PROCESS: The life cycle of a winning entry

Kuan Luo & David Miller go behind-the-scenes at the SND32 judging:

SETTING THE TABLE: Facilitators place entries on tables by sub-categories, preparing them for review by judging teams.

CUPPING: Two cups are placed in front of each entry -- a blue cup for "in" and a red one for "out".

VOTING: Judges consider all the entries in a sub-category at one time. They cast their votes with colored chips. Each judge has their own unique color so team captains can track progress during larger categories.

CONFLICTING: When judges have a conflict of interest (an entry from a competitor or their own paper), they place a yellow cup on the entry, signaling the generalist judge to weigh in.

REVEALING: When a judging round is finished, the team captain un-cups the chips cast for each page, counts the vote, and announces the results to the judges and attending posse of facilitators.

AWARDING: Entries with at least 3 "in" votes receive an Award of Excellence and are relayed to the data entry desk inputting captions for the winner database and the annual book. Papers with 4 or more "in" votes are set aside for a medal discussion at the end of that category

RESETTING: After each tally count, cups and chips are collected, and the tables are reset for the next round.

SORTING: Student facilitators sort the chip mix for the judges to re-use.

DISCUSSING: After voting, judges meet to discuss medal nominations, where they review pages to consider awarding silver or gold medals, and possibly special recognitions. These conversations are reported for use in the annual awards book.

MEDALING: Four out of five judges must agree to award a paper a silver medal, while the judges must unanimously agree to award a gold medal, Any entry that originally received 4 or more chip votes will automatically get at least an award of excellence, even if it doesn't receive a gold or silver once it reaches the medal discussion phase.