Criteria for the Fromper Award

Does your site encourage creativity, imagination, and the sense of wonder? Have you been told that your site inspired someone to create something new? You may qualify for the Fromper Award!

  • All themes and topics are possible. Fantasy sites are not the only ones that encourage "a sense of wonder." Sites about science and history can widen our minds and encourage us to explore. Sites about crafts, genealogy, or anything else may spark others to begin making something of their own. Creativity is the essence of our humanity, and it applies to everything in life.
  • Intolerance discourages Frompers. Fundamentalist sites of any persuasion, sites which proclaim any subject out of bounds for human speculation, sites that encourage hatred, abuse, or humiliation of any individual or group, do not qualify for the Fromper Award.
    The rules against abuse do not prohibit satire, lawyer jokes, or anything poking fun at Mephistopheles, who gets entirely too big for his hatbrim on a regular basis.
  • On your website, name at least three individuals who have created something new inspired by your webpage. These creations do not have to be on the web, but please include enough information so that others can find the story / painting / whatever. You are promoting your friend's work!
  • I will be influenced if people linked from your site or signing your guestbook refer to you as inspirational, or if other people who see your name in my guestbook testify that yours is a wonder-full site. Signing my guestbook, or having your friends sign your guestbook or mine, is not a requirement. Having links on your site, however, is part of celebrating other people's creativity as well as your own.
  • I also strongly recommend you read Thalia's Tips for Accessible Web Pages, because if your pages take more than 45 seconds to load on an old (28.8) modem, or are not readable by my friends with older browsers, you probably won't qualify. I say "probably" only because if you have outstanding content that I want the world to see, that will balance out some technical debits. I don't recommend that you count on this, because I have regretfully noticed that nobody ever considers our content as world-shaking as we do. :(
  • The award is open to all sites -- personal, nonprofit, educational or commercial -- as long as there is content on your site that celebrates others besides yourself, and inspiration that others can get without paying for it.
  • This award is mainly about content, not design, and I am biased in favor of written content, not just graphics.

"Celebrating creativity and inspiring it" is a pretty subjective judgment. To be as fair as possible to all applicants, I have done my best to codify how I react to sites, distributing 100 points as follows:

