VOTING IN THE WRITING CHALLENGES

The Judge

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If you’ve read my posts in the Writing Challenge Statistics threads, you’ll know I talk about “extra votes” (votes from members who haven’t entered that particular Challenge) and “missing votes” (votes we might have expected from members who entered a Challenge but for some reason didn’t vote that month/quarter).

The “extra” votes are always very welcome, and nowadays I make a list of those who have voted without taking part. Everyone who takes the time and trouble to read the stories and then vote deserves our thanks, and the fact that some members do this many times a year without entering is wonderful. I confess it’s not something I’m good at, on those occasions when I don’t enter, and I mean to address this omission in future.

As for the “missing” votes, well, as is repeated in the opening post of each Challenge:

We ask all entrants to do their best to vote when the time comes

As I’ve said so many times before, missing an occasional vote is understandable. We forget what the date is; real life gets in the way; shift working or holidays might mean no ready access to the internet; emergencies happen; different time zones complicate things in the last hours of voting; silly mistakes are made (been there, done that – chose the stories I was voting for, clicked on their buttons, then forgot to press the damn “VOTE” button…); newcomers to the Challenges get confused; and so on and so on.

But it’s frustrating, to say the least, when I compile the voting lists and see repeat non-voters. In one particular case I was appalled to realise someone had completed 31 consecutive 75 Word Challenges, but had missed the vote 22 times.

I know voting involves time and effort. Personally, it usually takes me a good hour to read through the stories, some of them twice, then make my shortlists and compile a post setting out my views. But regularly taking part without voting really isn’t fair on everyone else.
  • If you’re the forgetting type, make a diary note to remind you to vote
  • If there’s a risk you’ll be busy on the last couple of days of voting, make an effort to do it as soon as voting opens
  • If you’re always pressed for large blocks of time, read the stories as they come in, which takes only a few minutes every other day, so you’re ready when voting opens
And though we encourage people to shortlist, so that those entrants who get no votes have some consolation by way of mentions, that’s secondary to the actual voting – if you’re pushed for time, then leave shortlists for subsequent days when congratulating the winner.

Voting dates are always set out in the opening posts of the threads, but they’re set and nowadays don’t change:
  • Five days from the 24th to 28th of the month (GMT times used) for the 75s
  • Fifteen days from the 1st to 15th of the following month (GMT times used) for the 300s

For some time now, I’ve posted reminders in the 300 Word Challenges 3 or 4 days before voting finishes, and by and large there are fewer non-voters there, and we’ve had actually had a few months where every single entrant has voted, which is excellent. I’ll try to post – or co-opt another mod to post! – reminders for the 75s in future, in the hope that might nudge members who might otherwise forget. But that does depend on those members reading the post and realising it applies to them!


So read the stories, and remember to vote!
 

Astro Pen

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But it’s frustrating, to say the least, when I compile the voting lists and see repeat non-voters. In one particular case I was appalled to realise someone had completed 31 consecutive 75 Word Challenges, but had missed the vote 22 times.
I didn't realise that we were being individually profiled to that extent on here. :unsure:
I'm going over there to look for incriminating data on me. :rolleyes:
 

THX1138

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Perhaps a different way of notifying all of Chrons members might help?
How about on the main Chrons page if there was a thread just for announcing/reminding about the challenges and voting's? Kind of like the 'Promotions' thread? That way, everyone sees it.
 

Astro Pen

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An alternative perspective:

I have to say that I believe there is a psychological element in play. TBH If you have submitted what you genuinely believe was a good little story and it has, by weeks end, garnered zero votes while some cliche or corny gag based entry is romping away with 6 or 7 votes, it is very demoralising.
If you feel like an outsider, a 'mismatch' with the collective taste here, enthusiasm is bound to wane.
I try to write each entry in a different style, so for me it is more of an experimental lab. But for beginners and those of fragile heart, 0 vote rejection hurts.
I'm lucky in that I am reasonably successful outside the site, but for some here it is the only 'publishing' they do.
I don't think hectoring people to read them all and vote is a positive thing, it rubs their noses in their failure and just increases that alienation.
"I'd rather have one volunteer than ten enlisted men" and all that. :)
 
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Elckerlyc

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If you feel like an outsider, a 'mismatch' with the collective taste here, enthusiasm is bound to wane.
This.
A (single) gentle reminder before voting ends should be sufficient imho. If it doesn't, nothing else will help either.
 

nixie

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We expect people to miss votes, life happens, gets in the way. Newcomers can finding it daunting. What I personally find annoying is people entering regular but rarely voting, its their choice but if others are reading the entries and taking time to vote shouldn't they do same?

