HOF…An Opinion, Finally…

Okay, HOF thoughts have percolated in my brain long enough. Truly, it shouldn’t have taken this long. I know right from wrong, as do you. If it walks like a liar, talks like a liar, and makes see thru message board posts like a liar…well, you know the rest. I realize there is an awful lot at stake here. But anyone, HOF or Honorable Mention, who did not follow the photo rules should step down. CK should issue a FEE-YOU-JUS apology to all contestants, “winners”, and customers. And then let’s move on and get back to what we should all be doing: scrapbooking and enabling.

Here is how my opinion crystalized. And it’s pretty simple. You enter a scrapbooking contest run by a prestigious magazine. You read the rules to see what the parameters of this contest are, to make sure you aren’t confusing them with the rules from all the other contests and page calls you submit for. You painstakingly complete the required layouts to ensure you have done your very best work. You double, triple, quadruple check the rules of the contest because you certainly don’t want to be disqualified and have your entry rejected after all the work you just put into it. If you have any doubts or feel a rule is unclear, you go onto the free message board provided by the magazine and clarify the rules to make sure you understand every aspect. You fill out the required forms and sign your name that you have complied with the rules. You send it all in and keep your fingers crossed, feeling like you did the best you could and, if nothing else, you know your entry will at least be considered (and not returned to you) because you followed the rules to a “T”. The magazine receives your entry, along with hundreds of others. Each entry goes through several levels of a thorough screening process to ensure that all stated entry qualifications are met. This is a prestigious and life-altering contest, where the person(s) you choose will represent the magazine. Someone who can’t even follow the rules for a contest entry is someone a large magazine would not want to work with. They must be held to the highest standard. Revenues from this magazine are down, and staffing is more limited than in the past, but they work extra hours or hire temporary help or don’t sleep for 18 days, but they do whatever it takes to painstakingly weed out non-compliant entries. For one thing, fair is fair. For another, the magazine does not want to cause controversy, alienate readership, or encourage legal action. They take this very seriously, especially given that there have been accusations in past years’ contests of impropriety. If those accusations are unjustified, then the magazine has nothing to worry about – just keep doin’ what they’re doin’. Magazine staffers come across several entries that don’t comply with the rules; most of the violations are to the “100% of the photos must be taken by the entrant” rule. Crap! Many of these non-compliant entries are by well-known or well-regarded or cute or interesting or male or intriguing or excellent blogger scrapbookers! Crap! The magazine does not want to disqualify these entries. There are so many reasons why this or that person should be a winner, not rejected. Boy, they think, if we disqualify them we’re going to piss some people off. They check with their legal department and find out that they can legally disqualify the entries without fear of legal repercussions because the entrants clearly broke the stated rules. Crap! After clarifying any and all photos that include the entrant were either taken by someone else vs. a self-portrait with a timer, etc., the decision is made to disqualify the entries, as much as it sucks. Now that all the entries have been sorted and met the qualifications, they are made anonymous (as anonymous as you can be, when some of the layouts include Long Arm Self Portraits of the entrant). Judging begins, with a slow weeding down to the very ‘best of the best’ entries. One last check is made to ensure that all rules have been followed. Remember, this is a Pretty Big Deal Contest?? Can’t have any mistakes or questions of integrity. The winners are announced, the special HOF issue comes out, and the year progresses as always. Some disgruntled rejectees gripe on message boards, blogs or e-mails about this or that impropriety, but the magazine doesn’t pay any mind because they are confident that they are squeeky clean. They enforced all of the rules and the best entries were chosen from those which complied. The end.

But as we all know, that is not exactly what happened. And as much as we want to speculate, we will probably never know what really DID happen. But here are some of the possibilities, i.e. things that COULD HAVE happened, not saying they DID happen. Entrants misread or misunderstood or ignored the rules. CK ignored obvious violations of the rules. CK’s judging policy sucks, as it does not have any safeguards to ensure that all stated rules were followed. CK wanted certain scrapbookers to win so badly that they overlooked the rules or pretended they didn’t matter. CK decided on the winners, then realized the error, but decided to go forward because it was too late/too expensive/too embarrassing to admit their wrong. CK figured it was too late to right the wrong because the HOF issue had already gone to press and, hey, what were they going to do, print a whole other HOF issue? And forever embarrass those entrants they’d have to ‘out’ as Dirty Rule Breakers? Not gonna’ happen. CK lower level knew what happened early on but upper level did not take it seriously enough. Entrants who violated the rules wanted fame and publication so bad, they did what they had to. Entrants disagreed with the rules that were too difficult to meet, they complained, and CK decided to ease up. I mean, we could go on and on. It’s like my saying that “Nobody knows what goes on inside a marriage except the two people in it.” No one in Scrap World really knows what happened except, I would guess, about 5 to 10 people. And I doubt they’re gonna’ fess up. But I can not think of any scenario that allows, with any integrity and honesty, for this situation to have happened organically. Someone somewhere pulled a fast one. Obviously not anticipating the doggedness of the blog and message board community of scrappers, a community already fed up with Scrap Celebs and publishing favoritism and Life Artists and So There. This community was standing at the precipice and the HOF incident pushed them over the cliff.

I do want to say that I sympathize, yes sympathize, with CK. For 12 years, I worked for a high profile organization that had 10,000 employees. We were an excellent group and I was proud to work there. But like any other large organization, there were tons of problems and bad shizzle: miscommunications, lazy workers, red tape, staff shortages, disgruntled workers, disgruntled bosses, people who didn’t care as long as they got their paycheck, and complete and total lies told about us by the press. There were rumors and favoritism and gossip and Golden Children. There were times when I jumped to conclusions based on the limited information I was privy to, only to be proven completely wrong. After the first few times of eating crow, I learned to give people the benefit of the doubt, to let the dust settle before I drew a conclusion, and to remember that all of us are human and we all make mistakes. There are 10 sides to every story, and I’m sure CK and KC and everyone else has their defense. I can’t wait to hear it. If I’m proven wrong in my conclusions or opinions here, I’ll happily apologize. I’m not saying all this to hurt anyone. I’m just trying to make sense of it.

That said, I am disappointed in CK, but not surprised. I am appalled at ANY entrant who broke the rules, and who accepts prizes and recognition and stays silent when they know what they’ve done. Even if it was an honest mistake (how could it be?), apologize and step down if you have no decent explanation. I don’t think CK should oust them; it should be an action by the contestant. I am proud of everyone who stood up, called a spade a spade, and refused to be bullied or banned or silenced. I am heartbroken for any HOF entrant who followed the stated rules and did not win, now having to watch others enjoy the spot that could have been theirs. I am saddened that it has all come to this. I am hopeful that the industry has learned a huge lesson, and will do the right thing by us in the future. I have faith in you, my fellow scrappers, that we will cut everyone a little break, not be mean or snarky, and not kill the messenger. And I am certain that we will all remember that, ultimately, it’s not about contests and magazines and recognition anyway. It’s about your photos, your memories, your people, your life. Peace out…

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