I really thought I was replying directly to you before, Auntshommy- (i'll get this figured out ).
Okay- my idea is a combination of previous ones.
Point 1- The subjective factor is just too messy, as in voting. Often a CH picks a winner that may be great, but was actually outside of parameters, (i.e. Must be one word stated over & over, then pick a name consisting of 3 words- Huh? But it Was a good name, after all)
2- Some people may vote for someone's entry based on the contestant, not the name- see? And it is too open to manipulation in that kind of way. Of course, we are all honest on this forum- but it could easily happen.
3- NO ONE enters a contest with a guarantee of being the winner, or gaining the award, (not counting the creatives I consider "ringers" brought in by the CH). As a result, not receiving the money for an abandoned contest is the same as not winning a contest. In other words- no one won.
4- Deciding the winner based on seniority, number of entries, or how many highly rated ones also seems too arbitrary, for many reasons already stated- or will take up too much space on this long post...
5- People may participate with 'junk' entries, just in hopes of getting some of the split award money, if they know that is what will happen on an abandoned, (or any) contest, so...
IF the CH will not pick a winner, (even after the deposit idea is implemented, which could be a good incentive- but it seems their wasted money is already "abandoned") the money that no one is awarded should go into a community kitty that would be distributed in ways that would offer incentives for participation, (as SH suggested), even randomly awarded in different & fun ways. I do not feel they should be awarded tied to the forum, however- except the moderators could work on it, for sure.
Those are some of the reasons why I feel it would be more fun for everyone to have a "surprise" chance to win at least some of what they never assumed they were guaranteed to win, in the first place. One more thing- SH has their hands full running the rest of the aspects of the contests, without adding judging, and most creatives would probably rather spend their time trying to win contests they are participating in- & no shared names, either!