ArsDigita -- Open for e-business

ArsDigita Prize

Unfortunately, in 2002 we will not be continuing the ArsDigita Prize program. Here at ArsDigita, we're focusing all our efforts on our software and services businesses, and on staying competitive in a challenging market. As always, our Core software and Content Management System can be downloaded for free from

For three years, we were able to fund a Prize that encouraged Web development in teens. We're glad we were able to offer the Prize each year, and we are proud of the hundreds of young people who developed sites and applied to the program.

Below please find information on the Prize winners from 1999, 2000, and 2001.

2001 Prize

Congratulations to this year's winners!

This year, all finalists "won" the Prize! We decided that all of their sites were wonderful and all very different. The finalists split the grand prize and first runner up prize money equally. They spent an exciting few days at MIT and ArsDigita at the end of June. As always, this year's Prize winners are an amazing bunch!

See the pictures from this year's ceremony!

About the Prize

The ArsDigita Prize, awarded annually in June, recognizes achievement by young people who have built and maintained web services. Web programmers 18 and younger are rewarded for creating non-commercial sites that are useful, educational, and collaborative.

As far as we know, this is the only website award for which the winner receives cash plus server resources to help bring more of his or her creativity and generosity to web users. It is also the only award for which the winner will not be asked to display an award banner linking back to the organization giving the award.

We believe that the most useful and interesting sites on the internet have yet to be built. The wellspring of internet creativity has always been a non-commercial individual effort. ArsDigita is investing in young people because they are our best bet for solving the hard problem of making web-based collaboration really work. The ArsDigita Prize awards them a monetary sum, but the most valuable thing we really give them is the skills and technological infrastructure to work at the forefront of this field. What happens next is up to them.

The Award

The finalists (winner and first runner-ups) receive the following:


The winner must be 18 years old or younger as of March 1 (i.e. be born on or after March 2, 1982). The winner can be from any country but, due to the parochial educations of the judges, we must insist that the Web service be comprehensible to someone who only understands English. Note that past ArsDigita Prize winners are not eligible.

The web service must be built by one individual; team entries will not be accepted. It is OK if you get limited help from other people while building your web service, but the work done should be primarily yours.

The Web service must be non-commercial in nature. There can be no banner ads or subscription fees. It should not be a veiled attempt to make money in some other way. Subtle text-only links to kickback programs at e-commerce sites are acceptable if the links are relevant and appropriate. Sites hosted at GeoCities or similar services that interpose their own banner and pop-up ads will not be considered.

The Web service must be tasteful. We recognize that our definition of taste might not be shared by others. However, we'll try to offer some guidelines:

  • Graphics, if present at all, should offer the user information that text can not convey (exception: the birthday reminder service that we built; the graphics serve no function but we like 'em anyway).
  • You shouldn't break the browser's forward and back buttons (see this chapter on HTML design for more).
  • Frames are bad.
  • H1 and red text are big hammers, to be used sparingly; color, if used at all, should be to separate information and not as part of the interface.
  • The original Macintosh was fundamentally tasteful.

The Web service must be used. We don't believe in any Web service idea unless at least 1000 people have had a chance to use it and send email to the site owner if they get confused. The ArsDigita Prize isn't a popularity contest, though. If your site is about quantum physics, you could win even without 100 MB daily server logs.

To help you further, here are some example sites that would at least make second runner-up status:

  • Bill Gates Personal Wealth Clock; we built this in one hour.
  • TowZone (sends people e-mail before scheduled city street cleaning); we built this in three hours.
  • Almost any individual collaboration service in, each of which took a few days to write.
  • WimpyPoint, a collaborative replacement for PowerPoint; this was built in about a week.
  • Scorecard (the text-only version would be fine); this took a few months since EDF did all the hard work of assembling the data.

We like services that use the Internet to support collaboration. We like services that are educational. We like services that are useful. We like programs that are open-source (where you share your source code so that other programmers can build on your ideas and achievements).

Applicants are judged by a panel from ArsDigita Corporation and finalists are announced in early June. We encourage public voting and the judging panel determines how to use these results in the final selection. Except in the case of a tie, there is one individual winner. The judges will decide which and how many applicants earn first runner-up status. There is no limit to the number of second runner-ups.

If you have any general questions about the Prize, please use the ArsDigita Prize 2001 Discussion Forum. Any other inquiries should be directed to Perry Hewitt.

Past Awards

Before 2001, the Prize was sponsored by the ArsDigita Foundation.