VizWars: a data visualisation competition in SoCal

By Andy Cotgreave 2014/01/14

We love data visualisation competitions. Inspired by Facebook and Emily Kund's efforts, Mike Evans has created VizWars, a data visualisation event in Irvine, California, on February 11th. We recommend you go along and join him for VW1!

In his own words:

"You'll meet our expert judges from companies like Facebook and Mozilla, and attempt to triumph over some of the best data visualization - "Viz" - competitors SoCal has to offer. Viz Wars kicks off on February 11th, and you'll want to take part in the festivities. Join us for a night of fun and excitement - and some learning and development too!

This challenge is an open competition to find who the best data visualizers are among us and provide the opportunity for fun and prizes. You'll be provided with several data set options (posted here 48 hours prior to the competition) and you'll have 1 hour to build your best Viz in your software of choice.

Enrollment: Anyone is welcome, but you must RSVP and be physically present at the time of the competition.

Prizes: Swag, glory, and huge bragging rights"

Mike has a great line up of judges who will ensure only the highest quality wins:

Tableau is delighted to be sponsoring the event. We love to support events that encourage people to sharpen their skills, learn from others, and get involved in the community.

Sounds great: Take me to VizWars!


Submitted by Mr. Elite (not verified) on

Getting tired of these Tableau ninja competitions. The judges evaluate based on their own image and presents Tableau as something that you must aspire to hackery level in order to claim any credibility of being a Tableau user. Enough of these popularity contests judged by last year's prom king and queen. Go ahead Tableau just celebrate those who can make Tableau draw a Fibonacci sequence. Maybe you can have a new status in TCC14- data douchebag.

Submitted by Andy C. on

Dear Mr Elite

Thank you for the feedback. We appreciate not everyone will enjoy every event our customers decide to host.

You are right that at Tableau we must celebrate and promote newcomers to Tableau just as much as we celebrate the experts. I am publishing a post on the Tableau Public blog this week about the most important blog posts about Tableau of all time. In it, I say that the single most important blog post of the last 12 months is “Identity Crisis” by Emily Kund. Why is this post so important? Because for every expert and guru, there are more newcomers who may be intimidated by all the Tableau-expertise on show across the web. Tableau wants to celebrate and promote those people too: indeed, we’d love for them to blog too so that the bigger voices are not just the experts.

Our experience of events similar to VizWars is that everyone learns something. Experts and newcomers alike seem to enjoy seeing experts in action. They see new ways of doing simple or complex things. Also, they are run by enthusiasts, not “gurus”. Indeed, Emily Kund ran an event like this and her description of the event covers just that.

Finally, the VizWars being setup by Mike is NOT a Tableau-only competition. People are free to use whatever tool they want.

Our goal at Tableau is support any community event where the objective is to bring together like-minded, enthusiastic people who’s goal is learn more and have fun doing it.

We’re more than happy to discuss this further – feel free to email if you have further comments or feedback

Best wishes

Andy Cotgreave
Social Content Manager, Tableau

Submitted by Matt F. on

My own take on this is that anything that gets a group of people together on data viz, to share ideas, best practice, new ways of showing data can only be a good thing. The Tableau community is wide ranging and very diverse. There is not a single Tableau that is a master in everything. Some people hack, some people design, some people are specialists in mapping, others in table calculations. But every single one of them started at the same point, a novice with a fresh Tableau install and no idea where to start.

Submitted by Allan Walker (not verified) on


From my understanding, VizWars is set up independently of vendor. I am pretty sure the selection of Judges is to do with individual availability; although impartiality would also be a factor.

"Hacking" Tableau, or pursuing additional capability outside the boxed solution does not equate to credibility in being a Tableau user: Tableau users are diverse as much in skill sets as they are in experience and job role. Ease of entry to produce data visualization solutions that meet requirements makes Tableau the success story it has been and continues to be.

prom king and queen:

It's not Toddlers and Tiaras: but if for example Stephen Few or Edward Tufte were to judge my work - competition or not - I'd respect them for the contributions they have made to the community.

Tableau don't just celebrate those that can cut & paste some code or formulae. They celebrate empowering decision makers by allowing users to exploit information in a visual manner.

Why wait for TCC2014 - looks like you've qualified already.

Submitted by Paul Banoub (not verified) on

Events like Viz Wars etc are what (in my opinion) set the Tableau / BI / viz community apart from every other online community I've ever interacted with. As Matt points out, there are many contributors, all bringing something unique to the table for the benefit of others. And it's all done with a smile, a laugh and a true sense of collaboration.

Your comments stand out from the crowd as there are so few similar attitudes in the Tableau world. Why not open your mind a bit and roll with it? You might even enjoy it or learn something.


Submitted by Russian Sphinx (not verified) on

I don't follow all contests but I remember that once there was a student in top 5, I talked with him on Twitter...
I was also in top 5, but I don't work professionally with Tableau so it is possible.

It is always like this, when you want to enter a new industry, field, whatever, there are people who have been there for ages, additionally they are skillful so they are better than newcomers. Data Analyse field is complex, you need everything, knowledge how to collect, clean, analyse data, where to find interesting data sets, how to work with geo data, it is nice to have general idea of graphics software and many more.

From other hand experience users are useful :) as they publish tutorials, answer on questions so in other words just enjoy the experience :)

:))) I remember when I took part in Tableau contest for the first time, I did not think about winning, I was taking part illegally as in the past the contest was open only to the US residents, nobody could stop me in taking part rules of the contest, not much experience with Tableau :)

Submitted by Michael E. on

It's so great to see such passionate comments here. I'd like to thank Tableau for sponsoring this great event and encourage anyone who's planning to come and join in on the fun, to RSVP by Feb 6th, 6pm PT. Registration will be closed after that. Viz Wars won't be able to accommodate walk-up competitors on the day of the event.

Hope to see many of you at the event!

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