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  #1  
Old Dec 22, 2009, 08:12 AM
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quintin3265 quintin3265 is offline
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Default The next competition

While it looked for a while as if too few people would enter Composition Combat for it to be a success, I think that the competition was enjoyed by all, was fair, and was a great learning experience for everyone involved. I'd like to start talking about a new competition.

It's impossible to sustain prizes at the level of the last competition. Still, I believe that prizes encourage people to participate and provide a well-deserved reward to those who worked hard on their entries.

Fortunately, I believe there is a self-sustaining way to host competitions that can still award valuable prizes. Over the past few months, we have had an agreement with Chris at squareenixmusic.com to obtain advertising for the site. I wrote 19 reviews, and he posted a banner for remixSite. While I decided to terminate the contract because of low bounce rates, I don't have anything against Square Enix Music and Chris indicated that he is willing to pay me and shawnphase to write reviews in the future.

I was thinking of asking Chris if that offer extends to other people as well, or if reviews can be ghost written and submitted under my name. Competitors who wish to participate in the next competition would then be required to do one of two things. First, they could write a six-paragraph review of a fan-arranged video game music soundtrack published by Overclocked ReMix, the Bad Dudes, or other groups that have released albums. This probably requires about two hours - one to listen to the music while doing something else, and one dedicated hour to write the review. Alternatively, someone who doesn't want to write a review can pay $12 to enter the competition. The reviews will be sent to Chris, and his standard rate could be used to fund the competition.

I think that, if Chris would agree to something like this, we could obtain enough funding to host a number of future competitions. If ten people enter as they did now, there is enough money to pay for two free games, some software, a cheap keyboard, or something like that. People wishing to enter would be required to declare their commitment up front, and if there aren't enough entrants to guarantee a minimal prize, then no money or reviews will be collected.

Comments? Would anyone have a problem performing an hour of dedicated work or paying an entry fee? Should I ask Chris if we could come to an arrangement?
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  #2  
Old Dec 22, 2009, 11:42 AM
Vile Vile is offline
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I've a few comments on this. While I wasn't a previous competitor, I did keep quite a close eye on the competition.

The prize money coming from the competitors is a decent idea. Spending an hour or two reviewing to compete is perfecting fair. You would have to keep in mind though that not everyone can write reviews at the desired quality.

If you definitely want to motivate people to participate (although I don't think it's strictly needed), then I suggest you also look at alternatives to cash prizes, games, etc. Perhaps if you have contacts in the music industry, you could send them the winning track? I'm sure people would much prefer some recognition to a cash prize. Maybe an extra "bragging right", tied to their account? Something simple like a "remixSite Winner" title.

Another point is that having open voting and cash prizes is a bad idea. I'm not commenting on the previous competition at all. If a user really wants the prize, then they'll do everything they can to win. With public voting, this is incredibly easy, and there's no real way you can prove it.

With about an hour of work, I could probably get 2000+ votes on a track, with a nice spread over 6 and 7, with a couple of 5s for "authenticity". Equally I could do the reverse to everyone elses track. No amount of analysing the curve, what subnet the votes came from, etc. would prove that there was any wrongdoing.

A much easier way is to get a few judges. As I posted in another thread:

4 judges and 1 guest judge (generally the winner of the previous competition). Each listens to the songs and give their top 5 (or 3, depending on the amount of entries). Winners are worked out from that.

So in the next competition, the guest judge would be KiddCabbage. For the other judges, you would try get a few people who enjoy several genres of music. Obviously if every judge mainly likes electronic music, then any tracks without this would suffer. It shouldn't be too hard to pick 4 judges with differing tastes. The guest judge also adds a bit of a difference to each month.

While you may think that each judge could be biased, rate friends or acquaintances higher, etc. (which is true), you should also keep in mind that the final winner is chosen from the overall data of all 5 toplists.

Hopefully you'll take this into consideration. Interest will be generated in the site with every competition, and you should see visitors and competitors increase as time goes on.
  #3  
Old Dec 22, 2009, 01:01 PM
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quintin3265 quintin3265 is offline
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While I agree with a lot of what Vile said, I disagree with the issue of public voting not being fair. The algorithm that's being used is not based upon the information mentioned here. I am very confident that who won which prizes in the previous competition was affected by cheating or attempted rigging of the results.

