So this is something that comes up after every contest. Its understandable that people get upset - we all have our favorite stories and every author works hard and wants to win.
As always stories are selected based on 3 measures: reader retention, rubric score and fit to contest theme.
Reader retention is a measure of the percentage of readers who continue reading your story after you start it. We choose this measure specifically because it does not give “popular authors” an advantage over newer or smaller authors. If you haven’t done so already I strongly encourage you to read the linked article - it does a great job of explaining this. Rubric score looks at the quality of the story, the choices, the directing and the language.
Stories have to score high on both measures AND be good fits with the contest theme in order to win. If a story is a perfect 4 on the rubric score but has low retention - it can’t win. If a story has amazing retention but has a low rubric score it also can’t win.
This was a highly competetive contest with a lot of entries - we ended up with 15 finalists that had both high retention and high rubric score before we put together the winners shelf. At the time the team was reviewing finalists 8 of those stories had more than 1,000 reads and 7 had less than that. After looking at the finalists - 2 were not eligible because they broke content guidelines and 4 were not good fits for the contest theme. That left us with the 9 finalists you all see today. Yes, these stories have higher reads now, but its also important to remember that there is a bit of a delay, about 10 days, between when we get the finalists and when the shelf is released - during that time stories are still being promoted and are still earning reads.
We understand that many of you may still be upset or disappointed that your favorite story didn’t win, but I hope this helps clarify how contests work.