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Dakimbrell

JUDGE'S FEEDBACK

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I was reading the "survey" and one thing I am personally opposed to is feedback comments from the Judges. It has NEVER been a good experience for me and if there was a specific place on the form for judges remarks, I would scratch through it.

All the criteria used by judges is well know and easily accessed by the public. It is also doubtful any defect...."a seam on the wing", for example...will ever be changed on a finished model. At least not on mine.

Having been a judge many times, I have often found a model that did not win, was not a bad work. It simply lacked something intangible which is virtually impossible to convey to a disgruntle modeler. Try explaining that the model is to clean and neat. Or that it is over weathered.

Model building is an art and perfection is not an option. All I want from the judges is fair and experienced judging.

Dak

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I think any constructive remarks left by the judge(s) are meant to apply to future builds.

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I get where you're coming from David....but I also think you're in a very small minority. The vast majority of builders DO want some feedback.

I agree that many comments can be incomplete and don't show the full picture. After all, if a judge writes "silvered decals", that tells you where to look for a problem on the model you may have missed. But, did it eliminate you, or did you still make the cut only to lose in the final round? All you know is that a judge pointed to a "problem" he spotted and that it more than likely made a difference in how you finished. I don't think any judge expects you to take it home and correct the problem for a future show (though I know some builders who do!). But if you have several models with the same types of commentary, you may spot an area of your building and/or finishing techniques that you need sharpen a bit.

Most builders are MUCH more frustrated going home with NO comments and no idea of "what" the judges thought they saw. In a 1-2-3 show that's especially true, since there's no recognition for anything below the top 3 and the 4th place guy (1rst loser) may or may not have problems that are easily spotted.

I do not think comments are for "intangibles", and in my many years of judging experience it's almost always VERY tangible (basic) items that can be pointed to as having eliminated or lowered a model in the standings. In my mind, IF a model makes the cut (is in the running for an award), and something knocks it down a peg or two to where it doesn't end up winning; the judge should mention what it was that made the difference.

Will it make everyone happy? No....and it can open up another whole can of worms when the builder thinks he sees the same problems you commented on on the winning models.

Right now, judging comments are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to judging. If it starts becoming the "norm", then I think anyone who feels as you do should be able to write "no commentary please" on your entry form and the judges then can skip yours.

 

GIL :cool:

 

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I just do not feel judges comments are truly helpful in any measure.

In a field of entries where most of the contestants are experienced model builders, the margin for mistakes is paper thin. On any given day, the difference is little more than the flip of a coin. I don't mean they flip a coin, but that the judges find two entries so close either could be first place, etc. To try and quantify the "why" of the choice is simply a truth people don't really want to hear and offering it is going to just make people angry.

We chose this one simply because we liked the paint scheme. We liked Ferraris better than Mustangs. The ammunition brass is too bright. The mold seam on your undercarriage is more important than the seam on the other guy's wing. People don't want to hear that sort of thing, but in the final cut, that is what happens.

I don't think people really want feedback on their model, but rather what people really want is to understand why a model they see as inferior beat them out. That is not going to happen.

Dak

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Just a personal life changing story on the subject.  Years ago(twenty years ago now) I built a custom model car that I entered in a local contest.  I worked very hard on the model and was quite proud of it.  It didn't place in the contest.  After the show I took it to the head judge for the category.  As it happened the judge was Drew Hierwarter.  Many of you may  know him as a long time staff writer for Fine Scale and Scale Auto.   Drew took the time to go through the model with me, pointing out flaws and other things that were detractors.  We were both very respectful of the other and it made a difference.  

Well to make a long story short, I took the model home, set it on the bench and took a deep breath and tore the model apart to rebuild it.   The end of the story is that the following show I took it to was Tamiya/Con and it won Best Extensive conversion and an all expense paid trip to Japan for a week.  That set me on a lifetime path of working to make the best models I can and seek advise and critiques from many sources.  

My experience with a judge may not be typical, but it could be.  When I judge, I remember my experience and am willing to help any modeler who asks. 

