The Participation of PWO Members

in the APS Stamp Show 2019


Introduction from the PWO

I participated in almost all websites competition in the last 20 years, and I was tempted to participate in the APS one too, but I finally gave up for the following reason:

•  Almost no websites have participating previously

•  The unknown qualification of the jury

•  About US$ 55 as participation fees for non-APS members

•  Doubts about getting a useful feedback from the jury about improving my website. This happened in all competition in which I participated but it was less expensive to participate.

My fears, apart from the last one, turned out to be justified. It is what I learned from the list of awarded participants (Link) and from the feedback from the PWO members who participated in this APS show.

I will start with the positive things:

•  No affiliation to a national philatelic organization required.

•  No National Commissars, payments by PayPal accepted.

•  Two PWO members who participated were awarded with important awards. Congratulations, Niall Murphy and Michael Kogan for your excellent results obtained thanks to your great websites!

•  The feedback from the jury helped or will help them to improve their websites.

•  The final scorings were found as being adequate.

And now the less positive lessons learned from this contest, as reported by the participants or inferred from the list of awards:

•  Only two (!) webmasters participated. The positive aspect but a not unexpected one is that both participants are members of our PWO. Less positive is that the big APS could bring only two webmasters of its 20,000+ members to this competition, none of them being in the USA.

•  An unknown jury, with an unknown experience, evaluated the webmasters' sites.

•  Some of jurors' comments sent to participants were confusing, since they probably didn't visit some essential pages of the competing websites.

•  Their answers to participants' questions weren't useful, says the participant who asked questions the jurors.

•  Only total scores were displayed on the list of awards, instead of displaying all four used categories that make up the sum. Knowing only the final score made difficult a comparison of different competitors and for this reason the attempts to use the acquired knowledge for the improvement of the own participating website.

My conclusion is that I am still not convinced about my personal benefit to participate in the forthcoming APS competition.

Please learn more from my interview with one of the participants and from the personal evaluation of the second one. They are published below with the approval of their authors.

Victor Manta
PWO President and Founder

The interview with Michael Kogan

- What do you know about the experience of websites jurors?

[MK]. Absolutely nothing. There is no introduction of the jury members in APS brochure.

To be honest, I have a doubt that anybody from the jury have its own philatelic website and they won any medal with that.

- What do you think about the fees for the APS and the non-Aps participants?

[MK] As member of ATA (co-organizer of the show) I paid 35 USD that seems a fair price to me.

It is almost the half of what I paid for participation in ITALIA2018 stamps show last year (40EUR).

Moreover, as I can see they paid 22USD postage fee to send me certificate, medal and other stuff.

- Was your site correctly evaluated?

[MK] I received Large Vermeil medal with 83 point.

It is consistent with ITALIA2018 result (Large Vermeil medal with 81 point).

Due the fact, I didn't receive any feedbacks, expect score split, from Italian jury, no changes made on my site.

The same site lead to the same result – looks fair to me.

I satisfied with total amount of points, but score split looks a bit weird to me.

Treatment: 43(!)/40 – even though most comments are in this section

Originality: 23/40 - seems too little to me. I think 33 for Treatment and 33 for Originality is fairer.

Technical: 14/15

Production: 3/5

The most comments are about “Treatment” and I agree with it. I took it in consideration and made several modifications on my website.

Comments about “Originality” shows some confusions of the jury. Perhaps due the fact synopsis of my website is lost by organizers and not forwarded to the jury. 

I asked two fellows who visited the show to speak with the jury on my behalf, but unfortunately nobody of them had time for this.

From the feedback I received I have a feeling that jury visited only few pages of my site (which has about 1300 pages), as they thought for example that the site belongs to an organization. If they would read “About” or “About the Author” pages the confusion could not happen.

Another example. “Needs more regular updating” shows to me that they didn't visit the “News” page. Link to this page is available on bottom side of every single page of the website and also available in “About” menu.

I really interested to know how much time they spent for my website evaluation and how many pages they visited.

- How was your interaction with the jury?

[MK] I sent some questions, per email, about their comments, the answer received very quick but it was useless.

- Could you somehow learn about how where composed the scores of other competitors (the factors of the 4 numbers gathering, like at Italia 2018)?

[MK] They published results list of all exhibitions, but the list has total score only. It is hard to understand why one site received more points than others.

Moreover, I think it can be a good idea to separate website in several sub-categories such as “thematical”, “country catalogs”, “blogs”, “clubs and organizations”, etc.

- How helped you the judges' evaluation in order to improve in the future your site?

[MK] It was helpful. To be honest, I don't care too much about type of medal or a score. The most important to me is the feedback.

As I mentioned above, I made some changes on several main pages of my site follow their comments. (…)

[MK] Another point to mention.

As I understood from my fellows who visited the show, visitors had no chance to see any website that participate the competition.

