Hello UW community
I am in the very unenviable situation to have to write the following and I am well aware of the potential fact that it may make me look like the world’s worst loser however, I have been left with no choice as substantiated evidence from a not insignificant group of people has been provided and has consequently been ignored and stonewalled by the organiser of the World Shootout (http://worldshootout.org/).
Following the result of the World Shootout (http://worldshootout.org/), I have written what I consider to be a well researched and measured email to the organiser as some of the jury decisions, including the likelihood of subject herding in the macro category, were in breach of the published competition guidelines. An image in another category was discovered to have been taken outside of the time frame required for the competition and the country group portfolios did but with one exception adhere to the judging criteria of a common thread running through them (the winning sets picking up major prizes did not adhere to the rules).
Regarding the issue of subject herding in the macro category, I was also told by the organiser that ‘crab’ and ‘nudibranch’ experts at a prestigious university had been consulted who had attested to the winning image displaying natural behaviour. The university does not appear to have a department for such specialism, certainly not a research centre, and the organiser has been unwilling to provide me with any information as to who these experts are or any proof of their statement. The jury panel has also remained largely anonymous. I have offered strong and compelling evidence to engage in a debate and this has effectively been completely ignored.
When pressed as to how some of the above issues would be addressed, the reply received was that “For 2016 competition we will take in consideration in the rules more tools for the jury team” suggesting an awareness that the jury team for 2015 was not equipped for the task required, yet the organiser is letting the results stand.
The organiser equally saw it appropriate to swap the prizes at the last minute after the judging had taken place, which demonstrates further lack of ethics.
I have requested to return my prize as I do not want to support what I consider to be an unethical competition but this has also not been acknowledged. I have asked for a refund of my entry fee as the rules and guidelines seem moot, again this has been ignored.
I do not deny the frustration felt around these points but I feel compelled to write the above as a service to the UW community as a whole. If you are approached to be a sponsor for this competition or you are considering being an entrant, I think it is important that you are made aware of the above. If anyone would like to be copied into the full conversation, please feel free to ask me.
Again, it is with huge regret that I have to publish this and I welcome the organiser to comment here or in private to address some of the issues and evidence I have presented him with. I also would welcome debate from any other member of our underwater community. I don’t want to be spending time with this regrettable situation but I also have a strong sense of justice which is not being respected.