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Highway to Hilarity: A Caption Contest Avatar Guide!


by ayakae

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     Introduction

     As an avid avatar collector, I’ve seen my share of avatars that seem almost impossible to obtain. Stamp avatars that are worth millions and millions and millions of Neopoints? Check. Random avatars that won’t give you the avatar no matter how hard you beg for them? Check. Game avatars with ridiculously high score requirements? Hello, Petpetsitter!

     But, if you had to ask me what the hardest avatar I had ever obtained was, I definitely wouldn’t say that it was a game avatar. I would not even say that it was a random avatar, or a stamp avatar. No. Nonono. If you’d ask me what the most difficult, what the most stressful avatar I had the utmost displeasure to obtain was, my immediate answer would be the Caption Contest – Hilarious avatar. And no, I am not joking.

     To obtain this avatar, you are required to place at least fifth place overall in the Caption Contest, and in a world of people who are going for the same avatar you are, competition is extremely fierce and tight. Believe me when I say that going for this avatar would probably be one of the hardest things you would ever do. It will stress you out more than you would ever believe a Caption Contest could be capable of doing, and will leave you extremely exhausted by the time it is over.

     Sounds terrible? Yes, quite so. But if you’re like me and do it for the love of avatars, you suck it up and do what you got to do, anyway. That’s just the way life on this website goes, I suppose.

     You’re going to be needing all the time you can get for this, so I’m telling you upfront that if you think you can’t dedicate at least a couple of hours to this endeavor, perhaps you should wait a bit until you have some time to spare. This contest is incredibly anxiety-inducing and will probably do considerable damage to your sleeping schedule, so if you think you can’t handle it, don’t push yourself. There will always be future contests to participate in. I myself have participated in three consecutive Caption Contests before finally winning a coveted Top 5 spot on my third month of competing.

     I have learned various tips and tricks during those three months of competing, and it is my hope that I would be able to help out other people who have yet to obtain Caption Contest – Hilarious through this article. So, if you think you’re ready to embark on this crazy adventure, read on.

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     Getting in the Contest

     Now, the first step to winning the Caption Contest is actually getting in. to do this, you’d obviously need some captions for the monthly image. If you would like to take a look at the current month’s image (and perhaps submit some captions if you just wanna hop right in), please click here. New images are released at the beginning of the month with captions being available for voting around the third week of the month.

     Make sure that the captions you submit are relevant to the image at hand. It’s called the caption contest for a reason, people, you’re supposed to be describing whatever’s pictured! Look closely at the picture and ask yourself these questions:

     1. Who are the characters in the picture?

     2. What are the characters doing?

     3. Where is the image set?

     Once you’ve got all answers established, all you’ve got to do thereafter is make a caption that fits the bill and is witty enough to catch TNT’s eye! And honestly, don’t fret too much if you think you’re not funny enough. There’s no such thing as not being funny enough as we all have different senses of humor. I remember that during my second month, TNT picked the caption I liked the least while on my third month, TNT picked the caption I liked the best, so there’s definitely no pattern as to what kind of captions get picked more often. Make your jokes as corny, as lame, and as facepalm-worthy as possible—there’s always a shot you’ll get chosen!

     These are some other tips I have to offer about submitting captions:

     1. Pop references and inside jokes are your friend.

     We all have interests outside of Neopets, so don’t be afraid to break the fourth wall, people! You’ll be sure to grab the people’s attention when you make a reference to their favorite song, movie, book, TV show, etc. In the same way, referencing inside jokes about things going on Neopets can be just as funny, such as mentioning annoying random events we’ve all had before or cracking a joke about this being your nth time joining the Caption Contest. Anything that can make others relate to your caption is definitely a bonus.

     2. Be seen as much as possible.

     No one really knows how and when TNT chooses the captions to be displayed, so try to submit as many captions as you can for a higher chance of getting in. I personally submitted captions every other day.

     Also, try to diversify the captions you’re submitting. There’s no use trying to submit a caption that’s really just not funny at all multiple times—if it’s not funny, it’s not funny! At least if you submit more than one caption, there’s a chance one you come up with will eventually tickle TNT’s fancy.

     3. Look for the stranger things in life.

     Sometimes TNT puts the darndest things in their Caption Contest images, so don’t be afraid to poke fun at them! I remember getting in a Caption Contest once because one of the petpets in the picture actually didn’t exist at all, LOL.

     4. Be persistent.

     If you don’t get in one month, try the next month. Again, there’s always going to be future contests you can participate in, so don’t be discouraged about not getting in. Instead, support the ones that did get in as they’ll be needing all the help they can get!

