While we continue with distributing the games from Brett's Fall 2011 Gaming Grant, we're considering new directions to take. After some deliberation, and taking other suggestions from the community here into account, we've come up with the following scheme.

We will run each round of the Gaming Grant by opening a new Meta question, as before. The frequency is probably going to be something like once every two weeks during high gaming season (end of year like now, for instance), and once every four weeks during off-season.

Instead of restricting the game choice, however, we're being a bit more open and loose, though we're also going back to reputation requirements. Potential applicants, who must have at least (x) reputation, are free to choose any one game of their choice, with the following restrictions:

  • It must be for one of the following platforms: XBox 360, PS3, Wii, PC
  • It must be a new (released this week) or upcoming (will be released in the near future) game release
  • The initial (x) reputation required for entry will be 500, though we're open to suggestions on that.

Rather than make a Meta post, we will provide a simple form to fill out, where you'll provide a tiny amount of account detail as well as specifying the game.

Image of the form showing what information is to be filled out - Name, Email, Reputation, the Game, and the Reimbursement Method

After we collect all of the applicants for a round, 20 users from the applicant pool will be randomly selected. Those selected are free to purchase the game on their own accord and time, and consequently scan and email us the receipts, which we will reimburse. Reimbursements will be handled through paypal.com or moneybookers.com.

Based on input, we have added two alternate options for reimbursement. If the game is available through Steam, then we may be able to gift it to you through Steam. Or, if the game is available through Amazon, then we may be able to email you a gift card of value equal to the cost of the game.

So, rather than us buying and sending, it's more of a "you're buying and we'll pay for it". Note, however, that we reserve the option to disqualify users for a specific round if they had just recently won in, say, the past two rounds. We also reserve the option to disqualify a user from the grant process if they demonstrate a lack of content and don't post questions and answers. We haven't seriously run into this issue yet, people are pretty fun here and enjoy the process, but it's better to know about this anyway, neh?

If I had to pitch the process in a single paragraph, then...

Users with at least 500 reputation apply by filling out a form that specifies one game of their choice of new or upcoming games for the current big platforms. 20 users will be randomly selected from this pool, and will be reimbursed for their own purchase of the games after scanning and emailing the receipts (or through Steam or Amazon).

Right now we are planning for 20 games per grant during "gaming season", possibly somewhat less during the rest of the year.

Questions? Recommendations? Comments? Angry torch wielding mobs? What d'y'all think?

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    How is the number of available games decided? Does it vary by popularity of the game? And how does the receipt stuff work for digital distribution, e.g. Steam? – Mad Scientist Oct 4 '11 at 12:20
  • What are the payment options for reimbursing the money? I assume Paypal is one of the easier ones, and direct transfer to a german bank account is likely far too expensive and complicated. We should check some alternatives and compare the fees for the typical game prices. – Mad Scientist Oct 4 '11 at 12:29
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    What if the winner can't afford to buy the game for himself, how will that be handled? – mordi2k Oct 4 '11 at 12:34
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    If the game is available in Steam, I think it'd be better if you gifted it instead of reimbursing the money; easier for everybody IMO. – juan Oct 4 '11 at 12:46
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    Would probably be easier to address these questions if they were answers rather than comments. A comment questionaire would make things rather buried. – Grace Note Oct 4 '11 at 12:46
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    So nothing for handheld users (3DS, PSP,etc)? Some people play games on those platforms pretty much exclusively. – Ash Oct 4 '11 at 13:34
  • @Ashley Currently, no. The new process is currently only looking at big consoles, but if something big turns up, we may allow handhelds. – Grace Note Oct 4 '11 at 13:40
  • @Grace Note I checked my email, didn't see anything – l I Oct 4 '11 at 15:24
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    So reimbursements are the only option now? What about those who are completely broke or otherwise don't have to resources to purchase the games themselves? – Jeff Mercado Oct 4 '11 at 18:39
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    @jeff those people need to go through Steam; we're adding an "is this on Steam? If so we might be able to gift the game to you through Steam." option to the form. – Jeff Atwood Oct 4 '11 at 21:57
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    @JeffAtwood: Is gifting through a major online retailer (i.e., Amazon) still on the table? That was a really good option for those that live in the US IMO. – Jeff Mercado Oct 5 '11 at 0:46
  • @JeffMercado not really, since that requires us to micromanage shipping. The goal is to have the community scale this up by sharing the 'work' of buying a game. We're flexible on reimbursement ideas, provided they can be done through the web. – Jeff Atwood Oct 5 '11 at 6:48
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    Wait, what about reimbursing with Amazon Gift Cards? – Ullallulloo Oct 5 '11 at 16:45
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    @Mark Computer games in general, but I don't think there tend to be many "big hits" that are Mac-only. As for the Fall 2011 Grant, as mentioned in the new thread, this is running parallel to it, and will not affect it or be affected by it. – Grace Note Oct 6 '11 at 17:21
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    @Ullallulloo Upon further research, that could be an option. I'll be including it. – Grace Note Oct 7 '11 at 16:04

