Seriously, Woot. Please be more clear in the future. Save us and yourselves a lot of time and hassle.
Thanks for the feedback. It's usually the derbies we think are simple and straight-forward that trip us up in terms of communicating what we're looking for. We admittedly thought this would be a cinch (you know, we want fairy tales. Easy. Sprinkle a few examples. Done.) but didn't think about what a landmine something like that can be. A huge swathe of fantasy-based literature, movies, television,video games, and animation could be defined as fairy tales based off some definitions and criteria. We didn't want those, we wanted the ones that inspired those.
Once the derby went up, we saw that a few entries opened the door to justifying the likes of the Smurfs, Legend of Zelda, Neil Gaiman, etc. so we tried to jump on it at the start of submissions to avoid that. But you're completely right, we should have closed the door on them before the derby even started. Sometimes it's unavoidable that some line drawing happens at the start of submissions, but this a line that should have been drawn before.
The struggle each week when coming up with derby themes is for 2 to 3 people to predict what 200-300 creative artists will think of that we didn't. What one phrase, word, or punctuation mark that's in a write-up (or isn't) will become a nightmare once submissions start. I think we've had a good run lately, but this derby is a good reminder to stay vigilant and give even the ones we think are simple and straight-forward a closer look before they go up. This is one we should have thought of. I don't think we'll ever get 100% clear communication to every artist on every derby, but we'll try to improve.
EDIT: One thing that I think helps us and the artists is when they ask questions within an hour or so of the theme going up. I try to monitor new derby themes at least until then to catch those sort of problems or questions. If I'm not sure about an answer, I can take it to the others and we can discuss where we stand on it. It helps us see things that we didn't think of and gives us time to adjust, correct, and clarify. We can't give yay or nays on specific entries, but can hopefully provide general rule questions anyone has. You guys asking those questions or pointing out potential landmines is invaluable and helps us see where you are at when faced with the themes. I think we've avoided a lot of trouble just by those kind of back and forths.