Dogging and used condoms aside (never, ever, ever thought I would start a comment on here like that )...
Where is the divide between folks who will demonstrate the aptitude and attitude that determines the altitude that’s required to enter the IAPLC/EAPLC and those that can’t? Trick question; there are no prior requirements to enter.
But it does demand a broad set of skills which most people don’t currently have on their own for whatever reason. With a bias toward a community spirit, reckon you could upskill a lot of folk with a more friendly attitude and organised communication regarding the required skill sets. This argument sits aside from whether you value aquascaping as a ‘thing’ or not, by having a following ‘it’ is.
Personally, I like Josh Sim’s attitude towards his first and second scape. According to Josh, that improvement happened being part of a small self selecting group with the sole purpose of improving through a healthy amount of competition. Get that certain folks are against the idea of competition in something like aquascaping. However, those that see how rivalry generally up’s your game, your motivation and time investment... it’s a largely positive experience. It drives results that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. It also introduces a deadline for the procrastinators amongst us which is not to be overlooked. There’s the ‘best’ aquascape you can produce and there’s the one that is ready on time. Don’t let the best become the enemy of the good, there’s always another chance next time around. This is a process.
The entirety of the ‘categories’ and ‘rules’ argument can be put to bed simply by adopting EAPLC rules if that is possible without legal repercussions, if you discount biotope’s. It at least sorts the annual comp side of this discussion with minimum effort unless someone fancies a rather long and arduous period of argumentation, an argument that will ultimately only end up in a disorganised jumble of people’s biases and preferences. The existing rules of the EAPLC allow for creativity whilst coercing a general sense of order that doesn’t stifle creativity... if it ain’t broke there’s nothing to fix. The only side of the hobby that would require a category with its own unique judgements would be biotope, the judges would require detailed knowledge of what they represent for comparison.
@glasscanvasart ’s suggestion of Tank of The Month is brilliant in that it’s decided by community opinion, easy and cheap to implement, facilitates further discussion about why people find it justified and is inclusive to as broad amount of people as possible. It isn’t mutually exclusive to the idea of a well thought out UK based competition though.
Time for a reality check based on the current status of the poll:
Playing devils advocate... You ain’t got a competition so far folks. It’s a house party at best. There’s still plenty of ground left in order to figure out what people want. Also waiting to hear back on how this whole endeavour would benefit UKAPS funding? Something we all share a vested interest in for the future and ultimately incentivises the forum to even consider hosting such an event. Incentive works both ways and feel this point needs underlining for it to be a realistic prospect.
On the plus side, the human catapult idea can now be disbanded
We know that a lot of the top scoring scapes come form Southeast Asia. From what I can gather scaping is a very popular pastime there and many scapers are members of clubs which foster hands on sharing of skills and knowledge, including the unique set needed to do well in competitions.
I'm not sure we have enough interest here in the UK to form such clubs. But it could be something folks might want to think about after this Covid business is over with; most of us don't mind revealing our location or travelling. And if any such regional clubs do form I'm sure we can host them on the forum.
A competition scaping forum might be a possibility where more experienced scapers share knowledge and offer constructive criticism. But it's difficult when competitions don't allow images of scapes to be published beforehand. And most experienced competition scapers don't often frequent forums. But we might be able to invite guest scapers to comment.
However, we were trying to arrange a UKAPS meet up at AG over the summer with a BBQ and scaping competition etc, but again Covid put paid to that. We thought if it was successful we could arrange meets more frequently, maybe biannually or even quarterly. Something we can pick up again later, hopefully in the not too distant future.
I guess the EAPLC judging criteria could work with different categories for Nature Aquarium, and Diorama. But we'd need a more detailed breakdown of the (95%) points available for overall impression; it's a bit of a blunt instrument without.
Scape of the month is a great idea too. It's as good as a done deal. With regards to funding, the forum is kind of run on a shoestring and donations are always gladly received and new fund raising ideas are always welcome. But it tends to get overly complicated if we start to charge folk for entering competitions and the like, especially since there are more senior comps out there which are free to enter, for instance.
But members can make one off or regular monthly donations, it's easy to do, just click on the yellow "Donate" button, righthand side of the Forums page under Members online
Perhaps the best we can hope for is an ever increasing and ever more active membership and more sponsors who are also willing to donate prizes, like Dave at AG. UKAPS is definitely headed in the right direction. It's a testament to the friendly nature, enthusiasm, and amazing knowledge of our members that UKAPS is still thriving when most other similar forums have bitten the dust.