Why Aren't the Recipe Contests Anonymous for the Judges?

Someone on another post mentioned that the recipe contests are not judged anonymously(the contestants are not anonymous when their recipes are judged.) Why is that? It seems to me that all contests, to be fairly judged, should not have the contestants' names attached to their recipes.

I understand that for the 52 community, the names are helpful when they are following friends or certain chefs, but when it comes to the judging by the editors , I think the names should not be visible to them. Couldn't some of the new influx of 52 funding be used to create a computer program for the recipe editors that deletes contestants' names from their recipes?( so that all 'award winning' recipes, including Wild Cards, for example, could always be judged and chosen anonymously?)



BoulderGalinTokyo April 17, 2013
Very interesting thread! If it were tech-possible, I think it would make the contests more open.

The goal of these contests is for A & M to compile their cookbook so maybe seeing the same group of names gives them the confidence to choose certain recipes.
savorthis April 15, 2013
I think it would be really interesting to see a contest without names. It seems the really new folks might be discouraged playing in the contests at first with no traction while the folks who have been around a while and participate in many ways would continue regardless. I know I felt that way when I first started- that there was a tight knit inner circle- but I stuck with it and got some traction and many of the inner circle engaged with me and I them which creates such a different level of participation and satisfaction. But to the casual person dropping in I can see how it might seem intimidating. Perhaps once you enter a contest, your name is hidden, but once it is over it is displayed again. It is certainly worth a ponder.

Another thing I have wondered about is a contest where you can only submit one recipe. How difficult it would be to choose what you consider to be truly YOUR BEST. I both like AND dislike the idea- especially since some of the topics really spur some creativity for me resulting in several recipes. But the results might produce a more qualified list of recipes for that topic if you could only submit one.
AntoniaJames April 15, 2013
There was one contest, a few years ago, that truly was for your "best," in which only one recipe submission was permitted. I think it's a great idea. I'd like to see that again. Thanks for suggesting it. ;o)
inspiredbyyou April 15, 2013
brilliant, bevi. will do.
Bevi April 15, 2013

Sorry Folks, this link works.
Bevi April 15, 2013
Actually, the editors encourage us to write to them directly with these types of issues; however, I and several of my friends have written directly to the editors and have never received a reply, unless I report spam. Then I get a thank you note. So although the hotline is not being used for its intended purpose, it is the only venue on the site for members to discuss community topics related to the site that do not cover food. If you want a discussion board, please post this on the features board where the editors have asked us what changes we would like to see on food52.
Bevi April 15, 2013
Here is the link to the feature asking members to post changes they would like to see: http://food52.com/blog/6186-what-do-you-want-to-see-on-food52
LE B. April 15, 2013
i completely agree with you that a Site Talk Board is badly needed on 52. IMO, it's an essential element of any online 'community'
nutcakes April 15, 2013
This is a Hotline, not a discussion forum, why doesn't the site offer places for discussion? I find it a tiresome format for discussion. It dilutes hotline purpose, most often when people get into tangents. I don't mind tangents in discussion, (see other interesting site's discussion boards, I have favorites I've been on for 12+ years) but not for hotline and answers for OP's to have to be dragged into protracted additional comments, just to just applaud others and make private and personal comments within someone's question thread. I think it is appalling that some members are highlighted as 'trusted sources' when I think they suck. I think this board sucks pretty much lately, which is why I haven't been on it much. Meanwhile, it IS hard or impossible to criticize a recipe very candidly when you are ID'd, so that's why I stopped doing reviews for CP's. That's my tangent and I'm sticking to it.
Droplet April 15, 2013
Hotline is entirely based on volunteers. People who answer questions and share valuable knowledge keep it going for the most part. It was renamed Hotline for obvious marketing reasons to attract people. The people who answer questions get to know each other indirectly and it is impossible to eliminate the human element out of a discussion. Plus even the most lavish table is poor without a good conversation.
Pegeen April 14, 2013
Technically speaking, it would be out of the realm of possibility for Food52 to keep contest submissions anonymous to Editors. There are too many simple workarounds.
But that's beside the point... it seems like the underlying issue is that some folks feel like the playing field does not feel wide enough? Tough issue to address and you'll never make All The People Happy All The Time no matter how beautifully you design things or how much money you spend on computer coding. But this kind of open debate is great for the site because it increases page views = better advertising stats = more revenue to help pay for talented people and everything else.
boulangere April 14, 2013
Along that line, the old site had a running log of how many cooks were looking at what recipe, which I always found interesting.
AntoniaJames April 14, 2013
On another thread -- a recent conversation in comments to the what-would-you-like post -- this might interest you: http://food52.com/blog/6186-what-do-you-want-to-see-on-food52 I recently suggested there that a "Tried" button, similar to the "saved" button, would be helpful. Someone chimed in with "how about "tried and recommended"? Yes, that would be great, but how about also providing current, say weekly, information on what recipes have received, during the preceding week, the most tried/recommend tics? That would show us what people are actually making. It's really hard to figure that out, except when you see a comment pop up on the activity log, or when you look at a particular recipe. There's no way currently to see what's "trending," which to my mind would be a great way to find out what the community thinks about the recipes here (without regard to their status as CPs or not). Just an idea . . . . ;o)
Bevi April 14, 2013
That is an excellent idea, AJ. It opens up a whole new vista.
cookinginvictoria April 13, 2013
I agree -- this is a really interesting thread. I am a food52 veteran, but not quite an old timer. I test a fair number of recipes for the contests because it's fun and I learn a lot. I also try to communicate my notes to a cook if I really love his/her recipe and it isn't selected for a CP or if I test a recipe and feel that I can offer some supportive, but constructive feedback and the cook will be receptive to it. However, if a recipe has really serious flaws, then I may refrain from commenting at all. I guess that I am too nice too!

