Reflecting on 20 years of CD's Unofficial Caption Contest

20 years is a long time.

One summer evening, sitting on the couch in the sunroom of my childhood home years before any current FIRST student participant was even thought of, I made a post on ChiefDelphi since I found a suitably weird photo. Little did I realize what was to come.

For 20 nonstop years, I’ve gotten a caption contest up each week. Over a thousand of them, and I only ever punked out on judging one of them. It became my calling card in many respects, an introduction to an amazing group of friends and acquaintances. It was its own way of tying together folks that otherwise might rarely cross paths. It was also the gateway drug to becoming a moderator here–making me one on the old vBulletin games forum was how Brandon could get me past its slow mode.

I’ve judged contests on three continents, through college, funerals, weddings, honeymoons, new jobs, global pandemics, blue banners, dark days, five or six different teams, and five different homes. It’s been a wild ride.

When Tom Scott posted his sendoff to a decade of weekly videos this past January, it got me thinking on the milestones I’d hit and would hit soon after. And now that I’ve officially worked twice as long (if at a fraction of the intensity), it’s time for the caption contest to take a break. And like Tom, probably not forever.

But you can call it a sign of the times, I suppose. 20 years ago, ChiefDelphi was our social media. I remember talking with George Wallace at Championship a couple years back and a SPAM kid was marveling at how we all knew everyone. Surprise! This was how. As more conventional social media supplanted forums and the sillier photos went from CD-Media posts to Instagram or just to ephemeral stories, the pools of both photos and users shrank. And as the FIRST world grew, things became more diffused; it’s been a hot minute since someone has submitted an entry in person. There was never any particular threshold where I’d decide to quit doing it, but it feels like the right time to call time.

Since I arrived at the decision over the last few weeks to put a bookmark in this, I’ve worked hard to compile an all-time leaderboard using 20 years of scoring spreadsheets. It took a fair bit of Excel-fu to get the older ones into the modern format, but who doesn’t love a challenge? Of course, 20 years of data invites some notes and disclaimers:

  • I have surely missed some username changes. I pinged Brandon as I was working on this, and to his knowledge there’s no master log of changes. I fixed the ones that stuck out.
  • For this all-time list, the sort is points, then average score, then alphabetical.

I’m a little amazed at this list and some of the folks who’ve paid these threads a visit. Multiple Woodie Flowers Award winners, founders of major FIRST suppliers, Dave Lavery in all his “casually mention a fish in the comments to stir them up” glory, random students who’ve gone on to great things–heck, Collin Fultz himself has a point to his name and tied for 639th place. 728 people entered at least one contest, by my count.

With that, the final scores for the first 20 years:

