Is it possible to make this competition fair?
June 15, 2009 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I am running a baby photo competition at an event. There are 13 photos. I am giving out a list of the 13 names (as it's quite difficult) and asking people to match the photos to the names. There is a small entrance fee and prize (half the collected entrance fees, the other half going to the ongoing event fund). I want to maximise profit and prize, therefore I don't want to exclude the 13 people (out of 70 attendees) who submitted their photos from entering the competition. But if I don't exclude them, how do I work out the winner? What if a non-photo person gets 13 right and a baby photo person gets 13 but one of them is of course the photo of themself that they submitted?

So I'm OK if a person who submitted a photo gets all 13 and the closest other person gets say 11. But what if persons A & B didn't submit photos and get 13, and persons Z and Y did submit them and get 13 but one is of them. Not fair for them all to go into the draw? What if Z and Y get 13 and A & B get 12 - they've all guessed 12 right, haven't then.

Is there any way to make a fair competition without excluding the people who submitted photos, or do I have to go ahead and do that.

Thank you!
posted by LyzzyBee to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total)
Inform the 13 parents that ties will be broken in favour of non-parents, and allow refunds.
posted by zamboni at 1:27 PM on June 15, 2009

Just a consideration: If it is a matching type thing, then you will not get someone who got just one wrong. Unless of course they are allowed to use names twice, but really, who would do that anyway if they know there are 13 names and 13 pictures?
posted by Grither at 1:30 PM on June 15, 2009

My initial reaction is that you need to exclude the people who submitted the photos. They're essentially being asked to identify 12 photos instead of 13. Since this is mostly random, that significantly improves their odds. As in, not only do they get a freebie, but randomly matching 12 things is statistically easier than randomly matching 13 things.

However, one way you might make it fairer while including the submitters is if everybody gets a freebie. So, the person steps up to the line, and you give them one of the name/baby matches at random. You'll need to use a secret ballot for this, since somebody fifteen or twenty places back in line could just memorize all the freebies if you don't keep the process secret.
posted by Netzapper at 1:31 PM on June 15, 2009

On non-preview: Grither's point that you'll always have at least a pair incorrect is true. But, that doesn't change the fact that the submitters have an advantage.

And zamboni's suggestion would also work for making people feel it's fair. Except that it doesn't take into account the probabilistic issues. Simply breaking ties doesn't change the fact that the submitters have an easier task.
posted by Netzapper at 1:35 PM on June 15, 2009

Response by poster: Goodness - that's quick chaps - thank you!! Um, hadn't thought about the odd vs even number of names thing. I can't oversee the whole thing as it's one in a raft of activities - I'll basically be selling the answer sheets and the photos are up on a board somewhere.

I'll see if anyone comes up with an amazing solution, otherwise I'll just exclude the submitters. Majorly impressed with the speed of replies on this one!
posted by LyzzyBee at 1:39 PM on June 15, 2009

Here's an idea: Score every sheet "best 12 of 13", and for those folks who submitted a baby photo, throw out their photo automatically. That would put them at an overall disadvantage, rather than an overall advantage.

Of course, this would lead to slightly more correct answers based on chance alone, which might screw with the prize distribution?
posted by muddgirl at 1:51 PM on June 15, 2009

I like Zamboni's idea. It's simple for you. The kind of events I've been to that included these kinds of contests (baby showers and things) are more for fun than anything else, and the money is usually being raised for, say, the new parents--everybody's jovial and playful about it. Unless your event and game are a lot more formal than that, it's not the state lottery.
posted by not that girl at 2:10 PM on June 15, 2009

Response by poster: Yeh, it's more for a laugh at our ridiculous fat baby cheeks and all that than serious money raising (we have a tombola AND raffle for that). Thanks for your consideration everyone!
posted by LyzzyBee at 2:21 PM on June 15, 2009

I'd be inclined to resolve ties in favor of those who DID submit photos, in order to reward them for putting themselves up for embarrassment and pinching of cheeks!
posted by moonmilk at 7:05 PM on June 15, 2009

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