by rewarding unique and creative knitting will you get more unique and creative knitting.

13 thoughts on Sometimes the Mountain climbs you

  1. Well said Alasdair! As the consumer I really would like to vote for my favorite, but really, once is enough. Popularity contests are never fun, for either side. I don’t care how many friends I have as long as the ones I have are true. I am very happy to see you say you feel the same about your knitting fans. If a few of us fall out of voting without a daily reminder I’m sure it won’t be because we suddenly stopped liking you it will be because it’s a damned nuisance to do it! You’ve designed a great hat and I can’t wait for the pattern, but really you won’t loose a thing if you don’t win this contest because I’ll still advertise to just as many people as I know that I knit this design by Alasdair Post-Quinn and if you want one like it go get his patterns, buy his books and knit his designs…because they are good, maybe not the most popular but good! You once said, I don’t remember where, that your designs fall in a niche market and while we may not be the biggest market we are a loyal one. Just because I have hit a snag in my Atryia hat doesn’t mean I’m going to throw it away, it just means I need a break and pretty soon I’m going to go figure out that darned stitch Alasdair came up with because that’s why I bought it, so I could learn something new and different and I will probably buy his next new and different design as well….and those, my friend, are the only votes that really count!

  2. Hi Alaisdair,

    I am a yarn store owner who is working with Westminster Fibers to help build awareness of My Mountain through social media. I helped come up with the idea for the contest, and am helping to manage the My Mountain Facebook page and other social media. We developed the contest because we wanted this to be a grass-roots effort, and we wanted independent designers to get recognition. I have a staff of 20 people at our yarn stores. Many of them design, including myself. I know it can be hard for independent designers to garner the recognition they deserve, and I wanted this contest to be run with integrity, fairness and respect for everyone’s time, with truly valuable rewards to the semifinalists and winning designers. I believe that we have achieved these goals. Please allow me to correct one statement in your blog. We originally set the consumer voting to be one vote per IP address, per day. When concern arose that some people might be finding a way to vote more than once, and when it was mistakenly assumed and announced on many blogs (including yours) that voting was once per day, we decided the most fair thing to do was open the voting to once per day for all. We do not want it to be a popularity contest. But no matter who wins, all 18 semifinalists are rewarded with publicity, awareness, and payment for their designs. In fact, the more votes there are total (and there are 8,000 thus far), the more people see your designs, and the more all the designers win. So I believe it is truly a win-win for all. Lastly, I want to add that I literally gasped when I saw your hat for the first time. The design and the photography is stunning. I know many others on the panel who impartially judged the 215 entries felt the same way. So thank you for your entry and your thoughtful posts. I too, hope the best design wins.

    Shelley Brander

  3. Shelley —

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply and your compliment for my work. I’m also happy that you enjoyed the photography — you can’t tell from the shot, but that’s basically a “selfie” done with a DSLR in one hand and a remote control in the other.

    I made sure to word my post carefully so that I did not appear to accuse anyone of any wrongdoing, and I apologize if it seems that way. But a correction for your correction: I never posted to my blog about the “one vote per day” thing — I did post to FB about that but deleted my comments when I realized they were based on false information. Only after the voting rules were changed did I begin mentioning it in my FB posts.

    I’m glad to have been part of this adventure, and I thank you for the opportunity and rewards you’ve given all the semifinalists. The point of my post was really that I’m happy with what I have and I’m not going to wear myself out trying for the unattainable stars when I could be knitting :>

    Best,
    Alasdair

  4. I have been faithfully voting for you every day but it has become painfully obvious that this is a popularity contest. I’ll still vote but I don’t blame you for declining to flog this contest everyday. Your work speaks for itself and you don’t need to win a contest for people to know that.
    Best,
    Lucy

  5. Wow, I can’t believe it was a selfie! I need to take selfie lessons from you 🙂

    Point taken on the “correction.” As I said, there were lots of semifinalists who thought it was one per day. Lots of contests do use the once-a-day option, but (ironically) we were trying to make it as much about the design as possible.

    And now I think I will try to go knit a little, too! 😀

  6. Then of course, there are those of us who can’t even *see* the designs, because the Facebook page isn’t a public one. Only people who are logged in to Facebook and who ‘like’ MyMountain can view the contest.

  7. Sarah-Marie, I never liked my mountain and I vote every day….try doing it through your web browser instead.

  8. Spalover: web browser instead of… what? Is there some other way to attempt to view facebook pages? I’ve no clue what you’re referring to. I followed the link in the post above.

  9. Sarah-Marie: if you are using the Facebook app on an iPad….click on the link as you have been but when the page opens look in the upper right corner, you should see one of those swoosh type arrows that means “go to” in most iPad apps. Click that. Pop up window asks what to do, you want “open in Safari” or whatever web browser you use. If you check that you actually leave Facebook and open your web browser to view the very same page, at which point you are no longer connected through Facebook so you won’t be asked to like the page.

    I don’t know how to do this on android gadgets but I imagine it’s much the same.

  10. Um, Spalover, I don’t have a Facebook account and I don’t have an iPad. I am on a desktop machine, and used a web browser to click the link in Alasdair’s post. So when I said that one had to be logged into Facebook to see the page, I meant that this was required when using a web browser. When you view that page linked from a Facebook app, I’m sure the systems uses your Facebook credentials to auto-log you in.

  11. sarah-marie: Well, apparently you are right. My ipad does have my Facebook info but my desktop does not, so I tried it from my desktop and you’re right, it won’t let me in unless I verify I like the page. I apologize for misinforming you. And now, I also think that is a real bummer and it certainly does confirm what Alasdair said about it being just another way to see “who’s able to get Schachenmayr the most Likes on Facebook,” which is a real shame because it really should be about the design and nothing else!

  12. I concur that the rules of the contest become less ethical with the one vote per IP. It became more about how many friends the person had, and less about the lovely designs of the hats in the final 18. I have friends with widely different tastes, some that knew one of the finalists, some that didn’t. We were discussing that several of us noticed the huge jump in the number of votes on a few entries. Some suggestions for the next contest (I hope there is another charity contest) is separate crochet and knitting entries, and to somehow limit the way in which each person con vote so many times. Just my two cents worth, but no matter the winner, the true winner is the charity that gets the proceeds from the pattern. I hope everyone involved will support it.

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