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A few years ago, I wondered what the heck was going on at
the local competition. So, I did what several people have
suggested--I volunteered to be a judge. My reaction was
similar to that of someone who has toured a hotdog factory
and never eats hotdogs again. Well, maybe not QUITE that
strong. But, I didn't feel as proud of my awards anymore
(in fact, I took them off my wall for about a year), and I
haven't entered the competition since.
Does anyone know if each chapter uses the same criteria, or
even the same judging forms? When I volunteered to judge, the
information and forms that I received looked as if they were
produced by the Houston chapter. (Strangely enough, most of
the people I know are much happier with the judges' evaluations
when our local chapter is not the one doing the judging.)
If the final competition is going to be fair, it seems like
every book that does or doesn't get there should be subjected
to the same criteria. (Actually, one of the things that really
surprised me is that the criteria are so darned loose. It
really did seem like a beauty contest; at least no one had to
parade around in a bathing suit.) If anyone wants to compare
materials, I'll bring mine to the annual conference.
Also, about judges conducting usability tests...it's a
wonderful idea, but I'm not sure it's practical. What would
you do with a manual that's supposed to help someone design
a PC board, or repair aircraft equipment? I think this might
be asking too much of a judge.
I like the idea of training for judges, too. One more thing
that I'd like to see is not allowing chapters to judge their
own entries. Maybe a round robin could be organized under the
auspices of the national (international?) committee. If one
chapter has a disproportionately large number of entries, maybe
the entries could be split up between two (or more) chapters.
That might lighten the burden a bit.
Pam Tatge, Member Group Technical Staff
Texas Instruments Semiconductor Group, Houston
pamt -at- steinbeck -dot- sc -dot- ti -dot- com