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First, I just wanted to say this was a great promotion. I'm sure we hit some sort of acceleration record for questions (and answers) both due to the grant and the prizes.

My main concern is this promotion is still going on for another week. I think it is fair to say that we have covered most of the great questions that other users out there using the search engines would want to know. I think most people have hit their desired "rank" in the contest that they can hope to achieve, others might be very close.

What I've been noticing though is lots of new users (or existing returning users) asking a bunch of questions that are extremely similar to existing questions (resulting in lots of closed questions), extremely specific questions which probably are not viable search targets or very vague "general reference" that they could either Google or quickly try themselves. They see the promotion and they struggle with getting in some questions so late in the game.

I wish I had some data to back this up, such as view count per question per date (I'm sure someone could write this for some interesting metrics). Unfortunately the data explorer has not updated for our contest. I imagine the trend would be a sharp decrease in view count for newer questions.

I can see some positives and negatives to keeping this promotion going on so long. On the positive side this means were consistently bringing in new users to the site who try to compete in the promotion, and maybe some of them will stay. However, on the down side of things there is a lot more "noise" being generated by questions as of late with duplicates, too specific or general reference style questions that I personally don't find interesting.

My question is, is this promotion going on too long, lowing the signal to noise ratio of questions in an unfavourable manor? Or do the benefits of new users outweigh the negatives described above?

(edit) I am mostly interested in opinions for future contests as I'm sure the end date of this one should be set in stone.

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    I think those of us with 3k+ rep can do a lot to help with the low-quality questions by being vigilant and voting to close those that are off-topic, subjective, and dupes. I've been linking them as I find them in chat and sometimes it gets them closed quickly, but I think some there are fatigued by the sheer number, as sometimes even obvious dupes linger when there are plenty of people around who could help close them. Particularly frustrating is seeing 3k+ users answer the dupes! Although with the sheer number of questions out there, it's bound to happen by accident. – Sterno Mar 15 '12 at 4:43
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    I have to say, I'm glad this promotion is lasting into next week. I am in a different state from my Xbox for this entire week, and I am glad I will have time after to add some questions and answers when I can actually get back to playing the game. – murgatroid99 Mar 15 '12 at 5:41
  • Just how 'too specific' are we talking about? I dunno about ME3 but I found myself googling 'borderlands sniper body' asking for the location of one item in one optional quest... – badp Mar 15 '12 at 6:24
  • @badp I'm not looking to change the rules around questions entirely, I'm just bringing up the discussion around asking questions for the sake of putting a question on the site for the contest, and the difficulty of identifying legitimate questions versus "I just experienced this in the game and I need more questions" questions. – Resorath Mar 15 '12 at 7:09
  • Most people won't even finish the game in a week. How is it fair to only allow the most hardcore users contribute questions? – Ben Brocka Mar 15 '12 at 19:22
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I think two and a half weeks is a fine amount of time for a promotion of this size. It gives people the chance to play the game at a reasonable pace, and the chance to ask good questions. I'm still coming up with questions that I (and apparently others) think are interesting.

I think no matter the length of the promotion, we're going to end up with bad questions/answers on the site. This is just a problem with giving incentives for people to post - some of the posts are going to be created with the intent of getting that incentive.

Another aspect of this is the trivial questions. ME3 is attracting a lot of new players to the series, so I'd expect that we're going to see a significant amount of what veterans might consider "easy" questions - these mechanics are 5 years old to us, but they're 5 minutes old to some players.

There have been quite a few dupes, but I'd say that's the case with any major release - how many dupes do we have for Skyrim, for instance? There are certain game mechanics that everyone is interested in - romance, respec'ing, squadmates, endings, etc. Reading practically every question means I can spot them immediately, but it's not always clear to others where the duplicates lie.

Downvote bad questions and close duplicates. Things are busier now, but this is not that different from any other day on the site :)

I'd also like to note that I think that the information on the site might be some of the most complete information available on the subjects we are posting on (outside of perhaps the strategy guide). We're accumulating expertise faster (IMHO) than the wikis at this rate. Establishing ourselves as a formidable alternative to these types of sites is going to require the kind of growing and filtering pain we're going through right now.

