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Forum:Editing contest, prizes, and donations

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Forums: Grand Lodge > Editing contest, prizes, and donations

I met a few weeks ago with Brandingopportunity to discuss the state and future of the wiki over coffee. We bounced around a few ideas, and I plan to make a few blog posts on some of the more general topics. Something that I brought up that I thought might be best discussed in the forums, however, are incentives to get others involved in the project.

My first idea was to do some sort of contributor contest. I don't know how we would keep score, but if we made a competition for new contributors and awarded the winner a real prize (not just a title on the project or a gold star or whatever) it might be the nudge some people need to get involved. If they get in the habit of contributing, hopefully they would continue even after the contest ends. Or, if it's a successful promotion, we could always run another one.

I haven't really brainstormed logistics, but I thought we could pool money to award a $50 Paizo gift card or something to the winner. New or inactive editors only, most edits in a certain period of time wins, admins judge the value of edits (so that people don't just make tons of edits with no real content or quality increase). We could also make it a contest to see who can make the most non-stub articles from red links. There are a number of possibilities.

If this is something we decide to do, it raises the issue of how we could fund prizes. We've already paid for business cards out of pocket, and advertised in a free publication, so we know there are operational costs to spread word of the wiki. We can't ever charge people to gain access to the content, but if we were to accept donations from the community at large with which we funded ads in industry print media, business cards and flyers for conventions, and community promotions, I don't think that violates the Community Use Policy. As long as there's no profit.

What do others feel about this? Any suggestions along this or a similar line of thought?

Sounds good to me, I would contact both Paizo and wikia, to make sure 1) it doesn't violate the CUP as I could see people trying to sidestep it by using "I'll give you this PDF for a $15 donation" (Not anyone here, but internet people will make a buck wherever they can) So I don't want to start a precedent that hurts the community in the long run. and I don't see any other wikia wikis advertising donations anywhere, so I want to make sure we aren't violating something there as well
I actually ran the idea by Erik Mona tonight and he was really enthusiastic. He said Paizo could cover the expense of the prize so we could just focus on the contest itself, but would leave the logistics of determining a winner up to us. I am not yet sure what they can offer in terms of a prize, though, so we'll need to wait and see on that. Any ideas on how we should structure/judge the contest itself?
I actually AIMed this to you Mark, but I'll copy paste the relevant parts here: Personally, I would say most new non-stub articles would be best.. it's easier to track than meaningful edits - which could consit of fixing some bad links, or a large article.... the only issue with it is that I could see someone adding 100+ 4 senetce articles, vs 25 or so 50 sentence articles from someone else... New articles over X words or sentences? Every 10 sentences worth a point (this one would be lots of counting time that I'd rather use writing)? Word count(could the bots do a word count on each users entries on nontalk, nonuser pages over a date range)? I dunno, I'll have to think about it.

Also, this will have to be over a period of time. One month? Two? Less? (Personally, I think it would be cool to set it up so that it ended at PaizoCon, maybe announced at the dinner if possible?
I'm not really sure what the bots can and can't do in terms of counting articles. I don't believe that's within their capabilities, though it's possible another script exists which we could implement. Mediawiki tracks a lot of info that I'm just not aware of, so it might also be that this information is available in the Special pages already.

As for time limit, I think we should make it over the course of a month (probably March, since February is approaching rapidly). If it's a big success, we might try other promotional contests in the future. The main problem I see with making the time too long is that people lose steam. They do NaNoWriMo instead of NaNoWriYe for a reason. If we can use the promotion to both increase our page count and possibly hook some of the participants, then I think we'll have done our job.

One concern I have is that it doesn't help us as much to have a bunch of new, non-stub orphaned pages, and those would be the most tempting to make. I think our site-wide priority should still be to get all the root articles (nations, deities, organizations) as rich as possible and without red links. Some of the core nations and gods still have stub articles for them. How can we measure an editor's contributions to these pages (which I would rather see effort put into than random stuff).

