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About the Williamsport Sun-Gazette’s Readers’ Choice contest

In Sun-Gazette’s Readers’ Choice Awards, readers have the last word. We’re proud to host it as a way to recognize the places and people that make this region special.

In 2021, the contest is more important than ever, with so many restaurants, businesses and organizations challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are stepping up to the challenge by making the contest bigger and better than ever to provide even more visibility to area businesses and organizations. Some of the changes we’re making this year include:

• Daily online voting. You can vote once per category per day, so you can really show your support for your favorites.

• More transparency. We know the Readers’ Choice contest is important to the local businesses and organizations that compete. So, we are taking steps this year to increase transparency in our rules and decisions about which nominees are eligible for which categories. See below for contest rules in each category.

 Nominations and voting

• Nomination round: The contest starts with a nomination round online, where readers can propose business, organizations and names for all of the categories, including new categories. This keeps the contest fresh as new businesses and organizations come to the area and as existing ones change and grow.

• First Round Voting: First round voting will be held exclusively online this year so that more people in the area can have their say by casting their votes. What’s more, people may vote once per day in any or all categories! This round will determine the Top 5 of our readers’ favorites, to include one winner and two finalists in each category.

• Final Round Voting: The final voting round will also be held exclusively online, and people may vote once per day in any or all categories. This round will determine the Readers’ Choice winners, to include one winner and two finalists.

 Fair voting rules

Nominees/entrants are prohibited from soliciting votes by offering payments or exchange of value of any kind.

Voting is limited to one vote in each category per person per day. During the nomination phase, nominations can be entered once per category per hour.

Even though we require sign-ups, we recognize that some people, in their enthusiasm, may be tempted to vote several times using different email accounts. Please note that voting under multiple email accounts violates the rules.

We do have systems in place to detect fraudulent voting. When we see evidence of fraudulent voting, we may eliminate all suspect votes at our discretion. In extreme cases, we will remove entrants, as well.

Nomination guidelines

Our Readers’ Choice team does its best to vet all nominees. Here are the guidelines we use, with exceptions as noted below:

Businesses, organizations and businesspeople within a 60 mile general geographic area surrounding Williamsport are eligible:

Most categories are restricted to local businesses and organizations, in the sense of being locally owned and operated, not national brands, chains or franchises. National brands may be included if the location is locally owned and/or a specific address is presented during the nomination process. (i.e. Dunkin’ at 1975 W 4th St).

We reserve the right to disqualify a business or organization from a category that does not represent a significant focus of its activities.

Nominations for individual categories for individuals, like Best Electrician, must include the nominee’s full name and place of business.

Application of our criteria is not an exact science. The Readers’ Choice team uses its best judgment; if you think we’ve made an error, please email ReadersChoice@sungazette.com

Categories that refer to “Agency” (such as Best Real Estate Agency or Best Insurance Agency) are not intended for individual agents unless they are sole proprietors of an agency or brokerage, in which case that agency or brokerage may be nominated under their name.

We reserve the right to change these guidelines. Check back on here for current guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the key dates for 2021?

Nomination Period: Sept. 3 through Sept. 10

First Round Voting: Oct. 1 through Oct. 8

Final Round Voting: Nov. 5 through Nov. 12

Winners announced: Dec. 18

Q: I nominated my business, but I don’t see it showing up on the website in the list of nominees. Why is that?

If you’re looking at the site during the nomination period and don’t see a business you nominated, fear not! All valid entries are considered and reviewed. But in order for a nomination to show up on the site, we have to approve it manually. Because we receive thousands of nominations, we can get backlogged.

The good news is your business only has to be nominated once to make it to the first round of voting, assuming it met the guidelines. And if it did meet the guidelines, it does not matter if it showed up on the site during the nomination period.

Q: My business was nominated, and I saw it on the website during the nomination period, but it is not showing up in the voting round. Why?

See the guidelines above. After nominations close and before voting opens, our team does its best to vet all nominees. While your business may have appeared during the nomination period, our team may have determined it was ineligible for the voting round.

Q: I missed the nominations period. Can I/my business still be entered in the contest?

Late nominations may be accepted if received promptly after the first voting round opens. They will be reviewed as soon as is practical, and if they meet the criteria for their proposed category, they will be included in the voting round typically within several days.

Q: I think my business should have made it to the voting round. How do I register a complaint?

Email us at ReadersChoice@sungazette.com within 24 hours after the voting round opens. You must identify the category and tell us why you think your business should have been included.

Like most humans, we sometimes make mistakes, and if we have, we’ll add your business within moments of our decision.

Q: What guidelines are used to determine whether a nominated business qualifies for the first voting round?

Please see the sections below on “Nomination Guidelines”

Q: How are the winners selected?

Winners are those that received the most votes in their category. Finalists are those that received the second- and third-most votes in their category.

If there is a tie, we will announce both winners and/or finalists.

Q: Why does this contest allow people to nominate/vote every day?

The Readers’ Choice contest allows daily voting–once per person per day per category–because daily voting rewards entrants with passionate supporters. With a single vote per person, entrants with the best name recognition have a distinct advantage, as many voters skim over categories and cast their votes casually. Name recognition is an important part of determining our readers’ favorites, but we also want to reward the passionate loyalty some people have for their local favorites, which can be captured in daily voting.

Also: This contest is fundamentally about celebrating and supporting great area institutions by raising their profile and helping them gain new fans. With daily voting, the contest raises the visibility of those businesses and organizations that use it to reach out to new and existing customers to ask for their support, through advertising and through their own channels.

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