April 27, 2001
6:43 AM   Subscribe

Join the first-ever Blogger Template Design Contest and you might win part of over $6,000 in prizes!

p.s. contest only open to residents of the United States, so nuts to you if you're a dirty steenkin foreigner
posted by lia (51 comments total)
"The Contest is offered only to legal residents of the United States, age 18 or older,..."
"Your dog Sparky, no matter how clever, may not enter either. Sorry."

All foreigners are only equal to dogs. Nice! But really, why is it only open to residents of the United States? There are plenty of blogs from all over the world, some of them are very popular, there are many other contests, design or writing that are web-based and are open to anyone, from every country. Seems really weird.

And I really don't need more macromedia software, I'd wish it wasn't prize fixed, instead gave you some exposure, or you know, linked your site for a month or two.
posted by tiaka at 7:01 AM on April 27, 2001

That's exactly my question! Why the heck do they not allow us (=Europeans, or non US residents to make it more general) to participate in the contest?
posted by kchristidis at 7:17 AM on April 27, 2001

I bet it has to do with tax laws or something of that sort.
posted by CRS at 7:21 AM on April 27, 2001

If you want it to be open to Canadians, just throw a skill-testing question in there, and you're all set. Isn't that how it goes?

Come on, Ev. I need me some Dreamhost Crazy Domain Insane hosting like you wouldn't believe. My site is currently being hosted by a tin can and string.
posted by Succa at 7:24 AM on April 27, 2001

Contest laws vary in odd ways from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and it was probably just too complex to figure out where outside the U.S. the contest would be legal. Of course, since this is an honest-to-god contest of design skill, as opposed to a sweepstakes, wouldn't the Canadian skill-testing laws already be satisfied?
posted by harmful at 7:26 AM on April 27, 2001

I new my citizenship in the United States was going to be worth something.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 7:55 AM on April 27, 2001

Cute, one of the prizes is ColdFusion Studio, but no ColdFusion Server :) I looked through the dreamhost prizes too, but didn't see that they provided CF hosting.
posted by pnevares at 8:17 AM on April 27, 2001

It's really weird to see something light 'n fluffy like a design contest have to get all official and crap. Especially when it's coming from Pyra/Blogger, a place more known for honest, open, funny stuff like this.

No non-US entries? No one under 18?! (who else besides teens have the time, talent, and energy, and are willing and wanting to get exposure from something like this?) Did Macromedia insist it be like this? New Riders? Dreamhost? Pyra?

It's the web.

It's Blogger.

Blogger was built by real people, for real people.

It doesn't have to be official and include blocks of legalese in ALL CAPS. What in the hell changed?
posted by mathowie at 8:17 AM on April 27, 2001

matt: Being hip and cool and friendly doesn't matter much when you're fined or thrown in jail for -- well -- being hip and cool and friendly. I guess that's what's been taken into account here.
posted by frednorman at 8:24 AM on April 27, 2001

Couldn't they just have 'eligible where legal'/'ineligible where prohibited or illegal' under the eligibility stuff? I think I've read this in a lot of contests.
posted by tiaka at 8:29 AM on April 27, 2001

doesn't matter much when you're fined or thrown in jail for -- well -- being hip and cool and friendly

Who is going to go to jail for throwing a design contest on the web? Who could possibly ever fine Pyra/Blogger, and on what grounds?

Why am I not in jail for giving away scholarship money then? Why does the 5k contest operate fine and dandy? Why has every other online design contest worked ok free of laws and local restrictions?

It's a design contest for chrissakes. Any products or services were donated. There's no money to embezzle.
posted by mathowie at 8:34 AM on April 27, 2001

You sound kinda pissed off there, you should get on the LINE and DEMAND SATISFACTION, tell them to GET A BEARD!

(the capped stuff is elite talk, that which is much cooler than all your poseur aybabtu shhieete)
posted by tiaka at 8:43 AM on April 27, 2001

How many of those other design contests have relied so heavily on sponsor-donated prizes? I agree that the rules were probably imposed by the sponsors, but I haven't had any luck seeing anything inherently sinister in that.
posted by harmful at 8:47 AM on April 27, 2001

I'm not pissed, I'm just saying it's weird is all. If you look at the old High5/A List Apart contest from 1999, they gave away a truckload of prizes and although there's a little legal crap at the bottom, there's nothing about who can and can't enter.

I hate legal crap.
posted by mathowie at 8:53 AM on April 27, 2001

mathowie: I hate legal crap.

Shouldn't you rather be concerned about those silly laws which make them necessary?
posted by frednorman at 9:10 AM on April 27, 2001

Shouldn't you rather be concerned about those silly laws which make them necessary?

