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Thoughts on anonymized compos

category: general [glöplog]
So this is something that I've been mulling over for years, and last weekend I had a long discussion about this with Offwhite before/during the graphics compo: I personally think hiding the author names during music/graphics compos is a net loss.

Here's my throught process on the matter:

1. The supposed main purpose of doing this is to avoid namevoting, which I can understand, but then I thought more closely and here's what I ended up with:
1a. People who want to win by their name only will find a way to get the entry->name association delivered; they can just tell people which one was theirs, either before or after the compo; with the Internet they don't even have to do it in person. For the record, I haven't seen much of this happen.
1b. There is a syndrome what I would call indirect or passive namevoting, where the author doesn't want to be voted on based on their name, but they're popular enough that people do it for them anyway. That being said, this often happens because those specific authors have a distinctive style (h0ffman, Made, Prince, etc.) which will come through whether the name is shown or not.
2. It's technically implausible to keep the names from coming out; the authors are allowed to post the entries after the compo on Soundcloud/Facebook/etc, and there's of course the whole party FTP issue which Revision overcompensated for by converting down everything, but to the point where there's no ID3s or song titles left so the whole compo is just one big blob of indistinct files, which feels like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (I'm sure the actual files will show up sooner or later, but as it stands it feels like a nuclear option.)
3. I only realized this at Revision, but I've seen and heard a few entries which I really dug to the point that I would've liked to discuss them with the authors during the party, but couldn't because of this. It dampens a lot of the social aspect - just hanging out with some of the authors after compo and talking about the compo is one of the most fun parts.
4. On a corollary to that, why is this so specific to graphics and music compos? Is there demonstratably no namevoting in demos? It's just feels oddly specific and arbitrary to me that some compos would be prone to it and others wouldn't, and the argument that "names are easier to remove from a picture" just doesn't feel right - you could ban credits in demos too, but in those cases it's part of the tradition so we don't? It feels inconsistent.
5. Another corollary to point 3 is that a big part of the competitor experience (for me at least, but I'm sure for others too), is seeing your name on the bigscreen - for newer people it's the thrill of jumping in the pool, for veterans it's the reaction of the silence or applause that kicks in just for that. Granted, I can see how this might be part of the aforementioned bias, but I would argue that when the crowd goes fidgety when e.g. h0ffman's name shows up on screen, it's because he earned it.

I'm well aware that the presence of actual namevoting is incredibly hard to quantify, but to me anonymous compos just feel like an overcompensation to something that may not even be a problem in the first place.

Thoughts?
added on the 2016-03-29 14:58:51 by Gargaj Gargaj
+1. besides there are also parties where these solo productions are properly credited (e.g. outline or evoke) and i assume there's no massive shifts in votes, at least it never influenced my opinion whether a graphic or music track was good or bad.
added on the 2016-03-29 15:04:49 by havamal havamal
I do personally find it fun to guess who made a tune or picture while the compo is running... but yeah, some of them are ridiculously easy to recognize.

Quote:
People who want to win by their name only will find a way to get the entry->name association delivered; they can just tell people which one was theirs, either before or after the compo; with the Internet they don't even have to do it in person. For the record, I haven't seen much of this happen.


I've kinda done this before. Not 'cause I wanna win per se, but because I just get excited and want to tell everyone "look/listen! I made this thing!"
Yea that's the aforementioned "Soundcloud/Facebook/etc" situation, which can of course be at the campfire on a mobilephone saying "yea it was this one". Same effect really.
added on the 2016-03-29 15:07:36 by Gargaj Gargaj
Thanks for making an elaborate post about this; it is something I have voiced concerns about in the past but not quite as eloquently as you put it here.

The first two (or three?) Revisions didn't do anonymized compos, and I haven't been to any other party where it's being done. I get that the idea is that we have or have had a problem with namevoting in some compo categories and that this supposedly deals with that, but if that were the case then why are the usual suspects still winning the compos despite them being anonymous?
added on the 2016-03-29 15:10:11 by Radiant Radiant
+1 to all the points.
added on the 2016-03-29 15:11:25 by Preacher Preacher
I personally didn't care that much, if the author's name is shown or not. If a track is good it will be voted up. And if people hate you, you won't get many votes. So making good music and not being a dick is pretty much a good start.

