1. Daniel

    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors Founder Staff

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    How can we best improve the writing contests?

    Discussion in 'Writing Contests' started by Daniel, Oct 27, 2018.

    @Wreybies @thirdwind @theoriginalmonsterman @Zerotonin (sorry in advance if I forgot anyone)

    How Can We Improve Contest Administration / Participation / Voting?

    Beyond the add-on discussed here, what can I do to improve the contest area to make facilitating a contest easier and potentially boost participation and provide a smoother experience for contest administration and user experience?

    Are prefixes used and updated as intended?

    Would a more simple interface for submissions and/or a readable interface for reading submissions be beneficial?

    Promoting Contest Engagement

    In the past we’ve discussed ways for contest admins to promote new contests, open voting, and winners throughout the site, and potentially social media, or accomplishing this through automation. Thoughts on the best ways to accomplish that?

    It’s more possible now than when it came up before. I’ll try to find the previous thread on the topic, but I believe we discussed automatically updating/adding it to a Writing Contests menu item, or utilizing alert notifications, notices, email, on-site banners that rotate and get updated when there are new contests.

    Or potentially automatically create sitewide alerts when a contest admin posts a new thread in their contest forum.

    We may be able to utilize the dummy Anonymizer account and have open contests/voting it’s it’s postbit and integrate it’s functionality elsewhere in some way.

    Submission / Reading / Archive Improvements

    Thoughts on need for entry submission improvements? Useability / Intuitiveness? Contest Archives / Winner Spotlights?

    Other Improvements / Medals / Private Submissions

    What else is needed and how else can we improve? Are medals functioning okay and as expected? Is it time to bring back a contest cash prize?

    If my memory serves me, certain contest forums had members who wanted to hide submissions for everyone after a contest or at least from the search engine. On what level is this done, and how common? Is it only the private submissions sub-forum or also in-thread private posts?

    I ask because it’s a custom functionality and would need to be recreated for XF2, but will be complicated (and expensive) if we want to preserve current post privacy permissions.

    I know we’ve discussed some of these topics elsewhere, and I will dig up and review those threads (feel free to link), but I thought I’d create this for open feedback and improvements as they may soon be possible and it’s always better if they’re planned. Some functionality may be implementable now.

    Thanks in advanced for your feedback.
     
  2. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    I thought about a banner in a corner of the main site, maybe with the alert for the current contest theme/or the reminder to vote—to get people to remember that we have contests :) I don't know how much work that would create for the contest administrators, because banners would have to change monthly. Also, I don't know if it could fit in a corner of the main website, and if that would be wanted.
     
  3. Daniel

    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors Founder Staff

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    @Lifeline in the past we’ve had square banners in the sidebar promoting different areas of the site (contests, resources). The issue is making it easy for contest administrators to update it for each contest.

    Once possible solution is using custom fields. Contest admins could have a custom field in thier profile settings - or potentially in a thread - where they copy and past the current link go voting / submissions / winners and the link location is always the same and always updates. I could schedule do banners on showing only on specific days of the week, but we might have trouble updating the banner.

    Is making these promotions / announcements via alerts to all members too intrusive? I feel like it’s the way to reach the most eyes.
     
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  4. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    It's always the question of getting people to look at something versus the annoyance factor, isn't it? For a time, @Tenderiser updated her status or answered in the voting thread to bump it at time of voting, which worked really well; but then, Tenderiser is a very outgoing and friendly person.
    And this wouldn't be an ad. We don't want people to buy something. We want to engage them to take part in something for which they came to WF—writing. So no, I wouldn't view it as too intrusive, but I'm only one person.

    I like the idea with a square field because it wouldn't stand out with regard to design to the rest of the site. I thought about a permanent static banner/message (whatever it's final form), with the link to the current contest. It could say something like 'Writingforums: Short Story Contest. Current Theme: Halloween.' and a link to the thread. At time of voting, it could flash/change color and in the message 'Get Voting!' could be added. Or something.

    The custom field therefore would have to have three areas which would need to change: One with cut/paste of the weblink, a part to update the words on it, and a radio button to click to make the banner flash/change color at voting time. Ideally, the mods would have a dedicated area for contest administration, and the custom field for the banner could be added to it, giving them everything at one glance.

    I'd like that. Maybe in a sticky thread, adding the link to the current winning entry to the list. This way, there'd be one thread linked to all submission threads. It'd make not only each winning entry easy to find, but also link all submission threads together. I know I could scroll through the long list of threads in the Archives, but face it: Who does that? If I have a link to these threads in the main contest area, that'd make it easier for me to look at people's contributions in the past.
    If you decide to make such a thread, I'd volunteer to copy/paste all the old links to winners. Actually, I'd look forward to doing this. I think it would be fascinating :).

    Also: I didn't know that medals were linked to the specific entry that won. It'd be good to let our members know that there is such a link ;)

    I am not one of them, but I understand wanting to hide them from the search engine. It wouldn't be a dealbreaker for me, trying to decide if I should take part in the short story contest, but I understand the sentiment.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
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  5. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, I agree making the contest easier to find would be nice, such as a visible link on the home page. I would suggest either getting rid of the prompt or enforcing it more closely. The prompt was "Tumbleweed" in the just closed contest, but were any of the stories about tumbleweeds?
     
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  6. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Twenty dollars?
     
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  7. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Contributor

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    Every few contests, open it up where there is no prompt.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
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  8. dbesim

    dbesim Contributor Contributor

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    A few initiatives were installed when @Tenderiser was moderator. There was more advertising, contest prompts were put up months in advance and involved extended sentences rather than just based around a word. Also there was an idea brewing that the 11 winning monthly stories of the year would be collected and published into a WF book (with approval of the authors) hosted by the WF but that never went ahead.

