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9:49 AM
Q: Books for Programmers Contest

JaeAs you may already know, Programmers.SE will soon hold it's first ever, site-wide contest. However, there is one more thing we need community input on: prizes. So, until Thursday, at 20:00 UTC, we will be accepting recommendations for incentives. But: It has to be a book. Keep it in a reasonab...

@AnnaLear People don't want books (see the comments on the question). They have a point: most books that are going to win are already owned by most Programmers.
Is an Amazon gift card out of the question?
4 hours later…
1:38 PM
@Jae Gift cards are a no go. It's kinda like giving away cash for content and that's not what we want to do. Prizes should be less about the explicit value and more about being something that's cool to have; some neat thing that provides just enough value to make the contest interesting.
1:59 PM
@AnnaLear Can we give them their choice between 3-4 books?
@Rachel Yeah, that'd work.
2 hours later…
3:51 PM
@Jae How about we do that then? Winners get their pick of X specific books. I'd go with the top 3 from our meta post
Books might turn out to be tricky since they can be pricey. How many we can award will depend on which books you guys choose and how many you want to give out per week.
@AnnaLear Kinda depends on how many the moderators will get... You know, for being awesome!
@YannisRizos Riiiiiiight..... =)
4:41 PM
I'm still not sold on this idea of choosing from a list of books. I'm looking at the top list now, and I suspect that a lot of people have Pragmatic Programmer, Code Complete, and Clean Code. In fact, out of the list of suggested books now, there are only three that I don't own - Seven Languages in Seven Weeks, The Practice of Programming, and Introduction to Algorithms.
Might it be better to allocate a number of prizes and dollar values, and the winner of each section can choose any book equal to or less than that value?
4:57 PM
@ThomasOwens I think that makes a fair bit of sense.
@WorldEngineer Especially when you consider the audience of Programmers. There's a lot of different people with different interests. Of the books that I mentioned I don't have, there's none that would incite me to participate since I don't want any of them. But I'm also sure that there aren't a ton of people who want books on Lean Software Development or software engineering management or empirical software engineering.
1 hour later…
6:30 PM
I suppose I should /cc @YannisRizos and @AnnaLear into that last part and get their thoughts.
@ThomasOwens I think that's reasonable. The main thing that'll determine the budget then would be how many books (total, over the run time of the contest) you want to give out.
@ThomasOwens @Jae has been doing the bulk of the work, he has much more say in this than me...
One thing we can't really do is make it a "pick anything from Amazon within this $$ range" kind of thing. This has to be related to Programmers' scope.
And @Jae is here.
@ThomasOwens @YannisRizos @AnnaLear I got great timing :-)
6:40 PM
And @AnnaLear, I'd suspect that. But I'd also like to see this as an opportunity to improve Programmers. I just think that offering books that most target users own (or have otherwise read) might not be the greatest incentive. Thoughts, @Jae?
@ThomasOwens I agree. Most likely, the winners will be active users of the site, and will probably have the books...
Having said that, I really can't think of anything else...
@ThomasOwens Definitely. Improving Programmers is why we're having a discussion about incentives at all. :)
The next logical question is how many "best questions" and "best answers" we want to work with.
maybe an o'reilly book subscription?
or something like that
Again, that's rather restrictive to O'Reilly Books. They aren't too heavy on the architecture, process, and software management side of things. Don't forget - not everyone who uses Programmers writes code (at least at work).
6:44 PM
@ThomasOwens We can go with some kind of software...
as an example, there are other such things
I was thinking much easier. The best answer winner gets $n and the best question winner gets $m that can be applied to anything equal to or less than that in value.
runners up get stack swag
So, hypothetically, I won best answer with a prize of $50. I could ask for anything on Amazon that costs no more than $50 as long as it's relevant to Programmers.
easy way to do that would be link to wish list and stack buys that one thing
no need for personal info
6:46 PM
If the person wanted an $18 book, perhaps let them get two or three things that total no more than $50.
$50 per prize (including shipping) is reasonable.
(As an example. I don't know what the monetary values would be. That's for someone like @AnnaLear to figure out.)
@AnnaLear I like Thomas's idea... We can get a "free pass" on anything from Amazon, but SE can interfere to make sure its on topic with the site.
Well, assuming 2 prizes per week for 4 weeks.
@AnnaLear Yup... your right
6:47 PM
