I checked over my to-do list Saturday morning and realized that it was the last day to enter a fiber art show that had been vaguely on my radar screen. What the heck -- as Google says, I'm feeling lucky. All entries had to be submitted online, a clever ploy for show organizers who want to cater to procrastinators like me.
When I do electronic entries I like to review the rules and entry forms and collect all the information and images I need into a single folder before I go online. The rules page talked about size and age restrictions, but the details of how to configure the entry said this:
Entries are submitted electronically through this website. To get started, create a free account. Once your account is created and you log in, click the "submit a photo" link on the left navigation. Credit card payment only. Deadline for online entries is midnight on February 11.
So I gathered the dimensions, year and price, which surely they would need. I gathered images of the quilts, hoping they would turn out to be the proper pixel size and properly named. I gathered artist statements in case they wanted them. I got my credit card.
Then I began to create my free account. Typed in my name, email address, and gave them a password. With which the machine was not satisfied. It gave me a message:
password strength: low
The password does not include enough variation to be secure. Try:
• Adding both upper and lowercase letters.
• Adding numbers.
• Adding punctuation.
How nice that they want to protect me from hackers. Now that I thought about it, I realized there are probably lots of people out there just waiting to break in, delete the photos I posted and substitute rotten photos of awful quilts, and I'd never get into the show. So I made the password longer, adding some numbers. Still not good enough, although now the password strength had made it to medium. I added capital letters but it still wasn't enough. Why didn't they say at the beginning I had to do all three things! Finally, with a period, the password got to high -- but wait!!
The user name and email I submitted were already taken!!
I guess that means the computer's memory goes back a year to when I entered the same competition. So I clicked on the "forgot your password?" button. Some time later the rescue email had not yet arrived so I went to eat lunch.
After lunch the email was there and I logged in. Changed my password to one that's Chinese-hacker-proof, including capital letters, numbers AND punctuation. Which I should probably write down and put in a safe place in case I try to enter this show next year.
Clicked the "submit a photo" link. Typed in the title of the piece. The next box wanted "description" so I typed in "commercial cottons; machine pieced and quilted." Began to upload my first image. The image upload failed but worked the second time around. While I was watching the little white circle of death go round and round, I realized that they hadn't asked me for the dimensions and year, so I went back and typed those into the "description" box. Apparently didn't need the price or the artist statement.
It didn't take long to complete the forms, and once I got past the uploads, the part with the credit card went quite smoothly. (Funny how they can develop user-friendly ways to separate you from your money, but not so much for collecting your information.
It did occur to me along the way that maybe I didn't want to enter this show after all, but I know and respect the juror and decided to struggle on. I have to wonder whether the people who organize shows ever try to navigate their own entry systems.
When I served for several years as an intimate advisor to a juried quilt show, I would always comment that there are an awful lot of quilt shows out there competing for people's entries, and we should do everything possible to make our show more attractive than the others. We could never offer the prestige of Quilt National, or afford to print a hardcover catalog, or give $10,000 for first prize. But we could offer fast turnaround, so a quilt wasn't held in limbo for months, and we could offer an easy entry process. For instance, why did everybody have to send in artist statements, which the jurors didn't read, when we could simply ask those accepted to provide later?
We hadn't come up with online entry at that time, so I didn't offer any suggestions along those lines. But if anybody asked my opinion today I would suggest that difficult, confusing and bug-ridden entry systems are a good way to shoot your show in the foot.