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General Competition Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Story Competitions' started by Ched, Oct 8, 2018.

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  1. Story Content: Introduction
    Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    This thread is for general ideas on the competition.

    Please see the current competition thread to discuss anything about the current competition - this thread is more for how aspects of the competition can be adjusted to improve participation and enjoyment.

    Please see the prompt thread if you'd like to discuss anything related to prompts.

    Discussing the above things in this thread will get your post moved and continued misuse of the thread will get you more.

    Note: I will not personally move on 'you must review each story' as a requirement to vote. At present the review must be 200+ words of useful review, and I could be convinced to lower and/or alter how that works, but the basic requirement to read and comment on each story stays.


    Hello everyone! Welcome to the discussion thread.

    We've been doing these revived competitions for about a year now. We've had Dec '17, then Q1, Q2, and Q3 for 2018. I'm about to kick off Q4 shortly, and while Q4 will follow a similar format to the rest of 2018...

    ...I figure it's time to discuss our format. Personally I like what we're doing. Having a competition every quarter keeps them from coming too quickly, provides enough time to do a poll, write, and vote, etc. I personally think that making them more often would be frustrating, but that's me.

    There was talk at one point of changing from approx every 3 months to every 2 months. In that case everything would be quicker, from polling to writing to voting, but we'd get in half a dozen competitions a year instead of four.

    Thoughts on that?

    I'm also open to thoughts on how reviewing works. At the moment I (again, personally) like how things are going. Read each story and review with 200+ words, then you can rank your top3 in the main thread (along with proof that you reviewed them all).

    Thoughts on how that's working out? I did notice that one author reviewed all the stories but didn't rank, and... I liked that. It means they still get to provide feedback but left out voting because of bias.

    Thoughts in general? I want this to continue for the foreseeable future, which means always having entries and always having reviewers. How can we get more people to review, besides doing a better job of advertising on the site?


    Gonna ping a few people who have participated in the past... and yes, I'm going to miss you. And you. And YOU. My bad.

    @Sorrows @Xiph0 @Jon @Selethe @James @Halt @Typhon @CareOtters @BTT @Blorcyn @Jeram @Zombie @enembee @Dicra @Lungs @Perspicacity @Zeelthor @Riley @Zenzao @The.Snorting.Hat @TheWiseTomato @Jarizok @Red @Shinysavage
     
  2. Typhon

    Typhon Unspeakable

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    So, let me be the ass who makes suggestions having not yet written anything for a DLP competition. Some thoughts:

    First, I feel that moving from once every three months to once every two months might be ideal.

    Maybe I've misjudged the pulse of competition writers, but from the things I've read and conversations I've had it seems to me that most people are writing their entries in a few weeks before the deadline, so I'm not sure we're really jeopardizing the quality there. The (intended) benefit would be retention of momentum - it's easy to be into the competitions around the time of submission/reviewing and to maintain that through the topic selection process, but it's also easy to realize you have 12 weeks to write your masterpiece after the topic has been selected and backburner it. I'd imagine that would be more difficult if there was something of a time crunch present from the word go. It also would minimize the issue where a writer hates a prompt but does want to write - on some level that's just their problem, but equally the more people who participate the better these can become.

    All that said, the staff certainly shouldn't put themselves out over this - if six a year is egregious in terms of effort, four is enough.

    With regard to reviewing, I also feel that things are broadly fine. I honestly don't feel that the original 250 word requirement was too much, but 200 is probably fine as well.

    I do think it's probably worthwhile to give reviewers some broad guidelines at the start of the review period - the new WbA guide is probably a good start on that front, as well as maybe a write-up on the nature of competition reviewing (ie. something talking about the importance of striving for objectivity in the rankings, even if an incredibly well written story uses a trope you find loathsome or a incredibly poorly written story ticks all the guilty pleasure boxes for you, etc.). Similarly, I think the rubric is broadly useful as a tool to help reviewers marshal their thoughts on a story especially if they aren't confident, but I'd also suggest encouraging reviewers to either stick to it pretty closely or to use it as a very loose structure rather than a strict guideline for point allocation; I feel that bolting it on at the end often leads to an issue where reviewers' scoring and feedback don't line up particularly well.

