VOTING IN THE WRITING CHALLENGES

Wayne Mack

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I'll just post a reminder to remember to have fun. If the vote and mention counts are too stressful, there are also a lot of non-contest writing opportunities here. Enjoy the challenge of writing something within a tight set of constraints and then having it read by others. As for votes, remember that this is a statistical world; one's personal definition of good may very well be an outlier position. In fact, there is a good likelihood that it will be. That doesn't make the story bad, just different. Celebrate just getting something written and entered and realize that one is then in a very select group of maybe forty worldwide who managed to do that in a particular month.

Last, here's a shout out to those who make the 75, 100, 300 word challenges happen regularly. Thank you for making this happen.
 

Astro Pen

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As a mod who's occasionally responded to a call to check the word-count on stories, and to help form a consensus on whether a collection of letters is one word or two, I'm constantly surprised that contributors feel that they have to use the full 75 words, even to the risk of being disqualified for 76 or 77.
As I said, I don't often enter these days, but I always found that when the story was finished, it told me so. My present effort comes out at 49 words, but I don't think that any more words added to it would clarify it or make it better, though I'll find that out when the voting is finished! Perhaps people should think of the 75 words as being a limit, not a target.

Just my 5¢...
It's a strange thing but I seem to hit the word count accurately on the first pass. I don't know how that works. I think it is a bit like that long beat lead in in garage music, (example below) even though it is huge you are counting in at some subliminal level and know exactly when it is going to kick in.

 

The Judge

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Plenty of voters in each contest, so why are the one or two missing voters an issue that is worth a 3 page thread
It isn't one or two missing voters over the year, and it wasn't intended as a 3 page thread. When I do the statistics I also detail those who have been kind enough to vote without taking part, who in my view are to be thanked. Invariably in the past I've then gone on to remind people that since we want as many votes as possible, please to try and remember to vote when a participant, and how upsetting it is when some members seem not to respect their fellow storytellers by repeatedly failing to vote. Rather than repeat myself yet again in a stats post, I thought I'd put it into a separate thread which I'd then sticky where those who don't bother with the stats might see it.

By the same token, why is anyone subjecting submissions to word counts and then getting @Pyan involved to judge whether a hyphen is concealing a 76th word - which will require that entry to be summarily disqualified (rather than fixed)?
The Challenges had word limits from the start, as that was the whole point of the exercise. We actually didn't count the stories to begin with, nor did we have rules as such (but then we only expected it to last a few months at most) and we quickly found it was necessary to have more structure, and I very much doubt the Challenges would have lasted as long if we hadn't done so. Some people are careless, some people deliberately push boundaries, some people cheat. And other people get p*ssed off and resentful. Not the best atmosphere for longevity.

If we allow someone to take part with a 76 word story in a 75 word contest, irritating others who scrupulously keep to the limit, where then do we draw the line? Do we allow someone to go up to 80 words or 100 or even higher? We debated what to do and the simple answer was we enforce the limit that's given. We also debated what to do with those who breached the limit eg should someone be allowed to amend a story and repost. But the injustice to those who've kept to the rule and aren't allowed to repost or amend the stories afterwards meant the simple answer was to remove the story.

We don't like to disqualify stories, so we urge people to check word count, and as mods we're always happy to help people fix matters before the stories are posted or within the one-hour editing window.

Enforcement is not the mindset of creativity and fun. ... Creative people sometimes don't act exactly as you want them to, and maybe that should be a little more tolerated in general?
If anyone wants to set up an fully anarchic no-rules anything-goes Challenge, then Workshop is there and waiting.

If not voting is a big deal, the staff could DQ anyone who doesn't vote - just like they DQ anyone who screws up word count. "Problem" solved.
Believe me, that's been suggested, and not by mods. Even if we were to think it reasonable, it's patently not feasible. We only know someone hasn't voted after the voting has ended -- long after if it's dependent on me doing the stats (which get done in my spare time) -- but even were we crazy enough to want more actual work as unpaid moderators, so someone goes over the voting the very next day, what do we do then? Disqualify the person's story from that Challenge? What happens to the votes s/he might have accumulated?

Alternatively, if the 1, 2 or 3 members who are regularly submitting without voting are known to staff, perhaps they could be prompted directly through PM?
This is already being considered. But this thread was to remind everyone to do their best to vote.


I just don't think non-voters are doing anything wrong. Entering and voting are both voluntary (at this point), so I wish that voluntary behavior was respected as such.
Voters are respected, which is why I thank those who vote and go out of my way to list and name those who do so without entering. But respect cuts both ways -- giving respect to one's fellow writers by reading their stories and voting when one can.
 

The Judge

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As is usual -- and we wouldn't want it any other way! -- everyone has an opinion and no hesitation in voicing it, even if it's not on topic!
 

The Big Peat

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And finally I like giving points to others, (cut the number of votes in the 300 to 1?!?!! Nay, I say, increase it to 5 ;))

Just on this one point... I do read and vote in the 300 more often because I get more votes. It's more fun being able to reward more people, rather than sitting there and spending forever judging on which single 75 worder deserves that recognition and which doesn't.

So yes! More votes.
 

Swank

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It isn't one or two missing voters over the year, and it wasn't intended as a 3 page thread.
Hi Judge! I was not being critical of you for posting a reminder to vote. I was more commenting on whether the general membership should attach negative feelings to their fellows over an issue like this.


And other people get p*ssed off and resentful.
And those are the people I'm addressing. Please don't be resentful. Consider yourself blessed with an extra story, rather than screwed out of some votes.


