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Caravel Forum : Caravel Boards : Contests : Running Your Own Fishbowl. (I mean "Contest".)
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ErikH2000
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icon Running Your Own Fishbowl. (+3)  
This board is the place for announcing and running contests. There is room for some meta-discussion too, i.e. "Which contests do you like the best?" or "Problems As I See It with the Rules for 8-Timer Prizes".

What is a Contest?

To begin with, there are official contests which run at the beginning of each month, are announced in the Illumination newsletter, and offer winners access to the Prize Pile and rank point awards. Official contests are organized by Department of Challenges, although sometimes people outside of the department are deputized to run them.

And then there are unofficial contests which anybody can run without coordination with the department. Unofficial contests don't give winners access to the Prize Pile and don't necessarily have rank point awards. You can run an unofficial contest, if you like. And if you do, I hope it will be a phenomenal success!

Some contests aren't really contests and should go on the "Forum Games" board instead. What is the difference between a game and a contest? For our purposes, a contest has clear rules for participation, concluding the contest, and identifying winners after conclusion. A game is better-suited for exercises where there is no clear winner or the rules are under development.

Guidelines for Unofficial Contests

Note that these are all just guidelines. I recommend that all contest-runners follow them for their own sake, but I'm not going to come down on anyone who doesn't. Also, please don't take it upon yourself to harp on forumites that you think are running contests poorly. Your ultimate recourse is simply not to participate. If you are still compelled to give advice to runners, be polite and constructive. Perhaps even send your advice privately so as not to embarrass or cause a defensive response.

On to the guidelines:

*You can contact the Contest Coordinator and discuss an appropriate time slot. This way you can avoid competing with other unofficial contest hosts when you run your contest.

* You can discuss the contest first. If your contest idea is hard to understand, controversial, or somewhat undefined, you should discuss the contest publicly before announcing it. You can post on the "Contests" board about this. Indicate in the subject that this is a discussion of a contest idea, and not a contest announcement.

* You could instead structure your contest as a game and post it on the "Forum Games" board instead. See previous section for description of differences between contests and games. Don't fool yourself into thinking that more attention will be paid to a "Contests" post than a "Forum Games" post. Actually, the longest-running and most-viewed topics tend to be found in "Forum Games".

* You have to come up with any awards or prizes on your own. Don't assume that a moderator will pony up the rank points you are offering for your contest. You can contact the Contest coordinator and ask about getting rank points for your contest if you want. But this should be done before your contest announcement is made, otherwise you could be making promises that you can't deliver on.

* Be accessible. People should be able to ask you questions and get a response back. Make an effort to communicate everything that is needed for people to understand and enjoy the contest.

* Have fair rules. Your rules should allow contestants to win based on the merit of their participation. If luck is involved, try to distribute it evenly.

* Have fair behavior. Problems often come up that will need your guiding hand. These often take the form of a dilemma where you can help one person with a bit of sympathetic leniency or stick to your rules like a cold-hearted bureaucrat. You might be surprised how often the latter choice is the correct one for keeping a contest running smoothly. In your decisions, strive to be fair to all contestants, and in particular, be careful about giving special attention to one or a minority of contestants.

* Have a happy ending. A contest host should always come along shortly after the contest concludes and summarize the results, hopefully with a bit of flair and warmth. Don't wait too long to do this. And don't assume that because the results have already been discussed by contestants that you don't have to perform this little ceremony. The contest ends with a whimper unless you properly finish it.
* Caravel will only award prizes available in the Prize Pile, since these items are what are officially available to contest winners. Caravel may make its own exceptions under special circumstances, and you're always welcome to request one if you have something specific in mind. The aim is to be generous and helpful and make the Caravel Forum an enjoyable place for everyone to hang out and create good things.

* If some desired prize is unavailable (e.g. someone wants an old SmS on CD that is not in print and no longer in inventory), then caravel can't offer that. Caravel can't really make an exception for this, because mrimer just deosnt have the material on-hand. (Erik was in charge of all that until last year, and mrimer can't recreate past SmS CDs.)

