Thanks for the contest feedback. A few responses to try and shed some light on things, not trying to be defensive:
The judges are the active admins - me (though quite frankly it's hard to call me super active right now), Blue, Ben and Dave. I'm pretty sure we've stated that explicitly in the past, but probably didn't say so this year.
Specific scores - we've actually had a policy of never giving out specific scores or rankings aside from saying the winners and honorable mentions (which are usually the next 5 - this year there were only 4 entries in one category, and another has 6 listed because there was a tie). The reason comes down to a couple of things. First, we want to encourage everyone to participate, including less experience younger builders, and I for one don't want to tell them they scored really poorly. To make an analogy, I teach organic chemistry at the university level. When I pass back exams, I never tell people the high and low scores, even though some students always ask. The reason? That student with the 97% already knows they're doing great in the class, and patting them on the head and saying they were the best doesn't really add anything (plus, the top 5 or 10 students all know each other and are hyper-competitive, so they're going to go out and compare scores anyway). On the flip side, that student with the 42% already feels like garbage, and if I stand up in front of a class of 160 students and point out that they were the worst of the lot, it only makes things worse. So too here. Those that did great did great, and they know they did great. The honorable mention list gives you a grouping of those who did the best, but there were other great entries as well. On the other hand, those who are just starting out should be encouraged rather than have it pointed out how far out of the lead they were. The second reason is endless bickering. There are always a few students who want to come in and argue this or that point of partial credit - not all, not even all that many, but some. And in a contest like this, if you give specifics, there will always be a few who just want to argue the points (and I'm not pointing any fingers here, let's just say that in my 16 years of active online AFOL life I've seen it happen), even though there is always going to be subjectivity in something like this.
Feedback in general - I've done this in the past (for example see here
and links contained therein) (as have Tony and Josh) (previous admins), and was thinking about doing it again. On the one hand, I personally refrain from commenting on entries while the contest is running to avoid the appearance of being partial to this or that, so any commentary has to come after judging is done. On the other hand, it's a bit of living in the past, spending time navel-gazing on MOCs from a couple of months ago, when I'm more excited by commenting on something new - like for instance see the great castle that Kaarde posted this morning
. It does take a ton of time to do a massive feedback thread with any justice, I literally would spend hours on individual posts. Plus, there is always some pushback if it begins to feel like such a thread is expected, due to the ton of time involved.
As Blue said, we have no consideration of the builders. Yes, you see some of the same names year to year, but those people happen to produce really nice MOCs. I'm never happier than when a completely new builder shows up with some amazing entries. For instance, we all know Mark Stafford now, but when he first entered the CCC I was like "who is this guy? this is awesome!" (okay, then I dug back through his Flickr stream and saw that he'd done a lot of great Space stuff, I just am not on top of the space theme in the same way I am in castle). New builders are judged on exactly the same scale as older builders.
As to disagreeing with results, well, I suppose there is inherent subjectivity in a contest such as this. The judges don't even necessarily agree with each other on the top MOCs, and the results come out of the combinations of all of our opinions. Are there some categories where I personally preferred a different MOC? Sure. Do I think the ones that did come out on top are great, and in the top few of the category? Yes to that as well. Would I have batted an eye if the #1 and #2 in a given category were swapped? Probably not, because those top scorers are all amazing.
Timing - yes, I take this as a valid critique. Most of it comes down to communication back and forth, from the builders to the judges, from the judges to each other, from the judges to the winners in those cases where something has to be resolved before winners can be announced. I have to admit to some culpability in the week where every single person in my family spent a day throwing up, and as a dad that pretty much took me out of the running for a week in getting things moved along. Similar things happen with everyone.
Oh, on the TOS, remember that LEGO is a toy for children, and a site like this attracts some very young members and even younger readers. Do I personally give a darn what you build? Nope. I'll happily swear and drink and tell off-color jokes with a bunch of other adults. Do I want my 7 year old looking at more risque entries? Also nope. Most of the TOS limitations come down to a recognition of those younger readers and their parents. Is this prudish? Maybe.
On the size limitations, and really other rules involving entries, most of these come down to the experience of a decade plus in a contest with some participants who are very young and inexperienced. Rules are not created to deal with those people who build nice MOCs, take photos against neutral backgrounds with good lighting so you can actually see the MOCs, edit their photos to remove unnecessary margins, chooses a few good pictures that highlight the build, and post them to a good photo-sharing site like Flickr. Instead they're for the kid who has never done this before, and simply takes a ton of photos of their MOC sitting on the kitchen table, with a bunch of other junk behind it, takes the raw feed from their camera and sticks 50 photos on Photobucket. Its like the raw feed from my camera, that every so often I'll download literally hundreds of photos, most of which are bad, or complete duplicates because you get the kids standing there and you take several photos to pick out the one that turns out, but they all get dumped into my hard drive. I recently got a 5 terabyte external drive to save all of my photos to (also audio files), because both my laptop and my desktop computers were well over 99% full. But then you sit down, go through the photos, pick out the best, and make a nice scrapbook. Looking through the nice scrapbook is great; paging through the gigabytes of raw photos, not so much. Anyway, the imposition of a set of rules is essentially a teaching moment (remember, I'm a teacher), trying to help those younger builders learn to be good citizens of the Legoverse. Plus, 1600x1280, with screen-size set to 100%, is a larger image than can be seen on my screen at work, which is about 30% wider than my laptop. I'm clicking through images on Flickr right now and 1024x768 is probably the perfect size for viewing images, so image resolution is not really a problem here.
Anyway, I've really got to go. Seriously, thank you for the feedback, and I hope this helped give a little more understanding.