If anyone wants to set up an fully anarchic no-rules anything-goes Challenge, then Workshop is there and waiting.
There is a world of options between strict enforcement and anarchy. A 1 word error could be ignored, corrected or penalized a vote rather than disqualifying a nice story. (As on other similar boards). And hopefully the kind of people that grow resentful at that sort of inclusion would keep it to themselves.



I respect anyone who posts their writing. They don't owe me: They've already given. That's the kind POV.
 

Phyrebrat

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First, I write to win
Ooh. That makes a vote from you even more value and welcome :)

My opinions on the challenges are quite hardcore (fascistic?) but I recall when there was a member now long departed who used to get quite a few votes but never once voted.

Also if I see people continuing to not vote, I block them so I don’t see their entries; that way I decide how it’s dealt with rather than the Chrons staff having to get involved.

Part of the prob is the grey area the challenges inhabit. Is it a battle or is it a ‘challenge’ if people are entering to win? My take on that is that the rules are so flexible in place that we have to draw our own lines in the sand when it comes to voting.
 

Bowler1

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I spent what felt like two years working up to regular mentions and then votes... before becoming one of the most prolific second placed on the 75 word entry. So yeah, it can be frustrating in the extreme, but it's a monthly push to be creative that's fun. So stick with it I say, the pain should push you to improve and finally succeed.

I am of course always available for mob activity and nonvoters sound like likely candidates as mob victims. I'm just saying what we're all thinking here....
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
I spent what felt like two years working up to regular mentions and then votes... before becoming one of the most prolific second placed on the 75 word entry. So yeah, it can be frustrating in the extreme, but it's a monthly push to be creative that's fun. So stick with it I say, the pain should push you to improve and finally succeed.

I am of course always available for mob activity and nonvoters sound like likely candidates as mob victims. I'm just saying what we're all thinking here....
This is key. I went ages before my first win. It meant so much. I stayed up to 1 am to see it I won! without having to work so hard for it it wouldn’t have meant so much. I see lots working their way up to a serious number of wins (@Christine Wheelwright I’m looking at you!) and I can see the talent and am in awe of so many of the newbies (and oldies!)
 

Astro Pen

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One conundrum I have faced is that, whilst I have sometimes redrafted my stories a little and got them published elsewhere. The 300 worder is based on an image and, whilst it makes sense in context, the stories can seem a bit strange when viewed stand alone without the reference.
The result is that I may generalise from the image and lose votes from those who want to be pedantic about sticking exactly to the challenge parameters.
 

Jo Zebedee

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One conundrum I have faced is that, whilst I have sometimes redrafted my stories a little and got them published elsewhere. The 300 worder is based on an image and, whilst it makes sense in context, the stories can seem a bit strange when viewed stand alone without the reference.
The result is that I may generalise from the image and lose votes from those who want to be pedantic about sticking exactly to the challenge parameters.
But the challenge parameters don’t ask that your story includes the image - it only had to be inspired by it.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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But the challenge parameters don’t ask that your story includes the image - it only had to be inspired by it.
You are exactly right. Unlike the 75-worder where part of the challenge is to address the theme in some way, the picture in the 300 is only there to provide the initial spark that inspires the story, and that could come from any small single element of the image, or just from the sort of atmosphere it evokes ... or well, anything that might start a story idea simmering.

And speaking from my own experience, I think that as far as votes I have done best in the 300 during challenges when my story only referenced some tiny detail or corner of the image, rather than anything even approaching a literal interpretation.

I don't even know to what extent voters take the image into consideration if they like (or don't like) a story, but I suspect that most of them are concentrating on the stories and all but forgetting about the picture.
 

paranoid marvin

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From memory, I think that the majority of stories this month referenced a tower and/or the sea (mine did both). Although the submission only has to be inspired by the image, most entrants to the Challenge make the link noticeable.
 

paranoid marvin

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One conundrum I have faced is that, whilst I have sometimes redrafted my stories a little and got them published elsewhere. The 300 worder is based on an image and, whilst it makes sense in context, the stories can seem a bit strange when viewed stand alone without the reference.
The result is that I may generalise from the image and lose votes from those who want to be pedantic about sticking exactly to the challenge parameters.

I think that, as a rule, we as voters have to trust that the writer hasn't spent the time and effort to come up with a 300 word story that has nothing at all to do with the image. We can't get inside the mind of the author, and they aren't allowed to divulge this information before the voting. The reference can sometimes be sublime, similar to abstract art in that it's there, but it's not immediately obvious.

I do think though that in most cases the stories stand on their own two feet without having to have the image to make sense of them. There are times when I think that we have to force a story down a certain path in order to conform with the genre, and especially the word count; this is more relevant to the 75 word Challenge, but still can apply in the 300. Without the need for genre/theme/word count restrictions, tweaking can definitely sometimes help to improve a story.
 

THX1138

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From memory, I think that the majority of stories this month referenced a tower and/or the sea (mine did both). Although the submission only has to be inspired by the image, most entrants to the Challenge make the link noticeable.
Doing a metaphoric reference too can have its draw back. The last 300, my ref to the tower was by way of the seagull in the end. I think that in the 300 worder, it might be to the writer's benefit to be allowed to add a brief 2 short sentence insight into their story. Maybe after the title? We all have seen in the 300-word discussions, 'If I knew that about your story before I voted.' statements. Could give those writes a better chance.
 

Swank

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Doing a metaphoric reference too can have its draw back. The last 300, my ref to the tower was by way of the seagull in the end. I think that in the 300 worder, it might be to the writer's benefit to be allowed to add a brief 2 short sentence insight into their story. Maybe after the title? We all have seen in the 300-word discussions, 'If I knew that about your story before I voted.' statements. Could give those writes a better chance.
You want to do a blurb.

Maybe.
 

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