See, thats where we differ :) I very rarely, if ever, use the portals (I think I've used the geography one once), I always use the search bar. Which random links would help. Yes, it creates more orphaned pages, but its not that you can't ever get to the orphaned pages, they come up in searches, and in 'what links here' pages (often fixing other orphaned pages)
I think both random articles and root articles serve a purpose. Alex and I discussed this at length over coffee a few weeks ago and I plan to make a blog post about it. People use wikis differently, and we should ensure that all those ways are covered. But that's less topical for this discussion, which should be about how to structure and judge the contest.
OK, so here are some of my ideas.

First off, we should have a couple of different prizes. Having only one prize does not encourage large groups of people to join the contest. As Yoda mentioned to me yesterday, if our community sees one person surging ahead, spending hours every day on this contest and there is only one prize to be had, everyone else may give up. That ends up being a net loss for our site.

Secondly, we should have different categories that people can win prizes in. That way we can have a prize (or prizes) based purely on number of edit, such as most unique new pages, most total edits, most red links turned to blue, beat Yoda's edit count! or whatever we decide on. We can also have other prizes, like one focusing only on one book or one AP. We could have a prize for best monster page, best NPC page, best city page, etc, or a prize for the best group of edits or new pages related by subject.

Thirdly, we should announce this at least a month ahead of time on this site, on the Paizo boards, via Twitter, and however else we think we can hit our target audience. That way people who are completely new to this, but are interested in Pathfinder and want to win a prize can learn how our site operates, what our format and rules are, and become somewhat comfortable with editing. I think in this way we involve the largest amount of people who will hopefully make good edits and not just put up garbage that creates more work for us.
The fog of the cold medicine is starting to wear off, so I'll finally weigh in on this. First off... awesome idea.

I like BrandingOp's idea of having multiple prizes. Also, its super-awesome that Erik has offered to have Paizo donate a prize (which I assume would be a gift-certificate). For my money though, a physical prize would be cooler:

  • A signed copy of something (I'm a sucker of signed copies)
  • Painted mini's (we're not all inclined towards or have the budget to get into this, but I think we'd all love an original SKR paintjob)
  • A marked-up proof copy of a manuscript (I may be getting into hard-core collector territory here)

To build on BrandingOp's idea of multiple classes to compete in, we should also think about things like "Most Copy-Editing Edits", and "Most Articles Improved/Brought Up-To-Date" in an effort to promote the meta-work involved with the wiki's maintenance. Also, we might consider the idea of having people declare themselves as contestants (and in what classes/categories) so that we don't have to track edit counts of casual users, etc.

More thoughts are swirling around in my head, though I'm not sure that some of them aren't chemically induced. For now, I'll just say that I'm totally down to judge some efforts, and to put up monetarily if need be.

I just brought this up on the chat to see what others thought who aren't involved in the wiki, and some had a few good suggestions:
  • Make several different criteria for winning, both quantitative and qualitative.
  • Make some prizes random for reaching a certain threshold.
  • Ensure that the criteria upon which winner(s) will be determined is clear and that the community can check the validity of the metrics used.
  • Help new editors to understand that all edits, no matter how small, are valuable, and that one needn't have all the books to contribute or be eligible to win. A single canon sourcebook can provide dozens or hundreds of articles.

Whatever we decide to do, I think we need to make a specific FAQ just for this contest addressing common concerns that might keep people from editing, as well as a crash course wiki lesson on simple things like linking, templates, etc. Regardless of the content, we don't want to flood new users with policies and technicalities that will intimidate them or dissuade them from participating, but it should be helpful and informative enough that they can adequately start contributing after seeing that single page.

I'll pass our consensus to have multiple, tiered awards on to Erik and will report back when he gives me any more info.

