These are the governing rules for Essense Of The Dragon:

1. The photo competition is only for registered members of Vertical Endeavour (VE), and is conducted online at www.vertical-endeavour.com. The prizes are sponsored by a third party.

2. The rounds will be quarterly, following a calendar year. Dates for submission and voting periods will be set in advance, and the prizes for each round will be announced before the round starts. Generally the submission period will span three months, and an additional week or so will be designated for voting. Voting can of course already be done during the submission period. The advantage of submitting an entry earlier in the round is that you will have more chance of getting a higher number of votes in the end, as more visiting members have an opportunity to vote for your image.

3. Unless specified otherwise, photos must be taken in the general proximity of the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains: this includes the main Drakensberg range from Metjhatijane Peak in the Free State down to Xalanga Peak in the Eastern Cape, smaller ranges that are clearly attached to the main range (Golden Gate area, Sentinel to Van Reenen’s Pass, and the Witteberg), and all ranges of Lesotho.

4. Each quarterly round will have a specific theme. Where applicable, detailed criteria for the theme will be specified and entries must adhere to these.

5. A gallery album will be created and designated to the round. A corresponding forum thread will be created to launch the round. This will also be the place for all related announcements and discussion.

6. Entries are limited to one per person. Multiple accounts are not allowed. The photo must have been taken by the person submitting the entry, or the person must have been present when the photo was taken and have written permission from the photographer/owner of the photo. In the latter case, this must be clearly stated when the entry is submitted.

7. Participants must have been a member of VE for longer than one month and must have a minimum of 5 forum posts at the time of submission. The posts should be of a meaningful nature and there should be more text than emoticons. The post for submitting the entry does not count.

8. Images submitted in previous rounds may not be used again.

9. Images may be cropped but the minimum image width allowable is 1280px.

10. The image must be of good quality and clearly in focus. Overexposure and blurry spots should be avoided. The photos may be digital or on film provided good image quality is maintained in the conversion to digital.

11. The image content may not contain anything that is considered to be offensive or inappropriate. The decision of the moderators is final.

12. Only very minor touch ups and adjustments may be done on the images. Images may be converted to black and white.

13. The author’s name may appear as a discreet, non-dominating watermark on the image. Any other text or addition should be avoided.

14. A suitable name should be given to the image in order to give it character. The name must be creative and original. It may not be plain or generic (eg "Mponjwane"), nor technically descriptive (eg "Mponjwane viewed from Mponj Cave"). It may also not be the theme name, or a minor derivative of it, though clever and creative use of the theme name is encouraged. Examples of suitable names would be "Mighty Mponj", "Above The Clouds", "Sentinel Of The Mnweni" and "A View Worth Hiking For".

15. A short description should also accompany the image to give it context, i.e. "the story behind the photo". This can be an explanation of what you had to do to get the shot, or something significant about the trip that you took it on, or commentary on the mood of the shot, or what the shot means for you personally. For example: "It was my first hike in the Mnweni and I always wanted to see the legendary view of Mponjwane from Mponj Cave. We hiked up Rockeries Pass in the rain the day before and didn’t see the view on arriving at the cave. We were all tired and soaking wet. But we woke up to an incredible view the next morning and watched Mponjwane change colours under the rising sun. It was definitely a view worth hiking for!".

16. Entries should be submitted as follows:
16.1 Upload the image to the designated gallery album, the title should be the name refered to earlier , and the description should be the one referred to above.
16.2 Announce your entry by posting to the designated forum thread and be sure to include:
16.2.1 the name
16.2.2 the description
16.2.3 link to your uploaded gallery image
16.2.4 a copy of the image as an embedded attachment.

17. The moderators will remove an entry if it is deemed unsuitable in any way. If participants are unsure that their entry will be accepted, they are welcome to check this with the moderators privately, before submission.