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Interesting topic, judges feedback. Judges are often in an onerous position with the task they have to perform at times, often damned if they do and damned if they don't! Many modellers welcome some feedback and constructive criticism. But there comes the odd instance where a modeller gets upset at their model not doing as well as expected. I was judging once and was confronted by a particularly arrogant guy looking for an argument and during our 'conversation' questioning my parentage! Sometimes you just cannot reason with someone like that. His model was actually quite good, but others were better on the day. He was absolutely convinced that his model was going to walk it to first prize!. Having been subjected to that, I have mixed feelings about judges feedback, but have to say that given and received with mutual respect can be a useful experience. It must be remembered that judges give of their free time to judge so provided feedback does not drag on in finitum it is ok.

Edited by noelsmith

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1.  Most people who are against comments don't seem to fully grasp the concept.  They are meant to be used in two ways--as Gil states, the first is to point out areas the judges found that saw the model cut from the top three, and the second is as Rusty states--to be used as a reminder for next time.  Very few people will do as Pete did and de-construct and rebuild a model, but they are out there...

2.  Model building, an art?  Maybe in the finish stages, but the basic construction of a model kit is craftsmanship, no more and no less.  You building a model is no different from Norm Abram building a bookcase--you want to have tight seams, no glue slop, and the model (unless it is an organic form, and even these have their own set of rules) needs to be straight, square, and plumb.    It is craftsmanship all day long. 

Now, applying finish--that group of techniques that includes painting, weathering, distressing, polishing, washing, modulating, lighting, forcing panel lines, etc., etc., well, that's where the art comes in to play.  In effect, what you are attempting to do is fool the viewer into thinking that the model on the table is actually an example of the actual subject that you've put through the de-bigulator...

3.  The comments, done correctly, should point the entrant towards those errors.  Writing "Dress your seams" is nebulous, but "The right wing root seam is inconsistent" tells more of the story. 

Obviously, you can't document all the places on the model where it fell short.  All that the comments are meant to do is direct a modeler towards problem areas noted on that model so they can learn.  If comments don't do anything for you, that's on you.  But don't trash the concept because you personally don't care for it.

Another topic for perhaps another thread is expectations and reality.  I would wager than none of us goes to a show not expecting to have a favorable showing--yet the reality, especially in a 1-2-3 structured contest, is that there is only one "winner".  By definition, everyone who didn't "win" is therefore a "loser".  That's where we all need to temper our expectations, and maybe change our focus on what a model show should be--a place to show off our work and hob-nob with other folks who share our interests.  If we happen to take home a big shiny, so much the better.  And yes, I hear a lot of people say they believe and live this, but at shows I've seen a few of these same people turn into purple-faced hobgoblins when they come up empty...  

Is competition bad?  Well, David Sarnoff, the guy who made RCA and CBS big in the day, was known to say, "Competition brings out the best in products, and the worst in men."  I'd say he was more or less on the money with that...    

Cheers.

R

Edited by Ralph Nardone

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Here's what I think is a slightly different perspective.  I build for a living...or at least part of one...as many of you know.  I can and have won at local contests, but I would have very little, if any, chance at the top three in a Regional or National contest.  Why?  Because I build to satisfy clients who do not want me to take the time...nor would they pay the required fee...to produce a Regional or National contest winner.  Now, could I produce a model of my own that would win on that level?  I'm egotistical enough to say "probably".  But if I'm going to continue to satisfy clients, I don;'t have enough spare time to focus on a Nationals entry.

Having said all that, IF I entered a Regional or National contest and didn't win, I wouldn't have a problem with constructive criticism as to why my model didn't win.  And it wouldn't matter if the criticism came from a judge's comment on an entry form, a conversation with a judge or comments from a fellow modeler.  As long as it was done in a constructive and non-denigrating manner.  After all, without that kind of information, none of us have little chance of significantly improving our skills and modelbuilding knowledge.

Just my seven and a half cents.

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Judges comments may not help the, say, top five or so modelers in a category, but as anyone who has judged for long can attest, in a category of for example 20 entries, there may be 4-5 that are considered for awards. The others probably have many and/or obvious faults. These are the people that could learn from such comments. Obviously, they didn't consider that gapped seam on the top important or just didn't notice. Now they know and in the future can pay attention to it. They've learned "what judges look for". 

 

Another side of this is I have heard some really stupid comments during judging, national and otherwise and I've been at it for over 30 years. Those wouldn't help anyone. 

