The Submission Approval Process
Hey guys! As promised, here's a blog about the submission approval process.
How the initial process works.
In our magic behind the scenes tools, I have the ability to view submissions before they go up on the site. When you submit a design, it goes into a queue that looks like this.
On an average day here will be 200-250 designs submitted. Mondays there are obviously a lot more waiting in the queue, since I take the weekends off like a sane person.
Every morning, I'll take an hour or two and review all of the submissions that were submitted the day before. Submissions that don't follow the basic rules (no template, off-topic for Loves) or we just can't print (impossible-to-make belt print, giant wiener, something copyrighted) get declined. I have different buttons I can press for different decline reasons that will create an email for me. This email gets sent out instantly when I click "decline".
I also have the option of creating a customized decline response, which I will do sometimes if something small or specific needs to be changed. For instance, sometimes I will encourage people to expand their design outside of a box on the tee, or change/remove a feature from a copyrighted character to make it more acceptable to put up.
When a design is accepted, it goes into a 'trickle queue'. Submissions will be put up on a timer throughout the day, one every few minutes.
So it's just you?
Yup, right now it's just me! People are usually super busy around here, so very early on it just became one part of my job. I've been going through the submissions for over 3 years! I also sort through the street team photos. Between the two, I have seen some of the craziest and most hilarious stuff on the internet. I have also seen some of the most incredibly inspiring work.
I have to stress that choosing which submissions go up for voting is not based on taste. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding what goes up, including the number of designs already up on the site, how experienced the designer is, how many times the designer has changed the design or tweaked it in critiques, past correspondence I've had with the designer regarding their design, etc. I also have to consider if it would make a great Threadless tee, or if it would be better suited for another site/market.
I also consider how many designs are only just OK, but deserve to go up on the site anyway. We want our new artists to have the chance to learn, and we don't want to discourage them the first moment they try. We have all seen plenty of artists improve greatly over time, and if they never had a chance and gave up right off the bat we wouldn't have seen some of our most popular tees get printed.
That being said, I would estimate that about half of the designs we get are declined for various reasons. On a really good day, 2/3 will go up for voting.
We have tried going through submissions in groups before. Usually this just causes arguments and takes about 3 times as long to do. Most importantly, it doesn't greatly affect the number or quality of the designs that go up on the site.
If you take a look on the site right now, you'll find that the majority of the designs currently up are actually pretty good, if not great. The designs that weren't favored by voters have been dropped by the low score rule, and usually the artists of these designs have gotten enough feedback to try again with a new and improved design.
I'm also the person that handles all of the emails from designers, so I am held accountable for the decisions on a one-on-one basis. I will often times explain the reasons for being declined in more depth through email, and many times I suggest that they submit to the critiques or blogs if they want real feedback. The artists that really want to improve will try again, and the ones that don't feel like it's worth it to try againâ€¦ won't!
Are you listening?
Absolutely! I spend a good chunk of my day on the blogs keeping track of your feedback and opinions. We have a lot of things in the works that we think will greatly improve the critiquing and voting processes, as well as providing more tools for new artists to grow and improve. You'll be hearing more about that in the near future. Trust me when I say we are working super hard to make the site more enjoyable, useful and enlightening for artists!
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my best to answer!