SpecWatch on design contests


SpecWatch has been cataloging unpaid and refunded projects, and those terminated due to copyright violation.

In their own words:

“We’re not going to debate the morality and / or ethics of participating in design contests and calls for crowdsourced design. We’re not going to debate whether these kinds of services are an effective way for buyers and clients to obtain design services. We’re not even going to debate how good, or bad, the work produced by design contests is or isn’t. Those arguments are raging elsewhere. Our main purpose is the look at the actual logistics of design contests and crowdsourcing to present the facts behind same. We’re not going to comment. We’re not going to editorialize. We’re simply going to present the facts as we discover them…”

Here are just a few examples of what’s going on.

“The winner of this contest was unawarded as she has used so much clipart we have had to suspend her permanently”

“According to the “suspended” designer’s profile, they had entered 711 contests and won 37 before being suspended “permanently”. Their portfolio still features the ‘unawarded entry’ as an example of a 99designs “product”.

No comment necessary.

Crowdspring vs. 99designs “Logo Smackdown”

“Two design contests, for the same logo, were run simultaneously on 99designs and Crowdspring by a Texas Startup Blog who wrote about their “Logo Smackdown”.

As if these contests weren’t wasting enough of designers’ time, one project was never going to be awarded from the outset. And this certainly isn’t the only case where no winner was selected.

“How do I know when buyers are trying to trick me?”

“A guy posted a project for $1000, after the project ends, seems like Crowdspring gives him his money back (even though there were more than 25 entries), and after that he sends me a message saying that the prize was to attract designers only, and offers $200 for my design. I’m okay to losing projects to other creatives, but this sucks, now how do I know when buyers are trying to trick me?”

Nasty. And it’s not an isolated incident.

How about this one, where yet another prohibited iStockphoto image wins a contest?

One of the contest holders on 99designs had this to say about the process after unknowingly selecting a copied logo as their “winner”:

“We are considering holding another contest, but currently questioning the value, considering the time investment of several people in our company policing designs, vs. just hiring someone directly whom we can then hold accountable for any infringements.”

You can read the whole sorry tale of plagiarism via SpecWatch.

Have you had any similar contest experiences?

This appears to be a regular occurrence on Crowdspring and 99designs, and to see for yourself you should follow SpecWatch on Twitter.

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