I do like the fact that testers are anonymous now -- in my opinion, it allows for more honest and frank reviews that get submitted to the editors. However, I think that it would be very interesting if food52 posted more than just one tester's notes (or even some selected excerpts from other testers' notes) to accompany the CP and finalist recipes. This would allow users on the site to see a variety of more nuanced feedback because not all of us have uniform thoughts about each recipe and we will often approach recipes in a slightly different way, depending upon such things as our comfort level with the techniques described in the recipe and how our pantries may be stocked on any given day.

Kitchen B. April 13, 2013
While food52 is community-based, I often feel there is an 'unspoken' elite.

But I come here for more than the contests, and make a conscious effort to value what I get out of it. Frankly till I'm asked expressly for my opinion, I'll mind my business! For after all, I didn't have the initial food52 dream that has resulted in this great site.
Droplet April 13, 2013
The only cure for those "gifted children" is tough love, and you do cure them well. Do you believe that UEFA had figured out to "deal" with elites? ;)They surely give out some big bowls.
pierino April 13, 2013
Droplet, I have give this a big HA! And you I are the only ones who will understand this crazy detour in the conversation. The UEFA Bowl of Elites begins in Switzerland and now you have the Emerites involved. World Cup after Brasil will be in Qatar---how did that happen? Staying on the topic of elites, our new Pope is from Argentina. I'm betting he's a Boca Juniors fan.
Droplet April 13, 2013
LOL! As they say, whatever is not for sale, is for sale for more money. Same reason why MU leads the elite. Has nothing to do with objectivity :). Hope you did indeed get my point. And apologies to all other participants in the thread for the detour.
Droplet April 13, 2013
Pierino, whoever said political science has nothing to do with elitism :)
pierino April 13, 2013
Droplet, within the discipline of political science (and also kitchen science) you do get a practical grasp on elites and how to deal with them. But there is no politboro here. Among the reasons that Food52 has been winning awards, and Beards and IACP's are big time, is that it's community based. Which doesn't mean that there isn't a structure to work within. The structure provides focus. I'm sorry but some contributors think that they are a "gifted child" or maybe their parents did. But real world, you gotta do your home work.
drbabs April 13, 2013
Wow, what a great thread. I've been here almost since the beginning, too. I think the contests are a game, and in creating recipes, it's fun to try and figure out what the editors are looking for. Like AJ, I try to gently let a member know if I tested their recipe and had problems with it. I also am happy that the testers are anonymous because it's easier to be very frank in the review. i realize the editors have more than enough to do, but it would be nice if we got feedback from all the reviewers when our recipes are tested--even when it's less than positive. I've sent notes privately, but I've hesitated to do that when my result has been really awful--which I guess puts me in the "too nice" category, and probably isn't all that helpful. Like boulangere, I only vote for recipes that I feel like I would want to make and eat--so there are some contests that I don't vote in. We're not in high school, so I think the risk of this being merely a popularity contest is minimal. But I do think that the longer you've been around, the more aligned you are with the editors' way of thinking (and eating), so you're more likely to figure out the game and come up with a chosen recipe. I know that some of my first recipes were just terrible (and have been blessedly deleted), and that I have become a much better cook and baker since I joined this site and have been cooking from it regularly. And it's fun. And I've been fortunate to have met a lot of you, so I feel like I have a new world of friends. So I guess I'm kind of glad that the entries aren't anonymous, because that would take some of the community aspect out of it, which I think is a lot more important and valuable than the competition aspect.
pierino April 13, 2013
Bevi, indeed it has been interesting to listen to the various points of view, and listening is what matters. As one of the geezers here I've been trying to offer some perspective and I honestly don't believe that there's any bias toward an elite. I studied political science in college.
A few weeks ago a newcomer came in essentially stamped her foot on the floor and practically that the whole community judge her recipe before the community picks phase. I did try, as a geezer, to offer advice along the lines of "make your recipe title snappy, and make sure that your headnotes are as important as your recipe itself." Well, she went all Columbine. Some people just see advice as criticism. Last week's contest was "cereal". Do you think that if a recipe was just tagged "oatmeal" that it would be a CP?
I do know a lot of people here now. I respect and admire them. Sometimes I'm surprised when a recipe I've read doesn't make the cut. But oh well, it doesn't mean the recipe is dead, just dormant. I had a wild card winner a couple of months back and my recipe was three years old. An editor pulled it out of the slush pile. This week I do have a community pick out for testing, which really surprised me because I made deadline by only 15 minutes with no time for a photograph. Call it reciprocity, but I will be testing someone else's. I have all the ingredients and I intend to prepare it exactly the way it was written so that the author has his/her best shot in the competiton. Integrity matters.
Bevi April 12, 2013
This is a marvelous thread. It involves honest dialogue that we are engaging in. As a community, I feel we have an obligation to have open, honest discussions about what works for us on this site. We are the backbone of this site, and it's great to see real discussion taking place.
boulangere April 12, 2013
I love your response! There have been many contests where I haven't voted for either finalist because neither is one I would dream of making, for one reason or another. And when I do vote, it is for the recipe and its outcome, not for the author. Not cheesy at all!
darksideofthespoon April 12, 2013
This is a great thread.

