Help » FAQ » Challenges


What is a challenge?

A challenge is a photo contest within the greater Capture My Chicago site. It's a way to pull together photos on a theme or topic and see which photos are ranked the highest according to users and editors. Challenges can be short or last a little longer. Sometimes challenges will have prizes and other times challenge winners will receive a fancy award they can proudly display on their photo's page.

Head to the Capture My Chicago challenges page to see all of the challenges currently open and past challenges that are now closed.

How do I submit a photo to a challenge?

On an open challenge page, click the "submit your photos" button. A popup window will open up. From there you can see which photo you've already submitted to the challenge (marked with a green check mark). You can also submit a photo you've already uploaded to Capture My Chicago or click "upload new photos" to upload something new and submit it to the challenge.

How does challenge sharing work?

Sharing a challenge is a great way to spread the word and get more people involved in the challenge! Click the "share with friends" button on the challenge page and you'll be presented with some social sharing options or a URL to send around.

If you have photos competing in the challenge, the URL to share will contain your username. Folks coming to the challenge from your unique URL will be presented with a few of your photos when they start voting, then photos by everyone else to get them as involved in the challenge as possible. Be sure to tell folks they need to register or sign in for their votes to count, but registering is as simple as can be!

Do I have to register to submit photos and vote?

Yes, you must be a registered Capture My Chicago user to submit photos to a challenge and vote. We do, however, allow an unregistered or non-logged person to vote 10 times before prompting them to register or sign in. Upon registering or signing in, their previous 10 votes will count. If the person decides not to register or sign in, the votes do not count.

How do I vote for challenge photos?

Voting for photos within a challenge is a little different than voting for photos within the greater Capture My Chicago site. In a challenge, you are rating each photo 1-5 stars, with a 5-star voting representing the highest possible rating and a 1-star vote representing the lowest possible rating. Above the photo, click on 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 stars to cast your vote. As soon as you rate a photo, a new one is presented to you. Note: you can also use keyboard shortcuts to vote by press 1 through 5 on your keyboard.

Can I see how my voting compares to others?

Yes! Once you vote for a photo, a thumbnail of the photo is presented at the bottom of your screen. To the left of the thumbnail you'll see the rating you've given the photo. To the right you'll see how other users have voted for the photo. This gives you a quick snapshot of how your vision of a particular photo compares to the way everyone else sees the photo. Find yourself voting 1-star when everyone else is voting 5-stars? Maybe you should see your optometrist!

Is there an order to the voting within a challenge?

To make things as fair as possible, you are given a random photo when you start voting, then given a random photo you have yet to vote for thereafter. This continues until you've voted for all challenge photos, then you'll be given a completely random photo (regardless of whether you've already voted for it).

Can I vote multiple times for a photo?

Yes, a challenge does allow multiple votes for a photo from one user, but with a huge caveat: your first few votes for a photo are weighted more than your later votes for that same photo. In other words, your first impression of a photo is more valuable than any kind of repeat voting of a photo.

Why allow multiple votes for a photo?

It is reasonable to expect that you might change your mind on a photo after seeing all of the other photos in the challenge, so we allow you to cast multiple votes so we can get a very clear sense of how each user would rate each photo. Your first vote (or first impression) for a photo is most valuable, the next couple votes for that same photo are almost as valuable as your first vote, then every vote for the same photo after that drops off. This means as you start to see more and more challenge photos, you have a chance to dramatically change your opinion of a photo early on, then less as you vote more and more for that photo. It's not a cumulative vote because we don't want users to have the ability to "run up the score" on a photo.

Can the challenge voting system be manipulated?

While no voting system is perfect, the Capture My Chicago challenge voting system has quite a few measures in place to ensure the challenge contest is as fair as possible. The way we track multiple votes for a photo from one user ensures that one user's impact on a photo is, at best, a single 5-star or, at worst, a single 1-star vote. We can also see how a user's votes compare to all other users' votes to see if there's something fishy going on. We also keep tabs on users who are voting for only one photo, or one user's photos, without other Capture My Chicago activity. With a good voting system as a foundation and administration involvement in looking at suspicious users, it's a futile effort to game the system.

