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An In-Depth Look At The Caption Contest

by moocowalex


A question I am asked somewhat frequently nowadays is, "How do you keep getting into the Caption Contest"? While I have had relatively good success lately, I don't have any "secret" tips to guarantee myself a spot among the winning captions. The best I can do is simply enter some captions that I find funny, cross my fingers and toes, and hope for the best! Every time I see my name among the chosen captions, I am still surprised and get a warm feeling inside. The best feeling of all is getting in for the very first time! And that is why I wrote this guide, and am sharing it with you. Although I can't help you get in 100% of the time, I can give you a better understanding of the contest, and also some tips to hopefully improve your odds of winning!

The History

The Caption Contest is one of the oldest and most widely known competitions in Neopia. Almost everyone can probably say that they've entered at least once or twice at the off chance they might make the cut. Curious, I did a bit of digging, and found out that the very first Caption Contest (featuring a rather mischievous chocolate-covered Lupe and a very angry looking Aisha) was started on the 1st day of Hunting, in Year 2! Amazingly, this competition turned a ripe age of 12 just over a few months ago. After the first few rounds, each lasting approximately a full month, TNT began to bring more emphasis to it and made the contest more regular. From then on, every week there would be around 2 – 3 images put up for people to come up with witty captions for. That is, until the fateful 5th day of Eating, in Year 13. This is the day that would change many Neopians' lives forever (okay, maybe it isn't THAT dramatic but it was a pretty big deal). The Caption Contest was suddenly going to last a full week, rather than just a few days. And so, with the 1200th image kicking off the new format, it has been that way ever since!

The Rules

Every week a new image will be uploaded on Tuesday, around the time that the daily news updates. Your job is to come up with the best captions possible for said image! There are no limitations (well, hardly any), as long as your captions are just plain funny! More about what types of captions you should submit will be discussed in the next section. The Caption Contest judges will review the captions that you submit, and on Friday night will pull a select 40 that are the best of the best, out of the quite large pool of captions. Remember, this is one of the most popular contests and there are thousands of captions submitted for every round. This means that occasionally, the judges just don't have the time to read every single caption that is entered. Therefore, to theoretically increase your chances of being picked for voting, it is best to enter more than one (funny) caption, and perhaps spread your entries throughout the week. However, it is not advised to enter the same caption more than once, no matter how hilarious and side-splitting you may think it is; it will most likely just annoy the poor judges.

Some Caption Dos and Don'ts

If you visit the Caption Contest "Help" page, you will find a list of captions that will NEVER get in; I won't list them here, but it's advisable to go through that list and take note of them. But as long as you make sure to steer clear of the topics listed there, go wild!

One helpful practice that I like to do early in the week is sit down and just analyze the image. And I mean REALLY break it down. Keep a document open and take note of everything that is happening in the image. Create a list of all the pet and petpet names, and any inanimate objects. Do some research and find out if any of the pet or petpets in the image that are actually famous Neopians. Many times this can lead to some great inspiration for creative captions! While doing this exercise, if an idea for a caption strikes you, put it in writing immediately! Is there a plot or event going on right now? That's a great source of captions that people can relate to! You can come back later and edit these rough captions before submitting, if you wish. Sometimes this whole process can take a bit of time and effort for the more busy images, but it is definitely well worth it. For the rest of the week if you ever find yourself bored or have some time to kill, just think back to the image, as you will surely have most, if not all, of it memorized by now.

If you need some inspiration for coming up with captions, it can be helpful to go to past rounds and read through all of the winnings captions. You start to get a feel for what the judges are looking for, whether it is an extremely corny pun or just a simple one-liner. Reviewing past captions can also make you laugh and brighten your mood, along with providing a great source of creative juices flowing in your noggin.

A very important thing to remember is that you never know what will make it in and what won't. Not everyone can appreciate the judges sense of humor, which is why it's important to submit as many varying captions as you can! As for how many captions it's best to submit, there really is no magic number. I tend to submit around 10 – 15 per contest if time permits, and if I feel particularly inspired I will enter upwards of 30. Of course, you could submit more than that if you would like, but it tends to get a bit hard to come up with original and genuinely funny captions by that point.