EricH 2814
GaryVoshol 2766
Wayne Doenges 2474
DonRotolo 2109
Taylor 1758
cgmv123 1697
efoote868 1288
GeeTwo 1092
Al Skierkiewicz 1064
rsisk 980
JaneYoung 921
gellnick 825
Travis Hoffman 771
dodar 722
Osby 580
Jim Wilks 500
Tomithy 462
Karibou 459
wgorgen 454
EricS-Team180 450
jaredhk 433
MissInformation 431
EddieMcD 429
Rich Wong 422
Squirrel2412 417
quin 358
kramarczyk 349
Leap 315
dlavery 313
bdaroz 312
rtfgnow 293
ctt956 289
KathieK 286
Andy Baker 282
Ryan Simpson 261
Gary Dillard 248
Tinnittin 246
Jay H 237 240
Koko Ed 228
rachelholladay 211
Barry Bonzack 208
rocketperson44 200
lingomaniac88 199
petercooperjr 195
skimoose 190
Bill_B 174
Hitchhiker 42 169
Dorienne 165
Cyberphil 163
Joe Matt 155
S.P.A.M.er 17 152
LuiTheFly 146
Ninja_Bait 140
AndyB 139
Ian_Curtis 136
Steve W 136
lukevanoort 135
InfernoX14 134
Katie_UPS 131
carpedav000 130
Bcahn836 127
delsaner 122
nehalita 121
Greg_Needel 117
Pooja Anil 115
bardd 114
kingc95 110
MARS_James 109
DCA Fan 109
Arefin Bari 107
Rich Kressly 105
M1KRONAUT 104
Jon Stratis 101
Bkeeneykid 95
Amanda_Morrison 94
PAR_WIG1350 92
EricKline 91
Jay Trzaskos 90
Mike_Schroeder 90
gixxy 89
Mr.Mascot 85
J.Warsoff 85
Alex_Cormier 85
BlondeNerd 83
Joe G. 80
Greencactus3 80
Mr. Pockets 79
TheRealJamesOo 78
dictionaria13 77
Elgin Clock 77
Goober!!! 77
mastachyra 76
Sperkowsky 76
Nessie 75
Littleboy 74
Pault 74
Andrew Blair 72
akoscielski3 72
ClayTownR 71
frcguy 71
Akash Rastogi 71
hamac2003 70
thatprogrammer 70
Ichlieberoboter 69
IndySam 68
kstl99 68
NatsirtD 67
Cuog 67
JVN 66
C_MacC 66
Andrew Lawrence 65
CIM 65
iPenguin 65
Karaoke 63
artdutra04 63
Jessica Boucher 62
SuperNerd256 61
Hiteak 61
BrendanB 60
Rick TYler 60
TheCascadeKid 59
Lil_Lavery 56
Mocat1530 56
Michelle Celio 56
orangemoore 56
Dave Scheck 54
SaltisVonWaltis 54
Tom Ore 54
raymaniac 54
jwallace15 52
Peck 52
Richardp 51
Molten 51
Tkwetzel 51
Schnabel 50
logank013 48
KarenH 48
Eugenia Gabrielov 48
Conor Ryan 47
Amicus1 46
George1902 46
FinIce 46
Mister_Juggles 46
GateRunner 46
Cody Carey 46
Vermeulen 46
Michelle 236 45
Richard Wallace 44
Aerosound 43
Matt Attallah 43
1derboy 43
Maggie Heaney 42
AustinShalit 42
Aidan S. 42
DanielBCR 41
Jay Money 1058 40
nitneylion452 40
KenWittlief 39
bobwrit 38
Shyra1353 37
JoshWilson 36
ljensen 35
Brandon1266 34
niklas674 34
SlaminSwimster 33
Kyle A 33
s3529 32
Aiden 32
Persnickety 32
jackTHEnerd 32
Jeff_Rodriguez 32
Anna B. 32
DohertyBilly 31
Brandon Martus 31
Cothron Theiss 31
Dan T. 31
NorviewsVeteran 31
taylort 31
Xzvrw2 31
Don Wright 30
cooker52 30
VGMasterShadow 30
Kyle45 30
brandonmcd 29
Squirrelrock 29
Danielle H 29
Jeff Waegelin 28
Lee Reid 3136 28
The_ShamWOW88 28
James1902 28
ajs2 28
Hess1113 28
snoman 27
marcusbernstein 27
jmanela 27
tpark747949 26
Matthew1998 26
EmileH 26
clonedcheese 25
npatony 25
typeusernamehere 25
smitikshah 24
WayCoolSuperDude 24
JustinCAD 24
Kevin Leonard 24
Ashley Christine 24
MagiC_PiKaChU 24
JackG 23
acdcfan259 23
Hallry 23
Dylan 23
Josh Drake 22
KelliV 22
RoboDesigners 22
anna~marie 22
Jane 22
Kyle 22
Zach Purser 21
Jacqui 21
Dan Swando 21
Cody C 21
Katie Reynolds 20
Gravity 20
Dillon Compton 20
Rohith Surampudi 20
Tim Delles 20
tStano 20
