We're a month behind, but that's no excuse to not celebrate our first birthday. :)

Following the discussion here, it looks like we have most of a proposal in place that we can go to the community team at Stack Exchange with. I'm going to summarize what we have so far here and pose a couple more questions that need sorting out.

The Idea

We can do a "topic of the week" contest where users old and new alike ask questions about a topic (TBD). Every question that meets the criteria below grants an entry into a random draw at the end of the week that will determine 3 lucky prize (TBD) winners.

The Criteria

Each qualifying question must:

  • meet the site guidelines established in the FAQ;
  • be positively scored (> 0);
  • be tagged with the pre-determined tags appropriate for the topic;
  • be posted while the contest is running. Older questions don't count.

The Topics

We can propose topics in the answers here. The highest voted one will be chosen. Naturally, topics must also fit the scope of Programmers, so no code golf please. :)

The Prizes

Each good question you post will increase your chances of winning. For the prizes, I'm thinking we can offer a choice of a book (perhaps related to the topic) or a development tool in the, say, $50 ballpark. I haven't pitched this price point to Stack Exchange, but I know similarly priced prizes have done well in the past on other sites so it seems like a reasonable starting point.

Once the topic is chosen, I'd like to come up with 5 books and/or tools to choose from that are related and offer the 3 winners to choose from that list.

As Mark Trapp suggested in comments on the original discussion post, we may also do a bountyathon a la Gaming's bounty giveaway.

Next Steps

Do you agree with this? Anything you'd change?

Please let us know what you think and propose ideas for topics and prizes that would fit well with what we do here on Programmers.


  • 1
    I joined the discussion early on, and the past few days I was thinking of summarizing the "topic of the week" idea and then post my arguments, but I never seemed to be able to find the time. Thanks!
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 6:42
  • 2
    "off-topic of the week" contest would probably be more fun
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 14:05
  • We're going to get this up and running again. Hopefully we will start after the STC for [career]. Anyway, if anyone is interested there is a(nother) brainstorming chat room. So let's get this thing back up, even without a birthday!
    – Dynamic
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 19:54

2 Answers 2


What I don't like:

  1. A predetermined topic might encourage people to abuse voting on said topic questions,
  2. More often than not, questions are brought up to shape by reviewers, either by commenting or editing. Awarding the OP seems unfair to them.
  3. Randomly choosing the winners goes against the peer review philosophy.
  4. Weekly contest with cash prizes wouldn't be viable as a repeat event. I'd prefer a repeat event, or something that would last longer. We don't get that many questions per week, and with a predetermined concept I don't think we could realistically expect more than a few eligible questions, and stellar questions will be no more than a couple.
  5. I've posted 1 question for every 22.6 answers, my chances of winning are pretty slim. I'm clearly more of an answerer than an asker, and I might be encouraged to post a question just to win the sweet prize.
  6. No development tools. They belong on StackOverflow, we want books :)

Instead, I propose we blatantly copy the Super User birthday contest. As is, I wouldn't change anything.

Addendum: The less obvious point of the answer is to serve as down vote fodder. If you love the "contest of the week" idea, please down vote this to oblivion and help set up the contest sooner, as down voting this answer will serve as documentation that the community took notice and chose to dismiss my concerns.

