Sometimes the Mountain climbs you
You’ve probably heard a lot in the past week about the My Mountain contest I’m a finalist in. The prize is a feature on Schachenmayr’s website, a Ravelry ad, and an iPad Mini.
Last night, my wife and I had a conversation. She said, “Why do you care so much about winning this contest?” I said, among other things, “because I want to see one of the hats that does something really interesting and unique with their yarn get recognition … and I could use the publicity”.
The contest started out as “one vote per person”. Then, “one vote per person per IP”, because they couldn’t keep people from voting twice using multiple machines. Finally, they changed it to “one vote per person per IP per day”. When SMC made this last change to the rules, this contest became something different from its intended goal. Originally, it was a contest at least partially based on the merit of the design — sure, people with larger/more active social networks and/or smartphones would be able to get more votes, but people whose designs were interesting and innovative would still have a fighting chance. Now, the contest is unfairly skewed toward people who have large and loyal followings — the very people who don’t need to win. Now I’m not saying that I need to win — after all, I’m ostensibly a successful designer in my own right — but I feel like most of the other hats that are truly creative and unique are not getting the votes they deserve.
Perhaps this is because, like me, their creators spend time being creative and unique people, and don’t spend as much time being social butterflies. Unlike me, they probably realized they weren’t going to be able to compete on this playing field a while ago and just let the votes fall where they may. But when one person can add 200+ votes to their total in a matter of hours while the rest of us are asleep, I cannot hope to compete. Also, I found myself in the unenviable position of competing with someone who I consider a friend, and if I can help him win by letting myself fall behind, then that is the better part of valor.
My conversation with my wife ended with a realization and a resolve — not to double-down on my vote-whoring, but to back off. The contest is not about who has the best hat anymore. It’s about who’s able to get Schachenmayr the most Likes on Facebook, and who’s able to keep their vast networks engaged long enough without alienating their followers. I barely post on FB and Twitter. I don’t even make one blog post per month! I am clearly not going to be winning this one.
The other part of the conversation was to ask myself what’s really important to me? Is it to spend the week worrying about a silly game? Or would I be better served by working on my many unfinished knitting projects? Do I want to be a prolific knitwear designer, constantly jumping from contract to contract, deadline to deadline? Or do I want to continue developing techniques and working on new patterns in pursuit of an eventual second book? The answers are fairly obvious, if you know anything about me.
All that said, I’m going to stop with the daily posts and go back to my usual periodic updates. If by some magic I win anyway, I’ll be happy but I’m not going to hold my breath. All I ask is that you vote for the hats — not just the people — you want to win, because only by rewarding unique and creative knitting will you get more unique and creative knitting.