Can I vote for my own photos in a challenge?

No, you cannot vote for your own photos in a challenge. Any photos you submit to a challenge will not be shown to you in challenge voting. Do not create extra/bogus users to vote for your own photos. We are watching for such shenanigans.

Why are there photos that don't match the challenge theme in the challenge?

Because people either don't read or don't know how to follow directions. It's annoying for sure! To help, when you see a photo that doesn't belong, click the "flag for removal from challenge" link underneath the photo. After a few reports from other users, the photo will be sent to our admins for review. If the photo doesn't fit, we'll remove it. However, if the photo does fit and users are flagging it erroneously, our admins will not remove it and the photo's score will not be adversely impacted.

What challenge awards are there to win?

The available awards for each challenge are listed near the top of the challenge page. Awards are a fun way to show off your skills. Winning photos receive an award listing on their page. Some challenges include awards with prizes. When that's the case, the value of the prize will be clearly marked.

How does the ranking system work in challenges?

Ranking photos is done using everyone's 1-5 votes for photos. We combine how each user rated each photo into an averaged rating for each photo, then pull out the highest-rated photos in the popular list and when determining award winners. In addition to a photo's rating, also important is how many total votes a photo received and how many different users cast votes for the photo. All of these parameters work together to put the best photos, as decided by the voting users, at the top!

How do I know how my photos are doing in the challenge?

From the challenge page, click the "view my submissions" button. There you'll see a table of photos you've submitted to the challenge, ordered by their rating. We also show you how many total votes and how many users have cast votes for each photo.

How do I know which photos are in the lead within a challenge?

We don't show you which photos are leading because we don't want folks to target those photos and unfairly vote against them. However, we do show you popular photos within the challenge, which is a random list of photos with a high rating average. You can view these photos by clicking on "view all submissions" or "view my submission" then navigating to the "popular" tab.

Can I see all photos submitted to a challenge?

Yes! You can view all photos submitted to the challenge, ordered by submission date by clicking on "view all submissions" or "view my submission" then navigating to the "recent" tab.

What is a matchup challenge?

A challenge is a super-focused, head-to-head-style contest. It's a way to gather together photos on a theme or topic and see which photos are ranked the highest by a head-to-head vote. Challenges can be short or last a little longer. Sometimes challenges will have prizes and other times challenge winners will receive a fancy award they can proudly display on their photo's page. Challenge winners are one people's choice winner and one editors' choice winner.

Matchup challenges: what challenge prizes are there?

Each challenge will have an editors' choice winner, which will be the photo our editors pick based on how well it fits the challenge theme as well as other standard things to look for (subject matter, exposure, framing, movement, etc.), and a people's choice winner, which will be the top-rated photo as decided by the vote. Both winners will get an award that represent their win. Some challenges will also have prizes for each winner!

How do I submit a photo to a matchup challenge?

Head over to one of the currently open Capture My Chicago challenges. Near the top of the page you will find two buttons: one labeled "upload new photos" and another labeled either "add existing photos" or "edit previous submissions" depending on if you have photos competing in this specific challenge already or not.

The majority of the time you will be adding photos you have previously uploaded to Capture My Chicago to a new challenge. To do this select the second button labeled "add existing photos", which will open up an overlay allowing you to select which of your existing uploads you would like to include in the challenge. Select as many photos as you would like and then click "save."

After the page reloads you will notice the button now states "edit previous submissions," since clicking it allows you to change which photos you have submitted to the challenge. You can also see a list of the photos you have entered into a challenge at the bottom of the challenge page under the heading "your competing photos."

If you'd like to upload new photos to be entered directly into the challenge you can do that as well. For this you will want to click the "submit new photos" button at the top of the challenge's page, which will bring up the familiar upload dialog with an additional notice stating that these photos will be added to the challenge automatically. Once the uploads are complete simply fill out all the required photo information and head back to the challenge's page where you can check to be sure they were submitted to the challenge as expected.