18. After submitting an entry, participants have a 14 day grace period for changing or updating their entry, except if this falls within 30 days of the closing date for submissions. If the update is minor, this may be done without informing the moderators, though the modification dates will be checked at the end to ensure that no changes were done after the grace period. If the update is significant, an email must first be sent to the moderators with a motivation for the change. The moderators may grant approval at their discretion. If more than one entry is submitted by the same person without notifying the moderators, only the first entry will be valid, and subsequent entries will be deleted.

19. The competition is governed by overall rating of the images, rather than the number of votes. This means you don’t just vote for your favourite one, rather, you give each entry a rating. The rating is done in the applicable gallery album by means of a 5 star system, where 5 stars is the highest rating and 1 star is the lowest. The gallery software is set to calculate weighted ratings according to Baye’s theorem, rather than a purely arithmetic average, which means the total number of votes for all images in the entire gallery on the site (not just the applicable album) is taken into consideration in the calculation. This means, for example, that less votes for an image will be assumed to be less credible than if it had more votes. So each rating as well as the number of ratings for an image is important. This helps prevent a situation where an image can get a top rating by just one or two votes, and it also helps reduce the chances of having a tie.

20. In the event of a tie, the tiebreaker will be by means of a vote. Seven days will be allocated for the voting and the total vote count must be a minimum of ten. If the total is not attained within this period, an extension may be granted, or the moderators may settle the matter in any way they deem appropriate at the time. Only members of VE may participate in this vote, and a forum thread may be used to conduct the vote by means of a poll. The moderators may, at their discretion, resort to a different voting method at the time.

21. Only registered members of Vertical Endeavour are able to give ratings, and members are prevented from voting for their own entry. Participants are allowed to canvas support for their entry from family, friends and colleagues, even if they are not current members of VE, as long as this is done freely and there is no material gain or coercion involved. In these cases, the supporters should register on the site and must give each entry a fair rating, not just for one entry. Each person is only allowed to vote through a single profile on the site. Monitoring will be in place to check for double or fake profiles and for unfair voting tactics.

22. Each round must have a minimum of 5 entries, and each entry must have a minimum of 5 votes for it to be valid. If this is not attained, the moderators may extend the deadlines and take any action or decision deemed necessary to validate the competition and keep it fair for everyone.

23. After voting is closed and the votes have been finalised, the moderators will review all aspects of the round to check that everything is valid and has been adhered to. Once they have reached agreement among themselves, the results and winner will be officially announced. If there is any sign of irregularities or foul play, even just by suspicion, the applicable entries will be disqualified, or in the worst case scenario the entire round may be deemed to be invalid and no prize will be awarded.

24. A person may not win the prize in more than two rounds in a calendar year, nor for more than 2 times in a row. In these cases the prize will be donated to a worthy cause (such as donating the gear to the Mnweni or AmaZizi hiking guides) and credited to the winner. This helps prevent a monopoly on prize winning while still encouraging everyone to participate in every round.

25. Moderators and administrators are allowed to participate with their own entries. Those that have access to altering the data are not eligible to receive the prize if their entry wins the round. In these cases the prize will be donated to a worthy cause and credited to the winner.

26. After the winner has been announced, arrangements will be made for them to receive the prize through whichever method and time-frames deemed necessary at the time.

27. Prizes are not exchangeable for something else.

28. The prizes are sponsored and managed by a third party and VE assumes no responsibility or liability for the procurement of these, nor for their condition. Neither VE nor the sponsor assume responsibility for the way in which the prizes may be used by the winner, nor for any injury or harm which may result from their use.

29. After the round has been concluded all entries should remain in the gallery permanently. The winning image will be copied to the main sub-gallery for display alongside all previous winning images. VE may choose to announce the winner and publish the image elsewhere, such as the home page and on social media, at their discretion.

30. VE does not bind itself to these rules. Rather they are used to conduct the competition in a professional, fair and transparent manner. They may be updated from time to time. VE reserves the right to take any decision necessary at any point in time which is in the interests of protecting the integrity of itself, the sponsors, and the competition.

31. Neither VE nor the sponsor assume responsibility, and absolve themselves from any liability for any unforeseen circumstance, or grievance, harm or damage of any form, which may result directly or indirectly from the competition.

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