3

Unlike our first Answerathon, the second one did not fare quite as well.

For comparison, let me quote what I said at our last wrap-up:

I am truly awed by the response this competition has gotten. It ran for 33 days (treated as 29 for competition purposes), which, frankly, was 31 days longer than I expected it to go. A whopping ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY-FOUR answers have been posted as a result of this Answerathon.

Well, this time around we did indeed last only two days. While last time we got 184 answers as a result of this program, this time around we got just 9. Congratulations to LoAni for winning, but I'm not sure this really counted as much if barely anyone participated in the first place.

So, what happened?

Just spitballing here. Please add a comment and/or answer adding to this list if you have something to suggest, in the interests of garnering more participation for next round.

  • Are people just busier? I know I wasn't able to participate this time because of college; I had much more free time when I was in Yeshiva.
    • Before the Answerathon started, mbloch raised the concern that the Answerathon and siyum programs might interfere with each other. I pushed ahead with this based on this conversation in Bam, but in hindsight I wonder if he was right after all.
  • LoAni suggested that there are simply fewer easy-to-answer questions, since they all got swept up last time. I'll have to crunch the numbers, which might be harder than my SEDE skills can handle, but I'm not convinced. The last Answerathon was nearly a year ago; surely new questions have cropped up since then which slipped through the cracks at the time. If someone wants to look into this, feel free.
  • LoAni also suggested there's less novelty. I'd be shocked if we managed to go a month last time on novelty alone, but perhaps this in combination with other factors?
  • LoAni also suggested that it's harder to qualify this time, but that's not exactly the case. The list is actually broader than last time, as self-answers and questions with negative-scored answers were eligible this time. The only harder requirement was the +2 score requirement, which has less to do with the answerer than everyone else. Further, the public Answerathon was intended to offset this, but perhaps that backfired?

What next?

What worked for you? What didn't? What changes should we make for next time? What changes should we roll back?

  • It’s also harder to answer because the questions have to be at least 30 days old... – Lo ani Nov 15 at 7:05
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    I wonder if 1 question per week would attract more people. – Double AA Nov 15 at 17:04
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Last time around I mined years' worth of unanswered questions looking for things I could answer. The qualifying set this time is smaller.

But for me, the biggest problem had nothing to do with Mi Yodeya or how the contest was structured, but rather an external factor. The abuse I have received at the hands of Stack Exchange, Inc., and over the strong objections of the Mi Yodeya community, is making it difficult for me to participate at all, let alone with the regularity this contest demands. I hate that this is so. I love Mi Yodeya and I want to be able to be an active part of our community again. I'm trying, and I hope that over time the hurt will diminish in intensity, but for me, this just wasn't going to be workable timing for me. And that has nothing to do with you, or the number of questions, or our fantastic community. I haven't even picked up another siyyum chapter yet, to my disappointment.

This is a me-specific answer, but I wouldn't be surprised if there have been a few ripple effects, too. I wish the company weren't harming us like this.

  • 5
    Participation in the siyum project slowed down a great deal after your ouster, too. I would not be surprised in the cloud on the network around this calamity is subtly decreasing people's enthusiasm for going the extra mile on projects here, even if rationally speaking, Mi Yodeya projects' merits are largely independent of those of the company providing the platform. – Isaac Moses Nov 12 at 16:24
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    I wasn't very active for the past little while, but the whole situation definitely had an impact on my interest in getting involved in the Answerathon. – MTL Nov 13 at 19:52
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Speaking only for myself here:

First of all, I think in general I have had less available time for Mi Yodeya over the last few months than the year and a half or so before that.

That aside, I was still planning on participating in the contest. I posted a qualifying answer on the first day and I wrote an answer on the second day. However, I had to go offline for a stretch of time, and when I returned it was one minute past the cutoff. At that point I was eliminated from the contest.

One idea I have for if you do this again, is that perhaps the contest should be quantity based instead of time based. That is, instead of everyone posting one answer per day for an indefinite amount of time until only one person is left, everyone would post as many answers as they can without regard to days.

In my mind this would solve several issues:

  • People wouldn’t hold back answers that they need to save for another day.

  • If you are particularly busy one day and can’t post an answer you can still participate in the main contest and win.

  • A specific end date can be set so that the contest cannot drag on after many people might have lost interest.

  • This was exactly why I proposed the “public Answerathon” this time. Basically you’re suggesting to scrap the “main Answerathon” entirely. – DonielF Nov 12 at 0:54
  • @DonielF or maybe let the public answerathon run some minimum amount of time regardless of what happens in the main one? – Monica Cellio Nov 12 at 3:23
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    @DonielF The Public Answerathon should be the Main Answerathon. – Alex Nov 12 at 12:05
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Just IMHO: 1. As I pointed out in comments, it’s harder to qualify this time around, both because each answer needs at least two upvotes, and because the question needs to be 30+ days old.

  1. Personally, I took the search query for unanswered nonnegative questions, forgetting that that didn’t include questions with downvoted answers. That may have affected the amount of answers I could post in a day.

  2. It’s possible (though I don’t know how likely) that fewer people knew about it, either due to there being fewer active users, fewer people who check meta, or fewer announcements on the main site. (I wasn’t here at the beginnning of the first answerathon, so I don’t know how “advertisement” worked then).

  3. As was pointed out, but I’ll expand, last answerathon there were ten years worth of questions that could be answered. Some of those were easy answers/ answered in comments and fell through the cracks. (Again I wasn’t here, but even so I am going to guess that) most of those were answered last answerathon, so what was left was either hard questions, the few leftover easy questions, and six months worth of “new” questions- some of which are easy. Because of that, Finding an easy one takes either really good memory, or really good luck.

Based on these points, I suggest that the main answerathon continue with the same criteria, but the winner gets a prize bounty as was suggested somewhere in comments. This will attract attention as well as encourage people to post. The bounty can be offered by me (The “winner” of this round), and next round’s winner can offer the next bounty.

Additionally, the public answerathon should be for any nonnegative unanswered question (regardless of posting date) that was not asked by the answerer. This will make participation in the public answerathon easier for people with less time.

Also, as @monica cellio commented to alex’s answer, the public answerathon should run for a certain amount of time, regardless of when the main one ends (let’s say a month), and whoever posts the most eligible (or upvoted, maybe?) answers wins a bounty as well. This will also encourage people to look harder for good answers even after dropping out of the main answerathon.

In addition to (or instead of) these prizes, I think there should be a best answer contest specifically for the answerathon, in which only answers from the answerathon (main or public) are eligible. This will encourage people to post good quality answers instead of answers just barely good enough to move on to the next day.

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