Disclaimer: this is not a personal attack against any OCT's, oct admins, or conduct of oct admin teams in general. These are observations, thoughts, and tips that I felt should be taken into consideration when one decides they want to run an OCT in hopes that it makes things a little easier for people.
FURTHER DISCLAIMER: every oct is different, someone doing things differently from the norm is not bad. These are all merely tools and guidelines meant to help. I've heard a lot about personal attacks being made using both my posts about OCT's as a way of bullying and pushing around the admins of other Tournament groups, and I do not condone it in the slightest. I'd like to apologize for anyone that has had that done to them.
For those who need more information!
"What is an OCT? An OCT, or 'original comic tournament'/'original character tournament' is a sort of contest in which an artist enters a character.
That character is paired off against another artist's character, and the artists have a set amount of time to draw a comic that fits the overall theme of the OCT.
At the end of the deadline, those comics are (usually) judged on their creativity, technical skill, storytelling, and entertainment. Each artist is given constructive feedback that will help them improve, and the stronger of the two entries will move onto the next round.
OCTs were originally started on DeviantArt as a way to help up-and-coming comic artists stay sharp and improve themselves. Deadlines were purposefully made short in order to add to the challenge."
1) Take the time to look at OCT's:The Eternal Struggle, first and foremost, it will most definately help.
And I don't mean just glance it over and go "Oh, of COURSE I'm doing all these things, my OCT is PERFECT."
No, I mean actually look at it, be brutally honest with yourself, and ask if you're doing this correctly.
I'll try not to say "don't" a lot, since that tends to make everything sound way too negative, but basically:
DO be organized. Keep in touch with all your judges, make sure communication is going on. you cannot expect everyone to be goddamn psychic and know what's going on with them. Take the time to talk to your whole team. Communication is just as important from mod to mod as it is for mod team to competitors.
DO use everything at your disposal to stay connected with your team. MSN, Google Docs, DA Chat, AIM, e-mail, the phone, coconut wireless, whatever. There should be no excuse for communication breakdown unless someone has a serious accident or something.
DO know when to ask for help when you need it. If you're in over your head and you need advice, go out and get it. I suggest the guys at SDL, as there are a few people with lots of experience on that side. If you can't run an OCT any longer, make sure that you let your userbase know, and calmly find someone that you can trust to run it in your place. Don't be an asshole and dump it off on someone without warning in hopes that they can magically fix your problems for you.
DO make your OCT about your contestants, not about you. If yours is a story-led OCT, make sure that it is the contestants leading the story and not you. Create a setting for them and sort out a premise if you want, but don't blindly plow on with your grand plot and ignore what the contestants are doing or shoehorn them into roles that fit your grand plan, because that's a sure-fire way to make them feel ignored and unimportant. OCTs are a way to let people tell their own stories with their own characters. Keep yours to a minimum.
DO know what you're talking about. Organization is about 50% of doing OCTs--having an understanding and KNOWING about art/comics/storytelling is the other 50%. Study up. Make sure that you can critique properly - you should be able to clearly say why one thing wins and the other doesn't. Be able to point out the pros and cons in both pieces, and make sure your crit isn't all negative or even all positive. Never sugarcoat - your job is to be straight with people. If you did your job right and were clear with them at the beginning of the tournament, they knew what they were signing up for. You can't help them improve if you're constantly worrying about hurting their feelings. Of course, their feelings may end up hurt anyways, but that is a rather normal part of the learning process.
DO focus on the tournament at hand. I'm seeing a lot of tournies these days feel sorry for all those people who didn't make it/get in or whatever, and hold "spectator contests/spectator tournaments" on the side. Keep in mind that the tournament is the main event- Having small events for your NPCs or spectators to do is all well and dandy, but the moment they become as tedious to manage as the tournament itself, you're in for a world of pain. Small, world building activities are great, but just remember to keep them light and optional. Like a yogurt. You don't get rewards for eating the yogurt, but it was enjoyable all the same
Which leads me to:
DO know when it's time to put your foot down. Don't EVER mistake having multiple incarnations of your tournament for "my OCT is super successful and I am an OCT pro! Yay!"
I've seen OCTs that have dragged on for months due to overextensions/adding wildcard competitors in every round/RP elements creeping in, and I've seen really terrible OCTs hold second/third/fourth incarnations of themselves just because they have huge fanbases.
Know when to cut it off and end it. If you run a second version of your tournament and nothing's been changed or improved organization/drama wise, your tournament is still going to fail. The better run OCTs I've seen have had ONE incarnation. They didn't do a second or a third one, they ended it right at the first one and ended it solidly.
