Selecting Our Contest Winners

On a recent survey of subscribers, a few comments suggested that the selection of contest winners is subjective. I agree. The results are totally subjective. What is funny to one person is often not funny to another.
– Here is some background on the judging process for our contests.
– I try to minimize the subjectivity factor by having at least 8 – 10 judges for each contest. And usually the panel of judges is different each month. Sometimes I take the ballots to an improv workshop, sometimes to a Toastmasters meeting, sometimes I email the ballot to friends who I think would be good judges.   The judges do NOT know who authored the jokes.
– The judges usually range in age from 20s to 80s, and are usually about half men/women. But the bottom line is that the selection of one judge is just an opinion. There is no clear-cut, objective way to arrive at the Top Three entries each month.
– The results of the contests will naturally also be affected by our use of mostly American-English-speaking judges.
– And each month I’m reminded of the subjective nature of humor. My favorite entry is usually not the favorite entry of the judges. In fact, sometimes my favorite entry is not even in the top three!
– Have you ever thought that one of the Honorable Mention entries should have been in the Top Three, and wondered why it wasn’t? Or maybe you wondered why one of your submissions didn’t even make the Honorable Mention list?
– We have already mentioned that the big factor is the subjectivity of humor. What is funny to one person may not be funny to another.
– Another factor might be that a particular joke didn’t make it past the editor (me). I apply a certain standard of corporate-quality humor and also act as the Politically Correct Police for the contests.
– Also, it’s not practical to produce a judge’s ballot with 500 jokes on it. Someone has to narrow the field down to a manageable number of jokes. I usually prepare a ballot with what I consider the top 20 jokes. Then the judges pick the top three. If I have at least five judges, I don’t vote for the Top Three selection.
– The judges don’t know who submitted the individual jokes. Occasionally, but not often, the judges may pick select a Top Three which includes two jokes by the same author. When that happens, I pick that author’s best joke (as determined by the judges) to include in the Top Three and I move the fourth place joke into third. This expands our winner recognition.
– Another factor why an Honorable Mention joke may be your favorite and not be one of our winners, is that the joke may be submitted by the person who suggested the theme for the month. When someone creates the joke theme for the month, they are permitted to be on the Honorable Mention list, but not in the Top Three.   We feel it wouldn’t look right for the person who contributed the theme to also be the winner.
– Sometimes some of the Honorable Mention jokes were written by me. It’s not often I include my own jokes, but sometimes I do. My jokes never appear in the Top Three.
– So there you have a little insight into the judging process and why one of your favorite jokes only made Honorable Mention or didn’t even appear on the list at all.