    The other thing I'd encourage with reviewers is the idea of reviewing something even if you can't (or can't make yourself) review everything - maybe one story is just really off-putting to a reader for some reason or another, or maybe a reader doesn't have time to leave a good review on every story. In any case, it's infinitely better to just do something rather than ignore the competition to avoid partially reviewing the entries (it's best, of course, to review all entries and put a vote in for your favorites, but something is better than nothing).

    Tinkering with what you offer reviewers and what you encourage in reviews is a tricky balancing act, obviously, since constraining reviewers too much might lead to less reviewers, but ultimately I feel honing feedback and scoring a bit would likely encourage more people to submit, which in turn is likely lure in more reviewers to read some top-tier work.

    Piggybacking a bit on the last point, finding ways of encouraging more folks to submit seems like it might well be the easiest way to encourage more people to review (besides, as you mentioned, advertising the competition well on the site) - the more good competition stories there are to read and the more we push reviewing competition stories, the more the cycle perpetuates. So maybe the move, then, is to dangle a few shinys?

    I know 'prizes' have been floated before, but something to the effect of flair - a unique name color would probably be pretty damn galvanizing, for instance - might be enough to encourage some nerds to write in the way getting to add a prompt to the topic selection poll might not.

    Another idea (assuming @enembee would be down for it, since the C2 is his baby) might be to automatically add the competition winner to the DLP C2 - even now, I suspect that would probably be a strong boost to author visibility (and therefore reviews received on that story and likely all of their work) if they were interested. FF.net reviews are broadly trash, but a broken clock is right twice a day, etc.

    So yeah.

    More competitions, reviewer guidance, bribe writers with fancy stuff so more people submit, entice reviewers to jump through extra hoops to keep getting dope stories, ???, DLP is great again.

    EDIT: As expected, I immediately had a thought after I posted - a cool thing that hasn't been floated to my knowledge might be to have a shiny for the best reviewer per competition as well. This might or might not help anything, but I can't imagine how it would hurt.
     
  3. Zombie

    Zombie Black Philip Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I'll disagree and say that I think once every three months is acceptable. There isn't enough engagement right now to warrant six yearly competitions, if I'm totally honest. So I like it how it is, I don't know about anyone else, but I like having that buffer of time to compete because I feel like I can submit something that is much more polished. While there are those that would write something in the last couple weeks and then submit it, its all about gestating the idea, and getting pen to paper so to speak.

    I'll second the "enembee's guide is great" in that it gives a rudimentary guideline in which people can begin to give feedback. Already, I've been seeing names that I don't normally see contributing where they might have felt like they didn't have nothing to say before. I'll be clear here. What any one is offering is clarity and their perspective, while your perspective might mirror thread sentiment it is in no way an indicator of your ability to give feedback. I generally use a style where I talk about how things made me feel in regards to concepts, hitting the broad strokes v. a fine tooth comb over grammar, spelling, structure.

    Not everyone has to do that, and not everyone has to be a writer to give feedback, which I believe is illustrated quite clearly in nmb's thread.

    I'll also echo the reviewing something is better than nothing. Ched went out of her way to give everyone that would participate in the feedback portion a rough outline of what to do. If you can't follow that, then I don't know how else to help you. I think its as cut and dry as the post made it out to be. You don't have to read other people's reviews to formulate your own, but if you want to do that, its your prerogative. The whole point of these comps, in a way, is to get feedback from an unbiased standpoint to people that we don't know the names of, and while we might know the writing style, that is not always indicative of the author.

    For future competitions, I would say that if someone was to outright state someone's name in a thread, you should be barred from reviewing further, my reason for this is because as soon as you know the name and its been confirmed you're automatically picking up bias. And while I would hate to lose a participant, if you're going to be such a shit artist as to call someone out, then you're not really understanding the spirit of this, now are you?

    Finally, I'd like to talk about engagement and things we can do to get more. I'd say that generically, the prompts we've been going with are in the right direction. I like the one word prompt if I'm totally honest, and I like the flexibility of being able to include crossover elements. I think everyone else does too, to a certain extent. However, the thing I see being the biggest factor of contention going forward is actual participants. I know its been talked about, but I really think we should utilize the forum software to advertise the competitions, with banner notifications, etc. Get it to the forefront of everyone's attention. There were lots of votes, and a lot of people saying maybe, but in the end only seven people submitted something.

    Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I feel like general sentiment from the Q3 thread, there was going to be a larger turnout. So if we could focus more on the forums at large, I think that'd be doing everyone a favor. Another thought I had was invitations. Invite your friends to submit something. I know that some of us are part of more than one community, so why not let them know about our competition. I know that seems like a lot of obligation, but I'm dead set on getting new blood into these things, and while I'd prefer it be an existing DLP member, there is nothing to say that if you want to submit something to our comp then we can.

    @Typhon I like the idea of adding people to the C2 if they win. I think that would be a good incentive to our authors. I don't know about anyone else, but when @enembee cleaned up the C2 recently and I got added in, I've picked up some traffic on my FFN profile where I wouldn't otherwise have in the past. The DLP C2 is followed by a lot of people, and that is the exposure a lot of people would want to have, especially if even with one story, you get a new follower, and then more as they read the rest of your works. That's subject to NMB's desire to follow up on this, I'm not going to oblige myself to something that isn't mine, but I think the idea has merit.

    I think its been talked about a usertitle or user bar for the writers of the forums in the past, I think at this point its just something that is yet to be implemented. Idk. That's up to our forum staff to make those kind of decisions.

    I think there was also some talk about rewarding people that contribute to WbA and to the comps. Like if their reviews have a certain amount of weight to them, they get some kind of incentive. I think if we put more meat on the bones for that idea we might get some more feedback from other members. Its always going to be a battle thought, because a lot of people's argument is why would I say something when someone else has already said it.
     
  4. enembee

    enembee The Nicromancer DLP Supporter

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    I will give a more thorough response to this, but historically DLP competition winners have always been included in the C2.
     
  5. Typhon

    Typhon Unspeakable

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    This is fair. I think I'm coming at it from the angle of my own personal deficiencies (gestating as a euphemism for procrastinating, a looming deadline being helpful for focus, and not missing out on a spark to write because I'm uninterested in a particular prompt), but I could see just as easily how increasing the number of competitions could lead to exactly what I'm hoping to avoid (more opportunities leading to people not submitting until they feel a really good one comes along on the one hand, and burnout for perennial entrants on the other).

    I think I still stand by the desire to increase the number of competitions, but this does a good job of showing it's probably a bit of a wash in the end.

    Just want to +1 this bit.

    When I went through the competition, I was almost positive I knew who wrote every story in it. As it turns out, I was broadly right. I say that not as some sort of brag, but to draw attention to what I did - notably, not go through and name the participants like a shithead, nor give feedback commensurate to the "status" of the author. I think this probably a reasonable place to aim for - it's almost a guarantee that at absolute minimum one person reviewing in the competition will either pinpoint writing styles or else have been a beta reader for an entry or something. That's fine, it's going to happen. We just can't let it undermine the whole point of an anonymous competition, as Zombie said. Knowing something doesn't not mean you need to express it, and talking/speculating publically about entrant identities needs to be smacked down hard.

    I agree about the one word prompts (standard disclaimer about being a shithead talking about what I like and don't like in competitions I've yet to enter applies) - I can see how the longer prompts encourage creativity and stepping outside your comfort zone as a writer, but from a personal standpoint I find them to be a little stifling?

    Consider the vampire competition: entrant 1 wrote a crackfic about the Weasleys being vampires all along, entrant 2 wrote a piece based around a conversation with the canon vampire, entrant 3 wrote a story with a vampire as the POV character, entrant 4 made Harry a metaphorical vampire who incidentally kicked the ass of actual vampire mooks, entrant 5 used a vampire as the power behind the throne of the actual primary antagonist, entrant 6 used vampires as an enabler of a Voldemort scheme and as a looming environmental threat, and entrant 7 used vampires to set up a political-ish story. I massively belabor that point to say this - there's a breadth there that can't really be achieved with the longer prompts imo.

    There's definitely value in constraining authors so they'll grow in new ways, but that feels more like a thing we should do from time to time for a minicompetition or even a main competition once we've built our entrant numbers up a bit imo.

    Moving on, I agree with literally everything Zombie said about getting folks to show up and enter the competitions as well as the reward bits - obviously all of my suggestions obliged other people to do something, so I don't mean to hammer at that.

