Using Categories Effectively in Your Contest

We get a lot of questions about using the "category" feature of our platform. Categories are a great way to recognize specific winners, but they can also potentially discourage participants.

What are Categories?

Using categories in your contest means that entrants must select a specific category when entering the contest.

Categories are fully customizable. 
They can be whatever you wish, although we recommend that they are as broad as possible (more on that below in #2 Categories Might Create a Barrier to Entering).

Each category has a separate leaderboard on the Homepage of your contest site. Under each leaderboard, the entries in each category are ranked by the number of votes they have received.

There is also an Overall Leaderboard, which lists every single entry in the contest. (Bunnyfest in the examples below features this type of setup)*

*You can opt to not have the Overall Leaderboard display, which means that your contest is a "Category Only" contest. This option is great for contests that are not awarding a prize for the top overall vote-getter.

What to keep in mind when using Categories:

#1 Categories Correlate to Prizes:

The first thing you need to think about when having categories in your contest is how you want your prize package to correlate to your categories.
Since each category has a separate leaderboard, it's expected that you will be awarding prizes to the top vote getter(s) in each category.
If your contest is not "Category Only", you will also need a prize package that awards a special prize to the top overall vote getter, in addition to the top vote getter(s) in each individual category.


#2 Categories Might Create a Barrier to Entering:

If fundraising is your goal, we discourage you from being too specific in your categories. Having categories that are really specific creates a situation where a participant might not have a photo that fits your specific category criteria. Since they don't have a photo that fits a category, it means they probably won't enter, which means you would miss out on fundraising dollars from that participant.

Broad categories such as "Dog, Cat, Other" encourage the most participation.

If you want to have fun and creative categories, be mindful to make sure that they are inclusive of everyone who wants to participate.

#3 Categories Could Create a Perception of Unfairness:

It's the nature of categories that you will have some categories that are more competitive than others. This means that a winner of a less competitive category might have also raised less than non-winners in a competitive category.

Some participants may notice that if their entry was switched to a less competitive category, they would have a higher chance of winning a category prize. Since these requests are received only after the entrant realizes the situation, it is extremely unfair to grant the request. It can lead to unhappy constituents.


Examples of Categories:

Click each image to view the full contest site.

Broad Categories (Dogs, Cats, etc):

category only contest category only contest  

Specific/Creative Categories:

category only contest  has overall leaderboard
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