That isn't to say that multiple-incarnation tournaments all suck, but it's good to know when you're running something into the ground. If you're going to go ahead and run a second incarnation of a tournament, keep it fresh, keep it new! New story, new setting, etc. etc. Nobody wants to do the exact same thing over and over again.
THIS IS IMPORTANT--DO WORK OUT YOUR DEADLINES FOR EACH ROUND AND STICK TO THEM. DEADLINES SHOULD BE SHORTER RATHER THAN LONGER.
The whole point of OCTs are to keep people on their toes and motivated by giving them a deadline.
You're totally free to toss out extensions if there's multiple requests/natural disaster/etc, but be reasonable. DO NOT give out an extension just because you want a favorite competitor to stay in the competition. Extensions should be three days at the least, a week at the most. Only give one. Like I said before, the whole point of OCTs is the challenge of working with a SHORT deadline to make a great comic that can hold its own against another. If you want to do a long epic story about your Original the Character, then do it on the side outside of the competition.
Competitors: LEARN TO EDIT AND LEARN TIME MANAGEMENT.
Admins: LEARN TO STOP CODDLING YOUR CONTESTANTS. YOU'RE TRYING TO HELP THEM IMPROVE.
2) What makes an OCT run smoothly? Besides the bits I've covered:
-Communicating with all admin/judge staff
-Making the FAQ and Rules absolutely clear for your contestants
-Being extremely fair and clear with your decisions
-Keeping calm when drama arises and dealing with it quickly in a professional manner
-Keeping in touch with your contestants. They're the ones participating in this tournament, after all. Lurk your chatrooms, update your journals.
-Having fun with the whole thing!
3) Adverting an OCT is something that can vary. In many cases, asking for advertisement from groups that share an interest with the theme of your OCT (such as IPL if you're trying to run a pokemon themed tournament) will provide you with a nice amount of people that are indeed interested in what you have to offer. Tumblr has recently become a rather popular hub for advertisements such as this.
Affiliation is great because people will travel on over by clicking on your link/icon just to see why it's there. It also can attract the attention of people who are popular and active in such communities, who then might go and advert it on their accounts.
OCTFollowers adverts for your OCT as well--I don't know the guys over there that well, but docpye assures me that they are active and kicking.
Finally, there's self-advertisement. Advert it on your own journal, get your pals to advert it for you, bring it up whenever you can whenever someone types the words "Man I want to be in an OCT but I can't find anything".
Got drama due to people getting mad about crits/and/or round results? Sudden outbreak of a former contestant's fanbase rabidly attacking your results journals?
Before you panic and set everything to hidden, try posting this:
"In order to have no hard feelings or misunderstandings, the judging criteria will be posted here. When the final decisions for each rounds are posted, the judges will post a basic crit for each competitor. Those wanting more in-depth critique will get it via request by note.
There are many things that go into judging, all of which are concerned with how effective the entry was at achieving its general purpose of being a compelling, entertaining comic/animation. No one specific thing is weighted concretely above the rest; it's all a matter of how it comes together for the final product. In general, these are the key areas of consideration:
Quality/Technical Skill: Compared to the artist's other work, how refined is this entry? How much time did the artist put into this, and does it show? Is the entry clear and easily readable? Did the artist make the best of the mediums he/she used? Was the entry done to the best of the artist's ability? Did the artist portray their opponent's character accurately? Do lapses in quality detract from the entertainment?
Creativity/Storytelling: Did the artist find a fresh and compelling way to tell the story? Are the conflict and resolution strong? Does the entry hold up on its own, or does the reader have to study references and other entries to get what's going on? Does the story seem formulaic?
Entertainment: Overall, does the entry draw the reader in? Do we want to read it again, or read the next part?
If there is a serious dispute with the judging, the artist will be asked to take it up via notes with (OCT's name or head admin's name here). In all other cases, the judges' ruling is absolute.
If the artists participating want in-depth critique on their work, they will be asked to note (OCT's name or head admin's name here)."
This is 99% sure to help deal with any judging related drama. Of course, you've got to be certain that your entire judging team is unbiased and can clearly say why they chose one entry over another.
PS: If you happen to be a contestant that's "getting mad", double check to make sure that you're getting mad for a reason that's better than "I like my friends and me and we're awesome and we can't POSSIBLY lose to this asshole I hate."
Hope that covers everything.
--Colatechi, with contributions from AriadneArca.
Original post from Tofubeast