Website addresses are mentioned in the Bulletin of the show – it's all. No monitors or screens were installed to allow visitors to visit the websites.

As a participant in the show, who also pays some fee, I would like to have a chance to promote my website there. I really wish organizers had installed a corner with some monitors and list of participated websites to make visitors aware about it and give them a chance to see it, similar to regular exhibitions.

Michael Kogan, webmaster.
September 7, 2019 The place where Paleontology and Paleoanthropology meet Philately.

Personal Evaluation. My Website Participation at the APS “Stamp Show 2019” Exhibition

Prior to 2017, the American Philatelic Society (APS) expressly prohibited websites from participation at exhibitions, on the basis of the “lack of permanency” of the medium. To my mind, this sounds like the invention of a problem for a solution. But in 2017, the APS completely reversed this attitude and published a revised edition of their Manual of Literature Judging and Exhibiting. Link.

To quote an extract from Chapter 1 of the manual: “The world is migrating to the Internet, and to digital technology. We ignore this at our peril as the computer is increasingly where the public goes for information. If philately is to be at all relevant, it needs to be on the web, and we need to be equipped to understand and use it whether on websites, blogs or message boards. We also need to be able to judge it, and provide feedback on it to assist its producers to improve their products.

Because of the APS embargo on website participation and also because I (wrongly) assumed that APS was really only a place for American philatelists, only interested in American material, I had not paid much attention to this organization. But my frustration with the attitudes of organized philately in Europe to digital work, led by the FIP's seemingly indifferent attitude to the topic, forced me to dig deeper and to explore the attitudes of the Americans.

I have read so many IREXs for so many exhibitions. Even in the rare cases where digital literature is accepted, there is typically a requirement for the applicant to hold membership of an “affiliated” organization. In plain English, this means that applicants must be members of a club or society, belonging to a national federation, affiliated with either the continental federation (in Europe, it's FEPA), or with the international federation, FIP. My personal experiences in Europe are that philatelic clubs/societies who welcome new members with open arms, are few and far between. Usually there is a requirement for a reference, which is a code name for “a friend in the club”. In many cases, there is no website with membership information and only an email address is available. One can apply for membership but one may never receive a reply. And needless to say, membership of most clubs is not free. The fee can vary from very reasonable to very expensive.

Even if you are a member of an affiliated society and you want to participate at an international exhibition, you need to get past the next level, the National Commissioner. This can be rather difficult if, like me, you were born in Ireland, live in Brazil, exhibit material from Moldova and want to participate at an exhibition in the UK.

The National Commissioner has the authority to accept or reject your application (without the need to give any reasons for a rejection), he will be responsible for processing your exhibition application fee. You can only hope that he offers an option for PayPal, especially if you live in a different country to him.

As President of PWO, Victor Manta, has said to me in previous conversations, many Philatelic Webmasters have been alienated for so long by the formal organizations, many are simply not engaged with any of these affiliated clubs/societies. The expectation/demand of exhibition organizers for such affiliations is unrealistic and results in the exclusion of much valuable work from public view and rightful recognition.

Regarding the APS “Stamp Show 2019”, this is the national exhibition for the United States. The APS has a membership of more than 20,000 and contrary to my previous beliefs, many of those members are foreigners who collect non-American stamps.

Having recently joined the APS, I find it to be a highly professional and efficiently run organization where philately from all the world's countries is welcome. Within the APS, I cannot detect any evidence of national prejudices, personal politics, cliques or stamp “snobbery”, things that seems to plague many other national organizations in Europe. Like FEPA, the APS is a continental federation, but unlike FEPA, individual members may join, without restrictions on nationality or philatelic interests. This completely eliminates the need for National or State Commissioners.

Website participation at “Stamp Show” was extremely straightforward. I simply completed the online application form. There was no requirement for membership of the APS, although there is a discount for members. There was no requirement for previous medals/points at other exhibitions and the application fee was very reasonable. There was also an option to pay the fee by PayPal.

Once the forms were sent (via email directly to the APS) everything was handled electronically and in a most efficient way. The judging criteria were clearly laid out and my website was published in the participant's list some weeks before the exhibition.

My score was published online on the last day of the exhibition and my medal, diploma and judge's evaluation sheet were sent to me in the mail about a week later.

The judge's evaluation was clearly written, in block capital letters. All his comments were completely appropriate and on-point. I would not argue with anything the judge said.

In my opinion, this is how website competitions at philatelic exhibitions should be run and the APS system should be considered a model for FIP.

Niall Murphy
President – IMPS | The International Moldovan Philatelic Society
São Paulo, Brazil
September 1, 2019

Created: September 8, 2019 . Revised: December 2, 2019.
Copyright © 2019 by PWO and by Victor Manta, Switzerland/USA
All rights reserved worldwide.