How to deal with a sore loser?
February 19, 2005 8:47 AM   Subscribe

How to deal with a sore loser?

I've been part of the organisation committee (and a jury member) of an online computer graphics competition. The competition is now over but one competitor is raising hell in public because he's not one of the winners (there are already 25 of them out of 100). He's saying stuff like "most of the competition is crap compared to my entry". He demanded to have his entry removed from the viewing page, he's severing all links to our CG community and he took down his website in protest. I've tried to explain to him why his image didn't make it but it just made things worse. I've met the guy in real life and I really like him, and I feel that we lost a valuable (and talented) member. I just can't figure out what happened, let alone how to mend things. Any people had this sort of experience before?
posted by elgilito to Human Relations (9 answers total)
It's up to him to mend things. He submitted his work for judgment, and he knew what he was getting into. At some level he still knows. Give him time to cool off. If he doesn't cool off, his personality is an unfortunate barrier to his talent.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:23 AM on February 19, 2005

Say, "dude, you know when people say things like 'he's being a sore loser'? Well, that's you right now. Stop it, people hate that, it's unprofessional, nobody wants to hire someone who acts like that."

If he won't grow up, you don't want him in your community anyway, because he'll just cause problems further down the road anyway. Obviously the only reason he's stuck around to date is because he finds validation in hanging out with people who he perceives as not as talented as himself, who will tell him how great he is.
posted by kindall at 9:49 AM on February 19, 2005

From the outside, he seems neither valuable to the community (quite the opposite) nor talented (at least not in the top quartile). I wouldn't worry too much about him deciding to sever all ties with your organization.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:23 AM on February 19, 2005

You can't control what another person does -- you can provide incentives and/or consequences but they are always free to do what they want and take the consequences.

Forget about this guy. You've reached out, done what you can do. You can't have reconciliation without his decision to reconcile. All you can do is protect yourself from further abuse and don't reward undesirable behaviour -- which basically means you have to wait for him to shape up until you start interacting with him again.
posted by winston at 11:06 AM on February 19, 2005

Winston's right. This guy has essentially thrown a tantrum because things didn't go his way. It sounds to me like he wants to be placated by retroactively being declared one of the winners (which simply means you'd be rewarding his bad behavior), or wants to "punish" your community for not declaring him the winner in the first place (which is really his problem, not yours). Maybe he'll cool down and behave a little more like an adult down the road, but it's not your obligation to mend anything at this point.
posted by scody at 1:13 PM on February 19, 2005

You say he's talented and valuable, but his entry wasn't worthy of being in the top 25%? Was it unusually low quality for him, or did it somehow not stay within certain guidelines, or what?

It sounds like his ego is bruised, and he'll either get over it, apologize, and try to make up for it, or he'll flame out and disappear. All you can really do is make it clear to him that he'll be welcome back into the community once he chills out. Maybe he's a passionate guy & this is one of the first times he's had to deal with 'failing' (or, getting a C-, anyway) and he just freaked out, and will feel really dumb about it shortly. Or, maybe he's just an egotistical jerk who you're better off without. Basically, it's up to him to decide which one to be; whatever action he takes next will continue to distinguish his character.

It's good for you to be aware that you want to encourage him to take the first road, so you want to a)not rile him up further; b) not make him defensive about action he's already taken; c) make him generally feel that it is okay, just a common human failing, that he freaked out, and if he can learn not to do that next time, it will be forgiven. I don't mean you should say it's not a problem, but just that it's a problem which is soluble.
posted by mdn at 1:24 PM on February 19, 2005

He's taking his ball and going home?

Fine. Catering to this kind of dysfunctional behavior will only encourage it in future.

You did the right thing and tried to explain politely what happened. From here on out, your attitude should be "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."
posted by enrevanche at 2:13 PM on February 19, 2005

You say he's talented and valuable, but his entry wasn't worthy of being in the top 25%? Was it unusually low quality for him, or did it somehow not stay within certain guidelines, or what?

His body of work (that is no longer online unfortunately) is best seen as a whole: it's part images, part text and quite fun. It's valuable because it's different from what many other people do. It could have made a fine FPP actually but it's not in English, so it would have been lost on most people. However, taken out of context the images aren't that special, which was the problem for the competition. Since the entries were anonymous, his image was just dismissed as merely lacking, which it was from a technical point of view.

What surprised me was the violence of his reaction (I even thought it was some sort of metal joke at first). I guess I'll follow everybody's advice here and let it rest for a while.
posted by elgilito at 3:13 PM on February 19, 2005

I'm not sure it's a good idea for a group of 100 to issue awards to 25 of its members, unless you're telling the other 75 to pack up and go home. Maybe 1st, 2nd, and 3rd - but by singling out 25, you're essentially saying "These are the guys who we really want in our group." Or at least that's what the other 75 are going to hear. If you only issue win, place and show, then everybody can feel like they finished a strong fourth place. That's very different from a strong 26th place.

I have no advice for how to deal with the guy. If I were him and I'd bothered to contribute, I'd be cheesed off too.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:47 AM on February 24, 2005

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