11 Answers 11


If we perform the rounds relatively frequently as indicated now, I don't see why users should receive more than 1 game each per round. I think it would make more sense to have each user choose only one game and increase the number of users receiving games accordingly.

  • Agreed. Even with the last round, I found I had to look carefully at release dates to make my choices. There's only so much time in a day, unfortunately. – Adam Lear Oct 4 '11 at 13:37
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    This is a pretty sensible option, I think. Plus, it's harder for one person to try and do questions for two games at once, anyway. – Grace Note Oct 4 '11 at 13:40
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    good point; we've changed it to one game per user. @grace I also have confirmation from Joel, we'll be doing twenty (20) games every 2 week period for the rest of the year. I have edited the post to indicate the actual number. – Jeff Atwood Oct 4 '11 at 21:38

How does this scheme help create a pool of users who all have a certain game? I thought that was one of the important features of the Gaming grant.

Don't mistake me - a pool of 10 users is probably too large, but 1 person is also likely to not be enough. I'd rather have you pick two games and then two users randomly from each, rather than the other way round.

If you'd rather not do this on Meta and organize through forms, that's cool with me. I'm afraid though that this might result in some kind of scattergun approach.

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    I agree with that, too few users with the game lead to either unanswered questions or a lot of self-answered questions. – Mad Scientist Oct 4 '11 at 12:52
  • The pool issue is, personally, my largest concern with this method, because that's been largely the reason why I've repeatedly opposed various alternate versions of this route. – Grace Note Oct 4 '11 at 12:53
  • @GraceNote You mean you think a pool would be detrimental to the grant's effect? – badp Oct 4 '11 at 12:57
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    @badp No, I think a pool is required. Even back when I ran the grants, the suggestion of "Just have a bunch of people in the community buy games on their own and send you receipts to reimburse" has been passed around quite often. – Grace Note Oct 4 '11 at 12:58
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    I don't think it matters terribly as popular games will be popular, and as long as recipients of the grant actually do attempt to ask and answer some questions about the games they received in the grant. – Jeff Atwood Oct 4 '11 at 13:05
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    I hope/assume there will be some measurement of participation involved, I don't think the purpose would be to 'just' hand out games without getting content in return – Ivo Flipse Oct 4 '11 at 15:31


  1. Why are you restricting platforms to the major four? Any reason to exclude handhelds such as the 3DS?

  2. How will the choice of games that are on offer be made? Or is this open to anything that's coming out in a given time period?


  1. I'm not a big fan of the lower transparency of this process. One major advantage of the earlier approach was that people could see who was applying for games and could both gauge the level of interest and their chances of being eligible for a given game.

  2. I think I understand the motivation behind the rep requirement, but to me activity is a better measure of participation than raw rep. Gaming isn't always an easy site to gain rep on if one doesn't play the games that are already covered well. I really don't think we should be excluding low-rep users right off the bat.

