A caption contest
or caption competition
is a competition between multiple participants, who are required to give the best description for a certain image
offered by the contest
organizer. Rules and information about the competition process are also given by the competition organizer.
Caption contest participants have to describe a given image as accurately and originally
as possible. Contests may vary by image type (photo
of a situation or a dialogue
), as well as judging
criteria. The competition organizer is required to give information about caption submission rules and other information that is important for the contest.
Caption contests are mainly arranged as an amusement
, and they can be organized under different conditions (between separate individuals, in public events, mass media
, etc.), as well as using various means (drawn pictures on paper, digital image, printed image, press publication, etc.). Traditionally, the most popular and typical format has been publication of caption contests in newspapers
, but with the development of modern technologies, it is also very popular to organize caption contests on the Internet
Caption contests can be used not only as an entertainment
but also for other purposes, such as newspaper promotion, bringing forward a certain problem, or product advertisement
. An important aspect of caption competition is to look at an object, event or issue from unusual point of view.
The caption, unless competition rules do not restrict, can be in any form of literary expression - prose
, as one word
or a word play
. Usually the submitted captions are judged by the originality and wit
, but not always the decisive assessment is humour
. It is generally assumed that the caption has to describe image as precisely as possible, so both humour and precision are equally important.
As caption writing is an art
of words, it is rarely possible to evaluate the superiority of one caption over others accurately and objectively
. Consequently, the judging of submitted captions is usually quite subjective
. Sometimes competition rules limit caption size, but usually the caption is no longer than one sentence
(10 - 20 words). As an exception, the caption can consist of several sentences. Usually it is not allowed to use profane
or offensive language in submitted captions.
It is considered that the origins of caption contests are related to the increase of popularity
as well as widespread use of illustrations
and the rise of photojournalism
in printed media at the end of the 19th century. All these areas share the combination of words and images that could be multiplied and made available to a wide audience with the beginnings of mass printing and wide spread of newspapers and magazines.
From currently available information, the first caption contests in printed media appeared in the U.S.
press of the late 19th century (such as Life
which was published from year 1883 to 1936). At that time these competitions were called picture title
or picture headline
contests, but their concept and meaning was identical to current caption contests. It must be considered, that the term caption
in its present sense firstly appeared in English language
only in the first half of the 20th century.
During the course of the 20th century, caption contests were published in printed media in many countries of the world. For example, in Soviet Union one of the first caption contests was published in daily newspaper Izvestia
Sunday supplement Nedelya
) at the beginning of the 1960s.
Little later a newspaper Literaturnaya gazeta
began to publish caption contests that became very popular and they are part of this newspaper up until now.
The spread of caption contests increased even more with the emergence of the Internet by the end of the 20th century, and at the beginning of the 21st century. Internet has made the organization of caption contests and participation in them possible for wide audiences across the world.
Although a considerable amount of caption contests are now on Internet, caption contests in printed media still exist and are quite popular. A very popular and prominent is a weekly caption contest published in American magazine The New Yorker
The contest first appeared in 1998 and has been published regularly in each issue since 2005.
Each week several thousand participants take part in this competition.
On the Internet, a very popular is the weekly caption competition on BBC
website (Magazine Monitor
section), held since 2006.
Along the traditional caption contests, there have appeared different forms of this genre
such as anti-caption contests
for worst submitted caption and reverse caption contests where the most suitable picture must be submitted for a given caption. There are also caption contests devoted to particular themes such as history
In 2006, the website caption.me  (then captioncompetition.co.uk) was founded, featuring amusing photos loaded automatically from photo-sharing site Flickr
. Visitors submit captions and vote for others. Caption.Me features a real-time collaborative mind-mapping feature called Maption
The New Yorker
magazine, noting the popularity of its cartoon caption contest, has created a caption contest board game
and issued a book with the most interesting cartoons and winning captions as well as comprehensive information covering this theme.
Also concerning the New Yorker
caption contest, several scientific studies have been carried out: researchers from University of New Mexico
, Department of Anthropology, in 2010 have compared humour ability in males and females in context of this competition;
members of The New Yorker
editorial board and University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business
in 2011 analysed several thousand entries of this contest to study the concept of humour.
In popular culture
In U.S. TV series The Office
, seventh-season episode The Search
its character Pam
starts a caption contest in the office, with her co-worker Gabe
instituting rules that no one wants to follow.
In British sitcom Green Wing
, the second series, episode six, its character Alan Statham
wins a caption competition on the Consultant Radiologists International
website, an organisation of which Alan claims to be an "Esteemed member".
In a children's novel Absolute Zero
by Helen Cresswell
its character Uncle Parker has won a trip to the Caribbean
in a caption contest. The rest of the family immediately enter similar competitions in an attempt to better his prize but, much of the time, beating the others to an entry form is a victory in itself.
In season two of the HBO
series Bored to Death
, George (played by Ted Danson
) struggles to caption a New Yorker cartoon, which portrays a police duck interacting with a suicidal bear.
- ^ D. J. R. Bruckner. "How the Earlier Media Achieved Critical Mass." The New York Times, November 20, 1995.
- ^ "$1000.00 in Prizes." New-York tribune, November 07, 1920. chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=caption&allowed_in_frame=0 Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- ^ "The Sunday Call Will Pay $20 for the Best Title for This Picture." The San Francisco call, January 07, 1912. chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- ^ "What does this Picture mean?" New-York tribune, March 23, 1920, p.11. chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- ^ "$10 A Week for the Best Titles in Sunday Post Caption Contest" Bridgeport Telegram, December 20, 1921, p.30. newspaperarchive.com. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- ^ "Золотой глаз-Геолог и Мальтус". odnako.org. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- ^ "Что бы это значило?". Archived 2012-06-20 at the Wayback Machine lgz.ru. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- ^ a b Russell Adams. "How About Never-Is Never Good for You?" The Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2011.
- ^ Your Caption Here The New Yorker. 2 May 2005.
- ^ Seven Reasons It's Hard To Win The Caption Contest Mankoff, Robert. 8 November 2014.
- ^ "Thursday Photo Caption Contest" blogs.archives.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- ^ "The Silly Captions Competition" Archived 2012-06-07 at the Wayback Machine footytube.com. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- ^ http://www.caption.me/
- ^ "The New Yorker Cartoon caption game" familyandpartygames.com. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- ^ Mankoff, Robert (2008). The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest Book Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0-7407-7750-5.
- ^ Greengross, Gil; Miller, Geoffrey (2011). "Humor ability reveals intelligence, predicts mating success, and is higher in males". Intelligence. 39 (4): 188–192. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2011.03.006. hdl:2160/30488.
- ^ Leeds School of Business "What It Takes To Win The New Yorker`s Cartoon Caption Contest" Archived December 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine leeds.colorado.edu, April 25, 2011.
- ^ "The Search". "The Office" episode guide. nbc.com. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- ^ "Episode 6 – Season 2". "Green Wing" episode guide. tv.com. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
Last edited on 4 May 2021, at 13:11
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