What laws? How is it illegal to throw a little design contest on the web and let people from places like Norway enter?
posted by mathowie at 9:23 AM on April 27, 2001

Maybe they are trying to pare down the applicant pool. Someone has to process all of them. The age limit might cut out some good entries, but it also might cut out a bunch of silliness. I don't know, maybe.
posted by mblandi at 9:26 AM on April 27, 2001

Well this

. . .Plus, for every template you enter that is selected for the gallery, you will be entered in a drawing to win part of . . .. [emphasis mine]

inserts an element of chance into the contest, which subjects it to a lot of other country's rules and regulations. I think this includes an age limit in the US, (Which most smart kids should be able to circumvent by entering under their parents name), as well as various registrations and rules elsewhere.

Legal Stuff and Taxes suck, but Pyra is (now more than ever) a company, and companies are far more beholden to Legal Stuff and Taxes than individuals.

chance, prize and consideration
posted by alan at 9:33 AM on April 27, 2001

i'm more concerned about the fact that "You grant Sponsor unrestricted rights to use, modify, and license submitted designs, code, graphics or other elements in any way." even if your template isn't chosen and you don't get entered into the prize drawing. that kind of clause where it's not limited to the winning entries is reprehensible. it basically says, "well, we don't think your design was worth enough to enter into the prize drawing, but we'll be happy to modify/use it later on without compensating you in any way."
posted by brig at 9:34 AM on April 27, 2001

Check out, Ev's response in the discussion thread regarding non-US entries.

This is not the first time Blogger has used 'blocks of legalese in ALL CAPS'. Just look at the terms of service agreements from:

Blog*Spot and Blogger.

Sometimes this legal stuff is necessary. I am responsible for most of this text.

Having run contests like this at a few other community sites, I have had to talk to lawyers and clear text before posting. I used pretty stock text these days. I think we can all agree that the legalese does suck the fun out of a lot of things these days but as any MeFi reader knows, there are a few litigious people out there (they make the front page of this site on a daily basis).

Taika, no disservice was meant by the dog statement. Just trying to inject a little fun among all the legalese. Also regarding your promotion question...

In the Template Gallery, every design will be credited to its author, along with a link to his or her site.

Anyway, the intent was to have some fun and give away some decent prizes. I hope those of you that find this sort of thing fun will still enter. Good luck.
posted by jasonshellen at 9:44 AM on April 27, 2001

owning copyright of *all* entries not just the winning one is *not* stock legalese. there are plenty of other contests that just retain copyright for the winning entry. and even that one was reviled.
posted by brig at 9:55 AM on April 27, 2001

but Pyra is (now more than ever) a company

More than ever? Huh? How's that?

Pyra has one employee, and I'm not even sure that's true. Evan was also legally laid off in mid-January. I don't know if he's rehired himself.

At one point in time, Pyra had seven employees, with benefits like health insurance and PTO. Pyra had investors, a board of directors, and a group of people with a vision building something great. While some of those things remain, others are gone. I hardly see how "now more than ever" Pyra's a company.
posted by megnut at 9:58 AM on April 27, 2001

"But really, why is it only open to residents of the United States?"

No idea. Last time I bothered to check out why I wasn't eligible for something like this was when epinions launched. Apparently (and from memory) it had something to do with local rules and exchange rates. That wasn't helpful to me, and probably isn't going to help anyone else either.

Of course, you don't need to be paid a paltry amount per article view to have a grand old time at Epinions, as paid members are always quick to point out (principles!! *cough*)
posted by lucien at 9:59 AM on April 27, 2001

It would be "potentially dangerous" to let us non-US users have a go, obviously (!)
The Blogger plot is starting to get a little lost and wayward.
posted by williamtry at 10:12 AM on April 27, 2001

It would be "potentially dangerous" to let us non-US users have a go, obviously (!)
The Blogger plot is starting to get a little lost and wayward

Communist infiltration may happen, exchange bodily fluids with americans only?
posted by tiaka at 10:19 AM on April 27, 2001

Sorry Megnut, I didn't mean to rankle. [reattaches head]

All I was trying to say is I think Pyra has to act more like a traditional company (all the legalese) if it doesn't want to disappear completely, like so many startups have. I didn't mean to say you weren't a legitimate company before, just that you seemed to be building a different kind of business. One that didn't have to "include blocks of legalese in ALL CAPS".

I'm sorry I didn't make that clear.
posted by alan at 10:34 AM on April 27, 2001

to act more like a traditional company

Oh, with revenues and things like that. Got it! :)
posted by megnut at 10:36 AM on April 27, 2001

I sincerely hope this place isn't going to turn into Tear-Pyra-Down Central. Even given certain obvious demographic considerations.

Jason S, I sincerely hope as well that you guys will reconsider the rules of the contest. I think we can all agree that the overseas contributions to the Blogger community are extensive and that due consideration should have been given. The copyright restrictions also seem excessive, given that only a certain number of submissions will actually be used.