* Before you run your contest, you can try to arrange with mrimer for Caravel to provide a licensed downloadable copy of something that Caravel still sells, but mrimer won't agree to provide prizes if you don't agree with me on this before starting your unofficial contest. Sadly, mrimer doesn’t have time personally to keep up with all of the cool, active projects going on here on the Forum, so please don't expect mrimer to notice that you want to give away a game in your unofficial contest and expect mrimer will contact you personally to approve it, or that mrimer will approve a prize after the contest is ended.

* If a forumite wants to run an unofficial contest, then they may offer their own legally-obtained prizes of any sort. You may mail someone a physical item you have, whether it's a DROD CD or something else, like a book or some other game. For example, if you have an extra TCB CD, then you can mail it to the winner. If you have an extra SmS credit in your user account, you may ask Schik to transfer it to the winner of your contest. However, under no circumstances does Caravel permit making pirated copies of CDs or software to give to other forumites. Please don't ever offer someone a copy of a game you pirated, or to give someone a copy of software you bought previously if you plan on keeping a copy for yourself. If you are really serious about offering a prize (other than rank points) for your contest, you must be willing to obtain a dedicated legal copy of the prize to give to the winner. Otherwise, what are you promising a legal prize for when you don't even have one? This is the way all forum contests -- official and unofficial -- have been run in the past, and will continue in this fashion.

* If you don't have a legal copy of our software, then please ask mrimer if he will be willing to provide an official, licensed copy to the winner of your contest. Caravel rarely do this for unofficial contests, but you are welcome to talk to the contest coordinator about the possibility of running an official contest one month, where the winner will receive a prize from the official Prize Pile.

Going Official

Would you like to run an official contest? You need to run at least one unofficial contest or game and then you can contact the Contest coordinator proposing your contest. Please give a description of your contest, and to save a little time, it would also be appreciated if you would list any past games/contests you've run on the forum. Then the Contest Coordinator will go back and look at these past games/contests and see how well they did. Did players have fun? Did you communicate well? Were you accessible and fair?

If you have difficulties with English, I'll suggest that you team up with someone who doesn't. I don't want to be a language snob or discriminate against people from non-English-speaking countries, but there are two things that matter for official contests: 1. Most importantly, everyone needs to be able to understand what you are saying. 2. The text of the contests should be well-written to give a good impression of our official contests. We don't want someone new to the contests to quickly judge them to be of poor quality based on some grammar and spelling mistakes.

So after the Contest Coordinator thinks you'd be a good person to run a contest, they will look at your proposal for a contest idea. You can send the complete rules if you like, but a summary works fine too. If the contest proposal looks good, they will gratefully accept your offer and try to schedule a month when you can run the contest. Here are some reasons why they might not accept a contest idea:

* Too complicated. Particularly, if you've never run an official contest before, keep your ideas simple. Even simpler than the more complicated contests we've run in the past. I'm more comfortable with complicated contests from contest-running vets like gamer_extreme_101 and DiMono.

* Relies on outside resources, i.e. graphics, writing, programming for your contest must be contributed from elsewhere. An example would be if you had a contest like "Snakes! ...to the Death" that needed somebody to hack together some PHP/MySQL magic for it to work. If you've already got the people who will help with these things then I'll be less worried.

* Invites intellectual property infringement. I.e. one interesting idea proposed recently involved creating DROD versions of popular video games.

* Too much like a past contest. Your idea can be similar to a past contest, but not exactly the same, and it's heavily encouraged to surprise the contest goers with something they haven't done yet.

* Too vague. They'll ask you to explain more concretely how your contest will work if they can't picture it my head.

* Doesn't sound fun. A lot of ideas are technically sound, but just don't seem like they would be that enjoyable.

* Too much contestant commitment. The range of time each contestant is asked to give should be between 30 minutes and 8 hours. For creative contests, the upper limit is around 2 hours. People should feel that is possible to spend that much time and do well in the contest. Contestants often spend much more time and that isn't a problem.

Feedback

Alright! If you have any comments about this, feel free to post replies below, but I will be removing replies from time to time to keep this topic easy to read. If you want more permanence to what you say, I recommend posting in a separate topic.

-Erik

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[Last edited by NiroZ at 06-13-2009 08:44 PM]
08-23-2006 at 09:13 PM
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gamer_extreme_101
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icon Re: Running Your Own Fishbowl. (+1)  
If I may, I'd like to add my own advice here, having run three contests that have been (In my opinion, anyways) rather outstanding successes.