Although I never thought about your third point. Which actually is slowly turning me completely into thinking, that anonymous entries aren't that good. Just because it prevents people from getting together and exchange techniques, ideas etc.
added on the 2016-03-29 15:12:45 by bod bod
Actually, I had a tune in one compo at Revision where I saw everyone on the chat going "Yeah, that's h0ffman!" I have no idea if it had an effect, but that was the highest place I ever got at that party. :)

And it is fun to try and guess. :)
added on the 2016-03-29 15:23:51 by Subi Subi
I mostly agree with you, Gargaj.

At first I wasn't happy with that. But after few years, and the anonymous system improved (those mp3s you showed) I am quite ok with that.

Some random thoughts:

1. Like Knoeki said, it's fun to sit together with fellow sceners and guess who made what
2. If someone wants to namevote, he will namevote no matter what
3. Live-voting and anonymity work quite well. I believe not so many people go back and change their votes after compo
4. Namevoting, unfortunately, will never be completely eliminated. It's impossible to make people vote 100% objectively. Never, ever.
5. It works only on huge parties. On smaller parties, everybody will eventualy talk between themselves who made what.
added on the 2016-03-29 15:24:18 by AceMan AceMan
The executable music made me wonder about similar stuff, since (for at least some entries) the slide was essentially "made with synth X (so this has to be scener Y or Z)!" This made the anonymity feel a bit redundant, though I've never released anything in a gfx/music compo so no strong personal opinions.
added on the 2016-03-29 15:27:11 by msqrt msqrt
Unless there are at least some strong indications, that name voting has happened in the past and on a larger scale (did it?), anatomizing the entries seems unnecessary.

And if the organizers want to enforce it, then it must be done very categorically. Any entry violating the rules would have to be disqualified.

The rules would habe to be very strong too, e.g. absolutely no talking about your prod before the end of voting, the naming must not give away anything and last not least, there must be a special version of the prod without group names etc. Heck, even the credits would have to be removed because they help identifying the developer.

I don't thing this is feasible at all. And it would ruin a lot of the fun. People who rely on name voting are lame and they know it.
added on the 2016-03-29 15:31:35 by JTZ JTZ
the whole "imitating style xyz to get votes" aspect would fall away if releases are labeled in the compo!!
added on the 2016-03-29 15:40:20 by gentleman gentleman
Quote:
Actually, I had a tune in one compo at Revision where I saw everyone on the chat going "Yeah, that's h0ffman!" I have no idea if it had an effect, but that was the highest place I ever got at that party. :)

The tracker compo with three breakbeat-ish entries and each was identified as being h0ffman? Same with "this track has >30 channels, it must be by Saga". :D
Coincidentally my ranking in the tracked music compo at Revision has gone down since they are anonymous. Or maybe since I collab with Bacter? ;D

Regarding Gargaj's points, I see 3 as the strongest one really. We all know these compos cannot be 100% anonymous (that would be just playing white noise for each entry), but I don't mind at least trying to combat namevoting, hence I find the "there are ways to circumvent it anyway" arguments not too important.
That said, DnB and breakbeat still wins the compo even when anonymous, it's not even funny anymore. ;)
To be honest, I think nobody can really vote objective when a groupname, pseudo... is known. This is and was always a problem at most compos. Also there are examples like MC5 & MC6... that tried to evite this problem and did very well.
At work I submitted all my suggestions anonymous. If this had not been possible, I would never have submitted one.
The resaons:
1. I don't like my name on ranking lists.
2. I have a tendece to panic when confronted with human crowds or too high expectations from others.