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And on yet another note...without a doubt, the single most important and beneficial thing that I have done to better my overall skill as a modeler, increase my enjoyment of the hobby, and improve the quality of the models I produce is to apprentice as a judge under an experienced and accomplished modeler/judge, and then judge in my class (armor).

In my opinion, the more you judge alongside competent, "non-b-hole-ish" judges, the more constructive and valuable your feedback is (when shared/sought), the better builder you develop into, and the less subjective and more objective your judging becomes.

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The definitions of art and craft overlap. Regardless of whether you are carving a twenty foot marble statue or a 1/72nd Spitfire kit, the process is basically the same...inspiration, planning, rough work, and fine finishing. Removing unwanted stone is fundamentally the same as smoothing out the edge of a wing.

Everyone posting here knows quite well what IPMS judges look for during the contest. As noted, that information is quite well known and easily accessible. You also are aware a model is judged relative to other models in the category. A model that places first in a field of four might not place in a field of ten.

Everyone also knows judges are often unfamiliar with the subjects they are judging and that they will sometimes mistake an accurate element as a failure in craftsmanship. This has happened to me on several occasions. How would you feel if the seam or bad paint you judged as poorly done craftmanship turned out to be accurate?

How can you explain to a contestant that the model did not win because when choosing between a Spitfire and a P-51..... both excellently done.... that the Spitfire won because they liked the camouflage better than natural metal?

Can open; worms everywhere. Why is that a good idea?

Dak

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"Everyone posting here..."

There's the rub.  Not everyone who goes to a contest posts here--some of them have no idea IPMS exists, or they refuse to join for whatever reason.  THOSE are the people we try to reach.  We've discussed this before, you and I.  Some people are beyond help--they won't read the rules, they won't check out the Competition Handbook, they just plop the model on the table and come back a few hours later and expect to be regaled with their riches.  These folks don't yet want to be reached.  But many people do want the help and have said so.

A few short comments on the form should--note I said "should" and not "will"--help the entrant understand what the judges found that put their model out of contention, or why it won a Third instead of a First.

"Everyone also knows judges are often unfamiliar..."

You're talking accuracy here.  Let's see what the CH says:

"Accuracy Absolute accuracy is a noble, but probably unattainable, goal. Despite the fact that no scale model is ever 100% accurate, some people urge that models be judged principally on their accuracy. This is a real minefield. While gross inaccuracy is easy to spot in some instances, the situation quickly becomes murky past obvious things and can lead to unfairness in judging. For example, suppose one of the aircraft judges spent the better part of twenty years as the crew chief of a particular aircraft. That judge will probably be able to find inaccuracies of one sort or another on every model of that type of aircraft entered in a category. But, there's a real risk he will unfairly penalize those who entered those models if he judges solely on the basis of accuracy as he can readily spot their flaws while he may miss inaccuracies in other aircraft types with which he does not have the same level of expertise. Along the same lines, modelers who know the minute aspects of a subject often mistakenly believe judges also have similar detailed knowledge. This may or may not be true. It's simply not possible for all IPMS judges to match the expertise developed by our disparate and incredibly knowledgeable membership. The Chief Judge and Class Head Judges take pains every year to remind the judges to be aware of these problems and to be fair to all on this issue. You can also help yourself by not assuming the judges know all the details you know. Help them and yourself by putting such information on the entry sheet or any other display material you put with your model. Judges are instructed read that stuff and it could make the difference for you. Lest we get too wrapped up in the accuracy debate, remember that IPMS/USA judges concentrate first on the modeling aspects. A model with every component built absolutely accurately probably still won't win if seams between the components aren't filled properly. Conversely, a superbly built model containing an inaccuracy could win if it is, in all other respects, the best model in the category."

"How can you explain to a contestant..."

I don't believe I've ever judged a contest where the difference between First and Second was because the judges "liked" one type of finish over another, or one subject over another.  There's always something--however minute--that will push one model over the bar.  YMMV and all that, but I've never seen it.

Your final comment also helps make the case for Open Judging.  If two models are SO good that you have to drill way down to find some minuscule flaw--even saying you like Model A's camouflage over Model B's bare metal finish, then both should earn an equal award.

Can of worms?  In the immortal words of Jules Winnfield, "If my answers frighten you, then you should cease asking scary questions." 

Cheers!

