META: Contest thoughts

So here's the deal -- we're discussing the idea of a new weekly contest, with the winner getting their character image, character name, brief character description, and their screen name (at least that's what we're thinking) featured on a ad, featured across their sites, saying something like "Make your own hero!" to hopefully drive traffic to the application. That ad will be seen by literally millions of people in the course of a week, so your work would be featured on a major web site. You'd practically be published!

Does that sound appealing? Is that a prize you'd want?

What effect would you want that to have on the current contest cycle of alternating caption contests and character design contests each week? Keep them and make this an additional one, maybe to take the role of the Friday Night Fight?

Setting aside the new thing, is the prize of getting an item or your portrait worthwhile? Or would you be just as happy to not have a formal "prize" and instead just have the honor of winning?

Gene suggested that the hero on the masthead rotate each week as the prize for the winner, what would you think about that?

Basically, let me know what you think about the contests in general, their frequency, if they're worth doing, if you enjoy them even if you're not a participant, etc.

Thanks for your feedback, it's truly invaluable!

38 Responses to META: Contest thoughts

  1. Demented The Clown says:

    Hmmm, So basically would be the normal character design contest, just with a different prize? I think some of the prize items are the best we have, so I’d hate to see that go. Personally seeing something I picked go into the hero machine would be a higher honor then an ad with my character.

  2. Demented The Clown says:

    P.S. might be a dumb question, but whats META stand for?

  3. Jeff Hebert says:

    “Meta” (like in meta-physics or meta-tags) is “a prefix used in English (and other Greek-owing languages) to indicate a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter.”

    Basically here I use it to mean “a post that is about the process of making the blog itself.”

  4. Xstacy says:

    I like the idea of a new (possibly also vote-judged) open contest to replace Friday Night Fights. Let people go nuts, with no declared theme, just a single best-shot effort.

  5. Jeff Hebert says:

    I could probably do both — you get an “item or portrait” prize and your character is featured.

  6. Kaldath says:

    I’d suggest that you do a Masthead Contest Once a Month as a Separate contest from the rest of them. Give people a full month to bast in the glory of there fame. As for the prizes for the regular contests I for one much preferred the old prize of a black and white drawing, but as Demented The Clown pointed out the items coming out of these contest for HM3 are some of the best items in the program So I am torn on that.

    I personally don’t like the caption Contests, but other people do so I would suggest keeping the regular contests with its current rotation between caption and Character Design.

  7. Jeff Hebert says:

    I liked the illustration prizes better too Kaldath, but they just take too much time. Maybe when I get out of item-creation mode and back into writing code, I’ll again need the artistic release of actually drawing and can do the character illos again.

  8. Gene says:

    Okay, since I kinda kicked this off, my two pennies:

    I like the idea of the Masthead changing with each contest, keeps it fresh, illustrates the ability of the application, and gives more people the opportunity to ‘Bask in the lime light’.

    That said, I still like the idea of themed contests. They make you think, possibly outside the box of your normal creation processes. Maybe have a free for all every few months or so.

    As far as the advertising thing goes, I think it’s a great idea, and I’d link it to the masthead winner. It creates a visual link from the ad to the main page.

    As far as prizes go, I’m with the supporters above, I think that some of the prize winning stuff as been great, and would like to see it continue.

    Caption contest – I’m sorta meh towards. Sometimes I look and get something right away, sometimes not at all. I’m just not so sure I (or a lot of users) could do a character contest every week though, and I’m sure you don’t want the character contests to go two weeks long. Especially if the advertising campaign drives more users, and therefore more contest participants. So, I guess either keep it, or come up with something else for the alternating week…Or revolve through a couple of different contests….

  9. Rozenstal says:

    I like contest “HeroMachine children`s”.

  10. kingmonkey says:

    My recommendation would be to keep the regular character creation contests as they are, and feature the bi-weekly winner in the ads UGO wants to feature.

  11. Soccerchoco says:

    My opinion is pretty much the same as Kaldath and Gene.

  12. Soccerchoco says:

    Oh and now Kingmonkey, too. xD

  13. Solander says:

    Kaldath pretty much nailed my thoughts on the subject as well Jeff.

