So here we are, well into the planning of the 2017 Igapo Challenge. We are super excited about the response and enthusiasm from all over the aquatic world...well beyond what we expected, and super gratifying to see! The organizers of Project Piaba are incredibly excited and enthusiastic, and look forward to seeing how this unfolds! As we're moving along, we're starting to iron out some details on a few things, and I'd like your feedback on a few of the most primary issues.
1) ENTRY AQUARIUM SIZES: It seems like there has been an overwhelming number of prospective entrants who feel we should have two categories, a "small" and a "large" category. I"d like to frame this party of the discussion by defining what we feel are appropriate descriptors for the two categories. "Small" is anything from 2.5 to 20 U.S. gallons. ( 9.46L- 75 L). In our context, "Large" would be 21-40 US gallons (79L -151L). This kind of "caps" things to keep them in a reasonable framework for scaping, managing, and judging. What do you think about these categories?
Now, we also kicked around the idea of an "Open" category, for those who want to enter systems over 40 US gallons...This would have some caveats; for example, you'd have to use the "large" size of the contest botanical pack, pay a slightly higher entry fee, and again, stay "on point" in attempting to model the tank after an Igapo habitat. Like any of the other size entries you'd be required to show startup, progress, and final judging pics for the contest. Our thoughts were that you'd be able to make more liberal use of "additional" materials (i.e.; stuff not included in the contest pack) in the "Open" category. Thoughts?
2) ENTRY FEES: Okay, we've beaten this one up quite a bit, and I've talked to a lot of hobbyists who absolutely agree that we should charge an entry fee appropriate for a contest in which one of the primary goals is to make a nice donation to Project Piaba. Quite frankly, I was surprised and encouraged that most of you suggested a respectable-sized entry fee. Here's the fee structure we have envisioned to date; obviously your feedback is important here:
"Small" Category: $20USD
"Large" Category: $30USD
"Open" Category: $40USD
Remember, 100% of the entry fee will be donated to Project Piaba. We are donating the botanicals to each contestant at no charge.
The only other fee we're now feeling less "creepy" about charging is shipping.
After much going back and forth with many of you (and with our accountant!), we feel that charging for shipping of the entry packs is acceptable. Believe me, I went back and forth about this, but it does make sense. You're honest with us- I'll be honest with you: It would not be viable for us to offer free shipping for every entry, particularly international entries. We would charge you whatever the shipping cost is for your order size/destination country. I realize this might limit some international entries, which is not what we'd like to do, but it's kind of "where we are" at this point. Suggestions are welcome!
A cool loophole for our US customers/entrants: If you grab a contest pack in conjunction with an order, you'd be eligible for free shipping if you hit the appropriate amount. For those of you in other countries, we realize that shipping is costly, and we've been tearing out our hair trying to make it fair and affordable. The best solution we've come up with to date for international entrants is that we would offer a discount off of a future order with Tannin to sort of "offset" some of the higher shipping expense you'd incur. How do you feel about this?
3) COMPETITION PACKS: The "small" and "large" packs will have the same materials, just in larger portions. The "open" category would utilize the "large" pack. We kicked around the idea of perhaps making an additional "large pack" available for a nominal charge for "open" entries, or do you have other thoughts on this?
4) ADDITIONAL MATERIALS: Obviously, you're gonna want to use more than just the botanicals we'll include in the competition packs, so we figure this is an area that we need to discuss. Use of wood, rocks, etc. has to be allowed, but we also don't want someone to go crazy with a ton of "high-end" wood and a smattering of botanical materials, because we're trying to use the contest as a platform to educate the hobby about the Igapo habitat, and although wood is a big part, the real "charm" is the leaves and other materials that accumulate in these ecological niches. Rather than come up with some "percentage" and split hairs over just how much wood or other material not in the pack that you can utilize, I feel it might make more sense to be clear about our thinking up front, and understand that all judging will take into account how well the contest materials were used in the overall scape. Does this make sense? Do you have some thoughts, ideas, suggestions on this?
5) JUDGING: We think that it makes sense to have you-our community- judge the first round, which will determine the finalists (we'll have to decide how many in each category). You know this stuff as well, if not better, than any typical "contest judge" does. The final judging will be by a selected panel, which will try to be inclusive and varied, and be comprised of people who are familiar with the habitat and concept we're working with. We'll make those announcements about who will be on the panel once things get closer.
PRIZES: Don't worry, we're going to be lining up some good ones that will make entering worth your while! And we hope to have a few extra things, like tank clings, designed for the contest. Perhaps maybe other merchandise, like tee shirts and such, if it makes sense, with a portion of the sales going to Project Piaba. Does anyone like that idea?
Okay, so that's update #2! A lot of ground to cover; lots more to discuss. As always, we're trying to make this contest as "open source" as possible, so your feedback and suggestions are an essential part of the process, and are always welcome. You can respond here or, preferably, our Facebook page, because it's more "conversational."