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The way the current gaming promotional grants are working is a bit problematic.

I am removing all the duplicate "nomination" posts from meta for now; for the next round we'll try to come up with a process that is

  • simpler

  • does not result in spamming meta with 10+ posts

Anyone who nominated themselves for a game is still eligible and will still get their game, but consider this round of nominations closed and complete a bit early for now.

There will be more rounds, so don't fret -- and hopefully, a simpler easier to understand process!

  • Well, now I am super glad I didn't wait as long as I initially planned to. Anyway, will the "leftover" copies still be re-listed at some point, or is the entire Fall 2011 Grant over? – a cat Oct 2 '11 at 14:56
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    Another brilliant example of how much the community really has to say on SE. – user56 Oct 2 '11 at 14:59
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    @lunboks we'll let you know, but anyone who is already listed should get the game they signed up for, assuming I can figure out the crazy byzantine set of rules documented in the 20 bullet points there.. – Jeff Atwood Oct 2 '11 at 14:59
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    @ArdaXi the process was ridiculously complicated. We need to simplify it. The goal is to get the games to eligible community members without blowing their minds (or spamming meta) in the process. – Jeff Atwood Oct 2 '11 at 15:00
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    @JeffAtwood And the solution is taking the entire thing away until you can find a better way to do it? – user56 Oct 2 '11 at 15:01
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    @arda we're just closing this round until it can be rebooted. Sorry; the process was completely and utterly off the rails. As I said, anyone who signed up for a game already will get it, and there will be future rounds. Apologies for the inconvenience. – Jeff Atwood Oct 2 '11 at 15:02
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    And you did the only thing that is worse than overcoplicated rules, which is changing the rules while the thing is running without any warning or consultation. The process could certainly made easier, but ia it really worth it to abort it this way when it was scheduled to be over very soon anyway? – Mad Scientist Oct 2 '11 at 15:04
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    Who's saying it's 'off the rails'? Just you, I should think. So the community really has nothing to do with it at all, other than being participants. – user56 Oct 2 '11 at 15:05
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    @fabian it just ended a bit early this time. Stay tuned for a cleaner, simpler process on Monday or Tuesday! Maybe we'll throw in some extra games as an apology for the change .. who knows. :) – Jeff Atwood Oct 2 '11 at 15:07
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    @JeffAtwood Our people demand more Skyrim, or else we shall be forced to commence the uprising! rabble rabble – a cat Oct 2 '11 at 15:16
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    The reason for having 9 Meta threads at the same time was so that people could sign up for all the games they were interested in at the same time, since they were being limited to two games. This was requested by the community. On the surface, this looks suspiciously like the envelope fiasco back on Meta.SO where something is removed before its replacement is ready. – user2974 Oct 2 '11 at 18:57
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    Isn't our Meta spam our problem? Why does it even concern everybody else in the network? – GnomeSlice Oct 3 '11 at 14:13
  • I believe @BrettWhiteΨ comment was removed because it was an internal argument that really shouldn't be done over the site's comments. It seems unprofessional as much as I agree with it. – Resorath Oct 3 '11 at 19:34
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    @Resorath - I think Brett felt that he had been treated equally unprofessionally, and also wanted to inform the community that he wasn't involved with this abrupt action. – sjohnston Oct 3 '11 at 21:44
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    @Resorath While I see where you're coming from, deleting Brett's comments (both, now) isn't exactly going to make this situation less volatile. – Raven Dreamer Oct 4 '11 at 4:15
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The principles behind the current method were pretty simple, we have 10 copies of game X and the 10 people with the most reputation that are interested get the game. Each user can only apply for 2 games. That's it.

I think the basic idea to simultaneously select multiple games is good, especially for the people with sub-10k reputation that might be interested in the more popular games, as they can then select an alternative game if they don't make the reputation cutoff. Overwhelming the meta site was with hindsight probably not ideal, so one question per game is out.

So, one idea on how to perform the selection would be to make 1 round per quarter, or maybe every 2-3 months and open one meta question for that time period with a list of games that are available. Everyone interested posts one answer with a list of games ordered by preference.

That data would then be used to distribute the games onto users:

  • Iterate over all users by reputation in descending order
    • Iterate over the list of games in order of preference
      • If the user has slots left and there are copies of the game left, assign the game to him

That method should produce very similar results to the current method.

Some other things that might be nice would be to adjust the number of copies for very popular games. One problem I see with the current approach is that over a longer timespan it will increasingly favor the old, established users. At some point it is likely necessary to use a different parameter than total reputation, to allow new, but enthusiastic users to get the free games.

  • 2
    Great suggestions. – Matthew Read Oct 2 '11 at 16:17
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    This sounds sane, and also makes the advantages of using a proper signup form manifest: almost the entire thing could be scripted and re-used, eliminating much of the confusion and potential for error present in the current 'meta post' system. – Shog9 Oct 2 '11 at 16:29
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    I like the idea of making some way for new, enthusiastic users to get games. – Ash Oct 2 '11 at 17:35
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    I don't think it's a bad thing to favor established users as long as they continue to be active; after all, limiting the number of copies per quarter/six-month/year will spread games out a bit, as will differences in interest. If it turns out that there are active, newer users regularly not getting to participate, copies for certain games could be allocated to users newer than X with at least Y rep, or to users who've never received a game, or something along those lines. – Dave DuPlantis Oct 3 '11 at 14:43
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    There was a chat discussion where we thought it might be possible to use "Rep in the last 3 months" or something like that. – bwarner Oct 3 '11 at 16:19
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I feel somewhat to blame here, since both "post all the game questions simultaneously" and "use voting to help make it easier to see what the minimum rep is" were ideas that I proposed. I cringed a little bit at the use of downvotes, especially since they were going to inexperienced users who probably didn't understand why they were getting them (I remember being upset when I got a series of downvotes on meta). But I seriously don't see what the big problem was.

Overwhelming Meta? What question on Meta didn't get sufficient attention as a result of this? I think giving extra attention to the Grant questions is a GOOD thing.

Overwhelming Brett? It seems pretty clear from his comment that he thought things were going OK.

Confusing users? I can only recall a few posts by users that were confused about some aspect of the process, and it seems like those were quickly resolved.

Too hard for users? I thought it was quite easy myself. Having to make a full list of prioritized games as Fabian suggests would've felt like a lot more work than this system. And it felt like we were getting a good turnout, better than we have gotten for some of the past "simple" grants.

There was definitely room for future improvement, but nothing that seemed to warrant the confusion caused by blowing everything up mid-stream.

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    I agree that it went pretty well, though using voting for ordering according to reputation caused some confusion, as it was using votes in a fundamentally different way than they're usually used. That was recognized as problematic in a meta post, so we were aware of the potential confusion it caused and could have taken that into account in the next round. – Mad Scientist Oct 2 '11 at 20:23
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If a game has more than one round of nomination, do we need to nominate ourselves again or is the round only for the remaining slots?

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    don't worry, we'll be erring on the side of sending extra games as necessary.. – Jeff Atwood Oct 2 '11 at 14:58

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