FIP Web Sites Competition 2002 - 2003

Web Site Competition 2003 - why bother?

As PWO's President, I have tried several times, unfortunately unsuccessfully, to find out from people at FIP who are responsible for the organizing of Websites competitions, why the participants in the FIP Websites Competition 2003 haven't got their Critiques yet, this after over 10 months of wait.

On 6/20/2003 one of our members has complained on RCSD about the situation of FIP Websites competitions, and has provoked this way a large discussion. We publish here the most relevant postings. The first three one came from our members.

The subject of the thread was: "Web Site Competition 2003 - why bother?" We have sent the URL of this site to the persons who are in charge at FIP for the organizing of FIP Websites competitions. Hopefully it will help. The e-mail, sent on 6/21/2003, is reproduced below.

From over 50 postings that concerned the mentioned issue we could unfortunately select, for space reasons, only a few of them.

Hello Mr. Kiddle,
We are so sorry that neither you nor Mr. Koh Seow Chuan have reacted to our e-mails that referred to the FIP Websites Competitions (please see below the previous one).
In the meantime a discussion was launched by a participant, on the world's largest philatelic newsgroup news:rec.collecting.stamps.discuss, a thread in which the participants have harshly criticized the past FIP Websites Competitions.
IMO, this should be of interest to you, and for this reason I send you an URL pointing to a page of the PWO, where the most relevant postings were just put together:
We hope that something will at last change, for the best, and that the participants in the FIP Competition 2002 will finally receive, after over 10 months, the such a long time awaited Critiques of the jury.
Sincerely yours,
Victor Manta
PWO President
Participant between 1999 -2002, with several sites, at quite all philatelic Websites worldwide competitions


 Dear collectors,

FIP has now announced their Web Site Competition 2003. I would like to hear about the experiences of those of you that have participated earlier. Why should we spend money to take part in this "contest"?

I entered my web site last year - here are some of my experiences (with quotes from the FIP web site):

1) I never got any confirmation about my entry - only when the FIP didn't find my entry fee (submitted through my national FIP member federation) did they contact me to request another payment. After much time and trouble the original fee was "found".

2) The appointed "contact" at never replied to emails - in fact, most of them bounced as "non-deliverable"

3) "..all sites will be accessed, reviewed and downloaded on the same date, as designated on the application form and/or confirmation notice."
I never received any confirmation notice, thus I never new when they had accessed my site.

4) "All participants will receive individual critiques reflecting the panel's findings, to include comments on specific strengths and suggestions for possible improvement." I never got any feedback, results, comments or suggestions. I had to find the list of results myself on the FIP site and personally copy the appropriate FIP logo to my site.

So why should we pay this much money only to get another logo on our web sites?
(Yes, I >do< display the logo on my site. After all, I did pay for it ;-))

Comments are welcome!


Well, this thread seems to be cooling off a little, and there may be time for a short summary....

1) I am both relieved and dismayed by learning that all the repliers to this thread have the same negative experiences with the FIP as myself. Relieved, because it didn't happen to me only; Dismayed, because there is obviously something seriously wrong with the organizing of this competition.

2) I do believe it is necessary to maintain such a contest. After all, FIP >is< the FIP, and should have more authority  also in the web-based area of philately than a competition set up by any other sites or organizations. I don't support the idea of somebody "taking over" the arrangement. Thus, there have to be improvements made within FIP itself. A little bit of outside pressure wouldn't hurt to speed up the process, though....

3) The cost of participating in this competition isn't a problem by itself, but if 100 sites enter the competition this would be an income of US$ 2500 to the FIP. How are these money used for the benefit of the competition?

4) I believe that changes will come. There should be no problem to find sufficient knowledge of philately and internet combined, and judging rules will be made. It is mostly a question of priority and interest from the FIP members involved. Why not give the task to persons that both have the time and interest to carry this through? However, comparing to how long they have been working on the "new" exhibition class "Open" I am not too optimistic....

(Name removed, because not relevant anymore, the case being closed)

I'll try to comment the things by following the sequence of your posting.