  • When getting the details ready, I don't think #5 never came up. It's true, some people do not ask questions often. I like the Super User idea, but we don't have enough moderators the way Super User does. Unless we can get others to work as moderators, or the current ones to work double-time :), then is it reasonable?
    – Dynamic
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 11:04
  • 1
    We tried to replicate the Super User contest rules on Web Apps for our recent contest - it wasn't a runaway success. I didn't directly run it but there were issues over the number of entries - perhaps because of our low traffic which might not be an issue here.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 11:58
  • @Jae Personally I wouldn't mind doing the dirty work. Of course that would disqualify me from taking part in the contest, but that's ok. And sorry for raising my objections so late in the discussion, I just hadn't the time...
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 12:17
  • 1
    You mostly likely will not be able to do the dirty work. Dirty work involves handling the proposal with the Community Team, ensuring that they get back to you within reasonable time and handling data not readily available from the API. All of these will have to be done by a moderator. And if all the moderators of the site are not enthusiastically behind it only one or two will be doing all this grunt work. Community Team knows it's difficult to run that type of contest so you will not get that much help from them either (WebApps moderator)
    – phwd
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 15:45
  • 1
    If you want the SU-styled contest one of your moderators must be fully 100% behind it as they are the only ones with access to the grunt work.
    – phwd
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 15:47
  • @phwd I wasn't suggesting I'd do it alone, I was responding to a comment saying we don't have enough moderators the way Super User does, I volunteered to help the moderators anyway they need me to... And of course the moderators are enthusiastically behind the contest, a moderator posted this question :)
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 15:49
  • 1
    A mod is behind a "topic of the week" contest not a SU-styled contest. The former is nice and simple. It doesn't involve running the Community Team around.
    – phwd
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 15:52
  • If the community decides the SU styled contest (or any other event really), I'm certain the mods will enthusiastically support it. They will obviously raise their concerns if they have any, as every user should, but when the community decides they'll do their best for the event to be successful.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 15:55
  • 1
    I'm telling you from experience (mainly one mod in SU and Webapps did the grunt work) that's mostly likely not going to be the case but you can remain optimistic if you wish.
    – phwd
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 16:19
  • @phwd Oh, absolutely, your comments were more than welcome. After all, I did write in the answer that it was also intended as down vote fodder. But, honestly I don't have any reason to not be optimistic about the P.SE mod team.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 16:24
  • +1 from me for proposing to blatantly thieve SuperUser's competition as it's a good competition... plus we programmers are supposed to be good at getting the work of others tuned to our own purposes, so it has a certain elegant symmetry! LOL! Not sure what/how I could contribute, but I'm more than happy to lend a hand if it helps to spread the the workload. :)
    – S.Robins
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 6:12
  • @ZaphodBeeblebrox: So, it's been a couple days, and I want to get something started :-). It looks like the community likes the idea, and so do I. Do you want to summarize this before we get started?
    – Dynamic
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 11:17
  • @Jae I wouldn't say the community likes my idea, more that the community agrees with my concerns. Unfortunately no one took the time to write a competing answer, one that would enhance your proposal. We can't really be sure of community consensus like that. Two things you could do: Ping Anna on chat and discuss further (I'm guessing she won't mind, since she already stepped up), or write a competing answer - and hopefully it will be a lot clearer which proposal the community prefers. Make sure to add some example topics.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 11:21
  • @ZaphodBeeblebrox: For me to write a competing answer would be useless. My initial mindset was Anna's idea. I brought it up the SU idea to her, and she said "Keep in mind that SU did that once for their birthday. If I'm not mistaken, you're proposing a weekly contest here, which certainly would increase the workload." She was right, I was proposing a weekly contest, but if we did a one time Super User style contest, we can find people to work at it. If you don't mind doing the dirty work, and I don't either, that makes at least 2 non-moderators who can judge this.
    – Dynamic
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 11:34
  • @ZaphodBeeblebrox: I will talk to Anna. But if we do end up doing an SU contest, the only problem is workload.
    – Dynamic
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 11:35

Hooboy. Lots of stuff happened since I made this proposal.

After additional discussion with the remaining moderators, it appears that there's too much going on right now to hold a contest that still hasn't been clearly defined.

At this point it is too late to hold an anniversary contest. There hasn't been enough consensus from the community in general on what should happen or how it would run. So that boat has unfortunately sailed, but on the upside, there's only 9 months before the next birthday (December 16, 2012). :)

In the meantime, I know other sites have done contests/events tied to site clean-ups and there is one going on right now here, so perhaps everyone here can come up with something to do to celebrate a cleaner site when it's all done - for example, target old unanswered questions and give them some love.

If/when the details of that are hashed out, please give us (the community team) a shout and we'll work with you to make it happen.

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