Wait. Did I misread it? I thought it was 2 prizes every 4 weeks for a while.
@Jae It's not really up to us to evaluate prizes... as in, we'd rather not get involved at that level of detail. This is why I'm trying to nail down a possible list of prizes.
@ThomasOwens Nope. 2 prizes every week for 4 weeks.
1000 prizes for the low level people
We have guidelines for picking the winners per the contest rules. I say after we pick the winners, a mod could mod-message them to let them know and see what they want. I would suspect a mod would be able to make the decision, and I have no problem supporting that.
6:49 PM
@ThomasOwens Yeah!
A decision as to if their prize is (1) within the price range and (2) appropriate for Programmers.
@AnnaLear What do you think.
In my mind, the prizes should be almost secondary to the whole thing. The goal *ideally( would be to make Programmers a better place, and get a bit of an incentive as a side bonus.
Oh yeah, for sure. But the incentive has to actually matter.
I just looked at some cubes of coworkers, and I see a lot of these books in people's cubes. If our target audience has them, there's no incentive to participate, and therefore nothing happens.
@AnnaLear Of course... but nobody is going to try if it isn't something they want.
6:51 PM
@Jae @ThomasOwens's idea? I think that could work. Keep in mind that we get copied on all mod messages - if you could work things out via email or something, that'd be a bit nicer to our mailboxes. :)
@AnnaLear Sounds good to me! @ThomasOwens?
The person would have to have an email in their profile. But yeah, I'm sure that would work.
And I'd be more than happy to facilitate contacting users.
@AnnaLear Can you guys see emails?
Mods can see emails, but I'm not sure if they have to be valid emails.
So just because someone has one doesn't mean it's theirs. However, I'd suspect that the people being contacted would have legitimate accounts with real emails.
@ThomasOwens Well, we'll put out that warning.
6:55 PM
@ThomasOwens That's easy enough to handle, we just make a Meta post warning all participants to use valid emails if they want to be eligible, and if one of the winners doesn't and fails to respond, then, well, I get their prize...
If Stack Exchange doesn't have a problem with me using my mod powers for that, I'm good.
@AnnaLear Does me helping out in this way go against anything I agreed to when I became a mod?
@YannisRizos Wait... why do you get the left overs?! :P
I'm thinking if they don't respond within a few days, go on to the next best answer/question?
@ThomasOwens Or we could do that ;)
@ThomasOwens Nope I like my idea better :P. Yeah that sounds good.
Now just one thing left!: What do we do with the current Meta post?
6:57 PM
Want me to lock it?
You can edit in a nice description of the new plan, if you want.
I'll close it as too localized, since it's no longer time-relevant.
@ThomasOwens I'd rather make a new post, without all of the answers...
But do what you think is right with the old one.
OK. I'll lock the old one and leave a comment that you're making a new post.
@ThomasOwens Not that I know of.
So long as users are aware that they'll be contacted at their registered email address.
@AnnaLear Fantastic. I'm looking forward to this. Now, to continue to spam programmers to the process improvement and software architecture teams...
@AnnaLear In that case, are we all good?
7:00 PM
Think so. Summarize what we're doing for me, so that I know we're on the same page? :)
@ThomasOwens When we finalize everything, we could do a Meta post warning people that in case they win they'll be getting mod messages. We can also ask them to put something in their about box, like "I'm participating in the contest", Gaming did something similar...
@AnnaLear Rachel's style of contest with incentives consisting of...
The user gets to choose there incentive so long as a mod agrees that it is reated to the site and it is a reasonable price.
My understand is that we hold the contest. Every week, we pick the best question and best answer in the category using the rules described. Once we have a winner, a mod (me) will look at the profile of the winner and send them an email. They can then go to Amazon (or does the retailer not matter?) and choose items totaling up to the prize amount. They reply with that and if it's within the price range and appropriate for Programmers, I forward it off to Stack Exchange and they get their prize.
And on that note I have to go. I'll write the post later on and we'll get this started Monday! Thanks everyone!
@ThomasOwens Yup
@ThomasOwens That sounds right. Prize limit is $50 including S&H.
Oh, and let's limit it to Amazon. Plenty of stuff to choose from and we know we can work with it fairly easily.
7:04 PM
OK. Amazon it is. @Jae, you might also want to include that in the write up. I'll be sure to mention it when I contact the winners as well.
One last question @Anna, will @Thomas' (or any other mod's) involvement render him ineligible?