KaranY 20
Killerofkiller 20
Kyle Love 20
Mechanicalbrain 20
Pavan 20
Golfer4646 19
VanNerd 19
jblay 19
Tytus Gerrish 19
joshsmithers 19
Wetzel 19
Barngirl425 19
Darre_Bonfire 18
Mike Ciance 18
Andrew Rudolph 18
Diriye 18
Miketwalker 18
Navid Shafa 18
HedgeHogGal99 18
Daniel_LaFleur 18
Nuttyman54 18
Josh Goodman 18
Bill_Hancoc 18
Purple 17
Cynette 17
Thegathering 17
typharn91 17
Astronouth7303 17
MaxMax161 16
Alan8or 16
tjf 16
A Dozen Question Marks 16
Frenchie461 16
Colin P 16
Water Bandit23 16
Zyik 16
2348humanplayer 15
Thayer McCollum 15
FiMFanatic 15
The Cyborg 15
Pat McCarthy 15
RMiller 15
Denman 15
Tottanka 15
Lions for First 15
Freddy Schurr 15
ollien 14
Jacob Bendicksen 14
Paul_R 14
bobbysq 14
gcgeobuff 14
Marc P. 14
OtherCaleb 14
Robo hottie71 14
FRC4ME 14
Jay O’Donnell 14
Rangel(kf7fdb) 14
Andrew_L 13
Morgan_Gillespie 13
DRAKE343 13
65_Xero_Huskie 13
Dr Theta 13
brrian27 12
Sanket Nayak 12
FoXy92 12
Attention 12
fuddster 12
jackoleary 12
Kaitlynmm569 12
Thequackmaster 12
topace103 12
dubiousSwain 12
Kevin Kolodziej 12
mdituri 12
Tom Schindler 12
Enigma’s puzzle 12
Tiffany34990 12
ThaineP 11
Libby K 11
Poseidon1671 11
DanDon 11
Daniel Brim 11
Kristian Calhoun 11
Alex Pelan 11
JohnFogarty 11
whytheheckme 11
tim_reiher 11
Kjhobin 11
BurningQuestion 10
JoeXIII_007 10
JT.Roschak 10
Mike 10
troy_dietz 10
Cake 10
ccdub 10
gyroscopeRaptor 10
Mir-A 10
tanman172000 10
TGurlik 10
Zealii 10
3dude_2231 10
Matt Krass 10
robotcanuck1676 10
RogerR 10
Cyberguy34000 10
CHI DONG08 10
Zroegn 9
Ashley 9
Aignam 9
Beth Sweet 9
Sciencenerd 9
Spiffizzle 9
kenavt 9
basicxman 9
andrew348 9
Can1s_Major997 9
Owen_Busler 8
boomergeek 8
Whippet 8
asid61 8
maxnz 8
N— L------- 8
PeterR 8
RoboMom 8
Irishninja 8
Katy 8
Peter_Matteson 8
Richard 8
JamizzleHavok13 8
Vivelation 8
MattD1Drift 8
WinterPoet 7
Alexa Stott 7
Ken Patton 7
WillNess 7
Bharat Nain 7
Jack Jones 7
Josh Fox 7
x86_4819 7
Djalamose 7
JosephC 7
Meli W. 7
Spears312 7
Q. Sheets 7
3175student17 6
Stephi Rae 6
Bmongar 6
Brandy836 6
D_Price 6
Dibit1010 6
Mika1820 6
Poseidon5817 6
Ringo5tarr 6
Rosiebotboss 6
TheFlash 6
TheRohan 6
Tito H. 6
白巨人 6
Adam Richards 6
O’Sancheski 6
Sakura141 6
sarah_storer 6
Sciguy125 6
ZACH P. 6
Cody Burd 6
TierraDelDiablo 6
zinefer 6
Danny Diaz 5
DuckGWR 5
ohowe 5
Mr_Tatorscout 5
TheGamingR0BOT 5
Eric W. Jones 5
George56 5
huff_dragon 5
Imajie 5
Phoenix Spud 5
Stephen Kowski 5
Ewankoff 5
Joe_P. 5
Kusha 5
trilogism 5
whlspacedude 5
Wired_Mike 5
J93Wagner 5
ash4fun 4
Big-b 4
Bob Potts 4
Charlie.bishop 4
Daniel Vijay 4
David_IsMe 4
Duoquinquagintillion 4
ellieheaney21 4
euhlmann 4
fargus111111111 4
Gavatron77 4
GoalkeeperBoss 4
Gregor 4
Isserlis 4
Jake177 4
Jared341 4
Joey Jordan 4
LordTalps 4
MoistRobot 4
notmattlythgoe 4
OroArmor 4
OwenDotCode 4
Protronie 4
rlindsay 4
SassyJapan 4
SnapDragon 4
The Doctor 4
ThunderStruck 4
Z-Ali 4
Zagar 4
AndyBare 4
bduddy 4
Ben Lauer 4
Chief Pride 4
Corey Balint 4
CourtneyB 4
IMDWalrus 4
IronicDeadBird 4
Lisa Perez 4
Meaubry 4
Tyler_Olds 4
Yan Wang 4
Cdr1122334455 4
cobrawanabe1699 4
Herbblood 4
Invictus3593 4
LittleSwimmer14 4
SamS0Fa33O 4
SizzelChest330 4
SSMike 4
AllenGregoryIV 3
ari_2412 3
bobjones227 3
