After running through 100+ comments on the last two posts, I decided to terminate all discussion threads related to the judgment criteria, process and results. We felt we had heard all sides presenting multiple view-points and had enough discussions on the topic. I was not privy to the Jury process (out of personal choice), but here on this blog, some disappointed applicants were watching my posts like sharks, snapping up comments laced with insinuations. However what shocked me, was the glee in the tone of some who addressed the TOP 100 as 91 "losers in the waiting". Just wait another 3 days - and then you are part of us 'losers'. Hello and welcome to India!
Anyway when all hope seemed lost, I got this email from Mr. Dilip D'Souza today morning, who touched upon the topic of 'fairness'. It was very well thought through and compelled me to publish the same on the blog. My response to Dilip is appended at the end.
Perhaps you recognize my name from the driving challenge, and a couple of comments I've left on your blog. I'm sure you're extremely busy with conducting the whole thing, so I ask your indulgence in reading this bit of mail. May I say to start that I think you ran the contest extremely well and stylishly, explained things on the blog clearly. Congratulations!
As I said in one of my comments, the problem that we guys who didn't make the cut have is, it's hard not to sound like we're carping about sour grapes! Still, I felt I had to say this much: for me, the one false note in all your posts and explanations was when you wrote about applying your quantitative filters: "We missed some good applications in the process, but we did not have any better choice, with the constraints of time and resources."
My feeling is, this is unfair for a contest like this one, where you have explicitly asked people to write things. For an entirely quantitative contest -- a GRE test or something like that -- of course a filter like that makes sense. But to "miss some good applications" that consist of things people have written, because you use these filters, seems unfair to your applicants.
Some of this is familiar to me, as I'm trained in engineering/CS (BITS and Brown Univ, plus 20 years in software in the US and here). So I have some idea of why and how you would use filters. But I'm now a writer -- and for a few years, an organization I'm part of ran a nationwide essay competition. We got something like 1000 entries each time, and it was hard work to wade through them to select a shortlist for our jury. So there were suggestions that we use mechanisms like filters. But we felt we owed the entrants this much: that we read their entries, all of them. And in fact, doing that we found some gems that would have failed our filters. One year, one of those gems got second prize, if I remember right.
Good luck for the rest of the contest. You guys are doing a fabulous job!
Cheers, dilip d'souza.
My response to the concerns raised by Dilip is as follows:
Team GDC increased the chances of shortlisting good applications, to the maximum, by
a) expanding cut-off filter to >70% (that means we looked at all applications whch were 70% complete or more) - to be more inclusive
Relaxing the cutoff filters meant there were more candidates we had to contend with - thus more effort. Yet even when we tried to be more inclusive and thus be more "fair" (following rationale of Dilip), the same reasons were cited by many applicants as evidence of 'unfairness' and 'cheating'.
That is the paradoxical nature of this problem, I guess.
Team GDC has been trying to reach all winners since yesterday. The on-ground team needs to verify/validate your identity and is asking for a minimal set of documents.
There is a deadline they need to meet, prior to finalizing a second shortlist of 25 and then declaring the final 9 contesting couples. If they are unable to reach you by end of day today, they will make no further attempts to communicate.
As the clock turned 1pm on Monday it was as if time had stood still. I dared not open the very website that had for the past two weeks been viewed and read hundreds of time. I almost willed the phone to ring and get the news! Exactly after three long minutes my intercom rang: “Mubarak Ho! You have been selected.” It was my colleague who was rooting for me all these days.
“Don’t fool with me,” I said, shaking with excitement. “I’m coming downstairs,” he said and disconnected the phone.
He came up to me and said, “Click on the first ‘L’ of the word ‘C-H-A-L-L-E-N-G-E’.” I did and lo and behold it was our profile! We are in the top 100 of the Great Driving Challenge!
After a couple of tense days the ordeal seems to be over. We were amongst the Top 100 contestants of the Great Driving Challenge. To have been selected from thousands of other deserving applicants was never easy. We had few votes (146 to be precise) compared to applicants who had more than thousands of votes in their kitty. I had told Deepa that we would not make it! But then there was motivation and encouragement coming from all quarters — from our friends and well-wishers.
More on my fundas of life.
In response to many comments on our earlier post, we would like to share the set of criteria and snap shot of scoring sheet used in the process. Some “cutoff” filters were used to come up with a first shortlist of few hundred applicants, who were then scored by multiple members of the jury. A few applicants were disqualified after examination of their email logs.
Each jury member had access to a web-based scoring sheet (part screen shot attached). Each criteria was scored separately by one ore more members of Jury, before arriving at total score and final average. The Jury reviewed the TOP 100 list, before releasing it for announcement. We are aware that there are many excellent bloggers, photographers and passionate travel enthusiasts who did not make it to the final 100. We wish TGDC could accommodate more.