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     Advertising for Votes

     The good news? Hooray, you’ve made it to the Caption Contest! The bad news? This was the easiest stop of the process! We’ve only just gotten started, folks.

     Winners of the Caption Contest are determined by the number of votes cast for each caption, so it’s extremely important to garner as many votes as possible from as many people you can. By far the best way of doing this is utilizing the Neoboards—they’re always full of people hanging and lurking around, so making yourself visible to them and being on as many boards as possible is a great way of getting some votes.

     Start by giving yourself a font that advertises your caption entry, perhaps including a little message telling people to spare a vote if they can. This way, you wouldn’t have to manually paste the link to the voting page every single time you post. From there, it’s just a matter of posting wherever and whenever you can with the link on your signature and hoping someone sees it and spares a vote.

     Now, I am not telling you to be all up in their face on them. Spamming is definitely a huge no-no during the competition, and so is just begging for votes outright. It’s incredibly rude towards the people who are seeking actual and fruitful conversation and can get you into trouble with TNT for spamming and harassment.

     Instead, discuss your ideas, thoughts and opinions on whatever the board you are on is about, and make sure you’re actually keeping the conversation flowing. Just posting ‘good luck’ on several boards or going off-tangent and starting to talk about the Caption Contest out of the blue contributes absolutely nothing to the discussion at hand and can be considered spam. Your posts having content is extremely important and not only is a good way to get some votes, but also is a great source of enlightening discourse.

     Another way of using the Neoboards to your advantage is to post topics that can be helpful for others. Is the Snowager asleep or the Turmaculus awake? Inform people! Is Tarla giving away prizes from her warehouse? Make a post on the boards! People tend to forget when these time-restricted events actually happen, and reminders are usually appreciated by those who would like to get a prize or avatar from them.

     You could also be helpful by volunteering to do quests for people. As you may already know, being on a quest prohibits the use of the Shop Wizard and Super Shop Wizard, so users tend to come on the boards and ask for help from others who can use them. Send them links to the shops with the items they need to help them out, or perhaps just make one board where people can post what they need and you can look for them. I know multiple people who have gathered so many votes just by doing this—this method is certainly very effective, and would probably be a preferred option for those who are not very fond of interacting with strangers.

     Another good way of getting votes is by having a reliable support group, or friends that you chat and interact with regularly. In my case, my support group was the people that I feed Kadoaties with on the regular, though a support group can take the form of your Altador Cup team members, guild members and others. They are the people you can count on to consistently vote for you and can be a source of comfort, knowing that they’re voting for you every so often and trying to keep you afloat even when you’re not around.

     If you don’t have a circle of friends, make some! I made quite a few new acquaintances while advertising by simply going to boards I normally would never post on. The Caption Contest is definitely a very good way to make friends as it encourages you to come out of your shell and socialize with other people.

     Here are some other tips about getting votes:

     1. Always be on the lookout for when voting period starts.

     TNT does not send you a Neomail to tell you that you are part of the competition, and the downside to this is that you have to check back every single day during the usual time captions get released to find out if you made it in. The upside, however, is that you can get a decent head start if you start advertising even an hour before your competitors do—heck, some of the other competitors don’t even realize they’re part of the contest until several days later. Remember, every second counts in this fast-paced competition!

     And in relation to this…

     2. Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.

     Being hundreds of votes away from your competitors does not mean you are automatically going to win. Absolutely do not slack off halfway through the competition because you’re thinking, “Eh, they’re never going to catch up to me.” No. Don’t do it. Anything can happen with this competition, so maintain focus throughout the entire voting period. I’ve seen people claw their way up to the top in a mere day or two—don’t underestimate how some badly some people want to win the competition.

     Additionally, there is no set end to the Caption Contest so don’t expect it to end right on the dot. While the competition is said to end the first day of the next month, the Caption Contest has been known to end later on in the day or even several days later. The contest does not automatically close, so I’m afraid you’ll have to just keep going until the voting period finally closes before relaxing.

     3. You can vote for yourself!

     This may seem self-explanatory, but there are some people who forget they can actually vote for themselves. Whenever you’re busy with real-life things and can’t do your usual advertising, at least vote for yourself when you get a chance.

     4. Be on time.

     Unlike the Beauty Contest, you (and your friends) can vote as many times as you’d like in the Caption Contest as long as it’s every four hours. Cast your vote and then immediately set a timer for four hours, voting again once the timer goes off. Rinse and repeat.

