WordPress Competition Lessons Learned

I got an e-mail last week from skippy asking if I could answer a few questions about the theme competitions I’ve held for WordPress. Here goes:

  1. What was your motivation for starting the competition?

    The motivation for the first competition was to get people to start building additional themes for WordPress. I’d just created the style switcher, but there weren’t many styles to choose from.

    The motivation for the second competition was again to help kick-start the creation of new themes for WordPress, themes that could take advantage of the new theme capabilities that had just been released in WP 1.5. I was also getting a lot of requests to hold a second competition from other WP users.

  2. Did you have sponsors or prizes lined up when you started?

    A couple, then more came forward during the competition.

  3. What was the biggest roadblock to starting the competition?

    Can’t really think of one.

  4. Once things got underway, what was the most unexpected challenge?

    The first competition resulted in about 40 entries, and these required no code review on my part as they were only CSS changes. The second competition resulted in about 140 entries1 and the themes included PHP code along with CSS and image. I felt that since I was hosting the competition, I had a responsibility to review each entry and make sure there wasn’t any malicious or dangerous code included. I also cleaned up broken code in a number of submittions.

    The submissions for the first competition took about 5 minutes each to package, review and post. The submissions for the second competition took 20-30 minutes each. The amount of time required to post each submission was the biggest surprise.

  5. Aside from a lot of cool themes, what has been the best thing to come out of the competition?

    Not sure if it helped inspire the plugin competition or not, but if it did that’s certainly a good thing.

  6. Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?

    Not in the same manner, no.

  7. If so, what would you do differently?

    I would set up a way to let others do the reviewing and posting of the themes. Unfortunately. creating a system like that takes a good deal of time.

  8. Do you have any advice (specific or general) for anyone else looking to run a competition around some aspect of WordPress?

    Yes. A few rotten apples will always raise their heads in a competition – make sure you don’t allow them to spoil the whole barrel. It’s rarely a good idea to cater to a vocal minority.

If you’ve got additional or follow-up questions, I’ll try to answer them in the comments.

  1. I’d expected maybe 80. [back]