  14. Danny Beaty says:

    I like the illustration prizes the best. If a logo of my design (such as the skull in noose) is the prize, then it is no longer mine; it belongs to everybody.
    Please keep the caption contests! Occassionally I will win one of those.
    Keep the character contests! Yeah, I suck at them but they are alot of fun to enter and also see what everybody creates.
    The masthead, I’m indifferent.
    The Friday Night Fights: to be honest, there were entries in the previous FNF which I feel should not have been allowed. To create a Vader-esque type of space villain is one thing; to do a total rip-off of Darth Vader is just wrong.

  15. Jake says:

    Getting to add something to hero machine is what keeps me participating in the contests. I usually try harder on the Caption Contests because I figure I have a better shot at that one, though I am still trying to pin down your sense of humor.

    I think rotating the banner would be a great way to highlight the possibilities of the program as well as to reward the people that have put a lot of time and effort into their creations.

  16. MartianBlue says:

    I say keep the contests the way they are.
    1 week character
    1 week caption
    Even if I don’t enter the caption, I enjoy the weekly break.

    Not downing the caption contest entrants, but more work by far goes into the character creation process, right? That’s the way I do it anyway

    -caption contest winner could get single item
    -character contest winner could get item, and maste/ad

    That would switch the maste/ad every 2 weeks, but maybe you could pick a runner-up out of the character contest and switch the ad each week(1st week winner, 2nd week runner-up), whereas you leave the winner in the maste for the full two weeks?

  17. I think the contests are a hoot. I love seeing who wins, the wit of the community, and the lame pictures or cool characters presented for the contests.

    As to prizes I’m impartial and would just as soon have a wreath of laurel as anything. I suppose I’ll throw my ostracon into the helmet for the illustration in the masthead as that sounds pretty hip.

  18. Superfan1 says:

    Personally, I don’t like the caption contests, but I. An understand the other comments about keeping them because they allow a break. As far as prizes go, I like the having the items. The masthead should be it’s own monthly contest as previously stated because it gives people more time to bask in the limelight. So, yeah, that’s my two Cents.

  19. Tim says:

    I love the contests as they current are. This ad prize does sound pretty honorable to me, but I love the item inclusion prize option over anything. I’d rather have an item I (as well as everyone else) can use regularly than just a custom portrait that sits on my desktop. Just a personal preference.

    Also please do not discontinue the caption contests Jeff. Unfortunately, I really don’t have time to enter the character contests while juggling work and college. The caption contests are perfect for people like me.

    A weekly masthead contests sounds just a little too frequent. I like MartianBlue’s suggestion to have it every two weeks.

  20. NEON_N64 says:

    About the prices. I haven’t won anything yet, but for ME it would go like this:

    1) ITEMS
    Choosing a very specific item to be added to HM3 would be my favorite price. I could use this item to create as many different characters as I want, and that’s the whole spirit of HM, creation. Plus, even if you don’t win you can use whatever item the winner chooses, everybody wins this way.

    Pretty cool, much better than an item in many ways. But it’s a finished work that you can’t modify much, and since it’s a more personal thing, there’s only one winner this way.

    Personally, I don’t care at all, if one of my creations is seen by many people it has no direct benefit to me. But I guess it would be an honor to some people.

    About the contests.

    I never enter the caption contests, but I like them because they’re hilarious. And as some people have stated, it diversifies the skills needed to win prices (not only the people who make cool characters can win prices, the people who make funny jokes have a chance as well). IMO they should stay around.

    Character design contests. My favorites. I enter them every now and then.

    I think the current contests need some variety.

    There should be both, open contests without a particular theme and themed ones.

    Also, I think the community should be the judges more often (voting like FNF). I know you do your best to be objective Jeff, but as any human being you have your personal definition of good and bad or quality. Having the community as the judge adds some variety, plus even if you don’t submit a character you can be part of the contest by simply voting.

    And getting special judges every now and then would be cool as well.

    What I’m suggesting is to have open contest and voted contest in a regular basis, maybe something like this:

    WEEK 1
    Submissions for the Open Character Design contest. It has no theme, the community will vote for the winner next week.

    WEEK 2
    Caption contest. Jeff is the judge (every now and then, he gets a special judge)

    Open Character Design contest voting, Jeff chooses 10 characters from the submissions made last week, people vote for one of them during the week, the one with more votes wins and it’s placed on the banner.

