My friends and I continually participate in online costume contests, and sometimes… it can be more of a hassle than it’s worth. I used to run an online costume contest, so I’m very particular about things I need to see and know before I participate.
First off, as bad as it sounds, I look at what the prize entails. Cash, website subscriptions, and big convention trips usually grab my attention. Offering up merchandise valued at a certain amount is usually a quick no for me, especially if it’s unspecific at what you’re receiving if you win.
Secondly, how long is the contest running? Depending on the prize, I can see it ranging from a month to six months, but it needs to definitely be specified with a clear deadline for entrants and voting. If it’s gonna be a year before it’s all said and done, then that’s just ridiculous.
Thirdly, I have to ask what are the specific rules. Any place that tries to claim ownership of your rights to an image, or a photographer’s rights to an image is an automatic “NO” to me. You may use my image for publication, but in no way are you receiving rights to my image without some clear paperwork between myself and the photographer. Asking you to not compete in other contests is up to you; personally, I’m a fan of doing whatever I please. How many finalists will be involved? If it’s some crazy amount and it creates more time for the contest to continue than it should, I also am out at that point.
Depending on everything, I will make a decision if the contest is worth my time and energy. If one thing is out of whack or sounds fishy, I usually will sit back and watch what unfolds. I am one of those people who believes competition should be fun for everyone, but if it’s just a giant mess and looking to be more stressful than anything else, it’s just not worth it to me.