Botsup 3
David Kelly 3
Derek Smith 3
ijensen 3
jgw 3
Otaku 3
Skywalkar 3
BandChick 3
Bemis 3
Brianna 3
Budda648 3
DJ Fluck 3
Dsisk 3
Eria4044 3
EricRobodox 3
FinleyM 3
Flak-Bait 3
JBotAlan 3
Karinka13 3
Kayla13 3
LemmingBot 3
OmerSD 3
rookierunner 3
Ryan Foley 3
Sanddrag 3
themccannman 3
theprgramerdude 3
Vale 3
ZakuAce 3
114ManualLabor 3
BeltSanderRocks 3
Boe 3
CNettles11 3
Courtneyb1023 3
FlyingCrayons 3
GillSt.Bernards 3
Kage 3
rulesall2 3
safiq10 3
stundt1 3
11Mort11 2
346CADmen 2
abigailthefox 2
ALIBI 2
Andrew Schreiber 2
Ankur-Raghavan 2
Anthony4004 2
Ares 2
Ari423 2
arichman1257 2
AsianManSteve 2
Austin H 2
bbensel 2
Boydean 2
Brandon_L 2
Brian M 2
BrianAtlanta 2
Brittan 2
Bryan D 2
bsimmons 2
BuddyB309 2
cad321 2
CalTran 2
Chris136 2
ChrisH 2
ChristianB1741 2
Cleanse 2
cmarley 2
Corn_Fed_Stats 2
Cory 2
DaBruteForceGuy 2
debbiemusselman 2
dradel 2
E Dawg 2
Ecarlson 2
edesirim 2
Emiliano6181 2
EnderofDragon 2
Eryl2000 2
Fields 2
flameout 2
Graduns340 2
GraySwandir-75 2
Greeneh 2
Hachiban VIII 2
holygrail 2
Ian4467 2
IKE 2
JacobD 2
Jdiwnab 2
Jeff_Rice 2
jfish872 2
JKBear331 2
Joe Ross 2
Jonathan Norris 2
Joshua May 2
kawelch 2
kelef 2
kevinkohls 2
kjolana1124 2
KTorak 2
Leon Bass 2
Levi Madden 2
Levi_Blumer 2
MattR501 2
Meredith343MiM 2
minc3r 2
Mini-D67 2
MOCTA1189 2
MyraJ 2
nickyflash 2
Nobrakes8 2
nxtmonkeys 2
obselete1 2
OMGRobots1 2
qscgy 2
Quarked 2
quarky 2
Rival 2
Rman1923 2
rtomp 2
Ryan_Brown_6032 2
RyanN 2
Sagar_Vyas 2
Sammy 2
Santosh 2
seans341 2
sgeckler 2
ShaneP 2
sishu7 2
sk2983 2
Sparky Jell-0 2
stannenbaum7 2
Strategic 2
Swan217 2
Tetraman 2
ThatSoftwareGuy 2
The Pre 2
The_Flames 2
thedjchi 2
thomasweese 2
Tom Bottiglieri 2
Tomasz Bania 2
Torvando 2
vhcook 2
wawa24 2
Weeks1983 2
WesleyK 2
Zflash 2
1902_Battery_SGT 2
Alex Burman 2
BJC 2
Brad Hanel 2
Bryce Paputa 2
Daisy 2
fluffy 2
In1g0M0nt0ya 2
Jack K. 2
Jeremiah Johnson 2
jmb226 2
jspatz1 2
Liz C 2
m1506m 2
MetalJacket 2
Mrs.Drake343 2
plnyyanks 2
popnbrown 2
Pwilczynski 2
Raumiester2010 2
Rohan_DHS 2
Team1591 2
TOTCoach 2
XenoPhobic 2
~Cory~ 1
114Klutz 1
2403_Andrew 1
461gopher 1
548swimmer 1
Aaron Lussier 1
Bill Gold 1
blakcheez 1
blaxbb 1
Bruce Newendorp 1
Carol 1
CarpeDiem 1
cman23 1
Coco The Monkey 1
Collin Fultz 1
computerteen643 1
crafty 1
cvessalico 1
cziggy343 1
Dchandler 1
DevilChild 1
dman14 1
DoronS 1
Dubious Elise 1
Duke461 1
Eldarion 1
ElfMaster 1
eshteyn 1
ExarKun666 1
FF_1610_EMT 1
First degree 1
GCentola 1
Gdkoopa 1
gracie. 1
Graham Donaldson 1
Grim Tuesday 1
GUI 1
Herodotus 1
Hillale 1
i_am_Doug 1
Ioski 1
JakeGallagher 1
jdh042397 1
Jeff 888 1
John Wanninger 1
Kelly 1
Kohala2460 1
Kuhnahtt 1
KyleGilbert45 1
Lledargo 1
looneylin 1
MATT_kaplan108 1
mesamb1 1
MoeMom 1
mom-bot 1
Mr. A 1
Mrblack298 1
msimon785 1
mtaman02 1
N7UJJ 1
Netman85am204 1
nighterfighter 1
NoRemorse 1
P. Fuller 1
Paxaplenty 1
rcmolloy 1
Rees2001 1
robokiller 1
RoboMadi 1
Roque1983 1
Sam Drake 1
Saru29 1
Schmoebot 1
SlimBoJones 1
SparxProgrammer 1
Stephen of REX 1
StephLee 1
Stormnnormn 1
Superllama12 1
SushaK 1
technoL 1
Termite233 1
Timmyd 1
TJ92 1
tony.dalia.195 1
ttldomination 1
waiakea2024 1
Wilshire 1
Worldbringer 1
youngWilliam14 1

