Dribbble Drafting Drama

Dribbble is a relatively new designers' playground from Simplebits. The idea is to leak (or "dribbble") small portions of work-in-progress for critique by fellow designers. The site deliberately limits the size of your uploads to 400 × 300 pixels, ideal for keeping the focus on the details and giving designers the freedom to upload samples of work while retaining a degree of privacy for projects which are not yet live. The site has been in private beta for the best part of a year, and is available only to invited members. From time-to-time each member is issued with a small number of invitations, which we're advised to distribute selectively.

Draft Wisely

I admit that this has kept the quality of submissions remarkably and delightfully high, and many designers (myself included) agreed with Jason Santa Maria's sentiment in this tweet:

I love @dribbble and secretly hope it never goes public. The concentration of good people, shielded from public drama, just works.

But when choosing to select or reject people who'd sent me examples of their work to be considered for a Dribbble drafting, it did cross my mind that there are many designers who are not yet at the top of their game and who would really benefit from the feedback and exposure they would get on Dribbble.

I don't know how this would work. Should the site be open to all, or does it benefit from being invitation only? Would opening it up dilute the experience for the more experienced designers? Could some kind of leaderboard allow filtering to show only the most 'liked' designs? Would this lead to people gaming the system, just competing for 'likes'? Would it lead to even more elitism than the site has already been accused of?

There are many unanswered questions, some of which are being discussed within the walls of Dribbble. I'd love to read your thoughts, whether you're a currently drafted designer or not.