@YannisRizos Historically, other sites haven't excluded mods, but you will want to make sure your criteria are objective.
I believe the criteria are views to question or votes on answer.
and if a mod wins every week, it probably would look fishy. :)
If a mod were to win, I would suspect another mod could handle the contact and validation of the prize.
7:07 PM
Cool, as described I don't see why we should be excluded, but if one of us is just because he helped winners pick prizes, then we should all be excluded, it would be unfair to only exclude the one helping...
If a mod wins, another mod has to contact the winning mod and validate the prize selection?
So the winner can't validate his own winning?
Problem == solved?
@ThomasOwens @YannisRizos Wait so Mods are eligible? And am I?
Since we only have objective measures, sure.
I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be eligible, @Jae.
Post winners on meta, so they can be community-validated as well. Problem solved.
@Jae Why wouldn't you be? Of course you are...
7:12 PM
True. If we post on Meta, everyone can see the top viewed question in the tag and the top voted answer in the tag.
@YannisRizos Same reason as you. I was helped you guys pick incentives and such. Just making sure though.
@Jae No, that's irrelevant. I was only asking for mods because we'd be involved in privately contacting users about specific prizes and such. It's no reason for us to be ineligible, but since it involves behind the scenes communication, people may not like it.
@YannisRizos Oh, ok.
8:04 PM
@AnnaLear @ThomasOwens If a winner doesn't use all of there $50 on one prize, can they get another item (with there remaining balance).
8:40 PM
@AnnaLear I think that's your call.
@Jae @AnnaLear would have to confirm, since that's an Stack Exchange issue. However, I would hope that's the case.
9:01 PM
i herd u lyke contests I heard you like contests.
@Aarthi Yup
@Jae Talk to me about prizes. I hear there's some confuzzlement?
you too, @ThomasOwens! :o
@Aarthi We are trying to make it so that users can pick their prozes, as long as it follows some guidelines. I think this wraps it up:
2 hours ago, by Thomas Owens
My understand is that we hold the contest. Every week, we pick the best question and best answer in the category using the rules described. Once we have a winner, a mod (me) will look at the profile of the winner and send them an email. They can then go to Amazon (or does the retailer not matter?) and choose items totaling up to the prize amount. They reply with that and if it's within the price range and appropriate for Programmers, I forward it off to Stack Exchange and they get their prize.
The prize amount is supposedly $50 including shipping and handling.
What do you think?
We bias pretty heavily towards using Amazon.
@Aarthi Yeah, that's what I thought.
9:09 PM
I would say: max out at 3 items, just to be safe.
@Aarthi Wow... we were going for 8 (2 items a week for 4 weeks)... 3 is kind of, well, not 8 :P
I meant, if a user picks their own prizes, they can't pick more than three items totalling =<$50
honestly, and I do mean this with good intentions, contests work better when a user has a choice of 3 pre-approved items.
like they get chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla.
@Aarthi The problem with that is, most prizes that the community thought of is already owned by a lot of us.
@Jae So think a little differently. You're all whiteboarding types, right?
@Aarthi We can try. But what would the drawbacks of the original idea be?
9:15 PM
@Jae hmm. for one, we've had stragglers. :(
@Aarthi In what sense/
people take forever to respond to the email. :(
Plus, and this is basic human behavior, people having too many options overwhelms them.
@Aarthi We solved that. Users have to have a valid email on file (we will warn them of that). And they have would also have a 3-4 day time limit to respond, or else the runner-up gets the prrize.
@Aarthi So? How's that sound?
Can we keep going with it?
Yup. I don't see any major red flags.
Oh! All prizes must be from the same retailer
Users can pick up the 3 items totally $50 or less
@Aarthi Thanks! OK!
9:26 PM
users have 3-4 days to respond or they lose their prize
should be okay.
Um... what @Aarthi said. =)
Thanks All!
Anytime. Ping me if you need me.
Q: Programmers.SE Contest: The Complete Outline

JaeWait! Programmers.SE is having a contest!? What have you been living under a rock? Just kidding (maybe). Yes, Programmers is having a contest. And it's going to be awesome! So how will this contest work? The contest will be divided into 4 weeks. For each of the 4 weeks, there will be a tag d...

@Jae You might also want to exclude negatively-voted (but potentially high-views) questions.
Other than that, looks good.
10:06 PM
@Jae Do you want a notice in the Community Bulletin section of the site as well?
1 hour later…
11:15 PM
@ThomasOwens That's be great.
@ThomasOwens And can you take the "New Proposal" one off/
11:36 PM
@Jae Took care of that.
@YannisRizos Thanks for everything Yannis!

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