  3. I think SEI sending games out (or setting up Steam gifts) would be easier than organizing reimbursements especially for international users. With exchange rates, there's also potential for discrepancies unless you reimburse in their currency. Although the reimbursement option (up to the base price) is still handy to have if someone wants to buy a collector's edition or where digital distribution is undesirable, etc..

  4. If we don't choose the games on offering, we run the risk of of individuals playing games by themselves. We need to create pools of people playing the same game as others have said.

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    The games for many international users will also be simply more expensive, e.g. in Germany you usually pay the US dollar price in Euros, so they're 30% more expensive. – Mad Scientist Oct 4 '11 at 13:32
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    +1 for number 3 specially and specifically when dealing with digital distribution. I wouldn't even want to participate if I had to go through a complicated process to get the reimbursement (/non us citizen) – juan Oct 4 '11 at 13:35
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    Platform restriction: For the initial rollout of this proposal, we're sticking with big platforms for now. That's why we also aren't doing iOS, for example. On game choice, this proposal will run by time period. That's why we're also doing current games in addition to future games, in case something just came out for example. – Grace Note Oct 4 '11 at 13:43
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    PayPal is a scam. Decent as a wrapper for a credit card, but receiving money is terrible. I am not a fan of magic invisible charges. – Matthew Read Oct 4 '11 at 16:09
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    All valid comments, but thought I'd add just another +1 against reimbursement instead of sending hard copies / gifts. I haven't got accounts with either of the two suggested sending paths and won't be setting up accounts with either of them (and probably not any other alternatives either, for that matter). – DMA57361 Oct 4 '11 at 17:25
  • as for #1, the every two weeks (during gaming season) meta post will collect those selected into an answer, so you'll certainly be able to see stats once the 20 selections are made. – Jeff Atwood Oct 4 '11 at 21:49
  • for #3 that will work as long as people want a game that is on Steam. We're adding that as an option to the form. – Jeff Atwood Oct 4 '11 at 21:57
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    @JeffAtwood Any chance of non-Paypal reimbursements? Ideally the cheque-in-the-mail kind? – Adam Lear Oct 4 '11 at 23:01
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    @Anna Checks don't work for everyone though either. The Netherlands deprecated check usage years ago, so if I were to try to cash a check here, I'd have to deal with a €20 surcharge. – FAE Oct 5 '11 at 1:35
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    @FallenAngelEyes Fair point. I'm not sure what sort of arrangements would work outside of North America, but I suspect Paypal is still not quite it. :) Paypal up here also takes their cut off the money, though I'm not sure off hand how much it is. I suspect this may never be a perfect system, but the approach right now might effectively limit participation to Steam only (if at all) for some people. – Adam Lear Oct 5 '11 at 1:39
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    @GraceNote iOS isn't the same as a 3DS. 3DS (and PSP) often have major games out that are even cheaper than their console equivalents. Sponsoring $0.99 mobile games would be silly, but I really think including DS/DSi/3DS/PSP would be a good move. I can look up some numbers, but in my perception I wouldn't call the handheld market small. – Adam Lear Oct 5 '11 at 1:42
  • @anna those handheld tags are a teeny tiny fraction of the site; check out xbox/ps3/wii/pc tag counts versus the others. I don't want too much fragmentation in game choices, and the "primary" gaming platforms are what we're shooting for here, not the secondary ones. – Jeff Atwood Oct 5 '11 at 6:52
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    @jeff I think of these grants as an opportunity to grow those tags, but I see your point. Fair enough. – Adam Lear Oct 5 '11 at 13:02

How does selecting random users guarantee we'll actually get decent participation from them related to the game?

The old grant favored those with high reputations because they had previously demonstrated devotion and/or highly consistent participation. I understand why you would want to change the distribution system of the grant, but wouldn't it make more sense to select users based on, say, participation (i.e., rep earned) in the previous quarter?

You'd still prevent someone like me from automatically dominating the requests due to previously accrued reputation, but going by the last quarter also gives newer members a decent chance at actually seeing results.