Even if you have to say "we'll do that in 2002" I think it would go a long way.
posted by dhartung at 10:37 AM on April 27, 2001

This reminds me of a Geocities contest I participated in , by 1998. It was called "build a better Geocities" or something like that - basically, the contest was about designing a bunch of new templates to create a new look and feel for the free host. Prizes were good - a Pentium PC, a couple of CD-R drives as first prizes (quite a luxury back on these days) and a bunch of Zip drives.

So I set up to work, and I got one of the CD-Rs first prizes (which I still use). I'm not US-based, and I didn't even had an US address back then. Did Geocities behave like an asshole and said me I didn't qualify for the prize? No. They ran with all the expenses of sending it to me, after a few letter exchanges. Sure, customs screwed me in the ass (like everyone else), but that's another story.

What is important here? People at Geocities recognized that the Internet is a real global thing, where boundaries don't exist and they assumed all responsibility to make this happen.

Too bad some people still think that "World Wide Web" stands for "USA Wide Web", specially considering where this is coming from.
posted by betobeto at 10:55 AM on April 27, 2001

The obvious answer is for non US residents to have a US resident make their entry for them, and if it wins, give them the prize.

As to the legalities, other than the software shipping issue, I can't see where there could possibly be one. It's not my area of expertise, but you'd think that someone could step up to the plate to work that out for Ev.
posted by Dreama at 11:07 AM on April 27, 2001

Given the legalese, it would seem that this contest is more of a clever way to write off something on a 1040 schedule than an innocuous gathering place for bloggers and designers alike.

I'd suggest the following slogans replace "Push-button publishing for real people":

Pyra: It's all about the disclaimers.
Blogger: Because real people don't exist outside the States.
Blogger: One man's illusion of community since late 2000.
posted by ed at 11:23 AM on April 27, 2001

Dreama: That's the obvious answer? I would've thought the obvious answer would be to treat the world wide web like it actually includes the 96% of the planet's population that lives outside U.S. borders. That loophole might be functional, but it would still be wrong.
posted by lia at 11:26 AM on April 27, 2001

I've worked a *very* little bit on projects concerning exports, IP, contests, etc. I suspect in this case the rule has something to do with all or some of the following:
1. The user license awarded with the software, or another restriction on Macromedia's part
2. The granting of the Copyright
3. tax considerations (i.e. if the company can write off prizes leaving the U.S.)
4. other complexities (and thus expenses) of opening a contest overseas. Some countries make the sponsor pay a large tax on any prizes awarded, some ban such things outright, some require prior approval, etc. You may even run the risk of being sued for damages in some places for conducting an "unauthorized contest."
I think that's why any contest you see is restricted to "U.S. residents 18 years and older." (Or U.K. residents, or wherever the company is located.) I don't think they would exclude anyone if they didn't have to.
The age limit is likely because someone under 18 can't legally contract, and thus can't assign a copyright.
posted by sixdifferentways at 11:50 AM on April 27, 2001

jasonshellen: "but as any MeFi reader knows, there are a few litigious people out there (they make the front page of this site on a daily basis)"

And as any MeFi reader knows, 99.9% of those litigious people live in the U.S. and are already eligible to join the contest, so what could they possibly have to sue about?
posted by lia at 12:09 PM on April 27, 2001

Geez, people. I'm just trying to do something interesting and fun for our users and make Blogger better. And I'm doing so with very little in the way of time or money in the best way we know how. I didn't realize that would personally offend so many of you.

I truly hate to put the restrictions on the applicants. Do you seriously think I'm biased against "foreigners"? I know we'd get lots of great submissions from those not in the U.S. and those under 18. And I'm not trying to pare it down. We want all the entries we can get. But there *are* laws governing these things. Sixdifferentways and Dreama point out some of them (thank you). I guess it's easy to ignore this reality when it's not your butt on the line.

I don't like taxes either, but that doesn't mean I can afford to ignore them. And there might be ways around the laws, but I don't exactly have the legal resources of Geocities to figure them out.

Furthermore, if it were just me, maybe I could be less concerned about the risk, but I own less than half of this company -- I still have to run it responsibly. Despite the non-corporate image of Pyra, we have always dealt with "legal crap" when necessary. The implication seems to be that we can pay less attention to the law because we're a small company. But from my perspective, I have to be a little bit *more* careful about covering my ass, because if I run into complications, I may not have the resources to handle them.

As for owning all the templates, versus just the winning ones, the wording was simply meant to imply that the entrant is giving us permission to make their template a winning one (i.e., use it on our site) when they enter. I thought that was the simplest way to put it. Not because we secretly really want to own all the templates we don't think are good enough to win. Sorry if that's unclear.