    WEEK 3
    Submissions for the Voting Caption contest. The community will vote for the winer next week.

    WEEK 4
    Regular Character Design contest. It’s themed and Jeff is the judge (every now and then, he gets a special judge). The winner it’s placed on the banner.

    Voting for the Caption contest, Jeff chooses 10 captions from the submissions made last week, people vote for one of them, the one with more votes wins.

  21. Gero says:

    I agree with what a few other people have already said: just use the winners of the bi-weekly character contests as the ads. It’d be easier than trying to create a whole new contest catagory…

  22. Tim says:

    Agreed Gero, that actually does sound far less complicated.

  23. Jeff Hebert says:

    So here’s what I am thinking, given the feedback so far.

    1. Keep the current contest schedule as-is, alternating character design with caption contests.

    2. Change character design contest so that entries are due by Friday morning. By Friday afternoon I’ll put the Honorable Mentions into a poll, to be closed by Tuesday morning.

    3. First place vote getter will be Top Hero, to be featured in the ad (and maybe in the masthead) and the designer to get a choice of either an item, or their portrait in the HeroMachine 3 version like currently. Runner-up will be Sidekick of the Week (in name only!), to be featured in the second week of UGO ads.

    So basically, things stay the same except that now you’ll only have three days to make characters, then the Friday Night Fights will be for Top Hero honors.

    Or would you rather the voting be ONLY on Friday, so it’s a one-day vote kind of thing?

  24. kyle says:

    my idea

    for the advertising thing put it on the thing on the side panels ,you got plenty of space on the sides of this web site.

    Caption contest – use modern comics/ show the real caption of the comic

    Character contest:i like,keep them around
    let the winners choice what next contest would be,2nd runner up gets a illustration,3rd gets an item.

    fnf:i feel indifferent,not a big fan;it gets way to competitive for some.

    the prizes:colored illustration,black and white drawing,item of choice.

    have the contest start on Monday and it ends on Friday.

    no more 3 entries have 5.

    contest themes:pirates,mobsters,monsters,create your self,
    re-vamp of cartoon Character,video games

  25. Mr.Vampire says:

    The Character contests are the best, it’s a big reason I visit so regularly. Even if I don’t enter a particular contest, I enjoy seeing the other entries.

    The caption contest I can take or leave, but I would definitely like to see regular masthead competitions of some sort.

    As for prizes, the winners should receive a new luxury car or cash equivalent payment.

  26. Gero says:

    @Jeff #23: That sounds good to me. I think my favorite part of the Friday Night Fights was that we could vote, so letting us pick the overall winner for the Character Contests as well will be a nice change of pace…

  27. Vaxx says:

    @mr vampire: A luxury car!?!?! What site do you think you’re on!

  28. Vaxx says:

    Anyways, I would agree with many others in the fact that I like items the same as my little moment of fame.

  29. TJ says:

    I personally like the character contest and like possibly having a chance at deciding what new item will added to the program. I say we keep that around and replace the caption contest with the masthead,but for selection you take the best of the previous months character designs and have a “play off” style selectin just like the friday night fights. Just a suggestion.

  30. Gene says:

    Jeff, the only thing I’d change about your list is the voting – it gives us less time to get stuff in.

    But if you were to do it, then yeah one day for voting. I’d maybe open the contest Friday night, or Saturday, close it Thursday and give one day for voting. That would give us a weekend to work on something.

    I still liked the Friday night fights, maybe do that quarterly.

  31. Jeff Hebert says:

    Part of what I was thinking on the time for submission is that they really drop off by Friday, and only maybe one or two more come in all the way til Tuesday. So I thought we wouldn’t be losing too much by making it a five day window, but I’ll think about it more.

  32. The Imp says:

    I like the current rotation of contests, alternating caption/character. I hardly ever enter the caption contest (cause frankly I’m not that funny πŸ˜€ ), but I enjoy reading everyone else’s entries. And of course I love the character contests.

    For the Masthead contest, why not make it every other week, the same week as the caption contest? That way those of us who suck at the captions still have something to enter those weeks. Prize would be simply having your character on display for two weeks. (Thus saving the ‘good’ prizes for the winners of the weekly contests and FNF.)