    The last thing I'll shout out is the argument at the end of Zombie's post - "why would I take time to say something someone else has already said?" I know Zombie isn't making that argument personally, but I think it's the sort of thing that saps at the very foundation of a forum like this, so I want to try to defeat it anywhere it appears.

    To that point, I'd encourage people who feel that way to consider the reviews left by me and the reviews left by enembee for the most recent competition (or a handful of others, but enembee's are the most striking iirc). They are very often similar - that is, they make several, if not all, of the same points - but they often have slightly different conclusions. That's the point! You might feel others have said what you might say if you reviewed. But I suspect if you actually committed your thoughts to the screen you'd find something to quibble with in the existing reviews. And even if you don't (unlikely), it's still valuable feedback in that you've added another voice to the people shouting out a particular bit of a story.

    In summary, just like quasi-inspirational pop songs aimed at teens have been telling you all along, only you can say exactly what you think. Quit being a lazy bum and do it! :p
     
  6. Zombie

    Zombie Black Philip Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I mean, not to contradict my own earlier post. My hope is that if engagement increases, then total number of competitions run is also increased. I think that is something we can use as a sliding scale in terms of what we do and what we don't do. The numbers have to be there to justify, otherwise you've got the same two or three people doing the comps each time, and while the feedback is great, it creates the image of inclusiveness that could potentially make it harder for an outsider to approach.
    Agreed. There needs to be a removal of that sentiment from everyone's vocabulary. If you go in ready for defeat then you're going to be defeated, I just know that its a common argument that someone will inevitably cite. I have the same feels on it as you do.
     
  7. Sorrows

    Sorrows Queen of the Flamingos Moderator DLP Gold Supporter

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    There is the question of what to do if entry does significantly increase. This competition had more entries than any other. Reading and reviewing 7 entries is manageable but if we get to the point where 15+ entries are coming in it starts to become more of a time commitment which might impact the number of people doing the reading and reviewing.

    I'm not sure if there is a practical solution to this. Perhaps allowing/requiering contestants to review all other stories but their own could be one, it might not make things completely unbiast but it may mean that review numbers would grow with the number of stories submitted.

    Otherwise perhaps some other incentives for people who review all stories?

    Full disclosure: I did not get around to doing all of them this time.
     
  8. darklordmike

    darklordmike Headmaster

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    Personally I like the idea of the quarterly contests. I think most people are working on other things, and trying to write something for a contest every two months might feel like a chore. Three months is the sweet spot.

    I'd vote for the short, open-ended prompts too. Like Typhon said, it encourages a wide variety of approaches.
     
  9. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    Response time!

    I'm going to respond to a lot of what was written here. Don't take my responses as me trying to shut you all down. We're going to disagree on things - and I'm going to sometimes play Devil's Advocate - so go ahead and discuss, etc.

    @Typhon
    I disagree, but I expect that is partially a personal thing. I haven't managed to submit to the contest yet, though I did finish one draft and outline two others. My problem isn't waiting until the last minutes, it's that I need the first month to let my ideas roll around in my head, come together into something cohesive, then wriggle out my basic plot points. THEN I start writing.

    It's just how I work. That process doesn't often happen more quickly for me. So while some people might starting writing at the last minute, that doesn't mean they haven't been thinking and plotting and letting their muse come up with a good story to write.

    The idea of having a crunch from the word go just means that I'm not going to bother - it's always crunch time in my life with my job. Give me something fun to do and I will at least let the story knock around in my head, but make it something that is on a time crunch? No thanks on picking that up for fun.

    So I disagree with you, but that's me. Others have expressed a desire to move to the 2-month time, so still up for considering it, but need a better argument. I am against moving to shorter than 2 months for sure.

    I already (briefly) spoke with NMB about altering his "how to review" thread and putting something similar here, along with a link to his thread (which is fantastic). I'll message him in the next week or so while we're voting on the poll to make sure he's okay with that.

    The rubric wasn't required at all this time? It was provided in case people who wanted to use it would have something to use. That changed with the Q3 competition I think. It had been required earlier, but it made reviewing more irritating for those of us who know how to review.