And, as is tradition, I dug up the stats.

Most Wins: GaryVoshol (80)
Most Seconds: EricH (82)
Most Burn Awards: EricH (115)
The Jane Young Mr. Clean Award: delsaner (122 points without a burn award. Jane herself had one burn award at some point, back in the earlier days before I was entering individual entries and having the spreadsheet do the tabulation and sorting for me.)
Always The Bridesmaid Award: Hitchhiker 42 (169 points without a win)
Best Average Score (min. 50 points): Leap put up 315 points on just 66 entries, an average of 4.77 points per entry. LuiTheFly scored 146 points on 35 entries, an also-impressive 4.17 points per entry. Joe G. had simpler math, scoring 80 off of 20 for an even 4.00 points per entry.
Most Entries: Wayne Doenges holds the all-time entry count record, with 1012 entries out of 1040 contests. EricH is close behind, with 1007. GaryVoshol entered 987, over 200 more than the next user down.

Whether you entered a thousand of them or simply lurked to see what lore I could dig out of the CD-Media archives, thank you for joining me on this adventure.

64 Likes

Always knew I was average, proud to be the best at it.

5 Likes

“ 20 years ago, ChiefDelphi was our social media.”

So very true! CD was our social media before social media.

I will freely admit I wasn’t a huge caption contest participant even when I was active here, but I was pleased to find myself not all the way at the bottom of the list.

Congrats on a very long run!

5 Likes

If you ask me, @Wihy, @AmitSucher and @ItayKauf, nothing’s changed!

5 Likes

so real :fire::fire:

3 Likes

So true lmao

2 Likes

I can confirm that likes on chief are more important than likes on IG

23 Likes

I’m curious to know, how long is your caption contest photo request log?

1 Like

Cheers to Billfred! Thank you for your consistent, entertaining, organized and encouraging facilitation of this contest.

Often I would use your Caption Contest post to distract me from something more serious or concerning. Your effort added levity to make my work days more enjoyable.

Thank you!

Sincerely,
Andy B.

26 Likes

Thank you, Billfred, for a wonderful run. Considering this started a couple years before I joined CD, this has been a part of CD that I looked forward to every week. And I guess persistence pays off - enter enough times and you’re bound to win a few. Thanks for the memories.

11 Likes

Great, now I can get a life :grinning:
Thanks, BillFred for all the Caption Contests.
Hope to see you back soon.

8 Likes

This was STILL happening? Whoa. Many great times, many years ago. Bravo, Bilfred.

Had to remember my account name and reset my password, just so I could give you the kudos you earned.

16 Likes

Truly the end of an era. Just for fun I went back and the first caption contest my original username was mentioned in. Turns out it was 19 years ago (yikes), and you gave me an honorable mention, although reading it now out of context it does not seem particularly amusing. Is there a way to find out what the picture was from the old CD-media link, or did all that get lost when we switched forum software?

1 Like

Cool data and a lot of old names and friends on this list; some long gone like seeing the last time someone logged into steam or Xbox live but definitely triggered some memories within.

Thanks for all the efforts on this and the service to the community. With all this nostalgia I bet you that Carnack predicts: This will come back sometime, somewhere and I’m sure many are Looking Forward to that time. You are an unsung FIRST Hero :shushing_face:.

13 Likes

20 years! Billfred, you had to be a baby when you started this.

Happy to be on this list :D. :clap: Billfred :clap:

2 Likes

PLEASE tell me the last in-person entry wasn’t the one I wrote on a chunk of 2012 basketball (we’re about to start getting students in FRC that weren’t even born when that happened).

The caption contest was my gateway into CD’s social network. Absolutely legendary and even though it’s been a few years since I’ve contributed, this announcement feels like a dear friend is moving across the country. Thanks for the years of laughs and many friends, Billfred!

(is this the part where Dave jumps into this thread just to say “so long, and thanks for all the fish!”???)

Hit the nail on the head there…I still refer to some people in my head as their AIM screennames.

9 Likes

I love this post, and am proud to be listed with double digit points (17) on your list! You’ve captured the best of my CD experience here as well! Congrats on 20 years and it was awesome seeing you at Champs!

Cynette