Hack Hotbot, Part V: The Results

June 21, 2003 12PM PST

The Hack Hotbot contest winners are slated to be announced today, so it’s time I tell my tale. Where to begin… A longish summary of the story thus far is found in parts one, two, three, and four.

But a quick summary because that’s a lot of text to get through: Terra Lycos ran a CSS design contest open to US residents only. I complained on here and linked the contest. An employee found the link and e–mailed me, telling me I should enter, but obviously didn’t bother reading that I was Canadian and therefore ineligible. I responded. They told me to enter through a US citizen. I did.

And I won. Grand prize was a huge TV, and two ‘first place’ prizes were 20GB iPods. I took one of the first place spots. I was informed back in the beginning of May, and the past month has been spent figuring out what in the world is going on. A big thanks to Lincoln Jackson (yes, the same Lincoln mentioned in part two) and Corey Matthews of Terra Lycos, and Douglas Bowman of Stop Design for helping me out, but their legal department decided I wasn’t allowed to win.

Naturally I’m disappointed. I spend a lot of time working on various projects with no expectation of compensation, so when something like this comes along that I throw myself into, I figure it’s a way of getting something in return. But not this time.

Maybe I should have known better. I had a bad feeling about the contest from the start. A World Wide Web design competition only open to US citizens — bad move. An employee spamming me to enter without reading the front page entry on why I couldn’t — bad move. Code that was hard to work with and offered little to actually ‘hack’ about the design — bad move. Changing the code after the contest ended, thus breaking the entries — really bad move. And the past month of dwindling communication pretty much cemented that they weren’t going to award me the prize, so now that I know for sure, it’s no surprise.

The silver lining in all of this is that while not directly inspired by it, a by–product of my discontent with the contest was that we got a Zen Garden out of it. And the Zen Garden seems to be leading to some exciting opportunities for me, personally. So I can’t help but take a Zen–like approach and realize that in the grand scheme of things, I won anyway. It would have been nice to have an iPod, but I suppose it wasn’t in the cards.

update: I can’t believe I missed him, but Joshua Kaufman also deserves some credit for the CSS work he did on the project. While his code didn’t end up in my final submission, he did some great work as we hacked away together at this difficult challenge.