I've made a preliminary contest page on my sandbox. Let's keep discussion here but work collaboratively on fine-tuning the wording, formatting, etc of the page where it currently sits. Any support pages we need to make should be redlinked from there, but I'd like to keep as much about the contest itself contained to the single page as possible.

Additional issues raised from the chat:

  • incentivizing of number of edits vs quality. Someone has a better chance of winning by churning out lots of sloppy or poorly written articles over fewer well-thought-out and edited pieces.
  • how can we quantify quality
  • perhaps a third 1st prize for MVP decided by admins' subjective vote? How many prizes is Paizo going to give us, though?
  • doesn't like idea that contestants track own contributions, but I think it might be too much for us to do so for each candidate. If they want something counted, they should list it and know that we can and will check them all or at random to verify quality and validity. This adds an extra step though, and might put people off of participating.
  • likes the three ways to win, since it encourages productivity and offers a reward for lower level contributors.
Just a quick note before I start work... quantifying quality is going to be a real issue. I was graciously granted a science degree from my local university. To obtain that degree I did not have to write anything more than a handful of technical reports... and spelling rarely counted. My point is that what I might call a perfectly good article could be an affront to the English language. And while I might be sensitive to certain syntactic errors (there/their/they're, its/it's, and your/you're), the finer points of the language often elude me (like, am I really allowed to start a sentence with "And"?). Anyway... I'll be sitting in the corner with my dunce cap on if you need me. :-)
I'm afraid that, as much as it pains me to say so, we may need to just accept what we can get. We already have a large number of articles written by non-native English speakers or written haphazardly with poor grammar by contributors for whom English is their first language. To hold newer contributors to a standard above that by which we judge existing chroniclers seems hypocritical. Having a category of "copy edits" should promote the use of good grammar, and hopefully cause more articles to be fixed than poorly written articles "redlinks/stubs" causes to be created. In any case, I think it's a risk we have to take.
That's exactly my problem... I really love your work but I'm a non-native English speaker and I don't want to decrease the level of your wonderful wiki. Perhaps you could prepare some empty page on which you ask new users to start working on then you'll have to review those but you'll have not to search for errors all around.
Welcome, Sneaky. Thanks for the compliment. We're really proud of the wiki and we hope that language or access to source materials doesn't discourage people from editing. From this post alone you demonstrate as good a grasp of English as many people I've seen edit English language wikis (including this one). No one expects everyone on the project to be a professional writer. You bring up a good point, though, that the project might benefit from better resources for new editors. It's not so much a problem for us to follow edits made by new contributors, since we can find them listed in the Recent changes and each user's contributions page. Allowing people to get acquainted with editing is important, which is why we would announce the contest as far in advance as possible to give contributors the chance to try things out and ask questions.

Thanks again for contributing to the discussion and we'll take your comments into consideration as we decide on how best to move forward.

A thought I've had with regard of quantifying quality: rather than attempting to judge an article's worth on factors such as grammar and spelling, instead look for key factors that should be present in any article: proper and complete citation, proper use of piped links, inclusion of proper templates and categories. These things, though small, increase the quality of an article and can be explained as part of the FAQ.

I definitely feel a threshold level, accompanied by a drawing, is the best way to determine the winners of prizes. This can take the form of a single entry for each participant, or multiple entries should participants duplicate the requirements for initial entry. I also like the idea of combining this with one or more "judges' pick" prizes, awarded to the editor who's work is perceived to have been the greatest addition to the project.

For additional prizes, has anyone looked to the fan art community? I've never met the gamer that wouldn't enjoy having their character illustrated, but many don't have the talent or funds to do so. Others simply lack the confidence to approach those artists that create such pieces at no charge.

