1. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit. Contributor

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    Suggestion Increasing contest visibility and participation

    Discussion in 'Support & Feedback' started by GrahamLewis, Feb 7, 2020.

    I suggest that the site do more to promote the writing contests -- all 3 of them -- to get more members-at-large to vote. Maybe some sort of site announcement urging people to read and vote. As it is now, most voters are obviously also contestants. But there are so few that the results are not necessarily the results of a larger population with more varied interests and no dog in the fight.
     
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  2. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    As a help in this direction, when I do my 'welcome to the forum' in the New Member Introduction section, I nearly always suggest they visit the contests to vote and maybe to enter. It would be great if new people were encouraged to go there.
     
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  3. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    I'll say this to any of the membership at large - if you're here to improve your writing, you could do a lot worse than to read the entries in these contests.

    You won't like all of them, and some may not be to your taste, and you may feel you can do better - that's all fine, but you can learn a lot by reading what other people have done, and taking away what you like about them.

    So c'mon folks, there should be no reason not to participate, either by voting or taking part in the next one.

    There may be cookies.
     
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  4. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit. Contributor

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    Problem is, most of the members at large are not reading this page.
     
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  5. Richach

    Richach Senior Member

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    I think this contest is growing organically just fine. Over recent months it has gathered momentum. I do not see that is in peril at the moment, far from it.

    It does serve a purpose apart from seeing which story gets votes and whatnot. It gives writers the opportunity to publish stories in a small way. Maybe comparisons are made and many other basically harmless curiosities explored. It allows members to experiment, work to deadlines and prompts. Share their work and enthusiasm for writing. Plus a great deal more.

    Lets us all appreciate what the contests do well and continue to support it passionately as always.
     
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  6. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit. Contributor

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    All true and I appreciate what we have. I certainly didn't mean to suggest it's "in peril." Still, on a site of this size it seems a shame not to have more robust contests, more entries and especially more voters.
     
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  7. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Active Member

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    Would it be possible to add a banner across the top that you can see no matter what screen your on giving the next two or three prompts and a link to follow to the rules? Make it easy and obvious for people so they don't have to go looking for them.
     
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  8. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    As with all these things, they're all possible but only Daniel, the owner can do them, and he's not very active. So we can make suggestions but the mods and @Komposten are limited in what they can actually implement.
     
  9. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit. Contributor

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    I think that's a perfect idea. Let's hope Daniel gets on board. It would be a plus for the site, which, overall, is the best one I've come across.
     
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  10. Komposten

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Technical Admin Staff Supporter Contributor

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    There have been a lot of discussion about how to make the contests more visible and accessible in general.
    Improving the contest forums themselves haven't been discussed as much, but I like the idea of making them a bit more unique and show information related to the current and upcoming contests in an accessible way. However, I think a custom banner at the top, visible only in the correct sub-forums, to display prompts and links would require a custom-coded plugin. That's doable, but puts the bar a bit higher than simple forum customisation.
     
  11. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    I think the main issue has to be making the contests more visible to the membership at large. Some members aren't even aware that there are any contests.
     
  12. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit. Contributor

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    Seems to me it could be general to all forums.
     
  13. TheOtherPromise

    TheOtherPromise Member

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    Really?
    They have their own sub-forum on the forum home page. Though admittedly if you asked me to list all of those sub-forums I would not be able to. But it didn't take me long to find out about the contests.

    I think more of the issue might be not knowing when it'd be appropriate to enter. I was thinking about entering, but didn't know if I should since I was so new here. It also can be intimidating since most newcomers probably don't have as much experience as the long-time members. So it raises the question whether to bother entering, if you know you don't have a chance of winning.

    I don't know, I can only speak to my own experience. But I don't think there was anything the site could do to make me more inclined to participate, it all came down to my own decision.
     
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  14. Komposten

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Technical Admin Staff Supporter Contributor

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    We have three contests. Adding a banner that shows the current contests, upcoming prompts, and possibly links to contest rules would add a lot of clutter. A more detailed banner could be added to each contest sub-forum.