FIP has announced not a long time ago (i.e. very late) the Websites competitions 2003. Already several months before this, I have asked the organizers why the announcement hasn't appeared on the FIP site (this also because it firstly appeared on a ... private site). Finally, the announcement was published. Apparently, one reason of the delay was that FIP has a limited access to the time of a webmaster. I have proposed to FIP the free support of the Philatelic Webmasters Organization (PWO), but my proposal was ignored. Not a wonder then why the number of participants is decreasing year after year...

It's correct, very often the entries to the competition weren't automatically confirmed. I know it from my own experience, because last year I have participated with two sites.

I had the same experience that you had with the main organizer of the competition, Mr. Francis Kiddle. I have written to him several times, in the name of the PWO and in my own, asking him why haven't we received the critiques from a contest that happened in August 2002. I have _never_ got an answer from him!!! The same is valid for the new President of the FIP, who hasn't reacted to our e-mails either.

Mr. Charles J. Petterson and Mr. Robert de Violini could kindly answer some of my questions (and they convinced me that a big preparatory work was done), but they weren't able to explain to me the delay of the critiques.

I have learned about the results of the 2002 competition by chance, and, if I still remember well, firstly again from a private site. PWO has made some proposal to organizers for improving their communication policy. This was done immediately after the announcement of results.

A few ideas concerning a future participation. A winner of the competition 2002 wrote me privately that he won't participate anymore. I can't blame him! I will nevertheless participate, because it is the only Web sites competition that can be, at least partially, trusted. At least their jury looks at the sites and they finally publish a Palmares!

When I remember the Hafniade Disaster

or the Philaned catastrophe, when no one kept its promises, then FIP competition looks somehow better <g>.

But the work of judges can be judged only by reading their critiques, and we haven't got them (yet?). I have got the Critique of my site after FIP 2000 Websites competition, and I can tell that then the work wasn't done too seriously. More about my earlier opinion can be found here:

Therefore, I have no idea how seriously had the jury worked in 2002, and for this reason I'm not able to give a qualified answer to your question whether to participate or not in the future. As I have mentioned it, as an irremediable optimist, I will participate again in 2003, in the hope that this will bring something to the stamp collecting.

Victor Manta

As for the Philaned Websites competition, eventually take a look at their page:

I have participated, and they haven't respected nothing of what they have promised on it. Nobody there answered my later questions (from an answer, adapted, that I have posted in the same thread).

Hi all,
I participated to all the F.I.P. competitions since the beginning in 1999. All the concerns that other readers wrote are happened also to me. But in my mind the problems are not to receive the confirmation of our "Entry" and to avoid the FIP bill (it is your Country Federation which must manage your enrollment, while the FIP bill it is only the confirmation of your payment to your Federation!), or anticipate the comments which arrive after 10 months (sometimes they do not arrive at all!).

In my mind the problems are bound to the fact that the web sites which are inscribed are very FEW! A world contest must show at least 5 hundreds web sites, by Societies, Dealers, Agencies, Publishers  and spare collectors!

I discussed with Victor Manta how to improve the participation, the quality and also to simplify the enrollment and payment of spare collectors... And the only good way it is to involve the PWO organization (Philatelic webmaster organization), so the FIP would have other people to judge the web sites, some suggestions in order to better evaluate them, a new channel to share  and disseminate information... in one word, new resources to "make marketing of philately".

But in my mind F.I.P. has no resources to listen our suggestions, to answer to our e-mail notes... and probably the contest is only a  waste of time for them. I could write to many philatelic magazines, about the FIP contest and its pros and cons, but the majority of people in the National Federations and in the F.I.P. are OLD and DO NOT USE INTERNET (or use it only with e-mail), so they are not "sensitive to this media. But the future of philately which is destroyed by too many stupid issues, National Authorities which substitute the stamps with "mandatory meter labels" is only through internet.

Our Italian national association is getting new members almost ONLY VIA INTERNET VISITORS! So the F.I.P. must understand that internet is a wonderful media for stamp collectors and stamp collecting! And F.I.P. must spend resources and also create a specific task to that! And of course they must start to listen the web masters....

