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Gold Stars of Excellence by Award Sites!

Rating Review Prerequisites
For Initial and Upgrade Requests

February 13, 2014 ... Award Sites! no longer reviews web award programs for rating purposes. The following will give you an understanding what was necessary for a web award program to attain a rating be Award Sites! starting in 1997.

  • Non-listed Award Program
    Owner must read the following pre-qualifying requirements to determine if award program is eligible to be considered for a rating level (2.5 to 5.0).  And it is necessary to comply with all prerequisites before proceeding with reviewing the criteria and rules associated with the respective rating levels . . . and then only submitting the program if it meets all that is required.

  • Award Seekers and Other Visitors
    The following information
    is strictly for award issuing sites that want to request a rating and listing!  (It is not for submitting a site for an award . . . You must individually submit your site to each award listed by clicking on the image or text link . . . Visitors who want to read Award Sites! rating level information need to go here!)

  • Award Program Already Rated by Award Sites!
    Each respective owner should check this page for any revisions before proceeding to the
    criteria, rules and request links for requesting an upgrade rating review.
  1. Age Requirement... While Award Sites! does not require or verify the age of award program owners, anyone under the age of 14 is ineligible to submit an award program for a rating and listing.  (An award program will be removed if it is determined that the owner is under 14.)

  2. Do not proceed further if your...

    1. Award program isn't original in both design and content or in essence what would be called "one of a kind"

    2. Award program doesn't have five (5) award winners who equal or exceed your program's stated criteria.  (A program that issues only one or more annual awards must also be at least a year old due to the minimum number of winners required.)

    3. Award program doesn't properly list winners as required...

      1. Listed under the year and month with "No Winner Selected" or similar notice of non-selection for each award and level offered, as warranted.  This requirement doesn't apply to years previous to 2006, but must be included starting with January 2006 for all programs being submitted for an initial rating and for those requesting an upgrade.  (Award program started since January 2006 must comply accordingly.  )

      2. At least one new winner must be listed within 60 days of the current date for at least one award or one level of a multi-level award . . . "No Winner" must be listed if it applies elsewhere.

      3. Winners Selection Record (WSR) alternative option to listing "No Winners" or "None" is available for award programs offering many awards and/or multi-levels.

    4. Overall site (not just award program section) includes and/or encourages...

      1. ILLEGAL or GROSSLY DISTASTEFUL activity including direct links to such sites

      2. Unprotected adult / pornographic content, including direct links to such sites (age verification must be required to access legal adult content)

      3. Plagiarism, copyright / trademark infringement

      4. Insensitive, degrading, satanic, and/or hateful aspects (includes direct links to such sites)

      5. Note: An award program cannot disqualify a site with content about legal activities like hunting, boxing, football, and etc. for violence purposes unless otherwise stated "specifically" in the criteria.

      6. Disclaimer: Award Sites! wants to stress that it and its staff do not condone the censorship of legal adult content.  However, Award Sites! insists that adult content only be accessible by adults in order to achieve an Award Sites! rating.  Award Sites! is, always has been, and always will be, a family-safe website.

  3. English version is required for international based awards.

  4. Having criteria that requires achieving certain level awards should not be the basis of issuing an award.  It should be at most a guideline.  And no award program should require achieving higher rated awards than its rating level.  (An ironic and inappropriate standard . . . Do not rely on other rated award programs to do your work! . . . A key program exception is the Superb! Website Awards, which has a 5.0 rating level and is the originator of its unique approach.)

  5. Award image size cannot exceed 30k or be larger than 40,000 square pixels (e.g. 200 x 200).  Also, each rating level has criteria concerning image size limit.  (A sample image of the award can be displayed in order to avoid unauthorized use.)