All good, suggestions, Heaven's Agent. Let's see what Paizo has to offer in terms of rewards and we'll go from there.
Let's try to get the contest rules and FAQ ironed out this weekend so we can make an announcement sometime next week. I'd love to give people a few weeks to get acquainted with the site and editing in general before we start counting for the prizes. Still waiting to hear back from Erik regarding what Paizo has to offer.
Sorry everyone... I know I've been more absent than usual lately. It seems to me that our main issue will be how to judge the quality of contributions. Current Chroniclers like Cpt. Kistov and Cheddar Bearer could likely clean up given most criteria, but that doesn't help us attract new members to the community. I think that we should add a caveat to the rules that we reserve the right to judge on a sliding scale and apply our personal knowledge of contestants to our decisions. I think that as long as we keep our commentaries public, we shouldn't run into too many problems. Also, I think that since this is the first time we're doing this, we're bound to make mistakes and bad decisions. I also think that people will be forgiving of us making such mistakes (this time at least).
I think we open up a Pandora's box the more we stray away from clearly defined judging criteria, so I prefer we not add a subjective element into it. No matter how transparent we are, there are bound to be disagreements with our assessments and accusations of favoritism. My hope was that current contributors like CB and the Cpt wouldn't put themselves in the running for the benefit of the project. It's true that people would be discouraged going up against those of us with huge edit counts and frequent contribution rates. But prizes would be awarded randomly, with more chances to win with more contributions. So even if BrOp, GW, or other frequent chroniclers throw their hats in the ring, there's no guarantee they'd win or that other contestants wouldn't.
As I'm contributing one of the prizes (ordered them tonight - the smaller ones coming with March's shipment, big one as soon as it releases... if you decide you don't want to use them, then I'll keep them :D ) It would be kinda silly if I entered. But I think GW should be fine, I would be very happy to get another complete companion on like he did earlier... and it's been 3 months since he last posted anything, so getting him back into posting would be great!

PS still not sure on the painter: he should let me know by the start of the contest

Thanks again for your generosity, Cpt. Let me know what the painter says and what a realistic ETA is that we can tell people on the contest page. I'd like to give them an idea of how long they'll have to wait to get the prize so there aren't any surprises down the road.

Aeakett and I are in contact with someone from wikia who has offered to help us organize the event and spread the word, so we should be getting all our ducks in a row shortly. If we don't have everything in good shape in time for a march contest run, we'll push it back to April.

Couldn't think of a good way to write it up right now, but we might want to put in a provision that ifyou win the $50 then you arn't eligable for the $30 or $20... but the MVP does not invalidate you (or does it? )
I've been thinking about this. We probably don't want to make somebody ineligible for the MVP just because they won one of the drawings. If we have few contestants we don't want to have to give the MVP to somebody that only made one or two edits (the "real MVP" would likely have make many edits, and would therefore have many ballots, and would likely be selected in one of the drawings). That said, I imagine that we'd be inclined to "spread the wealth" if there were a reasonable way to do so.

Wow! This sounds interesting. Wish I had some backing to promote my own wiki. There are only two or three of us working over there. Anyhoo, I hang out on The Piazza (, which is a forum that was set up back when GamerZero and co zapped a bunch of the old campaign world forums at Gleemax. We had so much interest in Pathfinder RPG and Pathfinder Chronicles over there that our admin set up a Pathfinder forum ( where both topics could be discussed. Obviously, it isn't ever going to be as big as Paizo's forum, but it is another place where you might attract in new people. I've already set up two threads about this place (one general thread called "[resource] PathfinderWiki" ( and one thread called "[resource] PathfinderWiki needs your help for CSII project" ( I think that people who feel able to wikify things are in the minority (as some people feel it is a black art), but we do have a couple of editors from "The Great Library of Greyhawk" ( hanging around. Contest aside, have you considered creating some 'newbie friendly' tasks, that people could do while they are starting out here? There have got to be some jobs that are too hard for a bot, but which could be done by people who do not have specialised knowledge. If you have a basic template for certain things (like places or people) maybe someone could find a bunch of stubs, add in the appropriate template information and leave a slightly bigger stub that has all the appropriate sections that you want someone to fill in.