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Well, the point of that contest is pretty much to encourage the authors to continue working on their projects, which is why we accept unfinished projects and ideas. This is also why a popularity contest is enough, that and judging all of the projects each month would also probably take too much of our times, I'd reserve that for the big annual contests. You won? Well everyone will expect it finished, so keep working! You didn't? Improve your project, it will probably gain some popularity, better luck next month! Those projects who came second might as well win next month.
This year's monthly and yearly projects award was set so that people judges by themselves which project they feel is more worthy of winning by voting for them, rather than staff judging what is eligible or not. Of course we can't change the formula in the middle of it in order to be fair for September-December entries, but if we do notice that projects with barely any progress slips in too often in the winners or vote counts then starting January there will definitively be some adjusting being done that will increase the criterias for entry.
You are always free to apply for a news editor spot
Of course it's up to you to apply though. And preferably not wait half a year between news articles
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