Having said all that, we have modified the contest rules so people outside the U.S. can enter templates. They will be credited for their work, but they will not be eligible for the drawing. I hope that will make people happier.

posted by evhead at 12:31 PM on April 27, 2001

What's with all the vitriol here? There are even states within the USA where some US-run contests are prohibited, illegal, or restricted. Don't tell me none of you have heard/read the disclaimers -- "Contest open to US residents age 18 and older, offer void in Nebraska and where prohibited," etc etc.

Yes, it's perfectly possible to leave the contest open to everybody. And if your contest doesn't follow the laws of the winner's state/country, it's perfectly possible for you to get in a lot of legal trouble. The Blogger folks decided to play it safe, which is perfectly understandable, especially considering the limited money, staff, and resources available in case something does happen.
posted by CrayDrygu at 1:08 PM on April 27, 2001

When all is said and done, will someone make sure to forward the entries to 123 CheapHosting?
posted by jbushnell at 1:18 PM on April 27, 2001

Give 'em hell, Ev.
posted by briank at 1:20 PM on April 27, 2001

Damn, folks, I hate Ev as much as any red-blooded American, but are people really that hard up for Fireworks out there in the Unenlightened Countries?

And why no snotty comments about Veen's book? I would think that would be the easier sacred cow to go after. I'm just amazed at how tasteful the existing Blogger templates are. Compared to GeoCities or TriPod, amateur Blogger and BlogSpot sites are a bastion of elegance.
posted by anildash at 1:34 PM on April 27, 2001

Well I think it looks like fun. Hopefully it will go well, and it will be done a second time with more people able to participate. As a side note, does anyone have a list of blogs on a country by country basis? (and yeah, I know I am being lazy by asking)
posted by eckeric at 1:55 PM on April 27, 2001

Well, I was the one that posted the first comment on this thread (excluding lia who started the thread).

I complained about the fact that non-US citizens don't (or didn't) have the right to enter the contest. But I didn't mean to push things so much and start judging Evan (and/or Jason) in such a harsh way.

People, relax.

In the end, it's all about some people (even if these are only US citizens) who will win a book or a hosting plan as a prize for their work. You (and I) are not going to pay for this prize, so it's time for us to stop complaining that much.

Also note that even if there weren't prizes (just the "we'll add a link to your site" prize), I bet that many people would still submit. Who doesn't want a share from the thousands of hits Blogger is getting?

We're blaiming Evan only because he wanted to do something better. What a [what's the word? - tragic?,ridiculous?] thing to do.
posted by kchristidis at 2:48 PM on April 27, 2001

There's enough snark in here that you could hunt blindfolded.
posted by dhartung at 2:58 PM on April 27, 2001

Ahh get over it. As a European, I'm used to not being able to use the Amazon Honor Payment System.. or even receive direct Web payments to my PayPal account (and if I could do either of these things, I would have a lot more money than I do right now).

However, anyone should still be allowed to submit a design for this contest, but if they're not outside the US then they shouldn't get the $$. Some people don't enter contests for money, they enter for something to do. Why not allow international entrants, as long as they understand only a US winner would get the $$?
posted by wackybrit at 3:07 PM on April 27, 2001

Well, I think it sounds cool. As a suggestion, I would say that templates with cheerful documentation of what is going on with the code should get extra points. I say this, because as a newbie, it took me a couple of hours to figure out the template, well okay, to change the colors of my template.
posted by mblandi at 3:11 PM on April 27, 2001

Oh okay. Give me a giant slap on the ass for my dumbass comment now. I misread what Ev said (grin)
posted by wackybrit at 3:11 PM on April 27, 2001

does anyone have a list of blogs on a country by country basis?

Sort of
posted by netbros at 3:13 PM on April 27, 2001

Cool. That looks like a good starting point. Thanks netbros!
posted by eckeric at 5:22 PM on April 27, 2001

Blogstart was good, but it hasn't updated since November 17 2000 as the main page reads. The person behind it just ran it for a month (or is it less than a month?) and then abandonned it.
posted by kchristidis at 3:57 AM on April 28, 2001

it's not quite a country listing, but is a language listing.
posted by brig at 11:52 AM on April 28, 2001

How is this different from this?
posted by kindall at 12:46 PM on April 28, 2001

Ev: You are loved. Believe me. The unique service that you (and co.) have created & provided to the world (FREE!) is amazing. Fuck the naysayers. Rock on.

To anyone who criticized Ev's decision re: non-US. Nuts to you - Ev is doing the very best he can given the constraints (financial, legal, personnel) and environment he works in. Maybe one of YOU would like to create a product that is beloved by thousands (tens of thousands?), design a contest to enhance the product, and then organize and sponsor a contest open to non-US people, as well as figure out the legal, financial, and logistical considerations involved in dealing with citizens of, oh, let's say 42 different countries. No? Too much work for one person? Or even two or three? (harumph). Can't we all just get along???
posted by davidmsc at 12:14 PM on July 18, 2001

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