I see both points, as someone who is new (ish? I've been on here for just over 1 year..), there is certainly a family of users that is hard to penetrate. True anonymity would be nifty, but I think it would be difficult to pull off and probably more bother than it's worth. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! I never vote for a recipe because someone "well known" was behind it, I think about "Would I cook it? Does it look good? Are the ingredients accessible or a reasonable price?" I hope people don't vote for one user over the other, but at the end of the day, it's the internet, a contest, and if the recipe is truly fantastic... well then, don't worry. It might not win, but people will make it, eat it and hopefully be pleased that they did. Isn't that what cooking is all about? Wow, this got cheesy, fast! ;)
Droplet April 12, 2013
I concur on that, AJ. An honest dislike has much more value in my eyes, than a poetical niceity which many of the reviews appear as.
AntoniaJames April 12, 2013
Incidentally, am I the only one here who is finding the recipe reviews on CPs to be increasingly not very useful? Okay, I guess it helps to know that someone tried and liked a recipe. But so many of the reviews lately have all been sounding alike. Just sayin' . . . . ;o)
inspiredbyyou April 12, 2013
My impression is that the majority of women posters in food-based community websites (like Chowhound's Home Cooking board) are very influenced by their 'be nice' upbringings. They really hesitate to say Anything that isn't just totally positive. So they tend to be more in the 'cheerleading' camp for comments. I find the support that I see on 52 to be a very encouraging and positive thing, but, like you, AJ, I think the comments/recipe reviews that encourage growth and learning are equally important. It never ceases to amaze me how the most impressive of brilliant women (and men , sometimes, too)can still have pretty fragile egos (and that includes the women who feel they don't know enough to give constructive feedback.)I want to shake them and say,"But don't you realize how amazing you are?!"
ATG117 April 12, 2013
I think this is pretty spot on, but that is why I think a recipe review tab is necessary. Perhaps you are right that anonymous CP reviews wouldn't help, since the bad ones presumably aren't posted anyway. But if a recipe review tab were anonymous, I imagine there would be a lot of constructive feedback.