Public voting increased the amount of traffic to the site by a factor of 10. These weren't bots; these were visitors who were using real browsers and clicking between pages to download other songs. For example, amongst other filters, "people" who voted without passing a valid referring page were not counted in the results. I hate revealing these things here because then people can defeat them next time, but I feel I need to address people's concerns without giving too much away. It is true that many people voted for only one song, but I am confident that these were valid votes and that there was generally one vote per person.

While I don't want to impose my will on people, I think that it's in everyone's best interest to have as many people vote as possible. There are many other positive consequences to people voting: new people find out about the site and download songs that aren't related to the competition. Perhaps one of these people will be a music industry CEO.

KiddCabbage and I had a discussion and he mentioned how Dwelling of Duels requires registration for voting. While not as strict as DoD, what do people think about requiring registration without any time limit on creation? Such a system, while it seems simple to defeat, would cut down the number of casual "click 7" votes by 90%, even if no other changes were made to the voting process.

Alternatively, we could require people to vote on all entries, and to rank entries using the "toplists" idea we talked about in a previous thread. Now, I have more time, so I could create invisible voting lists that the voters are required to fill out, and every song must be listed on the list in order for their votes to count. If there are x entrants, the number of points given to each entrant would be x-p, where p is the position in the voter's list. Comments on this idea?

I understand your viewpoint, but I'm not hot on creating a judges panel. While it might be possible to get people who like different types of music, how could it possibly be fairly decided who, out of all the possible choices, is to be on the panel? And how could anyone interact with the panel members in the same way after they judged the results? Even if the judged competition runs flawlessly, that's how cliques form, and I believe that we should avoid the possibility of one being created at all costs.
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  #4  
Old Dec 22, 2009, 08:59 PM
Kidd Cabbage Kidd Cabbage is offline
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Like I was saying before - something to consider is that the more regulations you put on voting (registering to vote, making people vote on all songs, etc.), the less people will want to take the time to do so. That's just the way it goes, and you have to see where on this spectrum your goals with the competition lay - between the most voting and the most regulating.
  #5  
Old Dec 23, 2009, 07:51 AM
Omnomnomnom Omnomnomnom is offline
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Quote:
if there aren't enough entrants to guarantee a minimal prize, then no money or reviews will be collected.
But would there still be a contest?

Hmm... well, I'll be honest, when I first read this I was totally against the idea. Since discussions with my friends we were all confused about where the prizes were coming from and it seemed pretty apparent that something would either have to change or that there was something secretive going on behind this site, but it makes sense now and I don't think there's too much of a downside provided 2 things:

1) That Chris goes for this idea. As competitors of game music, we should be able to review tracks without too much trouble, but will Chris really go for this idea? You're getting paid 'cause he likes the quality of your reviews, right? That would more than likely change if we were doing the reviews... so, I take it you would be checking them and seeing which ones to upload... would those that aren't chosen have to pay to enter the competition still?

2) People might not want to compete if they have to pay or work in order to do it, especially if they think they're chances of winning is pretty low. I suppose maybe if we were to do this, there should be more winning positions in the comp and the prizes should be smaller overall. That increases the chance that if someone enters every competition that they'll eventually win something. The way things are now, most of us would just be throwing money away. Instead of having 1st place, 2nd place and most improved, maybe we should have 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place and most improved. It's only a small change, but it makes a difference.

The incentive isn't lost by having no prizes nearly as much as it is lost by having to pay to enter the competition, which I think is important to note. I could buy a cheap keyboard for $12. :P But writing the reviews sounds okay and isn't too much to ask at all, so if that option exists, this could work really well.

Overall, I think this is beneficial. We, as composers, will be learning how to look at music even more objectively and see how we can avoid making similar mistakes and how we can improve our music. There'll still be prizes in the comp, so interest will probably only increase over time. The more interest > the more competitors > the better the prizes,music and reviews > the more interest> the more competitors > etc.