I rarely enter 300, my writing isn't good enough but always try and vote. 75 I enter regular but even when I don't I still try and vote.
 

Wayne Mack

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Perhaps putting a notice under Book Discussions at the start of each voting period would help. That would seem to be a target audience of readers. Unless one is a regular in the Writing Forums, it is difficult to keep track of the various cycles. Even though I have directed most of my writing effort to my own work, I still find it pleasurable to spend an hour or hour and a half going through the contest entries on a weekend morning. I suspect there may be others who frequent the Book Discussions areas who may feel the same way.
 

Christine Wheelwright

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Of course, we tend to write something which appeals to our own tastes, so there is a tendency towards disappointment when an electorate with more general appetites gets to vote. For example, I am amazed that my current 300-word entry is not way out ahead of the field. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way. I don't know what can be done about the demoralizing effect of getting nul points. It is a mathematical fact of life if other stories are to get several votes. But it is one of the reasons I have suggested three votes each for the 75-worder. I don't think there is any kind of clique-based voting, although there are certainly stylistic groupings. I offer the following for entertainment purposes only (by no means an exhaustive list):
- Hard or militaristic SF (Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, as Rutger Hauer would say).
- Comedy Fantasy (all manner of Orcs and Goblins running around being ridiculous)
- Silly names (an entire sub-category in its own right)
- Emotional, sentimental (mawkish?) yarns. Probably the most consistently successful category (I've done these myself)
Each month there are always a few very original entries that are a joy to read.
 

Phyrebrat

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Any participants who don’t vote usually have their votes apportioned to me. Isn’t that the rule?

But seriously; anyone entering to get votes shouldn’t really expect others to tolerate their own hurt and be somehow ‘excused’ because that’s their lesson to learn. I get how disheartening it is but aren’t we all a little to old for such behaviour?
 

elvet

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I do feel guilty about not taking the time to check into the official challenges, especially since I know how valuable votes are in our little Anonymous Challenge. I will try and do better.
What I do for the Anon is put a reminder to vote in the PMs of all the entrants when the Poll is set up. It works well for us because the PMs are in play already and as a rule, there are usually less than 20 participants. I also announce the Poll in my profile post.
 

The Judge

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Yep, getting zero votes when you think you've written a good story is dispiriting. We've all been there and experienced that. But, of course, until voting is over, it's impossible to know how many votes everyone is going to get, and voting early would surely eliminate any angst on a monthly/quarterly basis. So my advice is to vote early before there's any hint that a crappy story might achieve success while your own marvellous entry remains unloved. (Personally, though I usually vote late, I rarely if ever look at the Discussion thread, let alone check the poll, before I vote, so it has the same effect -- I don't know what's been going on or who is getting votes/mentions.)

I'd also agree that enthusiasm is bound to wane if one enters a lot but rarely gets votes. However, surely it's enthusiasm for entering. I find it hard to believe someone would apparently be so traumatised at continually getting no mentions/votes that they can't simply bring themselves to vote, and thereby give pleasure to someone else, but they can carry on subjecting themselves to the ordeal of entering the Challenges and getting those no votes.

If members are distressed at entering often but rarely getting votes, then I'd urge them to ask for feedback in the Improving threads to find out why their stories aren't gelling with readers. It may be that the advice given there and/or some simple writing techniques might help, in which case the problem would be solved. If it is the case that their style of writing simply isn't appreciated here, then the adult way to behave is either to bow out gracefully or to accept that one is writing for oneself and that it comes with a price, namely getting no attention from others, but that it doesn't negate one's commitment to/implicit contract with those others. Otherwise it frankly it sounds to me more like a dog-in-the-mangerish I-won't-vote-for-anyone-because-no one-ever-votes-for-me attitude which is as out of place here as those members who try to vote for themselves.