And if you're wondering about the possibility of having more than one caption in a single contest, then I have your answer! It is, in fact, possible and not completely unheard of to have multiple captions put up for voting by one person. I have even been lucky enough to see one case where a whopping total of three captions were chosen by one master caption creator!

Voting and Advertising

Finally, after refreshing the voting page almost fanatically Friday night and getting quite tired of the "There are no captions for this picture currently, please check back soon!" message by now, you will see the list of captions that have been put up for voting! Hopefully you will see one of your oh-so-clever captions there, but if not, don't give up hope, there is always next week! Even seasoned Caption Contest participators do not get in from time to time, even if they enter many quality captions. Sometimes, it's just the luck of the draw.

However, if you DID manage to make it into the Caption Contest, congratulations! This is quite an accomplishment and is not to be taken lightly. Although the hard part may be over, there is still much left to do if you want to secure a trophy. If your caption is particularly amusing, you might just be able to skip this section entirely, because your witty caption will rise to the top, high above the rest! But usually this is not the case. In fact, a scenario that I've experienced multiple times is that the caption that gets chosen for voting isn't your favorite among the ones you entered (but hey, at least you got in, right?). In this case, it's time to advertise!

Most people include a very polite link to the Caption Contest voting page in their NeoSignature, asking others on the boards to vote for their caption, if they find it amusing. This method works very well if you are an active chatter! It also might be a good idea to create your very own board on the Games Chat. This contest is a game, after all! As a frequent chatter there, I can safely say that we are a very friendly bunch and do not bite. You can shamelessly advertise your caption and gather more votes; there are plenty of kind people there who are willing to vote for you and help out! Also, if you have some friends or a guild that would be willing, it's probably beneficial to graciously ask them as well. But make sure not to pester them too much!

And perhaps most importantly: vote for yourself! Yes, you can actually vote for your own caption. No matter how goofy it may seem, I like to set alarms for myself to remind me to vote; sometimes it can be surprisingly difficult to remember. From Friday night to Tuesday evening, you can gather a startling amount of votes independently. Remember, you can vote in the Caption Contest every 4 hours!

The Prizes

Unfortunately, not everyone can win. A total of 40 captions are put up for voting, and only 25 of those are deemed winners when the competition ends. This is why advertising for yourself is so important; if you are picked for the voting portion, you need to make sure you follow the steps from the previous section, so that you aren't one of the 15 who miss out!

But, if you ARE in the top 25 after the voting ends, another hearty congratulation is in order! You can slide back in your seat, and have a sigh of relief. Grab a hot cup of borovan and celebrate your success! After all, you earned it.

The winners of the Caption Contest are each given a trophy, an item, and a chunk of neopoints! If you were in the top 5, you will get a gold trophy, the next 7 will earn you a silver trophy, and the last 13 contestants will obtain a bronze trophy. The value of the items you receive is not dependent on how you place however, and can vary from cheap codestones to expensive paintbrushes, if luck is on your side. Don't worry if you don't receive your prizes immediately, sometimes they can take up to a month to arrive! This is because the prizes for multiple rounds are released at once, and there is no need to fret.

The Avatar

One of the rarest still-available avatars in existence is given out by the Caption Contest, featuring Zargrold, a rather cool Blue Grundo. Although I am not allowed to say explicitly how this avatar is obtained, just know that it is extremely difficult because of the massive amount of competition for it when it becomes available. To earn this avatar, you must have just the right combination of determination, wit, and perhaps most importantly, luck. If you see this avatar posted on the Neoboards, you know that the owner has definitely worked hard for it, and is indeed worthy of using this elusive avatar. Personally, it is by far my favorite avatar and I plan to own it one day, no matter what the cost.

This concludes my article detailing one of my favorite parts of Neopia, the Caption Contest! I hope with this guide under your belt, you can get your brainstorming cap on and come up with some stellar captions to enter. And with that, I'm off to go refresh the voting page some more to see the new captions, bye!

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