Ralph

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At the last national where I judged, we had the basic issue of the top four models, in the category, all being very good. In the end, we made the final choice based on our personal preferences. All the entries were good, and all had minor defects, just different ones. Quite frankly, any could have been first. I have found this to be quite common particularly on the inverse...all are equally poor.

If there is a gap on the real thing....the base of the Panther cupola, for example.... and the judge says the reason I lost was because I didn't fill it, then I am a bit annoyed. We always judge accuracy, to some degree. That is why we don't like seams on the wing of the Spitfire, or silvered decals, or misaligned parts, etc. I have seen silicone used so heavily on real aircraft that the REAL thing would not win an IPMS awards. There has long been an ongoing debate on the correctness of some weathering.

Even providing information does not always work. I once provided pictures to back up everything I did. The judge told me they never looked at the information. Another even told me he only judges on craftsmanship and never looks a documentation. This is why I no longer want "feedback" from judges. Give me an award or don't, I don't want to know what the judge thought. Ignorance is bliss.

I maintain what people really want is to hear why the other model won, not why theirs didn't.

Personally, I ALWAYS look at the documentation. When I see something odd...like poorly hand painted markings, for example, I assume it is poor craftsmanship, unless I see some documentation.

As for Open/GSB, I like it, but the final factor will be cost. I don't believe it can be implemented with out some major funding for the needed awards or going to a generic award purchased on a National level.

Dak

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If I may come at this from another direction... how many entries are there in a typical Nats contest? And how long would it take to add judges' notes and critique to each model? Quite a lot! Perhaps a better approach would be to ensure the judges are well-labeled (with badges) as to the categories they judged, and let them know that they are expected to provide constructive feedback should anyone approach them after the contest is judged. Then a entrant who does want some input can find the appropriate persons to talk to about his/her model. I think leaving it up to the modeller to initiate contact would streamline the process, and might also give the judges cause to more conscientiously consider their decisions while judging. Just my 2 cents worth.

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The problem is that most entrants don't want or need feedback on their work. In most cases, they are quite aware of their short comings. What most want to know is why the other guy won, which judges are not allowed to discuss. 

As I commented earlier, The difference between a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd is often the mental flip of a coin. Trying to explain that to a disgruntle contestant is unpleasant. Sometimes, it is not even possible.

 

Dak

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Bob: IPMS has tried to do what you suggested. As national judges, we've been asked to "hang around" the categories we judged in the contest room (our names are usually on the category signs) after the awards ceremony just so IF someone wants to ask for a critique, or an explanation of what we saw on their model, we can try to provide it. We will NOT discuss our opinions on the other models there in comparison; but only what we saw on THEIR model.

The problem with that is that both the people AND those judges want to pack up and get to their room to get some rest before heading out the next morning. There's just not much time that late in the evening to truly be available or for everyone who'd like to know more to get their questions answered. And, it can't be done before the awards ceremony because it's too easy to give the results away while doing it.

IPMS's answer has been to set up a "critique table" on Saturday afternoon with qualified judges available to critique your build. All you have to do is take it over to them. BUT, as David said, not many people actually want to hear a litany of mistakes they made; and even once they know that, it doesn't really tell them how they did in the category, or what the actual category judges thought in comparison to the competition. Most people who ask for a critique or explanation are usually ok...but then there are the idiots who want to argue your observations after asking you to give them!

I don't like Dave's implying "it's a coin flip", because that sounds capricious and indifferent. However, he IS correct in that often it's VERY, VERY close, and we do "split hairs" in arriving at a decision. Also, if you change the judges, you'll probably get slightly different results....probably not entirely different, but not the same exact 3 models because there's such minor differences and different judges put more emphasis on different errors.

The call for more feedback is mainly because SO many models in a 1-2-3 show that go home with nothing do so without any explanation as to why they didn't win anything at all. GSB does it a bit better simply because if you win something, that medal gives you an idea of the "level" of your build, though without any judge's comments you may still not know the exact problems that the model has.

As a judge, I don't feel the need to comment on every model I judge. However, if there's something that's a "difference maker", I do try to write it down so the builder knows what knocked him out or down in the contest.

 

GIL :cool:

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Capricious? When you are choosing between two equally good models, both with equal, but different flaws. It is impossible to explain your choice to someone.

If you really want to improve things, we should ditch the category system and go to a skill level division set up using GSB.