Basically, it's an issue of fairness. Entering without voting on a regular basis is taking without giving back. Reciprocity is the bedrock of any community, and the Challenges are no exception.


Anyway, thanks, everyone, for feedback on the issue, and for some good ideas, especially for trying to reach non-entrants.
 

Elckerlyc

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But seriously; anyone entering to get votes shouldn’t really expect others to tolerate their own hurt and be somehow ‘excused’ because that’s their lesson to learn. I get how disheartening it is but aren’t we all a little to old for such behaviour?
I don't think anyone was claiming to be excused of voting because the felt disheartened or demoralised, merely that it can become a task in stead of a joy.
I may have forgotten to vote once or twice, I think, but always try to do so. However, what I do find myself more and more struggling with is to participate in the challenges. It seems a waste of time and effort.
 

Phyrebrat

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I sympathise with the disheartened. I used to regularly participate in the 75 but I just get fed up with the genre choices. But that’s because of my preferences, not anyone else. Even if I was a fantasy or SF writer I’d be bored by the constant repetition of sf or f as the genre choice.

I like to be pushed and the more obscure the challenge stims, the more likely I am to enter.

I missed the vote last month (and I did enter). Not only did I feel a bit guilty I also got disappointed because gothic is my jam! But that’s just life getting the way. I may have missed a vote before but I don’t think I have.

We all have our preferences but to conflate hurt feelings with voting absence would shock me.

There are lots of other reasons for not getting votes; my pet peeve is people missing the genre or theme. Or mental gymnastics needed to get their joke, or homonym/phone.

And don’t forget if you have anyone blocked, their stories will not even show up on your feed
 

mosaix

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I'm sure I've missed voting a couple of times over the years. I blame old age and just not realizing what date it is. Whatever the reason - I apologize.

As far as not getting votes I agree with @Phyrebrat regarding the genre or theme. Although, I have to admit that once or twice, I have been so impressed by an entry that I've completely forgotten to apply my number one filter and voted for it by mistake. Again, apologies.

I do struggle sometimes in reading the 300s. I find my attention wandering and just yearn for an opening paragraph that will grab my attention and make me sit up. Let's face it, if a story is going to garner votes then it has to stand out from the others - at voting time amongst a sea of 40 or so other stories. For me, the first and last paragraphs are the most important.
 

The Judge

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I don't think anyone was claiming to be excused of voting because the felt disheartened or demoralised, merely that it can become a task in stead of a joy.
Oh yes, that I can understand, especially if it's a genre that doesn't appeal, but I accept it as the price for entering and implicitly asking people to vote for me.

However, what I do find myself more and more struggling with is to participate in the challenges. It seems a waste of time and effort.
That is a shame. Even if I don't always mention your stories, as I try to keep my shortlistings short and don't post my longlists, I do enjoy reading them, as invariably you have an interesting idea or take on the theme. And while you may be disappointed they don't get more attention, they're not a waste of time or effort, since they're giving pleasure to those who read them. (And actually, the votes you've got in the 2022-23 year put you in the top 25% of entrants.)
 

Pyan

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It seems a waste of time and effort.
Wasted how? Are you writing anything else at the moment? If so, entering can either stimulate new ideas away from your present main work, or just possible help with it. If you're not, perhaps the effort put into writing these squibs may inspire you to write that novel that's being tickling your hind-brain. Either way, it can't be said to be a waste of time, surely.

I try to read and vote. I've agree that it becomes disheartening when your carefully crafted and thoroughly polished little gem garners only one or two votes, or worst of all, none at all - I tend to enter in spasms, because since a second place several years ago, I've had little or no joy, and the subjects haven't inspire me. But I do know that one of these days I'll look at a subject and think "Aha!"

Can I also just ask that people that do reviews of the entries don't include spoilers in the review? I wrote one with a real twist in the last five words a while ago, and someone reviewed it and gave away the surprise. :confused:
 

Mouse

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I very rarely enter the challenges any more (don't have time/inclination) but when I did I don't recall checking the votes unless somebody happened to mention I was doing well. That way if I did get zero votes I didn't know/care.

Personally, I'd null and void anybody who'd entered but not voted. But I'm badass. :devilish:
 

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