Yeah, I think this sounds good.
  #6  
Old Dec 23, 2009, 08:23 AM
WarpToken WarpToken is offline
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I like the idea of another contest! It gets me working on new stuff.

I have an idea and I hope you'll consider it.

I think the problem that went on during the last contest is that a _ton_ of the votes were done without any context! People were herded to the site to vote for their friend's/cousin's/son's/niece's song and they had no clue about the other songs in the competition.

Quentin, could you create a page that has all the songs listed together on one page where people could listen to/rate songs?

That way people could be directed to a single page with all registered songs, giving more context to the votes...or at least a better chance of it.
I envision a single line with song name/playbox/rate...

Thoughts?
  #7  
Old Dec 23, 2009, 10:12 AM
Vile Vile is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quintin3265 View Post
Public voting increased the amount of traffic to the site by a factor of 10. These weren't bots; these were visitors who were using real browsers and clicking between pages to download other songs. For example, amongst other filters, "people" who voted without passing a valid referring page were not counted in the results. I hate revealing these things here because then people can defeat them next time, but I feel I need to address people's concerns without giving too much away. It is true that many people voted for only one song, but I am confident that these were valid votes and that there was generally one vote per person.
Well even if we counted real people with valid referral pages, I could still get quite a large number of votes any song (not that I'm going to ever, just saying that it is a possibility). I didn't presume that there was multiple votes on the same track per person (I automatically presumed that was impossible, and that further votes would only change your previous rating).

While the number of visitors definitely increased to the site, are they still around? If it increased visitors permanently, then I understand why you are hesitant to change the system. If, however, the visitor spike was only during voting, and then was only a small permanent increase, then I'd say the public voting isn't quite worth it, and that a small bit more advertising and word of mouth would get more visitors and members.

Quote:
Originally Posted by quintin3265 View Post
KiddCabbage and I had a discussion and he mentioned how Dwelling of Duels requires registration for voting. While not as strict as DoD, what do people think about requiring registration without any time limit on creation? Such a system, while it seems simple to defeat, would cut down the number of casual "click 7" votes by 90%, even if no other changes were made to the voting process.

Alternatively, we could require people to vote on all entries, and to rank entries using the "toplists" idea we talked about in a previous thread. Now, I have more time, so I could create invisible voting lists that the voters are required to fill out, and every song must be listed on the list in order for their votes to count. If there are x entrants, the number of points given to each entrant would be x-p, where p is the position in the voter's list. Comments on this idea?
I do think that registration would be a good idea. People wouldn't be as inclined to just click a 7, then navigate away and never return. Those with accounts might listen to a couple of the songs and rate. Also, if you have an account, you're more likely to actually post and get involved with the community.

I also like the idea of voting on all entries. In my opinion, that would be extremely beneficial in deterring any "cheating" or "rigging" of votes. Someone who votes 7 on one track, and 1-2 on all others is probably *slightly* biased. If this was not implemented, then creating a "competition" page with the ability to listen to and vote on all the tracks in the competition would be a great idea, as WarpToken suggested.

Toplists are also quite fair in my experience (hence why I suggested it with the judges idea). Everyone listing their favourites in order again removes a bit of the bias, as people would have to listen to several of the songs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by quintin3265 View Post
I understand your viewpoint, but I'm not hot on creating a judges panel. While it might be possible to get people who like different types of music, how could it possibly be fairly decided who, out of all the possible choices, is to be on the panel? And how could anyone interact with the panel members in the same way after they judged the results? Even if the judged competition runs flawlessly, that's how cliques form, and I believe that we should avoid the possibility of one being created at all costs.
From my experience with this system, the best way was to have the competition creator decide the 4 judges. I'm quite sure that everyone in the competition feels that you'd choose fairly. You do not have to disclose these toplists, but each judge can disclose their own after the competition ends.

One of the places where I experienced this system was working on an AMV Hell project. I somewhat rushed the end of my entry (due to confusion about the deadline, and being busy IRL), and so didn't place in the top 3. While being a bit disappointed, I went in the IRC channel and discussed my entry with a few of the judges. They were all willing to give helpful pointers, and I found that two had actually placed me in their top 3. I felt that I had learned a lot more from that system than I would have from public voting, and felt that the system was very fair.