Best regards
(Name removed, because not relevant anymore, the case being closed)

Bearing in mind my personal experiences with FIP and the Hafniade-disaster (I know nothing about Philaned, because, although invited, I wasn't there), I have often enough stated that I will most likely not participate in FIP-contests again.

From the same thread, answering one of Victor Manta's postings: I am sure that your personal pressure through PWO will eventually have some impact on the present situation.

A later posting:

Fabio, while the criteria of judging are important, the main concern in this thread, as I understand it, is "why bother?".

When webmasters enter their websites in a competition like this, they do it for having their sites evaluated, nothing more, nothing less.  Webmasters are demanded to pay a fee through their national philatelic organisation, and in return they are promised a written critique/evaluation of their site.

This critique for the 2002-competition has not yet been sent out (one year later), and the critique for the 2001-competition was only sent out after more than six months and a strong pressure from some of the participating webmasters.  FIP simply did not deliver.  This is what it's all about, so "why bother?"

When FIP for whichever reason does not deliver, nothing can make them do it, neither now nor later, and this may well be a reason for a decreasing number of participating webmasters.  I seriously doubt that anybody, not even PWO -- however good the intention may be -- can influence FIP to do their job and deliver the goods.

As things are standing, webmasters can only write off their bad experiences and judge their sites by themselves by the general interest and number of visitors to their sites.

No need to fool oneself by participating, at the same time wasting money because of non-delivery.

Personally I find it a pity that things have gone downhill this way, but what can be done about a "partner" who proves reluctant to fair play?

(Name removed, because not relevant anymore, the case being closed)

I have had similar experiences in my dealings with the FIP Website Evaluation program.  I entered 3 sites in 2000, and 1 in 2001. My personal opinion? Don't waste your money. In 2000 they evaluated the websites in August. After repeated unanswered e-mails to Francis Kiddle over the course of several months I finally received an evaluation in February of 2001, 6 months after the evaluation. And that evaluation was virtually useless. I entered a single site in 2001, mainly in the hope of generating some traffic to my site. While that year they at least got an evaluation out in a somewhat reasonable time frame, the evaluation was again itself useless. In fact, some of their comments were ludicrous, and none were constructive. And as far as generating traffic, my hit counter showed very, very few hits generated from the FIP site.

Again, I repeat, don't waste your money.

(Name removed, because not relevant anymore, the case being closed)

My experience with the FIP competition was similar to xxxx: I last entered the Virtual Stamp Club in 2001. I never received a critique. We went down a level from the 2000 competition, and I never understood why, because I thought we had improved the site.

I was able to contact what I believe were the two judges and the head of the competition privately, and all apologized that their illnesses had caused the delay in the critique. Must've been an epidemic. (A different type of computer virus. :)

Some of the comments I received from the judges in the two years I entered were, in my opinion, inane. One year we were told we should have a Table of Contents! It's a news and feature Web site, not a research work. But, in fact, we did have something like that, called an Article Index, one of the buttons on the left (and, in fact, it's still there).

The two judges I was able to contact privately after the 2001 competition spent what I thought was an inordinate amount of time complaining about how "graphics-heavy" the site must be for dial-up pay-by-the-minute users outside North America, although both were themselves in North America. Furthermore, we have taken care to thumbnail almost every graphic and keep them light.

Finally, much of their evaluation was about the Delphi message board system and how it required cookies and registration and this and that. Well, I didn't enter Delphi's message board, I entered   With (at the time) more than 500 pages of content (we're near 1,000 now), I thought there was more than enough there to judge. Yes, the message board hosted by DelphiForums (as it's now called) is part of the site, but Delphi can enter its
own competitions if it wants.

So I asked my staff about entering the 2002 competition, and their response echoed the title of this discussion: "Why bother?"

Of course, I may decide to toss my $25US into the pot this year anyway. But from what I've read here, nothing much changed from 2001 to 2002. Will there be changes for 2003?

(Name removed, because not relevant anymore, the case being closed)


Published: 06/20/2003. Revised: 08/06/03 .
Copyright 2003 the presentation
by PWO & Victor Manta, Switzerland.
All rights reserved worldwide.