Recent Webbys plagued with controversies

The recent 10th Philippine Web Awards concluded with more than its own fair share of controversies. Even before the events night, there were too many issues cropping left and right that made this year’s awards an interesting eye-opener.

  • Like any other year, contestants have repeatedly questioned the expertise and experience of the panel of judges. That does not even include potential conflicts of interest. Although I reckon that in any contest there will always be people challenging the results or the outcome. This time, however, nominees are voicing out concerns even before initial judging began.
  • Participants are now requesting copies of the scores from the semis to the finals for transparency. This was to eliminate any doubts in the scoring process for each site considering that some judges have been previously involved with nominated sites.
  • SMS voting was delayed and no details were posted on how to submit votes under the People’s Choice category. Likewise, a number of nominees are also lobbying that the voting count for SMS be made on the basis of a unique mobile number instead of just multiple votes. The existing system favors entities or organizations that have the financial capacity to push massive amounts of votes from their end. This trend has become very obvious because in the last 3 or more years, the same sites or nominees win the People’s Choice Award for their respective category.
  • Disqualifications are being debated constantly with offenses ranging from a modified design during the judging period to semi-finalists not abiding by contest rules in displaying official PWA banners on their respective websites indicating their inclusion. This has not been clearly resolved even after the awards itself.
  • The expensive nominations fees (Php2,500) have drastically limited the total number of entrants every year. It has been raised that the exorbitant entry fee makes the verified nominees not a representative of the entire Philippine webosphere.

And just recently, a winner has also been disqualified:

Media G8way Corp. (MGC) has announced that the winner for the Best Website and the People’s Choice awards under the Arts & Portfolio category of the recently held 10th Philippine Web Awards has been disqualified after it was found that the winning entry, www.einsteinarts.com, was an imitation of an existing template design being offered for sale.

In an e-mail to MGC, Einstein Gan, the designer of the Website, volunteered that he be disqualified, but stressed that he did not know about the existing template.

“œIt has come to my attention that many people have pointed out that my site www.einsteinarts.com had used a template from the site http://www.24-7media.de/os/popup.html,” Gan wrote in his e-mail. “œFor the record, I would like to clarify that I did not blatantly plagiarize the said template/platform.”

Gan said he got hold of the template as part of a CD archive of design templates given to him. “œI then tried to adapt and modify the template for my site,” he explained. “œIn any case, I realized that I have offended many of my colleagues in the business because of this. Also, to protect the good name of your organization, I would like the PWA committee to disqualify me from the recently concluded 10th Philippine Web Awards. I am willing to return the two trophies you have given me.”

Gan also voluntarily closed down his Website.

It’s a little disheartening to say the least but IMO the PWA should undergo some serious re-thinking.

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  • It’s like girls having to pay a “processiing” fee to enter a beauty pageant. A real contest would not charge.

  • OK, that’s a bit ridiculous. So you win an award, then you remove your website.

  • that’s weird! a real contest would not charge and normally, the contestants are nominated.

  • Actually, the first issue is that the actual PWA site (and fee payment processing) was so buggy that some people entering under “Blogs” category couldn’t pay and complete the submission. Very… uh, Web 1.0.

    When my friend tried to enter me (and tried to pay the $5.00 fee), she reported to me that she kept getting an error. I told her I’d isolate the issue. As a software tester by trade, I reproduced the steps and informed PWA by e-mail.

    If you recall, PWA kept delaying their final entry date… This is partially because they had so many bloody errors on their site. Hence, there were so many late entries and payments.

    Anyway, what followed was a series of e-mails between me and PWA reps and developers… who kept saying the issue was fixed. But then I’d re-test and tell them it wasn’t. And so on… until I received a final “ok, we fixed it”.

    THE PWA site itself SUCKS. For a web awards giving org, their site is riddled with errors and usability problemss

    But I gotta say, $5 was worth it (well, my pal’s money) since my Ratified.org shot up from #79 to #19! Lots of exposure, it seems resulted from being involuntarily nominated. 🙂

  • So much more discussion on the plagiarism issue here.

  • on response to PWA’s announcement on http://philippinewebawards.com/newsroom.asp?n=33

    Does it mean that the scores published at Googlepages are the real scores but, since it was published without PWA consent, is unauthorized?

    Still, PWA-Media G8way people are mum on the real issues here. Why? Are they afraid that no designers and developers will join next year’s Philippine Web Awards? Are they afraid they cannot gain profit next year which could potentially make Media G8way bankrupt? Yet they have time to check http://punongbayanaraullo.googlepages.com/ of its authenticity rather than taking time to answer all issues and controversies raised by the participants.

    The PWA-Media G8way people even have time to lurk and read all comments posted on blog sites containing PWA controversies rather than focusing on the real issues.

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