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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Big Controversy Regarding the Winner(s)

C9 posters demand that the winning team in Made In Express Contest will be disqualified from the competition and their $10,000 prize revoked. They point at evidence that the winner, professor Ernie Hall, did not abide by the rules by using already developed code and working in a team.

I have been lurking in the C9 forums for the last few days, following the heated debate. Three forum threads [1] [2] [3] totaling over 200 posts to date, cover it all. The posters include Mark Jewett, the MS guy behind the contest, as well as two out of the three judges, Chris Pirillo and Robert Scoble.

I assume the rest of the finalists have been following the C9 discussion as well, but so far all of them have kept mum. As the runner-ups, I and Ali Khalid, are identified as the big losers in all of this (a mere $9,000), I decided to make my opinion heard.

First of all I must admit that Ernie's robot AI entry was my favorite as well. I think that it really showcases Express Edition's versatility when it comes to product ideas. That's probably why Microsoft liked it too. However, when I look at all the hard facts about the rules and compare them with Ernie's submission it is quite obvious that something is wrong here. It becomes clear by just reading any of his blog entries where he is posting C# source code. In the file header it is clearly written that someone else wrote the code in 2005. Many of the header files in his submitted source code have timestamps from 2005 and are signed by other developers.

If you download the source code you will also see that the code was not initially written in Express Edition, but rather converted to this format at a later stage. The presence of the _UpgradeReport_Files folder proves this.

I am glad that the C9 forum opened up my eyes to this as I was too busy coding FeedJournal than to check if my competitors were adhering to the rules during the contest. Anyway, according to Microsoft's forum answers it seems unlikely that they will do anything about this. Instead their official response is rather dry: Thank you for your feedback regarding the Made In Express Contest. We have reviewed your complaint and have determined that the Contest was operated in accordance with the official rules. We appreciate your interest and look forward to your participation in next years contest.

© Jonas Martinsson 1995-2006