    I like the 'prize' of getting to pick a poll topic is decent, since there are all sorts of stories I want to read and this is a way to get them written, but... yeah. Maybe something in addition to that would motivate people more. But that's above my head. Can discuss it with Admins if people think this is a real potential draw. There's also the feedback, but that's for everyone.

    @Zombie

    I agree with you regarding 3-months (obviously) and NMB's guide. Like I said above, I'll talk to him about linking to it while also revamping it a bit and posting a thread here for people (tweaked a bit for the competition, if he's okay with that).

    As for the rough outline of what to do... I did try, as you said, and it's fairly easy/clearcut in my view. But that is something that I will try to tweak as well. I have ideas on that - for instance, it's possible to remove the 'points' part of it and just give a guideline on what to discuss, etc.

    Thanks for reminding me of that.

    As for the advertising, I agree. In the past I think we've managed to have 3 banner notifications - one for the poll opening, one for the start of the competition once the topic is announced, and once about halfway into the writing period. I'd like to do more, but I have to pester Admins about that and I don't want it to go past the point of 'advertising' and into 'obnoxious' territory.

    Thoughts?

    More stories are good, agreed. I heard some people express distress at having to read and review even more stories, but... I don't really feel that anxiety myself.

    Thing is... we had seven good entries in Q3, several of them were great, but none of them would I rate 5/5. I make it a point not to skim too much, and if I ever find myself skimming I always point that out for the author, but if I'm reading a story that is poorly written I'm going to read it quickly, spit out 200 words highlighting the worst issues with ease, and move on.

    If I can fix up the 'how to review' bit correctly I hope to free people of this... intimidation of 'doing it wrong' or whatever the hell they're worried about as regards reviewing.

    I like the idea of rewarding the reviewers who go out of their way to review. But that goes beyond the scope of this competition to include WbA, so it's a hair above my head. Something to bring up in the future. Because really, reviewing is just so damned useful.

    @enembee

    I'm happy to support putting the winner in the C2. As the runner-up at present is not always a thing, and it's somewhat arbitrary, we'd probably have some salty folks if that went in too. Probably just the winner at present?

    BUT... I'd prefer that the winner go through a process along the lines of... (1) win, (2) edit, (3) WbA, (4) ffnet and added to the C2.

    But I feel wrong enforcing that. They already won, after all.

    I look forward to your further thoughts.

    @Typhon & @Zombie (later posts)

    If there's an issue with someone naming the entrants let me know and I'll try to figure out how to deal with that in the moment. Personally I've only ever guessed at one stories author, but then I don't think that way.

    Prompts and whatnot I'm fairly satisfied with at present. I'll make sure there's always at least one "single word" prompt on the poll, but I'm still 100% on board with winners getting to pick any kind of prompt they want. It's a prize for winning and a chance to read the types of stories you want to read if it's picked.

    On the flip side if all the winners pick a one word prompt staff will pick a specific one to constrain things a bit. Sooner or later every 'type' prompt will get picked. If we ever really want to do so then we can 'force' a poll with only one kind of prompt, but that's for the future once we have more interest and need to spice things up.

    And it goes without saying that I also dislike the "why would I take time to say something that's already been said" argument as regards to reviews. Hell even if you say exactly the same thing that's still two people saying it, which gives it more weight.

    And sometimes you will say it differently, or have a different conclusion, or even start a discussion with the other person who said it that will be beneficial to the author. Just... review, people. Review.

    @Sorrows

    I said this earlier, but I really don't see the issue with reviewing more entries. It just means that I'd probably leave shorter reviews of 200 words for most of them and go into more detail on the ones that stand out to me.

    But that's me. Not everyone is me, and I know a lot of folks would be intimidated by that. It's time consuming no matter how 'quickly' or 'efficiently' you do it and it was hard for me to make time this past go around.

    We could revamp the scoring system a bit and allow authors to review all stories (post a fake review for your own story) and then vote... but in that case, we'd need a way to 'drop the lowest' score or something, b/c authors wouldn't be voting for their own stories, and... yeah, doable, probably, but it would require a revamp of how voting works. I'll brainstorm. Ideas welcome.