  6. Sample Award Image Requirement... URL for the sample image of the top award / level must be provided when requesting an initial rating for an award program and must be able to display on Award Sites! from the server where the award program is located. Therefore, award programs on free hosting services that block image display outside their server (e.g. Geocities / Xoom / Angel Fire / Tripod / Crosswinds / Fortune City) must provide an alternative hosting server (URL) that does not block the image from displaying on Award Sites!  Failure to do so will result in receiving a maximum rating level of 2.5 with the upgrade process the only opportunity once the rating is issued and only if a URL to sample image is provided that allows display at Award Sites! . . . It is also the applicant's responsibility to determine which free hosting service allows display of images outside its server and on Award Sites!  Note... This requirement has nothing to do with encouraging bandwidth theft, but making sure that an award program is still active or not encountering server problems.

  7. Compatibility... A best effort attempt should be made to support the following operating systems: Windows 98 (or higher), Macintosh 68K OS 7.x (or higher), Macintosh PPC OS 8.x (or higher), and Unix Linux 2 (or higher). (Browser compatibility listed on all rating level criteria)

  8. Multiple award programs located within the same level / folder of a site need to be combined under one program and rated collectively even if they have separate URLS.  Examples...
    ~~ and
    ~~ and

  9. A main index page listing all awards with links to respective pages is required.  (Only one initial rating or upgrade request is required.)

  10. Separate email addresses are necessary for multiple award programs owned by the same individual or company when the programs are on different sites or presented separately on the same site and in different folders or sub domains.  Separate rating requests are necessary as well.

  11. Guestbook signing (as of 9/1/99) should not be a requirement for someone to be considered for an award and should not be the application process for an award.  Any award that includes a guestbook as part of its criteria and/or process will be penalized rating points and will not be rated above 3.0 regardless of its overall presentation quality.  (Upgrade requests for 3.0 or lower rated programs will be ignored if a guest book is part of the award process and 3.5 plus will be lowered to 3.0 if the requirement is not eliminated.)

  12. Requiring or hinting a link be added to submitting site . . . for the purpose to increase chances of a review or speed up the review process is unethical and unacceptable.  A rating will not be issued.  (Award programs that requires a link after submission for a voting process is an exception.)

  13. Password access requirement is not allowable and must be removed before submitting . . . and cannot be reinstated after a rating is received.  (Requiring information just to visit an award program is not an acceptable practice.)

  14. Listing rejected sites . . . is demeaning to the respective sites and their representatives.  This feature needs to be removed prior to submitting for a rating or it will be ignored no matter the quality of the submitting award program.

  15. A review time period (e.g. 2 - 4 weeks, 3 - 5 weeks, 6 to 10 weeks, etc) and who (winners or everyone) will be notified needs to be listed on your program where you feel applicants will notice it (e.g. before the application link button or form itself.)  How it is worded, the reason, and length of statement is your choice.  Also, you can alter the period if traffic and other priorities warrant . . . including for business / personal situations, holidays, and vacations.)  The purpose is to give the applicant an idea of how long the wait is and to prevent them from re-submitting prior to when the review period ends or bother you with an email asking "when, have you, or did my site . . ."

  16. Giving an award by spamming . . . is not acceptable and will result in listing removal upon complaint of this practice.  Sites need to submit to receive an award or be individually notified with specific reasons why it was selected without solicitation.

  17. Solicitation of business . . . should not be part of the award presentation and notification process.  Any complaint received about this practice could lead to listing's removal.  (Criticizing / attacking a site developer will result in immediate removal.)  Visitors to a site's award program have the opportunity to see what else is offered.  Future contact to any applicants to solicit business should be ethical and separate of the notification process.

  18. Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)... It is the responsibility of each award program that might have children visiting their sites to determine if COPPA is applicable and a privacy statement onsite is required.  The law involves online collection of personal information from children under 13.  Detailed information by the FTC is located here.

  19. Specific advice is not provided on how to develop or improve an award's presentation.  After carefully reviewing the following rating criteria for each level, visit some of the award issuing sites with rating levels you are trying to achieve.  See their presentations and the award's graphic design.  Purpose, originality, creativity, design, and content along with the overall design of the issuing site are considered. 

  20. Award Sites! does not support the "plagiarism" of award criteria in any form or manner.

Click on the link below to proceed with requesting an initial
or upgrade rating request, if your program meets the above.

Rating Level Criteria and Listing Rules
(Review process can take up to 6 weeks.)

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