One particular problem I just encountered involved chocolate cookies. They received many, many comments about how amazing they were (nothing much more detailed), but when I made them, they came out pretty badly-where I consider myself a rather good baker. If I post this feedback, amidst all those comments, no one will ever see it or be able to respond to it. And while I'd still be willing to post this feedback, I think I'm in the minority. Too many people find it difficult to give and receive constructive criticism.
boulangere April 15, 2013
Are you referring to reviews for recipes that are chosen as EPs? Because the tester's name does appear at the end of the review.
ATG117 April 12, 2013
just to clarify, in my comment, I was referring to the community pick testers. I trust the food52 staff to select the best recipes to be photographed and tested, but I think If community testers provided comments anonymously, that would be helpful. I guess I'm still on the wanting honest recipe reviews.
AntoniaJames April 12, 2013
I like it that who is testing what has become anonymous. I don't worry about the testing results being displayed with the tester's name simply because, if I test and don't like a recipe (and it happens, even with recipes submitted by some of the more popular members here), I send my brutally frank report to the editors knowing that they won't print it, though it may affect whether the recipe actually makes the cut as a CP. Sometimes despite my less-than-glowing reviews, a recipe is chosen anyway. And then, if I think of it (so much time passes from submission to publication) I will post a comment on the recipe itself with my reservations, problems, warnings, etc. Diplomatically, of course. ;o)
Bevi April 12, 2013
The photography *factor* of this issue has not been brought up previously, to my knowledge, and plays a huge part in what recipes are featured again, and again, and again. So it adds yet another layer to the favorable promotion of a small minority of community cooks on this site. If we are taking the trouble to test recipes, wouldn't it be fairer for all recipes chosen by the community to be nicely photographed and displayed? Not only that, it is tedious to see the same recipes showcased, but under different ingredient categories.
Droplet April 12, 2013
Very true, AJ. Yet the intrinsic value of a recipe hardly ever is to be seen in the amateur photograph that many otherwise great cooks submit along. That moment comes when the recipes experience the wonderful signature Food52 pictorial treatment.
AntoniaJames April 12, 2013
Agree. And editors', er, I mean community picks never appear in any "Features" unless they've been photographed by FOOD52, which means that there definitely is a hierarchy there, evidently based on that fact, too. ;o)
AntoniaJames April 12, 2013
It seems that it would be difficult for recipes to be truly anonymous, at least the ones by people who submit regularly, as there are unique, identifiable styles of writing (what makes the recipes interesting!) as well as backgrounds and props in the photos that surely must be recognizable. E.g, nearly all of my breads are photographed on the beat-up crumb box on which they're always sliced, many dishes are shown on the weathered teak table on the deck right off my kitchen, etc. ;o)
Droplet April 12, 2013
Even though I am not necessarily convinced the contests should be anonymous, I do see how it could be beneficial. I hardly ever participate in the contests, but if you spend long enough time on here you just can't help but notice favoritism. It seems as if, if someone wasn't one of the first 100 people to join the site, you simple can't quite be accepted in the family. I often see submitted recipes in the contests that are strikingly similar, yet the one that does get attention belongs to an established member. It would be interesting to see if the editors can blind guess whether the recipes they choose come from those whom they know.
dymnyno April 11, 2013
As many who have been a part of food52 since the beginning Pierino has been there and back and survived!
pierino April 12, 2013
Survived barely, pierino is in the witness protection program while being pursued by Speznaz. So anonymity isn't necessarily a bad thing. But as a familiar to the frequent follies of Food52 pierino just can't see it as a feasible thing to pull off. The algorithms at work are wacky enough already. If this were a real time competition and everyone was in the room at once and two cooks were cooking ala "Throwdown" then, sure that's desirable. We're skeptical that a few lines of code would isolate the editors. And with the greater good in mind, why would you really want to do that.
wssmom April 11, 2013
Personally, I think the whole idea of a food community is to get the "know" the other people in the community! I mean, how boring would life be without Pierino? :)
AntoniaJames April 11, 2013
Speaking of which (or whom, I suppose I should say), have you noticed his area of expertise includes "tough love"? Made me laugh! ;o)
LE B. April 11, 2013
Of course! but making the contestants anonymous for ONLY the JUDGES(on the editor/judges' computers) would not keep any of us from seeing Pierino's name.
Patti I. April 11, 2013
So you don't want to see all of the recipes being submitted for the contests until they are scrubbed of all names, then you don't want the editors to see the names when they look at them or any of us to see them when we review them as a community pick or vote at the end. I just don't see that as an issue. I am a major lurker here, but I look at the contests for ideas. I don't know anyone personally but I have come to know little bits about individuals and cooking styles. Don't change it
LE B. April 11, 2013
I think you misunderstood.If I read the OP correctly, the OP wants the contestants' names to be invisible only for the JUDGES of the contests, so that the JUDGING is anonymous. Only the judges' computers would be programmed this way.
sel E. April 11, 2013
I don't think it would be such a bad idea to have anonymity. It does make all seem more objective. And I think it would contribute positively to the Food52 community.
ATG117 April 10, 2013
I see both points of view. I do, however, think anonymity might allow for more honest and helpful reviews, where people don't need to be worried about giving constructive critique when necessary.
pierino April 10, 2013
Please allow me to speak from experience here, and I do understand your point. Myself, I've been a contributor to Food52 almost since its inception four years ago. Early on, once you were chosen as a finalist in a competition it became like running for high school class president.Now the community has grown so large that I don't see that as an issue anymore. I have faith in Amanda and Merrill and the editorial SWAT team to chose appropriately. After that it's turned over to the vox populi to decide the winners. And please remember that none of us get paid for this---okay, sometimes we get some swag---so being recognized by your user name is not a bad thing.

Voted the Best Reply!

LE B. April 10, 2013
I find this such a bizarre response.Someone who doesn't think a contest should be anonymous, because they don't see it as an issue.??

I don't know what 'not getting paid for this' has to do
with the OP's point. Seems pretty simple to me- any and all contest submissions, no matter what the contest, should be anonymous. Who ever heard of a contest where the judges know who the contestants are??
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