  • Plus we have bad posts when there isn't a promotion as well... – Ben Brocka Mar 15 '12 at 19:23
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The time span of the promotion is good, you also have to take in to consideration people like me who did not get the game at launch. I got my game from the give away. It was ordered from UK Amazon, there the release date was the 9th and with the weekend coming I didn't get the game before Monday the 12th, if the promotion was shorter I wouldn't be able to participate much in it, but with its current length I have a chance to reach my goal of doing Mission 4.

As other people have mentioned the solution to having many duplicate posts would be to change the criteria of the missions in future promotions.

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I think I have a bit of a Mass Effect hangover, but if this hadn't gone 3 weeks I wouldn't have made it to Fleet Admiral. I just don't have the time to devote daily to get to the upper tiers.

With that said by the end of this week it is getting very hard to ask any new questions since most of the content of this game has now been thoroughly explored, poked, queried and we are now beating the bloody spot on the grass.

2 weeks for a non-hardcore person got me to Captain, 3 weeks let me squeek into Fleet Admiral.

If the game had been a little more difficult (eavesdrop, fly, scan, return to Citadel missions were a big time drain but not terribly difficult) or a lot more open (felt very linear) then the 3 weeks would have probably been perfect.

  • Dude just saw you got to the final prize level, congrats! – Matthew Read Mar 23 '12 at 19:59
  • @MatthewRead Thanks! – Tharius Mar 23 '12 at 20:00
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If this promotion didn't drag into this week, I would have no chance of getting from 13/25 to 25/25, but even that's a real stretch at this point.

It's getting very hard not to ask pedantic, low quality questions.

I notice that there's a trend of leaving questions at low votes and upvoting the begeezus out of some answers ... if an answer is worth 13 the question might be worth more than 2 (but I digress).

One criteria I didn't see used, that might have helped, would have been views. Instead of needing 35 5+ posts perhaps some of the existing badge criteria could have been used. For example I have received several Popular Question badges.

Additionally if we were going to try to have some more difficult to achieve criteria we could do an either or requirement instead of an and criteria.

Get 2 PQs OR 30 7+ answers, etc.

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    Views is a tough one to get, and encouraging people to try and get far more views on their questions is often counterproductive. For instance, if we required 5 questions at 1k views, that would encourage people to spam links to other sites. It's also biased towards people who started early and ask the questions people will be googling - someone whose copy arrived late or who lives in a region where the game comes out later is at a disadvantage. The sharing requirement makes it so that you can focus on your own personal network, where we're more likely to give a better introduction. – agent86 Mar 15 '12 at 14:29
  • Asking for 35 5+ questions or answers suffers from the same disadvantage for people who starts late or don't get in on the initial batch of questions (or take a day off playing the game, etc). Reviewing my own history, and I'm far from the most active user, I scored 4 PQ for Harry Potter Lego (2 months+), 4 PQ for Kingdoms of Amalur (1 wk) and am at 3 for ME3 (1 wk). It's something beyond your control, but, suggesting that 1 popular question could be hit is reasonable. – Tharius Mar 15 '12 at 14:45
  • Aye, I also agree that there should have been a different criteria in addition to score rankings. Requiring a score of something (like the 25 you need) is difficult since people are fickle, and it seems like they are even more fickle during this me3missions period. The timeframe is fine, but I'm not really seeing any increase in my existing QA scores over time after the question is done. – Zeno Mar 15 '12 at 14:51
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    Question voting is always a problem, across the network. Some bad questions are saved by great answers, but there's often great questions going unrewarded for eliciting good answers. – Matthew Read Mar 15 '12 at 16:31
  • 2 PQs is luck (and speed, gotta be the first), while 30 7+ answers is a matter of extreme effort. I know those are just examples, but I think it highlights how extremely different those stats are. – Ben Brocka Mar 15 '12 at 19:25

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