Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Because it feels so good when I stop...

It's Quilt National entry time again.  Already I've had four friends call or email for advice and/or commiseration -- not about their quilts but about the entry.  So I planned my afternoon around the process.  I am no newcomer to online entries so I do the regular preparation.  I get all the images properly sized and named and in a separate folder on my computer.  I find the list of things the system is going to ask for and type them out in a Word document so I can copy instead of type into the actual form.  I get my credit card.  This should not be such a big deal.

Well, I'll spare you most of the gory details and just give the highlights.  I realize that I've written pretty much the same damn rant twice before, after entering QN '13 and QN '15.  The same dumb features of the entry form, the same dumb password woes (yes, Virginia, you should start entering before lunch, because you know for sure that you have forgotten the password you gave two years ago and will have to wait for them to send you a new one which takes about a meal's worth of time to show up).  The same dumb system where you do entry #1, proceed through credit card checkout, and then return to do entries #2 and #3.

They have fixed a couple of things.  Now you don't have to type in the info like "Have you exhibited in any previous Quilt National?" three times; you can click here and everything you typed in for the first entry will be copied into the new form.  You still do have to type in the materials and techniques twice for each quilt, once on the full view page and once on the detail page.  And they still ask you for the month of completion, which I suspect 75% of people will make up rather than try to reconstruct from their work logs.

Something new: "Brief History of Exhibition and Publication.  Please indicate any public exposure for your work as an artist.  This includes shows and exhibitions as well as publications."  I think they allowed 500 characters in the little box, so yes, they do mean brief.  What are you supposed to put there?  I was passive/aggressively brief, told them a couple of big shows and then said "numerous shows and publications."  I wonder what they are going to do with this info.

don't you love it when the death icon shows up with no clue as to why the system is unhappy?  it only took me three or four minutes to figure out what it wanted

I had two klong moments, one where things came out right by accident, one where they didn't but I hope it won't be fatal.  First the good news: I didn't realize until after I had hit the submit button for entry #1 that they had never asked for my name on the entry form!  Of course they did on the credit card page, but there they wanted the name on the credit card.  As it turns out, the name on my credit card is the name I want my work exhibited under, but I bet that isn't the case for many people.  I'm sure you could get this kind of thing straightened out eventually before the catalog gets published, but why don't they ask for your name to begin with?

Now the (maybe) bad news: You upload your image, which is pre-named something like "fading_59-x-99_full" and when you come to the page where you're supposed to fill in info about the quilt, the name of the image pops up automatically in the "Title" box.  I stupidly went on to the second box and proceeded down the page, without erasing "fading_59-x-99_full" and typing in "Fading".  I realized my error only after I had submitted entry #1 and proceeded to #2, at which point it was too late to go back and fix #1.

Yes, I was stupid.  But yes, the entry system was stupid too -- why did it choose to autofill that box, knowing it was going to come up wrong, instead of just leaving it blank for me to fill in correctly?  I hope that if this quilt gets into the show somebody will notice that "fading_59-x-99_full" isn't your typical quilt title, and call me up for clarification, but again, why not set up a process that avoids such problems?

I'm not the dullest needle in the pincushion, and if I have so many frustrations I bet a lot of other people do too.  I say it every time, and I'll say it again -- why don't show organizers have somebody sit down and pretend to fill out the entry form before they open for business?  And then why don't they fix some of these glitches and stupidities?  Wouldn't it be nice if your customers would be able to write blog posts about how easily they did their online entry?


  1. I was flummoxed by the Brief History of Exhibition and Publication with their extremely small box for answer. In the end, after much head scratching - especially when considering the extensive info. which some exhibitors have to submit - I decided that what they must mean is the history of the work being submitted, and not actually of the artist. I am probably wrong, however. But were the show not such an important one, the entry palaver would very likely put me off. Perhaps that's the idea!

    1. I don't think they mean the history of the work being submitted, since the rules say it cannot have been shown or published. I suppose we'll eventually find out why they want this info (or maybe we won't)...

    2. I suppose I should really have emailed for clarification. Ah well, ....

  2. All this is because programmers work from vague "specifications" from those who want an entry system. I am working now on implementing a program written by programmers who have never done or seen the job they are programming for. And then they act like the users don't know what they're talking about. It's maddening. And yeah they SHOULD have real users test it out. But that costs money (in reprogramming fees) and no one every wants to pay for that unless the users get out the pitchforks and torches.

  3. at least your credit card was USA issue, i had two days hiccup with that part with my NZ credit card.i too screwed up the title on my photo, argh, then its too late. i agree with Leigh, a friend's occupation was testing out the NZ tax dept website to find these type of gaps. Bonne chance with your entry

  4. I was irritated when the 'soft' directions that you read before you even open up the application asked for us to title our pieces with the dimensions and then inside the form we were directed to type our title and then detail or full with no mention of the dimensions. I remembered this post on your blog and I wondered about it. I called the dairy barn for clarification. You are fine either way. I was told the more information the jurors have in front of them the better. When the jurors don't have to go look for the size because they read it in the title, that is right next to your image, they don't have to take the extra step to look for it. So you are in a good place.

    I have curated and juried a few mix media exhibitions and the committee I was on decided that jurying is easier when we ask for the size to be in the title for that very reason. We don't have to hunt down the size information when we are looking at the image.

    I like to write directions for things. I like thinking about how people will think, how many different ways they can think. This confusion and stress could be avoided by simply asking for what they wanted in the 'soft' directions and making them match the directions inside. I wonder how much money they have invested in this system that they are so married to it. I'm glad they made some changes. There are other adjustments that would make the process less painful.

    Like you, I feel so good that it is over.

    1. I could be wrong but I don't think this is a proprietary system developed by Quilt National. SlideRoom appears to be a commercial operation that serves many organizations who need to process applications.

      I don't know how much a client can customize about the system, but I do know there are other vendors out there offering the same services.

      I have used many different systems and some are harder than others. A lot can be accomplished if, as you mention, the client prepares good instructions for people to read before they log in to the actual system.

    2. I never believed that QN developed SlideRoom. I'll be the first to admit I should have done a little more investigating before I whined. It seems to be a subscription service that QN customizes. I was thinking of the old-fashioned way that software used to be doled out, where you buy a version and then purchase upgrades about every year or so. Now the common practice is to offer subscription services. I agree with you, that some of its functionality has been frustrating for years. The Slideroom blurb says "The application process should be polished and painless, an outward expression of your brand." I am beginning to believe that Slideroom is a fine product, but the way that it has been customized for this process is awkward at times.

      I had a few glitches occur when I submitted. When I forgot my password after 2 years) the auto reset email would not come. I also had trouble getting one of my entries to submit. The computer kept getting hung and asking me to contact Slideroom. Slideroom staff was extremely helpful and fixed me up both times. This extra drama, on the last day to enter (of course!), was not fun. Now that I've had a couple days to get over myself I'm not so peeved. I really do wish I could help make it better! One post about Slideshare, that I saw online, said that artists had a chance to provide feedback after entering. I wish we had had that opportunity.

  5. Hahaha! Having just submitted a piece as well, I relate and smile about it all!! The same happens all the time. I have a brother-in-law who's in computer science and he says he's always fighting to make things simpler, that our level of knowledge could make it now very easy, everywhere, every time, but that there's a resistance in computer science engineers, they want to keep control and make the general people beg for their advice and help. Sometimes I wonder if he isn't right! Anyway, I hope everyone gets in! See you all at the opening!!:-))

  6. I think that nearly any programmer could benefit from a stint at Survey Monkey. It's very customizable, and really good at what it's meant to do. Not clunky at all.