Dak

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Sigh. This has been a long conversation so I went back and looked at the last time this was surveyed among chapters, members. 

Results were overwhelmingly AGAINST changing to any kind of GSB. So unless there has been a large shift in 15 years, this is a great conversation and will probably end right there, a conversation.

And I build figures and routinely go through the GSB. 

Dave

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Dave Kimbrell:

Again, I take exception to your implying that the judges just capriciously make a choice. That is entirely false! While models often may be VERY close in their quality, there are distinct differences we base our decisions on. And even if they are basically equal (as you say happens more than it actually does); there are tie-breakers such as scope of work and degree of difficulty that we can fall back on to make our choices. These are all well defined judging criteria, and one model is NOT as good as the other at the end of the day once the judges have chosen.

We reach a decision on the best observations we can, AND we (or at least I do) try to be able to tell why we selected 1rst, 2nd, and 3rd. We CAN explain our choices AND how we came to the conclusions we did.

Where I agree with you is that often we are splitting hairs....the differences are VERY minor, but they ARE differences never the less! I also agree with your implication that "one model is as good as another" in that MOST all of them, even those eliminated, are builds to be proud of (which is why I favor GSB, where you can reward those types of builds). And I also understand that even when we do get a chance to "explain" our choices, is doesn't mean the builder will agree or be happy about how we judged, making it a futile effort.

I know it's a bit of semantics here, but the way you toss around the phrase "coin flip" does a real disservice to all of the judges who spend so much time doing their very best to give the contestants the fairest results. It demeans their integrity by implying that in the end, they don't do the job fairly, but just give up and randomly choose the winners.

 

GIL :cool:

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Gil, Well said! Thank you for speaking for all concientious judges. Nick Filippone. Senior National Judge

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Gil has stated the situation well.  While  I have never entered a Nationals contest...primarily due to only attending one and that one as a vendor...I have entered and both won & lost in local contests.  It might do us all well to keep a story in mind that I heard some years ago.  Don't remember when and don't even know if it was an IPMS/USA Nationals contest, BUT:

The story goes that two models were head to head in a particularly category.  Both models were as perfect as you could get and still call them models.  Judging was a dead heat, to the point that scores were absolutely identical.  What finally decided first and second?  It wasn't a "flip of the coin".  Through the use of a magnifying glass, a single dust mote stuck in the paint was found on one model that wasn't on the other.  That made the difference.

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When you get down to the very end and have to choose between two very nice models....one with a little silvering of a decal and another with the trace of a mold release mark.... but otherwise equal in work, you have to make a choice based on simple appeal. Sometimes that means you pick the one you personally like most. Bluntly, any judge that won't admit this is deluding themselves. Everyone has pet peeves that they pick on. Trying to explain this tiny almost trivial point to a self-absorbed person without them getting angry is impossible. In 2015, I had to choose between a model with a bad decal and one with a cracked window. One got a 1st and one got a 2nd. The only other model there got 3rd. In ANY other category, NONE would have placed.

I have been judging model contests since 1972, and have attended and/or entered a contest every year since 1969. I looked at lots of models and take my responsibility as a judge seriously. I have seen judges debate for thirty minutes whether water running by a log should have had more wake, then bump it because of such a silly point. I have seen arguments on whether a ship should be bumped because it had no anchor. You can say we don't judge accuracy, but enter your P-51 without a propeller and see how far you get.

I bet the guy with the micro dust speck thought it was irrelevant. And to me, it would be too. This is the biggest reason I would prefer a GSB system, and this is also why I don't want to have feedback. Knowing about that tiny speck will not improve my work. It would be something impossible to plan for because you won't know about it until it is done and then it is too late. And quite frankly, building at my level, I would never ask why I didn't win first. My ego is not so shallow that I have to have explanations for every non win.

Dak

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You guys are making way too much of this hypothetical scenario.  IF there is a tie in judging, the head category judge (or Chief Judge) breaks the tie.  The point being, there are a dozen ways to solve a hypothetical judging "tie".

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I’m not speaking about hypothetical scenarios. I base my remarks on what I have experienced. I don’t want to name names or give exact place and times out of politeness, but it all has happened. 

Dak

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I am also speaking of actual circumstances.  It happened twice when I was category ship head judge for IPMS/USA where I broke two ties.  Point being, the answer to the problem is simple.

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