    @darklordmike

    I like the more specific prompts, damnit! CREATIVITY! Figure out why Harry is trying to break into that door, which door it is, where it is, why, how... blargh! But yes, I got your back on the short and sweet ones, no worries.

    Thanks everyone for the responses so far - great food for thought and much appreciated.
     
  10. Typhon

    Typhon Unspeakable

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    This seems to be a common sentiment, and it's absolutely a reasonable one. I suspect I might've just been projecting a bit - I have ideas that have been percolating for years now, but unless I have external constraints I never get around to actually putting pen to paper instead of waiting on them to reach their best possible state.

    But similarly to you and your example, that's just how I work. There's a brief period of thinking about a thing to come up with a concept, a couple days of gestation, and then the ideas wriggle together somewhat organically whenever I force myself to sit down and write something. Delaying after the minimum of a couple days mulling over my concept might improve the story fractionally, but much, much less than sitting down to write and reviewing it after the story has been written would. It seems that is a bit unusual, in which case I think it definitely makes sense to leave them quarterly competitions at least in the short term. I also agree that two months is the bare minimum amount of time a short story competition like this should be afforded.

    Yeah, sorry, I knew that it was, I just felt there were a couple instances where it was used in a weird way in the Q3 competition by some reviewers. I don't want to drag anyone or anything so I won't dwell on the point, I just wanted to say something to encourage people to think about their scoring and their feedback and the way it matched up. The rubric is a great tool or constraining depending on your confidence level wrt reviewing, but if you're in-between then its probably worth thinking about whether you want to commit to using it or do your own thing rather than trying to split the middle.

    Just so my position is clear, I feel that these things are also solid prizes. I was just trying to think of things that might motivate a DLP writer who hadn't been involved in the competitions yet to sit up and pay attention.
     
  11. Dicra

    Dicra Groundskeeper

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    I don't know if I'm too late for this, but nevertheless wanted to drop some thoughts..

    +1
    Also, making them bimonthly would mean that you'd write approximately 40k words each year for competitions, if you were to take part in all of them. That's quite much, considering most of us also have stories going on simultaneously.
    I know I definitely wouldn't want to do that. I like the more relaxed timeframe we have now. Even if we had more engagement, I'd prefer to have them every three months. Things aren't special anymore if they happen too often, and I feel like we'd inevitably loose steam if we did prompts bimonthly.

    Getting people to vote for the prompts doesn't seem to be that big of an issue (we have over 60 votes atm, without advertisement afaik), so I don't think we'd need advertisement for that.
    So, it's more about getting people to write. Having one at the start of the competition is a good thing. I'd remind people around 3-4 weeks before the deadline, because the longer the timeframe between the reminder and the deadline, the more likely it is for people to forget again.
    And then, I'd add a banner for the reviews as soon as the voting begins, so people are encouraged to review.
    In general, the reviews could be a part of the wording of the advertisement. As soon as people recognize they're guaranteed to get quality feedback in these, more so than in a normal WbA post, we're also going to have more participants.

    Just a thought, but we could do it like we did it this time, just with one or two additional days of voting period:
    First, we have the normal voting. Everyone posts their review, the authors are allowed to do so, too. The guys that didn't write anything vote.
    Then, after that period is over, the authors that posted reviews are allowed to vote, too, except they aren't allowed to include their own stories in their vote. Their points get added.

    Thing is, that could lead to manipulation, e. g. one author sees that his story is barely in the lead and then proceeds not to vote for the story he thinks to be the best in order to preserve his lead.

    In general, I'd be against letting authors vote, because I feel like there's too much potential for salt in it.
     
  12. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

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    Huh so this is a thing.

    On Staff Constraints
    While generally I agree with Zombie and Co that, in the short term, 3 months > 2 months until we get more submissions, I don't agree that staff effort should be a limiting constraint if we ever want to increase the frequency of these competitions.

    I've brought it up briefly before how running the Comp really isn't that difficult, and non-staff members could be brought in to help out quite easily. If you think about it, what really happens in the backend at this stage?

    1) Post a thread regarding story poll (Ched).
    2) Accept stories and repost them to preserve anonymity (Xiph0).
    3) Tally votes (Ched)
    4) Repeat Step 1

    I mean sure, there are other things like facilitating discussion, improvements to competition design, quality-checking reviews, but these aren't all that time consuming in my mind (correct me if I'm wrong @Ched) and there's not a lot of time pressure on these other tasks.

