Psst… Private Contests at 99designs

July 24, 2008

Sourcing your design work from 99designs is something to be proud of, but there are times when you don’t want the world to know where or how you sourced your logo.  We totally understand, so we’re excited to now offer a “Private Contest” upgrade which will allow contest holders to run their contests in privacy.

Here’s the low down…

Private contests are only visible to members who are logged into  Any old chump browsing the site won’t see it – they won’t even be able to search for it.  Public search engines such as and will also be prevented from indexing your contest listing. For all intents and purposes, a private contest doesn’t exist unless you’re a logged in member of

Designers — please make sure you’re logged in to at all times so you don’t miss out on all the private contests.

Mum’s the word!

31 Responses to “Psst… Private Contests at 99designs”

  1. Ten Dimes Says:

    Another great addition! Great work guys!

  2. Vishal Says:

    This is the best thing that has happened to 99designs.Something to cheer about for all the designers.

  3. kym Says:

    this is a great feature
    wondering how you can extend this perhaps

    keeping the submissions hidden would seem the next step?
    also a by invitation only contest, so noone can see anything of the project except those invited to see?

    What do you think?

    Im lookign forward to outsourcing some design work in teh near future but dont want my client to see that i outsourced having a private contest theyd never find it…

  4. sean Says:

    yes now when are we getting a friends list

  5. Nadia P Says:

    Are these private contests differentiated in any way? (in the contest list).

  6. Paul Annesley Says:

    Nadia P: while logged in, there’s currently no visual distinction, but we’ll add that next week :)

  7. Nadia P Says:

    Thanks Paul. I guess you guys deserve the weekend off :)

  8. kym Says:

    yeah a friends list would be a great idea
    mainly for me to file designers whose work i like so then i can makje sure they see my contest…
    at the momeht i guess id private mesage them but does lead into my request above for a priivate contest where its invite only…?
    i want to keep it private mainly so my clients wont see im outsorucing the work…
    maybe a bit paranoid but dont want them possibly seeing i charged them $400 and paid $300 for someone to create it:) baah


  9. Mr. T Says:

    Terrific! Thanks for the hard work guys. :)

    Now, any word about invite-only contests? Even unofficially. ;)

  10. pegatinas Says:

    I’m so with kym regarding the hidden submissions. I can’t wait for that. I’m hoping that’s a project in the works.

  11. Mr. T Says:

    Inviting designers is on the cards by courtesy of Paul:

    I don’t know invite-only contests though, but it Looks closer now. :D

  12. U know what would be a cool feature–and maybe this isn’t the right place to put it since you have a forum for this, but I’ll say it anyway–crowd-sourcing the comments you receive to anyone, as an option. So there would need to be filters to filter these comments in or out, but it would be cool if there was a little more throughout the site to upsell other–maybe non designers–commenting on your designs.

  13. ZZZzzz Says:

    What is the point for that when alomost every now and then you guys work on site AND I CANT LOG IN :( and submit my design.Please finish fast what ever you are working so i can start submiting…..

  14. Paul Annesley Says:

    ZZZzzz: we’re always working on the site, but not in a way that stops anybody from logging in.

    Is anybody else having similar problems? We haven’t had any reports. If it continues, please let us know so that we can look further into it.

  15. secondgig Says:

    kym while I can understand you wanting to keep certain things from your clients I do believe it’s quite underhanded of you to say that you don’t want them to see your outsourcing the work , at least you should be able to give credit where it’s due.

  16. Ski Says:

    I have been waiting for this for a long time. This is extremely great for me and my clients and other non authorized users trying to rip of quality designs from talented people.
    I will be definitely using this feature for some of my contests.
    99designs – you’ve allowed me to sleep in peace once again. :)

  17. Nadia P Says:

    @secondgig – I think that’s a bit tough on Kym. Many web developers outsource certain aspects of their work. I know I do when it comes to dynamic work, I’m a designer/coder, not a back end programmer (like CMS etc). Why does the client have to know that the work was been outsourced? as long the work for the client is up to scratch, completed on time, and they believe that the work was completed by one of your ‘team’, what’s the harm and why would it be underhanded??

    I also sub contract for other developers as well and generally there is a NDA in place and I don’t get credit for the work. What do I care, my client gets his work done and I get paid… why do I need to get credit for it?

  18. secondgig Says:

    Nadia , outsourcing is fine but the client should know that that is the case , the problem I have is someone taking credit for doing the work, maybe it was just the way kym’s post was worded but I believe that if someone outsources something then the client should know that that person didn’t create the work.

    If your a developer that outsources design work i see no problem in taking your cut for managing and sourcing that work , just make sure that your client understands this and what you are doing for them.

    What really gets me annoyed is when someone runs a contest and doesn’t quite tell everyone that it is for someone else , it wastes the designers time and efforts when they put in the work for someone who doesn’t even have the final say on who wins.

    What I am trying to get at here is that while having private contests is ok using the feature to keep information away from your clients and designers is underhanded and doesn’t do anyone any good and people should be careful about dealing with this kind of situation.

    Contest holders should be upfront with what they are doing and state that they are outsourcing the work for someone else , this will at least give designers an idea of how to approach the contest.

