No one particularly likes the word "disqualify" or its abbreviation "DQ" but it is the word we have for now. Perhaps it will change soon and we will be happy to change with it. But in the meantime, it is the word we've got. Behind it's use, however, are, in our view, important purposes as described below, purposes that are not met by simply giving low scores. However, we believe that DQ's should be used fairly and judiciously.
S4C International Exhibition staff review all images entered prior to judging. They immediately disqualify (DQ) images upon entry - or near to it - that clearly violate the exhibition Conditions of Entry (COE) - such as if the entrant's signature appears on the image - and allow the entrant to substitute a replacement prior to the judging. Entrants are also warned of less obvious situations where in the opinion of the reviewers there is a high probability that the image would be DQed by the judges, again allowing for replacement if time allows. This approach lessens the chances of DQ by the judges and has been welcomed by most entrants.
However, many images that violate the COE are missed in this pre-screening or the warnings ignored, and may be DQed by the judges. If only one judge DQ's an image during the scoring round for a given reason, that image is brought up for discussion among all the judges at the awards videoconference, and then all the judges must agree before the image is "finally" DQed.
As described below, however, entrants are then given the opportunity in their scorecard to inform the Exhibition as to why their image should not be DQed. Those reasons are then presented to the judges for reconsideration of the DQ.
These procedures are intended to avoid arbitrary DQs.
The Exhibition and its judges DQ images for two main reasons:
1. Rather than give a low score with no information, the Exhibition provides a reason for the DQ that informs the entrant, allowing the entrant to make decisions about future entries of that image into other exhibitions.
2. The sponsors of the S4C Exhibition believe it is important to uphold standards set by PSA and by the Exhibition so that an entrant does not gain an unfair advantage over other entrants.
Judges, of course, may be wrong in their evaluation. So, within a period of time specified in the scorecard each entrant receives after the judging, the entrant of a DQed image is given the opportunity to provide an original capture (a RAW capture always carries more weight) of that image along with other information as to why the entrant believes the image has been wrongly DQed. That information is presented to the judges so they may reconsider their decision. FAILURE TO PROVIDE AN ORIGINAL CAPTURE (PREFERABLY A RAW IMAGE) UPON REQUEST IS TAKEN AS PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE THAT THE JUDGES' DECISION WAS CORRECT.
Entrants are therefore advised that they run a risk if they submit images if they do not have the backup information. They are also advised to be responsive to emails received from the exhibition in the period specified in the Overview Conditions of Entry for the mailing of scorecards.
If the DQ remains in place and if serious manipulation, plagiarism, or other potential ethical violations are involved - particularly in any of the reality-based divisions - the S4C Exhibition, at its discretion when considering the circumstances, may forward the image and details of the alleged violation to PSA authorities for consideration of ethical malpractice by the entrant.
By the way, the best way to avoid DQs is to read the Conditions of Entry carefully, boring as it may be!
(updated June 22, 2022).