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    Personally, I'm not really fond of using specifically reputation, I've been more in favor of a more hands-on approach of candidate selection (I manually picked them in both my rounds). I think that raw reputation isn't entirely fair, both on account of long tail votes as well as the cap. Random selection is the current option based mostly out of streamlining it to make it quick and less overall work so to speak. But, I'm open to thinking on this more. – Grace Note Oct 4 '11 at 13:02
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    sure, we could change the entry requirement to "generated (x) rep in (y) interval" as long as it is captured on, say, gaming.stackexchange.com/… -- or require 1k, 5k, 10k.. some other number of all-time rep. – Jeff Atwood Oct 4 '11 at 13:04
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    @GraceNote - As long as it's something other than straight up random. – Raven Dreamer Oct 4 '11 at 13:10

I like the fact that this allows for games to be included that may not be the most popular game of the period, but might still generate a lot of good content (see Binding of Isaac for a good recent example). I think it actually makes more sense to target games based on how many questions we think they will generate, rather than how popular they are.

I'm not a fan of the reimbursement aspect, having tried both getting a grant through Steam gift, and getting a reimbursed grant, the former was FAR less painful. So I'd like to see us continue to purchase games directly for people wherever possible.

I'm also concerned that having a single person given a game might not be sufficient. The significantly reduces the chance that the "right" questions will get asked quickly, and it also reduces the chance that we'll have a good answer for the question. For example, I think the full version of Desktop Dungeons has plenty of opportunities for generating good content, but right now I'm not getting answers to my questions about it because our other regulars don't have the game yet.

Finally, I'd like to voice my support for having a less random, more "hand-selected" pool of grantees. This allows us to reward people that have done well with grants in the past, and remove people that have not done well. Clearly this is more work, but I don't think the volume is going to be so great that this couldn't be handled by some combination of Brett, Grace, and our moderators.

  • On reimbursements, we'll probably have someone more on top of things when actually doing it that way, ehehehe... – Grace Note Oct 4 '11 at 14:08
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    we're making Steam an option, for those who can't handle the reimbursement aspect (or don't need the flexibility of being able to buy their game anywhere on the planet) – Jeff Atwood Oct 4 '11 at 21:59

There is another aspect I'm somewhat confused about, does the game release date or the user application date determine in which grant period the application belongs?

So, if I now apply for a game that will be released in a few weeks in the next grant period, will I get into the current period or will my application be kept for the next period?

How far in advance can we apply for games?

How do we deal with applications for games that are just about to be released in the next days, but before the end of the grant period? If you randomly select users from all applicants you can't really give out games until you have all the applicants for the period.

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    Good questions. Man, this new system is ridiculously complicated! Just kidding. ;-) – bwarner Oct 6 '11 at 13:44

What about games that aren't technically released yet (so technically they're upcoming), but are already available to the general public? Think the non-free version of Desktop Dungeon or even Minecraft.

  • Are they coming out in the period that the round is running? – Grace Note Oct 5 '11 at 14:40
  • @GraceNote Minecraft is set to "go golden" on November 11th (although that's unlikely IMHO); I don't think there's a set date for Desktop Dungeons yet. – badp Oct 5 '11 at 14:43
  • If it's actually getting a release in the period, then I'd say it's valid. We're also allowing those just shy into being late to the party to apply as well, so if a game just got released, it's still early time and good time to start filling with content. I'd consider that a game which is fully released in the period to be... probably a similar kind of scenario. Though, certainly, it brings to question those who've already been playing the game and filling the site with content... – Grace Note Oct 5 '11 at 14:56
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    Actually, I'm revising my opinion on this. I think that a publicly purchasable beta should be a valid choice at/around the time that the beta becomes available. It can generate content both for beta users and the actual release, and there will be a surge of searches when the beta becomes available. We just shouldn't let it be valid forever such that we get six months of Minecraft grants. – bwarner Oct 5 '11 at 16:41

While I'm at it there is another potentially confusing point in the form. The form asks if the game is available at Steam. But the real question is also if the user wants the Steam version of the game, he might prefer to have a boxed version and get reimbursed.