    The only issue might be making a call on whether certain reviews should count or not (and it has yet to affect actual comp results to date), which could easily be fixed by having these assistants just submit reviews that they think shouldn't count to Ched to make the final call. That would leave the more time consuming tasks to a volunteer if the staff don't have time and leave the "big" decisions to the staff.

    Best of both worlds IMHO.

    To a degree, I'm just echoing what Sauce said at some point regarding the HP C2 - while Enembee has been a tremendous asset to the community, we've kind of just lumped all the responsibility of running the C2 on him. To a degree, it makes sense - it is his brainchild. But if he needs help then we as a community should help out.

    The same is true here.

    On Scoring and letting Authors vote
    The thing with letting authors vote is that we introduce all sorts of problems with having scoring be gamed. It's further complicated by the fact that it's really, really hard to draw a line between a genuine review and a gamed review. And this whole issue is closely related to the whole which reviews should count and which shouldn't.

    That aside, some preliminary thoughts I have:
    1) Dropping lowest score

    I'm not sure how drop the lowest score thing would work, since the winner wins by most points, and the lowest points someone could give you is a zero (i.e. not top 3). So dropping a lowest score, applied to the current system, wouldn't really make sense.

    We could go back to a rubrick style scoring similar to what we did with the Dece 2017 comps, and this might work.

    2) Ranked scoring

    We could revamp scoring into one where you rank each story (1 being the best), and the one with the lowest amount of points wins. We'd also have to let authors rank their own work, because the alternative is they are each implicitly voting their own work as the best by not ranking it (a '0' vote).

    This system should be fairly robust to gaming unless like 3 or more competitors decide to bomb someone's story- which would be difficult to coordinate given the anonymous nature of the comp.

    Pros: It would ensure all reviewers have had to review all works, if they're forced to rank everything.

    Possible setbacks: It's more of a pain for reviewers, and at a certain point you do have to wonder if there's any merit to scoring which between two not great entries is better? And since we encourage linking reviews, this system could quickly become unwieldy when the number of entries goes up.

    On the other hand, less entries would be harder for a few people to manipulate, but more entries would be easy for a few people to manipulate. Practically speaking, we shouldn't ever see a case where a "good" entry (i.e. in the running for winning) would ever be placed last or close to last unless we see an improbable case where quality of entries is nearly uniform across the board.

    I don't think this is a good solution, just throwing it out there.

    3) Current System

    I'm still a bit sleepy as I write this out, but I can't think of any drawbacks to keeping the current scoring method, with the except that authors can't vote their own story as top 3.

    How could this be gamed? If you boil it down, manipulating scores is down to artificially increasing your own score, or decreasing someone else's score.

    Since we're restricting authors from voting their own story, they can't increase their own score. And they can't really decrease someone else's score since the default is already a zero anyway (i.e. If Halt wanted to cheat Zombie and not place him in the Top 3, how does that increase Halt's chances of winning? It doesn't.)

    The only way around this is if two (or more) authors got together and went "hey, vote my story as the best and I'll do the same for you". Given this comp is anonymous, highly unlikely this will ever become a major issue.

    The only way this might backfire is if someone doesn't vote at all, which would hurt every other entrant's score (by giving everyone else a zero), while still retaining a potential increase in his own score. But again, we can just make it a rule that all entrants must review and vote.

    On Reviewing
    I've got no issues with how it's currently set up. Honestly 250 words isn't that hard. You could rant about just one aspect of a story (say, it's pacing), given examples and holyshitI'mat2kwordsgottatonethisdown.

    The new system of voting rather than using a rubrick feels far more organic and flexible to me, and provides the right balance between objectivity and subjectivity. There was talk on IRC some weeks back about how reviewing purely based on opinions felt against the spirit of the competition - and while I agree in broad strokes, I don't think making a competition purely about which entry was the "objectively best written" is good either.

    Writing has always straddled that fine line between art and science for me. There are some "rules" to good writing, but there are some thing we can't really try to pin down as an exact science of what works and what doesn't.

    That's always been the challenge in writing.

    On Encouraging Reviews

    Not hiding this because it needs to be said and said again.