Creative Content: 20 points
Your site must display your own creativity with at least six pages of your thought, art, or research.
This may be poetry or fantasy artwork, but it also may be a description of how you create a family life that encourages imagination in your children, or the story of how you built your home business. (IF you creatively built a home business; MLM's and other spam "business" won't even be reviewed.) Creativity applies to everything in life.
But it does have to be content. Links are not content. Reviewed and categorized links are a valuable contribution to the Net, and I will consider up to two pages of such as "creative research." But if you don't have anything original of your own to present, you are wasting your time applying for this award -- go create something!
Less than six pages of content disqualifies you. Additional pages, quality pages, win additional points, up to 20. If I gave a point for *every* content page, big sites would always win over small ones, and that's not the aim of this particular award. A haiku can inspire someone as much as an epic.
I know I'm getting into an ambiguous area again, saying "quality pages."
  • Did you work on it? Is it coherent, grammatic, and free of spelling errors? Does it look good on the page -- not fancy, but readable?
  • Have you worked to both say what is in your heart *and* communicate it to someone outside of your own head?
Resources for Others: 20 points
By "your site encourages creativity in others" I do not mean just that you cheer people on. I don't mean just that you let them use your graphics, poetry, or other creations on their webpages, either. I mean providing your visitors with tools and information that will help them create things.
If you have nothing in this category, you don't win, you applied for the wrong award. The more you have in this category, the more points you make.
I give credit for resources that I won't personally use. One award winner, the Hanlon page, didn't start me doing my genealogy, but it has inspired others to do so, and given them tools to do it.
I have given credit in this category when other people have started writing, doing art, etc, by your example, even though your pages don't have explicit instructions, workshops, or other tools. Sometimes we help people the most when we are just being ourselves.
Recognition of Others: 20 points
Your site should name and describe the accomplishments of at least two other people outside of your immediate family, with links wherever possible and appropriate.
  • 2 points per name, up to 6 points
  • 2 points per link, up to 6 points
  • 1 point for each way in which you directly contributed to the growth of the person you are acknowledging, up to 4 points
  • 1 point for each accomplishment you praise that you acknowledge not having anything to do with :)
Alternate ways of making points in this category are publishing the work of others in a zine or forum format, or managing a webring that encourages creative pursuits. Webrings must have a home page and your own site content in the ring to qualify. 2 points per person you publish, or 1 point per site in your webring, up to 20 points.
Mission Statement: 10 points
This doesn't have to be formally called "Mission Statement," but your site should have a purpose and it should be clear from the front page on what that purpose is. "I made this website because... well, everybody else had a website." isn't a very creatively exciting purpose.
Your purpose may be as clear and focused as that of the composer Greg Spence, one of the Fromper Award winners, or it may contain "creative and useful etcetera" like Jonathan's Corner. I didn't have this codified at the time I gave the award to those two sites, but on this scale, Jonathan would get "5" in "Mission" and Greg would get "20". If your page starts with "This is nothing much, just my ramblings," you get 0.
Technical Competence: 30 points
You demonstrate that you have learned the skills to express your creativity, including in the creation of your website.
  • Attractive, readable design. This does not have to be fancy. 10 plus points for a good basic design, minus 1 point for every page with twisty purple letters on a black textured background, or the like.
  • I can navigate through your entire website without getting lost or using the "Back" button. 1 point off whenever I have to hit the back button or edit the address line myself to get back to a directory page.
  • Pages are grouped and structured by topic; I don't keep hitting "Next" and wandering through a grab bag of "this was the next page I put up." 5 plus points just for knowing what a subdirectory is. 1 point off for each "Next" page that's a non-sequitur.
  • Reasonably fast loading even on an old modem. No big, long, eternal, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink pages. recommends that a page load within 12 seconds on a 28.8 modem. In actual practice, I don't find many of the major pages in a site, including mine, can do that. I'll be patient with anything up to 45 seconds on a 28.8 modem and up to a minute (that's on a 28.8 modem!) if you warned me *first* -- that's before I clicked the link for the huge page, not while the huge page is loading. Slower than that loses 1 point for minor pages, 5 points for major ones, like the main page of a directory.
  • All, or almost all, links work (including images). 1 point off for each page with more than two broken external links. 5 points off for every page with broken internal links.
    Some sites I gave an award to years back now flunk this category. Partly that's because I didn't have this part written down, so I didn't hold them to it. Mostly it's because living sites are always being modified, and some of us get over-eager and make huge updates on a manic binge in the middle of the night and then we don't test thoroughly before we post because we are so wildly enthusiastic about what we want to share. If I let you know about broken links, and you fix them, you can make your points back. Just don't start using me as a link testing service, please. :-)
  • Accessible. If you don't know what "accessibility" is, try your page on "Bobby." Again, I've made a lot more allowances for this part in the past. As of January 2003 I'm getting tougher. Chris the Bicycling Guitarist set a tough standard for the rest of you.
  • If you use Flash, Java, or other tech, you must have an alternative for visitors who don't have the plug-in. Do NOT force anyone to download the plug-in, and do NOT imply that we are Luddite morons if we don't. A Flash menu that has no alternative cripples the usefulness of your site, so that's a disqualifier right there.
  • 2 points off for every page with music I can't turn off.
  • 1 point off for every graphic without an "alt" tag. I didn't always check this in the past. I have better tools now, so I can.

In the interests of full disclosure I should warn you that I am annoyed by splash pages, trailing cursors, and popups. I want to see what you have on your site, immediately. I don't want anything obscuring any part of it, not those butterflies trailing my cursor or the popup that said, "HI! Thank you for visiting me!"

I will try to restrain my crotchetiness. This means that if everything else on your site is good, I won't flunk you for annoying me with butterflies and popups. But if you are on the edge, they will tip it to the minus side.

In the interests of your own traffic, I warn you that there are a lot of other people out there who are crotchety in the same ways I am.

You have to get at least 5 points in each category to qualify, and a total of 85 points to win the award.

What Next?

I will let you know within 4 weeks if you have won the Fromper Award. However, I've got a lot of other mail to answer, too, so I don't send out notices if you didn't win. If you don't hear from me within a month, check over the criteria again. The two most frequent reasons I haven't given the award have been: 1) the site is about you and your interests, but does not celebrate others or contribute to their growth; 2) the site does not pass Bobby's accessibility criteria. If your site changes in the future (and changing either of those two characteristics can only bring you more traffic!) then you are welcome to re-apply.

(The next most frequent reason is that yours is an entirely commercial site. Having creatively inspirational material for sale-only isn't enough to qualify for this award.)

If the Frompers agree that they like to dance on your pages, I will ask you to download  the award graphic and post it in a suitable position of honor on your page, with a link back to my site -- and to give me a graphic to post on my award page and link back to you. If you do not have a graphic logo or button, I will be happy to help you create one.

If I find your site inspirational, I may even write something about you myself.

Write On!