1. Aim for Universality: In my mind, the best contests involve just straight creativity, not an excellence in one particular area. I think that the "Roaches in our Midst" was the best contest ion this regard, as all it needed was pure creativity rather than, say, spectacular hold-building skills. "The War of the Dungeons" tried to create a similar idea, but was very complex to run.

2. Keep as Prepared as Possible: Write up all of the announcing posts beforehand, and try to always keep as ahead of the ballgame as possible. It's much easier and quicker to just copy-paste from a text file than to have to make it up right there. Besides, you can make sure that you can add information as it pops into your head.

3. KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid): No matter what you try and do, keep it as simple as you can. Don't try to add things at the last minute, or try going for something you're only half-sure you can accomplish. Keep all your ideas properly documented, and never bite off more than you can chew. You'll regret it later.

It's been a while since I ran a contest, but since I'm going to make sure that I take control of the 3rd Annual People's Choice Awards come the fall, I think that I'm happy with my stance. I'd like to see some established forum members try running some contests for themselves. As I learned when I started doing the return desk at my store, you can only fully understand and respect something when you have to do it for yourself.

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08-23-2006 at 10:16 PM
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Oneiromancer
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icon Re: Running Your Own Fishbowl. (0)  
quote:
ErikH2000 wrote:
Some contests aren't really contests and should go on the "Forum Games" board instead. What is the difference between a game and a contest? For our purposes, a contest has clear rules for participation, concluding the contest, and identifying winners after conclusion. A game is better-suited for exercises where there is no clear winner or the rules are under development.

Another difference is that most of the threads on the Forum Games board have no clearly defined ending. Or if there are small endings, then they are meant to start over after them. Some of the games are almost like contests except that the point is to keep supplying new challenges after you win.

Game on,

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08-23-2006 at 11:12 PM
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ErikH2000
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icon Re: Running Your Own Fishbowl. (0)  
quote:
Oneiromancer wrote:
quote:
ErikH2000 wrote:
Some contests aren't really contests and should go on the "Forum Games" board instead. What is the difference between a game and a contest? For our purposes, a contest has clear rules for participation, concluding the contest, and identifying winners after conclusion. A game is better-suited for exercises where there is no clear winner or the rules are under development.

Another difference is that most of the threads on the Forum Games board have no clearly defined ending.

But I said that!

In the text you quoted!

"For our purposes, a contest has clear rules for participation, concluding the contest, and identifying winners after conclusion."

-Erik

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08-23-2006 at 11:24 PM
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Schik
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icon Re: Running Your Own Fishbowl. (+2)  
Also worthy of noting, some of the Forum Games threads go on forever - they don't ever finish.

On a different note, you may want to delete this post at some point, because it kind of clutters up the topic.

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08-24-2006 at 12:58 AM
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Jeff_Ray...
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icon Re: Running Your Own Fishbowl. (0)  
quote:
* You have to come up with any awards or prizes on your own. Don't assume that a moderator will pony up the rank points you are offering for your contest. You can e-mail me and ask about getting rank points for your contest if you want. But this should be done before your contest announcement is made, otherwise you could be making promises that you can't deliver on.



Can we have other prizes than rank points? Like banners... etc.

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09-06-2006 at 11:43 AM
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Rabscuttle
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I don't see why there would be any problem with different prizes, as long as you can provide them.
09-07-2006 at 03:40 PM
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ErikH2000
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I would just like to say that now is a good time to e-mail me a proposal to run an official November contest. I will be especially openminded and grateful for the help, if you have a contest we can run next month. The one I've got on deck is pretty cool, but I'm trying to keep my time free to finish up TCB. If you're interested in running a contest, please read the post at the top first before sending me something.

-Erik

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10-16-2006 at 12:54 AM
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So who can participate in a contest? Just people who have CaravelNet Membership or all people in forum?
Also, if I want participate in a contest (for example i want participate in DROD is ODD contest), where I must wrote the lyrics? Are in submission topic or PM the contest runner?

(Notes : I already know the DROD is ODD contest is already over)


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06-04-2017 at 04:24 AM
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Nuntar
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Anyone can participate, and you should post in the submission topic.

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06-04-2017 at 04:26 AM
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