    For FNF, you could do that once a month, making it an all-month-long type of thing, with four rounds, one round a week. I enjoyed FNF (though I felt like some people got just a little tiny bit too competitive about the whole thing) so I think it’d be a shame to not have it again.

    character/caption: portrait or item
    masthead: winning character featured on site masthead for two weeks*
    FNF: same prize layout as you did for the first one

    *maybe you could have some kind of Rogue’s Gallery of all Masthead winners as a highly visible link at the top of each page…?

  33. The Imp says:

    Also, for FNF, some additional thoughts:

    1)Anyone who won a FNF (prize-winning) round the last month is not eligible to participate in the next one. (Although they could participate in the one after that.)

    2)Figure out a way to allow everyone who wants to, to participate. I know there were some people who got chopped out of the first one…

    3)If you don’t want to drag it out over a whole month, what you could do is:
    -First week of the month: announce the theme of each of the four rounds and give people that week to submit their entries
    -Beginning of week two: first round starts; limit it to one vote per person, and only have voting for two days per round. This way, the entire thing would only take two week from start to finish instead of four.
    -Get rid of the West Coast Avengers idea. If you can work out a way for everyone that wants to participate to do so, there’s no need for WCA. If someone gets knocked out in the first round, well, that’s too bad; enter again next month.

  34. The Atomic Punk says:

    I like the idea of simply rotating the contests. Winning an addition to HM3 is the best prize. FNF is my favorite because it brings out the best (and worst) of HM.

  35. kyle says:

    scrap the idea for FNF

  36. kyle says:

    if your going to do FNF again.
    have the voting on Friday till Tuesday:so people cant jam the voting box with their votes for until the results are due.

    i agree with imp on one issue it did got way to bit competitive
    for an ex:
    FNF1-1: “Super hero” vs. “The Rock”
    “Super Hero” 45% (174 votes)
    “The Rock” 55% (214 votes)
    Total Votes: 388

    FNF1-2: “Ramses” vs. “Phantom”
    Ramses 82% (332 votes)
    Phantom 18% (75 votes)
    Total Votes: 407

    FNF1-3: “Doubleback Skugg” vs. “Justice”
    Doubleback Skugg 61% (235 votes)
    Justice 39% (151 votes)
    Total Votes: 386

    FNF1-4: “Psyren” vs. “Raven”
    Psyren 32% (119 votes)
    Raven 68% (255 votes)
    Total Votes: 374

    FNF1-5: “Crescent” vs. “Seismo”
    Crescent 74% (272 votes)
    Seismo 26% (97 votes)
    Total Votes: 369

    FNF1-6: “Super” vs. “Comet”
    Super 50% (189 votes)=mine πŸ™
    Comet 50% (190 votes)
    Total Votes: 379

    FNF1-7: “Ultima Terraxan” vs. “The Mighty Atlas”
    Ultima Terraxan 75% (271 votes)
    The Mighty Atlas 25% (92 votes)
    Total Votes: 363

    FNF1-8: “Shadow Justice” vs. “Eagle”
    Shadow Justice 33% (127 votes)
    Eagle 67% (253 votes)

  37. Jeff Hebert says:

    Kyle, I don’t think the vote totals are what he meant by competitive. I think he meant that some people (and I’m not pointing fingers here) took the whole thing way too seriously, and got bent out of shape and frankly kind of childish when they didn’t win. It wasn’t about competitive races, it was about the behavior of one or two of the people who were fairly immature in their comments afterward.

    As far as “jamming the voting box”, each IP address was limited to one vote per day. If you mean people got lots of friends to come and vote, so be it — there’s no way in an open voting contest to avoid that. Even if you limit it to one vote ever per ip address, still the people who know more people or drive more friends to the site are going to win.

    I left the names off the entries so there wouldn’t be a personal aspect to any of it, to make it as fair as possible. Bottom line, some people are going to make illustrations that are more popular than those of other people. That’s life. It happens every week when the audience is just one person — me. Part of putting yourself out there is risking rejection. How that’s dealt with is one of those great life lessons we each handle differently.

  38. The Imp says:

    That is indeed what I meant.