At last I think "unknown" reached his goal at revision 2016 in several aspects. :)
We are not all configured the same way. That is something very good!
added on the 2016-03-29 15:47:15 by seppjo seppjo
I think it would even help artists to put their names there.
Imagine you have a great track (for your standards) in the compo but the crowd wrongly assumes you're some popular alltime-winner. So instead of being "wow this a great track for a newcomer, I like this, who is this guy" they're like "oh, h0ffman surely had better tracks last year. not impressed". Also applies to graphics.

The demoscene is about smashing expectations.
"C64 can only do this" -> "oh wow it can do that as well."

If you have an unknown artist submit a great track noone would have any expectations. But when they assume the entry to be from someone else they might expect a particular level of quality and thus reduce that "wow-effect" or even be disappointed by an otherwise perfectly fine entry.
added on the 2016-03-29 15:52:39 by madpew madpew
Namevoting happens all the time. If not intentionally, it will happen subconsciously - the human brain works that way, even if you really try not to do it.

If fishing for namevoting happens or not I don't know, although at least one well-known scener (jokingly) used to flirt with that all the time. :)

As Gargaj pointed out, anonymizing entries won't work 100% reliably and can (and will) be circumvented. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't attempt to do it at all. I'm pretty sure the measures taken at Revision prevented at least some people from knowing which entry was made by whom for at least some releases. It's like security: Just because you cannot 100% prevent burglars from getting into your house doesn't mean you give up completely and stop locking your door. You try to raise the bar and make it harder, and prevent at least some incidents from happening.

But Gargaj's point 3 is a really good one, and it turns anonymization into a slight net loss overall IMHO.
added on the 2016-03-29 15:55:50 by Kylearan Kylearan
Quote:
That said, DnB and breakbeat still wins the compo even when anonymous, it's not even funny anymore. ;)

Sure, like this yea-- Oh. ;)
added on the 2016-03-29 15:56:17 by Gargaj Gargaj
Another point I kinda thought about bringing up but decided it wasn't really a good initial point is that I remember entries better based on the author than the title - but that's probably just me.
added on the 2016-03-29 15:57:23 by Gargaj Gargaj
Quote:
Sure, like this yea-- Oh. ;)

Well, it has to be in the compo to start with. ;)

Quote:
"oh, h0ffman surely had better tracks last year. not impressed"

I think the main point is the people who just blindly do namevoting without even looking at the entries (which some vote results in the past may show). People who do informed voting do not need this rule. I guess the actul thing that we need to find out is the ratio between informed voters and people who just blindly namevote their favourite artists.
Well I lost my shit during the tracked music compo this year. As soon as the compo finished I downloaded gumdrops as I wanted to know how that filter sweep was done and who the hell did it. Thankfully the sample names have the credits and I could congratulate juice (albeit on Facebook as i missed him in person)

The excitement factor on the beam slide is a bit of a loss. Remember last year's amiga demo compo when the TBL beam slide was shown!! But on the whole I'm not bothered about either way. Dems da Rulez!
added on the 2016-03-29 16:13:46 by djh0ffman djh0ffman
easiest solution would be if everyone would just sound like h0ffman!
added on the 2016-03-29 16:16:41 by havamal havamal
Quote:
People who do informed voting do not need this rule.

I would bet a dozen crates of beer that even informed voters with all the best intentions will subconsciously be biased by names. At least that is what psychology shows us all the time in other areas.

But Gargaj's point 3 might still weigh heavier here.
added on the 2016-03-29 16:17:23 by Kylearan Kylearan
I only feared this thing called "name voting" when I was new to the scene.

Do we have any real statistics / proof that name voting is really a thing? I have my doubts.

When I started the 4k gfx compo at revision I noticed that it was anonymized and I was like "what the fuck".

I think it's totally unnecessary.
added on the 2016-03-29 16:17:51 by las las
Quote:
Do we have any real statistics / proof that name voting is really a thing? I have my doubts.


Happened to me, even this year.
Few people asked me to tell them which entry is mine, so they can vote for it.

And while I'm happy that people like me (I think :P), I would prefer them to vote upon the music itself.
added on the 2016-03-29 16:27:50 by AceMan AceMan

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