    Then there was the Annual Hall Of Fame Contest in 2016/17 where the winners of the previous 11 monthly contests were entered into the Annual Hall of Fame Contest to be crowned Best Short Story. This might have left many winners disappointed as only three were crowned whereas the other authors had very high hopes for theirs and maybe felt let down (though there wasn’t really any need to be).

    I suppose the Annual Hall Of Fame Contest was set up to take place every year but it didn’t actually happen this year. I don’t know why but it feels like a little of motivation has been lost since a couple of things that were promised didn’t go ahead eg. no months-in-advance writing prompts, Annual Hall Of Fame Contest did not happen this year and no WF book to publish in homage to all the monthly winners of the year.

    Much was promised.. and for a while it was happening but it seems as if things have gone to a sort of standstill since then.. maybe there’ll be a turnaround??
     
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  9. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What we need right now is someone to dedicatedly run it.

    I'm running interference at the moment, but this old mule's got plenty on his back already and he's starting to go slumpy in the middle. o_O
     
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  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    If you get too slumpy I can always step in for a little while Bruh you know that, but I've got a lot going on, not least with people actually starting to buy my books and the logistics of running a self published career on top of a day job, so I wouldn't want to commit to doing it long term (Or stand in the way of a more dedicated and available custodian coming forward)
     
  11. dbesim

    dbesim Contributor Contributor

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    I’ve been following the contests for a long time and I would volunteer to do it except I can’t provide the dedication you’re looking for at the moment but I’ll definitely let you know if that changes. :D

    Is there anyone who would like to help @Wreybies run the contest?? :supercool::whistle::whistle:

    @Mark Burton @Lifeline @big soft moose @Iain Aschendale @jannert @newjerseyrunner @zoupskim @Night Herald @matwoolf @Samunderthelights
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
  12. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Contributor

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    I've got little to prove in the contests now so I'll tentatively put my hand up to help. Before I do, though,I would like to know a little about the expected time commitment in hours per month.
     
  13. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    basically you sign a contract in blood, promising the pound of flesh closest to your heart should you fail to post a writing prompt each month... its no big deal really (oh and your immortal soul)
     
  14. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Contributor

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    I've very recently given a pound of flesh (not close to the heart, thankfully), so you've already got me running scared, @big soft moose .
     
  15. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Contributor

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    Another technical suggestion is to have a slider at the top of WF that advertises different aspects of the site, such as the competitions, the lounge, the WIP reviews, etc. I've seen quite a few new users say they've never encountered the competitions thread and are not happy that they didn't realise where it was in the site or how it worked.

    Also, is it possible to do a click analysis to see which areas of the site are accessed the most by users and prioritise those as the links presented on the main page? It could even become more sophisticated by tracking what new users refer to the most and have those links come up for them at the outset and then later change the presentation to the links that other users of the same rough time on the site frequent the most.
     
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  16. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'm running the short story contests again so @Wreybies has time to both sleep AND eat (such luxuries).

    If anybody has comments about the running of the contests (as opposed to the visibility / forum widgets), along the lines of @dbesim 's feedback, please let me know. Is there appetite for another hall of fame contest? Do we want to do the eZine with the year's winning entries?
     
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  17. dbesim

    dbesim Contributor Contributor

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    I think the eZine would be a good idea. It’s something the WF hasn’t done before and publishing stories would give winners praise for their stories and it’s an innovative idea for WF . That’s with the writers’ approval of though..
     
  18. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    You could even take an extra step and endeavour to produce a sincere journal off the back of the site. I’ve seen others from ‘other places’ - but they weren’t so rigorous...

    However - even if the mag did have an ‘outsider art’ or ‘folksy’ feel or sense - this wouldn’t necessarily be a negative. It would be a challenge in modern, modern marketing & publishing. :)
     
  19. dbesim

    dbesim Contributor Contributor

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    @Mark Burton . You’re definitely my first choice if the forum is in need of an administrator. I think the forum could pick up and learn a lot from you. Can @Mark Burton be the deputy contest administrator.. who could step in if the contest is in need??

    I think that would be good.
     
  20. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I think they tried an ezine back in the day and it died on its arse from lack of participation

    https://www.writingforums.org/threads/resurrecting-the-ezine.59074/
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
  21. davidm

    davidm Senior Member

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    I think there should be an e-zine every month, featuring short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and art. Winning entires in the various contests would make up the content. Art could be solicited. I know at least two artists who would be interested in seeing their work published. It may even be possible to find a way to charge a nominal fee for such an e-zine, perhaps with a downloadable PDF version available for x dollars.

    In addition to being a published fiction writer, I was an editor at the New York Times for eighteen years. I would be willing to help produce such a product.
     
  22. davidm

    davidm Senior Member

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    Actually it would have to be more than just the winning entires, but that could serve as the foundation.
     
  23. Carly Berg

    Carly Berg Active Member

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    Put the entries behind a password and fix the unfairness issue of some voting for themselves and others not voting for themselves.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
  24. talltale

    talltale Member

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    I was thinking we could have the voting done in a 1-all format.

    Example:

    first place vote ,

    second place vote,

    etc

    Instead of just one vote per.

    And pick the winner by calculating the results from having the most first,second place votes.

    It be nice to see the scoring distribution.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
  25. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I agree with this. I brought this up a while back, but I believe this is something only @Daniel can implement. Hopefully he sees this post.
     

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