     5. Be persistent.

     The same rule from the previous section applies to this as well. There will be competitors that may have a bigger support group rallying behind them than you do, or have more time on their hands than you do, or are more desperate to get the avatar than you are. Every month is different, and some months may be harder than others. If you tried hard to get in the Top 5 but didn’t quite make it, it’s not your fault—you simply entered at the wrong time. Who knows? The next month may be the right one, and in the meantime, you can expand your support group for the next time you make it in.

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     Taking Care of Yourself

     You may think that I’m exaggerating about how difficult this contest is—indeed, I have had quite a few people come up to me and say that it’s ridiculous how worked up I am over a contest. But honestly, it’s just one of those things you absolutely would not understand until you’re actually there doing it. Believe me, if any of the past competitors are anything like me, they would find it just as ridiculous as I do. There’s no rational explanation as to why we stay up too late just to advertise, or worry about the competition even while we’re away from the computer—we just do. We’re just caught in the heat of the moment. And in times like this, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself and not let yourself get carried away.

     First off, and as I mentioned before, you need to know if you can commit to the competition even before you start submitting captions. Advertising is a very taxing ordeal—it takes time and effort to make yourself visible to plausible voters, and I would like to emphasize again that time is of the essence. If you think you’d be busy doing something else at the end of the month, I would suggest not doing it at all lest you overstrain yourself. This also applies to whether you’re in the mood or not—if you don’t feel like going through this, then don’t do it.

     Secondly, give yourself some time rest during the voting period. There’s no use trying to advertise when you can barely keep your eyes focused on the computer screen. Besides, there are periods of inactivity when majority of the userbase is asleep, anyway. It’s highly doubtful that you’re going to be surpassed by several hundreds of votes in that timeframe. Afford yourself several hours of relaxation—take a nap, go outside, play another game and come back when you feel up for it again.

     Third, you don’t have to do this alone. Learn to trust your support group and know that they’re there for you. They probably want you to win just as much as you do and will help you keep afloat whenever you’re gone or will not allow you to fall back so far behind, at the very least. Rely on them and hope they understand you being all over the place.

     Fourth, harbor no ill-feelings during and after the contest. Remember, this is a competition to be the best, and there will be a bit of toe-stepping here and there. Everyone has the same window of opportunity and giving it everything they’ve got, so try not to fault anyone for doing the same thing you are trying to do and being better at it.

     Lastly, try to have fun. At the end of the day, the Caption Contest is literally about cracking jokes and being witty, and how ironic would it be to just be sad and mad throughout the entire process? You’re meeting new people, making new friends, expanding your horizons and visiting boards you’ve never been to in your life… it’s actually quite fun if you think about it. Plus, you get a participation prize regardless of whether or not you made it to the Top 5 anyway, so all the time and effort you spent won’t be for naught. Maintaining this positive attitude even after the contest either ensures that you’ll pick yourself right back up and try again if you end up not obtaining the avatar, or leaves you with happy memories if you do end up obtaining the avatar. It’s a win-win situation!

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     Ending on a High Note

     When everything is said and done, give yourself a huge pat on the back. Congratulations! Whether you actually won the avatar or not, you gave it your absolute best effort and must be commended for it. I’m proud of anyone who comes out of that competition in one piece. Sleep for the next couple hours or so, indulge in your favorite food or drink, do a little happy dance with your pets—whatever it is you want to do after all that, you deserve it and much, much more. Well done!

     If you had won the avatar: a massive congratulations to you! You got what you came for and came out strong, and that’s definitely something to be proud of.

     If you didn’t win the avatar: I’m incredibly sorry that you didn’t get the avatar, but that doesn’t take away that you did your absolute best. Hopefully you learn from this experience and are much more knowledgeable for when you join the contest next time. Never give up, you will definitely win it someday!

     Additionally, regardless of whether you won the avatar or not, give your support group and anybody else who had voted for you a thankful message or even a little gift as a token of gratitude. Their votes and support helped you on your road to the Caption Contest – Hilarious avatar, after all. Besides, they had to deal with you as you stressed over the competition, and that’s always something that needs to be recognized. :P

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     Conclusion

     I really hope you’ve learned something from this article! This was based largely on my experiences going for the Caption Contest – Hilarious avatar, and I’m hoping this can be applied to all future entrants to the Caption Contest hereafter. It was a whirlwind of emotions, and while I certainly can’t say that I can look at my newly-acquired avatar without bringing back flashback memories, the Caption Contest was a fascinating experience to have learned so much from.

 
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