    We could also have a more general banner or sidebar widget which just mentions the currently active contests to the main board. In my opinion we definitely don't want to put the contests in the face of everyone by putting a banner on every page. If I'm reading a thread in Plot Dev or browsing the Workshop, a banner promoting the contests will just be in the way.

    Regardless, even if we were to add a global banner we would still need a custom add-on for it. I think just adding a static banner is doable with the pure forum software, but the contests are not static. The contest admins would need the ability to edit the banner to keep it up to date with links to the current contests and upcoming prompts, and that would require a custom interface for them to work with. Even if we automated it we would still need custom code.


    Edit: Something I'd love to see is a cleaner interface for the contest sub-forums. Right now you are greeted by this:
    upload_2020-2-10_19-44-18.png
    It is messy, in my opinion. It would be nice if we could move the current contest and current voting up above the thread listings, with some kind of highlight or other design that draws attention and tells people that "this, this right here, is what you should care about on this page".

    Something like a second "Sticky Threads" section, so that announcement threads and important discussions can still be stickied as well.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  15. Komposten

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Technical Admin Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Every time I have a reason to go to one of the contest sub-forums I just go to the main page and Ctrl+F to search for "contest". Otherwise I'll sit there scrolling back and forth like an idiot before I finally find them after 5 minutes. ;)

    The contests are open to any and all members, but maybe we need to make that more clear to new members that we currently do. We could bring it up in the New Member Quick Start, for example (assuming people actually read it).
     
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  16. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Member

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    I dont know what tools the moderators have at their disposal. But the most obvious idea to highlight the competitions is to simply have a bright, flashy banner at the top of the forum listings, or on the right side panel.
     
  17. Komposten

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Technical Admin Staff Supporter Contributor

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    As far as moderator tools apply to the discussion here, they can edit, move and close threads, sticky them, and give them prefixes ("Current Contest", "Open Voting", etc.). They cannot directly edit other site content (sidebars, banners, etc.), unless the content is provided by an add-on that provides edit options for moderators.
     
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  18. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Active Member

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    Well, to assist, I went for the quick and dirty method of just adding it to my signature line. Doesn't require any reworking of the site and if people keep seeing it they might go check it out.

    PS: I wonder if there is some confusion among the new members thinking who aren't differentiating between the contests, and the submissions for review and maybe think they need to complete critiques before they can submit?
     
  19. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    A sidebar widget showing the latest threads in the competitions subforum would be the way to go I think, but there are three subforums and we can't have three widgets.

    Except, of course, I don't know how many people use the forum on an tablet or similar device. I believe the widgets are right at the bottom on a small screen, and some people may not scroll that far down.
     
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  20. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    A member, @Bijed, was new to the site and had very little writing experience, by his own admission. He won both the Short and Flash competitions on his first try.

    You don't know that you don't have a chance. Give it a try - there really is no reason not to.
     
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  21. Richach

    Richach Senior Member

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    I am confused! Let me know when you have figured it out. :crazy:
     
  22. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'm not convinced there is an issue tbh - we have around 200 regularly logged on members - of those about 10% participate in the contests. 10% take up for a contest with no physical reward is a lot better than most magazines and so forth manage.

    Not everyone wants to enter contests and those that don't have many reasons... personally I prefer to spend writing time on my saleable projects (have entered a couple of contests over the years but I'm not a regular participant - although i usually vote in all three)
     
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  23. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    also the main reason we don't do that is because we can't ... there are many features we would like the forum to have, but we have to work with what we've got (the owner could add a widget based plug in, but thats not something thats within the mod team gift)
     
  24. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    I'm aware of that. Most of these suggestions would need Daniel to action them.

    I can't see much else that the mods can do beyond what is already being done at the moment.
     
  25. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    And that is why this thread (or at least that kind of suggestion) is frankly a waste of time... Daniel last logged on two weeks ago, and we already have a long list of priority tasks he needs to look at when he next resurfaces. I don't want to be disrespectful to our absent owner, i'm sure he has his reasons, life etc, but day to day its the moderators and admin who are running the show, and its been like that for years, and probably won't change any time soon, so we really need to focus on things we can do, and not worry about the things we can't
     
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