  19. Nadia P Says:

    “Contest holders should be upfront with what they are doing and state that they are outsourcing the work for someone else , this will at least give designers an idea of how to approach the contest.”

    I’d say that the majority of contests held here (I speak from the webpage design area mostly here -don’t have much to do with the logo area) are for ‘others’ not for the contest holder themselves… so my question to you:

    What difference does it make whether the work is for the contest holder themselves or for ‘their client’? How would you approach the contest differently and why?

  20. secondgig Says:

    I’m mainly speaking from the logo design area nadia so I guess with web page design it would be different but the same rules would apply.

    The problem is feedback, I’ve had it before when the CH has loved the designs , marked them 5 stars and I have done a lot of revisions , only for them to say their client didn’t like the designs and my work was a waste of time, this is one problem.

    The second is uncertainty, this is a lot of work to do heads up and the problem here is that if you don’t know where you stand or how the CH is going to handle the submissions from the contest when presenting them to the client the designer would have problems assertaining how to design and play the contest out.

    When approaching the contest I tend to look over sevveral factors , generally the CH’s comments, brief and star ratings already assigned, if I know that the CH is the one making the decision I am then willing to put in the time if my designs are liked.

    If I don’t know what the CH is doing or half way through they say it’s for someone else then I have a problem as I generally would leave the contest and withdraw my entries.

    The rules and guidelines for the contest should be well laid out, the CH should state that they are outsourcing or holding the contest on behalf of another, this gives designers the security to enable them to decide how many designs to do , what they are going to do about revisions and decide how much time they are going to put into the contest, there are also issues with deadlines and submission to the client.

    I have seen contests where the CH has stated that no more entries are needed but didn’t give a date as to when they would be submitting the designs to the client (admittingly he did state they were for someone else), this could have lead to designers wasting time because the designs they submitted were after the CH had submitted designs to the client.

    What I am trying to get across here is the fact that CH’s who are outsourcing need to make that clear to the designers, we are the ones helping you out here, we deserve recgonition and to know whats going on.

  21. ulahts Says:

    @secondgig – true, Ch that outsource their work – i assume it’s a 70% of the CH arround – tend to lead in a dead end some of the designers. But anyway, without a percentage of adventure nobody can live. I think that is a matter that will never stop in outsourcing ;)

    And as Nadia said: “What difference does it make whether the work is for the contest holder themselves or for ‘their client’? How would you approach the contest differently and why?”.


    On the other hand a minor problem could be soon major. I have a few of the contests in my profile page where the awarded designer is a very new one – or at least he started his account a little after the CH’s sign in date – and i have never see them online since then.
    But again, there are still in minority.
    A Forum is needed and a topic like suspicious contest winning is absolutely demanding, not open for discussions but for moderation and investigation.

  22. Rodney Says:

    Great idea. Thanks for implementing it! I was coming here to request it via uservoice and to see if the guaranteed contests had be automated yet.

    One thing that I’ve seen with other crowdsourcing websites is the option to have the contest holder pay a higher amount (and/or a membership fee) to have their contests hidden AND to keep the winning design out of the designers portfolio.

    It is very common for web design companies to outsource work to other designers. If you are great at getting clients, and you have an overflow of work, I don’t think it’s a travesty of justice to want to keep the clients understanding that your “company” is providing the services. That’s what odesk,rentacoder,elance,guru are all about.

  23. jeiru Says:

    I am loving the changes 99d is taking. Five STARS to 99D team.

  24. Paul Annesley Says:

    Thanks jeiru, and thanks for the feedback everyone!

  25. Scathmere Says:

    Good idea, but I was really hoping this would be about “private entry contests”.


  26. Anderson Says:

    So it is not really private in that any member can see it, not just designers? This is the one reason we don’t use the site more… :(

  27. Rodney Says:

    “So it is not really private in that any member can see it, not just designers?”

    I agree, it would be more private if only other *designers* could see it and not just anybody that’s logged in.

    Sometimes fellow contest holders are also competitors in your field, so by allowing them to see your contest can tip their hat to your upcoming projects.

  28. you guys do a great work behind the scenes ;)

  29. xs Says:

    ok, I understand that the so called “design agencies” outsource their work because they do nothing and pay the designer only a small part of what their client is giving them. I’ve come to accept that, but I don’t like when the CH is trying to hide this from his client and pass my work as his…

    This site should be about open design contests, and should encourage sign-up of contest holders that need the work done for themseves, not people who outsource work from their clients.

    99designs is starting to look more and more like rentacoder, getafreelancer and other ripoff sites like that…

  30. contemporaneous Says:

    So where does this all fit in regards to the winning designer being able to show their piece in their portfolio for other potential clients to see? Some of the other folks raised a good point, mentioning that it could be other designers outsourcing work to these contests and claiming the design as their own idea. This can result in copyright hell — you have two designers laying claim to being the originators of the design. I don’t really have a problem with even transferring my claim to being the designer of a piece, but it stands to reason that it should come at an added expense.

    This sounds like a recipe for copyright hell, if only abused just a little.

  31. jeff Says:

    this is a great idea and will help us so much so that it can protect privacy

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