    Something is better than nothing and that was one of the central themes when nmb was writing his WBA review guide.

    Yes, an author will love you for writing a well thought out essay on everything he's doing wrong and right. But they'd prefer a short opinion piece to a thumbs up, and prefer a thumbs up to cricket noises and bitter air.

    Leaving feedback is essential to nurturing DLP's writers.

    There's been talk before about gamification, and I'll just reiterate my support for the idea. Shinies are an easy way to encourage a certain kind of behavior. Nothing gets people going like being able to brag about their e-peens. Whether we're rewarding good reviews or submissions, it will encourage people to put in more effort.


    On the C2 and Comp Winners
    I'm of two minds about this. On one hand, yes, it's a good draw. On the other hand, I'm worried what it says about DLP's quality if we get a particularly bad haul during one competition. Maybe this isn't even an issue, but ultimately, I'd prefer to leave the final decision to enembee whether an entry should be included in the C2. We could phrase it as "the winning entry has a strong chance of getting into the C2, but hey, we're not promising anything if your writing isn't up to par".

    Make it less a rule and more a rule of thumb

    On One word Prompts.

    Any prompt style that lets me write about Armageddon is alright in my books. 'nough said.


    On the Future of the Comp and Entries

    In the hypothetical future where we receive 15+ entries per competition...wow! That would be pretty amazing. I think the easy fix is simply to give people more time to review in that case?

    I don't think this is a problem, but if it turns out it is...and if the time commitment issue is the problem then one possible fix might be to break them up into mini-competitions like in a tournament arc?

    Say we get 20 entries. We split these up into 4 brackets and given everyone say a week to review. All you have to do for your vote to count is review all the stories in a bracket. The best story from each bracket (or best stories, depending on how we tinker with the details), advances to a final bracket.

    You can, of course, review every bracket if you wish, but those who have less time and don't want to commit as much can limit their reviews to a smaller subsection of the comp.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  13. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    I have a lot to say to respond to this but I don't have time right this second. However I wanted to post and say that I'm reading and listening.

    After turning some of this over in my head lately I think the primary thing we want to work on isn't more entrants, or help for me (I'm fine), but getting more people to review. If we have more reviews and more votes people will be more invested and more interested in writing. And I think to get more reviews we will probably need to implement some form of 'bling.'

    Since you tagged me... running this is fun for me. I enjoy doing it even though I often can't pop in all that often to try and help with the conversation. I could do bimonthly competitions if needed, and the reason why I don't want to run more than that isn't the effort on my part. If I needed more help I'm sure someone would step up with me.

    I agree that letting authors vote is not ideal, though I hope they will continue to review. Getting more reviewers is currently my opinion of the 'biggest' issue. I'm just not sure how to fix it without rewarding them and I don't know how to do that either. I'm currently happy enough with the shape our reviews take. Though I still intend to chat with NMB about posting his tips (or a variation thereof) here.

    And again, I have loads of thoughts on everything else that's been said, just no time at the moment to write a proper post.
     
  14. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    Did anyone have significant difficulty leaving 200 words of review for the story that clocked in at 500 words? If so we can come up with a rule of thumb for future entries of that nature, but it seemed like most reviewers had no issues rolling with it.
     
  15. Zombie

    Zombie Black Philip Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I had no issue.
     
  16. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

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    Had a spot of trouble with the short entry (3?). There really wasn't too much to talk about and I felt my review was kind of just reaching
     
  17. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Chief Warlock DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    Yeah, I didn't have any particular issue, and found things that hopefully were useful to say. I can't speak for anyone else, but it did seem there was some criticism of length specifically though.

    However, I think it might have been story-specific: I have to imagine if another entry was 500 words of poetry or parable-style biblical speak and told a whole story, then you could have a stand out entry of very short length. I'd be so down with that, and so I'm not in favour of minimum word restrictions.
     
  18. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

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    Seconding this. To be clear, my concern with the short story is not so much it's length, so much as the content. A short story can be very rich, just as a long story can be utterly empty.
     
  19. Jeram

    Jeram Elder of Zion ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Yes, that's why I took a different approach, showing how I'd rewrite the first two scenes.
     
  20. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    I think that worked well enough.
     
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