That's just my experience, and I'm just suggesting alternatives and giving my opinion
  #8  
Old Dec 25, 2009, 10:02 AM
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Perhaps public voting, with registration required and with hidden toplists used, is a good compromise. That seems to address everyone's concerns - the public still has a say, anonymity is preserved, and all valid votes will have to have visited each song's details page. Is this acceptable to everyone? If so, I'll implement it during the holiday period of December 26-30, when there's plenty of time to do this sort of work.

As to funding, it may be feasible to continue offering prizes of $50 or $100 even without any immediate revenue, because the return on investment is so high. However, I was wondering if anyone would be willing to make micropayments of $1.00 or $2.00 to have their songs promoted to the frontpage above the fold. This solution allows people who don't want to pay to avoid paying, requires no reviews, and provides exposure to those who want it. The number of these promoted songs would be limited to 3 or 5 to prevent clutter, and the price of a weeklong spot would be determined by demand. Would anyone pay to promote their songs in this manner? All of the proceeds would then be rolled over into competition prizes.
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Old Dec 25, 2009, 10:54 AM
Vile Vile is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quintin3265 View Post
Perhaps public voting, with registration required and with hidden toplists used, is a good compromise. That seems to address everyone's concerns - the public still has a say, anonymity is preserved, and all valid votes will have to have visited each song's details page. Is this acceptable to everyone? If so, I'll implement it during the holiday period of December 26-30, when there's plenty of time to do this sort of work.

As to funding, it may be feasible to continue offering prizes of $50 or $100 even without any immediate revenue, because the return on investment is so high. However, I was wondering if anyone would be willing to make micropayments of $1.00 or $2.00 to have their songs promoted to the frontpage above the fold. This solution allows people who don't want to pay to avoid paying, requires no reviews, and provides exposure to those who want it. The number of these promoted songs would be limited to 3 or 5 to prevent clutter, and the price of a weeklong spot would be determined by demand. Would anyone pay to promote their songs in this manner? All of the proceeds would then be rolled over into competition prizes.
That seems like a good compromise.

Also, I think that the frontpage idea is better than the payment/review idea, at least for the moment.
  #10  
Old Dec 25, 2009, 07:46 PM
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This will be an ambitious schedule, but I'm going to try to organize the next competition before most people go back to normal life on January 4. Is anyone who plans not to enter interested in assisting in the organization of this contest? That way, I can spend more time fixing bugs and polishing off the new compos feature.
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  #11  
Old Dec 25, 2009, 08:12 PM
Omnomnomnom Omnomnomnom is offline
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I think this makes sense. There's still funding, people will definitely pay a dollar or two and we have a solution to concerns about voting. I like it. I liked the other idea too, but this seems more friendly and less exclusive.

I'd love to help you out if I could/can, but I want to participate, so I understand I can't.

Let us know if there's anything we as competitors can do!
  #12  
Old Jan 1, 2010, 01:47 PM
TenchuX TenchuX is offline
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You could always go NFL Pro-Bowl style and have 1/3 of the final vote from the judges, 1/3 of the vote via the musicians in the competition, and 1/3 the by the public (registered votes). Or just skip the musicians and do 1/2 judges, 1/2 public (registered votes).
  #13  
Old Jan 31, 2010, 06:20 AM
Chris Chris is offline
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I've only seen this thread now and I haven't read it all, but I'm not happy about the ideas presented in the first post. There has clearly been some misunderstandings.

I have been happy to reward Quintin for contributing to SEMO with some advertising. However, I am not able to reimburse reviews at the moment, due to limited funds of the site and my own lack of savings. With new developments, this might change in the future. However, we only work with the very best contributors, not the most mercenary ones.

Provided it covers our high hosting fees, I firmly believe in injecting money I get from SEMO's advertising and affiliations back into rewarding contributors, and have been doing this through organising evaluation copies and soundtrack / concert gifts. However, offering a flat rate for making reviews would be disastrous.
 

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