I don't know if you intend to ask that question then in a follow-up mail, but it might be easier to just ask at this point if you want the Steam version or if you want to get reimbursed and buy it yourself.

  • I've hackshod a fix for now so that it is clear that it is for "Do you want it through Steam?". I'll revise the verbiage later today but the current word choice should handle this issue. – Grace Note Oct 6 '11 at 14:22
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    I've made a much better fix that very much explicitly notes that saying yes means "It is available on Steam and I want it via Steam", while no would be a negatory to one and/or the other. – Grace Note Oct 6 '11 at 16:11

If the game is available in Steam, I think it'd be better if you gifted it instead of reimbursing the money; easier for everybody and reimbursements are the only option now? What about those who are completely broke or otherwise don't have to resources to purchase the games themselves?

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    "Based on input, we have added two alternate options for reimbursement. If the game is available through Steam, then we may be able to gift it to you through Steam. Or, if the game is available through Amazon, then we may be able to email you a gift card of value equal to the cost of the game." – mordi2k Oct 8 '11 at 11:10
  • ok better because i dont have a credit card – ProSay Oct 8 '11 at 14:42

Can the same person receive more than one game throughout the entire giveaway? (different grants/round or the next few rounds)

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    This runs parallel to the Fall Gaming Grant, so anyone getting games through that will still be able to get games in this method, though make sure to keep up with your content production on the site! For this system, those who have won recently will not be eligible for immediately following rounds. – Grace Note Oct 27 '11 at 14:48
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    I think that it's every other round in the new one. – Ullallulloo Oct 27 '11 at 16:56
  • so for example if we get this grant then we have to wait for the next next grant in order to win both? – ProSay Oct 27 '11 at 22:39
  • @ProSay - yeah, that's how it goes. You can't get a grant twice in a row, so in a "perfect" situation, you could get a grant every other time. – Ash Oct 28 '11 at 13:43
  • thanks for the verification – ProSay Oct 28 '11 at 14:50

Honestly, I'm fine with however you want to run the contests. Any chance I have to get a free game, I'm pretty cool with.

  • I forgot, we must be entitled. – Doozer Blake Oct 4 '11 at 13:44
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    I think we're trying to make sure the site grows as a result of this grant rather than just see some free games handed out. It's not meant to come across as entitlement. – Adam Lear Oct 4 '11 at 13:58
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    I understand that, and I'm not looking for handouts for free games. I'm supposed to be getting a copy of Rage, and plan to use it to help the site in any way I can. It seems like some people are just miffed that things changed. I was just expressing my opinion that I'm fine with however things are done, because it's not my decision how they are run, and I'm truly okay with them running it as they see fit. – Doozer Blake Oct 4 '11 at 14:01
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    Nothing wrong with that. :) I agree that this proposal might not be getting the reception it would if it hadn't come on the heels of the rapid and unexpected demise of the old system. – Adam Lear Oct 4 '11 at 14:19
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    People were miffed because of how things got changed - we got a system that was agreed on by the community changed because someone didn't like it. – user821 Oct 4 '11 at 14:46
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    Giving input does not mean that we are rejecting their right to run it as they see fit. It just means we're trying to help. – bwarner Oct 4 '11 at 16:01
  • My comment about entitlement was only in regards that I quickly received 5 downvotes on my answer. I don't see anything wrong with providing input and feedback to them as they are asking for it, I was just providing my own. – Doozer Blake Oct 4 '11 at 17:06
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    Isn't it a little disingenuous to assume that's why people downvoted you? I imagine some of it might be spill-over anger from what may have been seen as a sycophantic answer in the wake of Jeff's deletion of the previous grant questions. – Raven Dreamer Oct 4 '11 at 22:39
  • @RavenDreamer It was. I suppose you're right. I should have explained myself better in my initial answer. – Doozer Blake Oct 4 '11 at 23:03

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