Somehow, we have to draw a line between who’s gonna count in this game (Famous) and who isn’t (Not Famous). It ain’t easy. Everyone has a different idea of who should be called famous. Once upon a time, we thought we’d found the answer in the online version of the Associated Press. Here was a reliable, nearly immediate source of news with an international scope. And the line it drew was so clear-cut — news of a death either made the AP, or it didn’t. Our needs seemed to be completely covered. Too completely, it turned out. The damned thing covers almost everybody who ever had a job. We spent a year or more trying to tweak it by adding exceptions, and categorizing stories, and complicating the whole process, and it still didn’t work for us. Why? Because even more than we want complete objectivity, we want this game to be about really famous people. Not newsworthy people — not accomplished people — celebrities. Less than people, in other words. We were getting further and further into amateur geologists and Bosnian ping-pong players, and it’s just no fun making fun of people you never heard of before you did a search on liver cancer. So, we’ve given up on the notion of total objectivity and we’ve assembled (drum roll) The stiffs.com Fame Committee (a.k.a. the FC). Back to basics, boys and girls. We no longer give a crap about the Associated Press or who’s related to who, or what defines an obituary — all that stuff is history. Here’s why.
First, you need to understand that for us, Fame = Name Recognition, pretty much. They’re virtually the same thing, as far as we’re concerned. If you look at a photo and think, “I know that guy, he’s from that chicken commercial,” but you don’t know what his name is, that’s not a celebrity. If a person has made enough news stories, or talk-show appearances, or bad pop songs to have an identity that’s conveyed merely by the mention of his or her name, that person is considered (by us) to be famous. Each and every one of the 1900-odd names listed in The stiffs.com Select-O-Matic (don’t worry, you’ll get there) is guaranteed to be what we consider famous. You should recognize some of ‘em, even if you’re an idiot. We tried to include as many of the most likely Dead Pool candidates as we could, but of course, there’s no way we got ‘em all. We didn’t expect to. So, if you have a famous name you’d like to enter that isn’t there, you may include that name on your list as a write-in candidate. After all the lists are in, write-in names will be sent to the FC, and each will be deemed either Famous (included in the game) or Not Famous (stricken from your list), and that’ll be that. The stiffs.com Fame Committee reigns supreme.
So, what is this Committee we keep talking about, and how exactly does it work? Kinda important, since it reigns supreme and everything. The stiffs.com Fame Committee is a hand-selected group of approximately 50 people, representing a broad cross-section of American society. Yes, that means that our Dead Pool discriminates against people who don’t live in the U.S. Deal with it. The members of the FC are equally divided by sex (roughly), and are intentionally diverse in age, geographic location and cultural background. Also, none of them participate in any of our games.
Write-in candidates are submitted to The Fame Committee in name only, without description, and members are asked if they know who each candidate is. In instances where a candidate’s name is identical (or nearly so) to another potentially famous person, it is the player’s responsibility to clearly specify which person is intended (see The Robert Young Edict). If a candidate is positively identified by 15% of The stiffs.com Fame Committee members, he or she will be deemed Famous, and will be included in the contest. “Positively identified” means that a Committee member has shown that he or she knows specifically who a candidate is. [Examples: If Bill Clinton is identified as "a politician," or Mike Tyson as "an athlete," that's not positive enough. "U.S. President" and "boxer" are what we're looking for.] If a write-in candidate is identified by four or fewer Committee members, that candidate will be deemed Not Famous, and will be disqualified from the Dead Pool. Now for the bad news.
Write-in candidates who have been ruled Not Famous will not be replaced. No alternate. No do-overs. Just a blank spot. This means you better be pretty sure that the average person would know who you’re talking about. Do not assume that names eligible in prior stiffs.com contests will be approved. The Fame Committee rulings are completely independent of any of the material found on this website. Neither The Select-O-Matic, The SickTicker nor any other part of this site are meant to suggest how The Fame Committee might rule on a given candidate. All judgments are final, and no rulings will be made in advance. Don’t bother asking us what we think, ’cause we won’t tell you; don’t bother pleading your case, ’cause it won’t matter. The time has come to grow up, Poolsters, and leave the childish ways of yesterday behind you. The future is now … or pretty soon, anyway.