[[[The Prime Question]]] What is the Point of a Contest?

Kyrbi0

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@Ralle & @everyone (lolol)
Thanks to @Arowanna for the kick in the pants, as well as @IcemanBo & @Naze (the latter for the following):

What's important here is to see what the users think about the arena and the new rule. Obviously there are the "I-like-contests-because-it's-fun" users (like me) and the users who prefer a more competitive environment. But I don't know what the majority thinks.
...
Kyrbi0 also wants to add something to the discussion, which I guess is this question: "What is the point of any given contest? Is it to have fun, to increase the number of resources, to engender community, or as 'tests of skill' to determine who is best at something? Or some combination?". He contributed with this question in an Arena discussion last year, and it helped defining what the user expects from contests and how we should adapt them to make it an enjoyable experience.
(I'm very gratified that you not only remembered that, but found where I had posted it; I myself had forgotten)

I have thought about Contests the Hive for a long time; anyone can check my record and see I've joined a dozen or so, Hosted a few, and spoken at length about them. I care about them a lot, and want to see them improved; problems fixed, inefficiencies minimized, rules clarified & made more explicit, enforcement enjoined.

There are a myriad of intriguing & challenging questions to consider in this discussion-to-be-had; this most recent discussion about the meaning & extent of "teamwork" (to the end of clarifying/explicit-izing the Rule) is but one piece of the greater puzzle.

~

I'm the kind of guy that likes to get the root of things. The base, primal, foundational element that underscores & underpins everything else. If we can't answer that, how can we hope to answer all the other questions? The questions whose answer depends on the answer to that ultimate, foundational question?

What, then, is that question? After a great deal of time & thought, I believe it to be thus:

What is the Point of a Contest?

While I would love to entertain contenders to this as the Prime Question, I currently stand convinced of it's primacy; answering that Question* will lead us to the proper answers to all other questions. And in fact, no other questions can really be well-discussed without that Answer.

~

I recognize, first of all, that this is immensely complicated question, and it is difficult (if not foolhardy) of me to try & boil it into a single Poll. Yet, I feel we must try.

I recognize, secondly, that humans are immensely complicated, and we often have varying desires & preferences that can shift due to circumstance or time. The goal here is to get a general sense, a 'taste of the tides'; to aggregate the opinions of the masses in order to best serve those masses.

*I recognize, thirdly, that the Answer to this Question (due to the first two 'recognitions' above) might indeed be impossible to determine generally, but instead be best determined on a more discipline-by-discipline (or even Contest-by-Contest) basis. We will attend to that as well.


~

In a nutshell, though, I felt that Contests (or rather, the people who interacted with them) generally fell on a two-sided spectrum; those who thought Contests should be more serious/tests of skill, and those who thought Contests should be more relaxed/community-building/fun-having spectacles. While I still believe this to be important, @Arowanna has successfully changed my mind that there should be a third corner to the graph; "self-improvement". It has roots in 'serious-mode' and roots in 'fun-mode', but is not quite either one. I have further folded "community-improvement" (i.e. making more resources & such) into that, with the title "Eudaemonia" (Greek for "flourishing/prosperity/growth")

Thus I propose:

SOME KIND OF POLL-SERIES TO THE SITE: HOW TO RUN CONTESTS

PART 1: WHAT SHOULD CONTESTS MAINLY BE ABOUT? (MULTI-VOTE PLEASE)
"Fun" (i.e. to have a good time, a relaxed tone, engender community engagement, etc)
"Challenge" (i.e. a test of skill, a more serious tone, competitive in nature, etc)
"Eudaemonia" (i.e. self-/community-improvement: to improve ones' skills and/or to create more resources for the community)
PART 2: SHOULD THE ABOVE BE DETERMINED & PROMULGATED? (i.e. set in place/stone, etc)
Yes
Maybe (why/why not)?
No
PART 3: IF 'YES', HOW SO?
At a site-wide level
On a Contest-by-Contest basis
On a discipline-by-discipline basis (i.e. Icon Contests vs. Hero Contests vs. Coding Contests vs. Concept Art Contests, etc)
Other?
PART 4: WHERE/BY WHOM SHOULD THIS BE DETERMINED?
Site Discussion - by Administrators
Contest Submissions - by Host, then Users
Contest Submissions - by Moderators
Other - by Other

I am not prepared to make The Big Poll for the Prime Question at this time (gotta go to work). Moreover, I would want the blessing & administrative-oomph of Ralle; ideally, this Poll would not only be publicly announced (via the notifications bar, like for Contests), but perhaps could even have every individual user personally notified (pop-up or somesuch) to check it out. For this to mean anything we need maximum outreach & involvement.

I have a lot more to say about each of those options, but it will have to wait. Thank you for your patience & (hopefully) involvement. I hope to move forward to Polling soon.


Respectfully,

Kyrbi0


//EDIT// - It Has Begun. Thanks Naze.
 
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Chaosy

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I do not enter a contest just for fun
If I -only- wanted fun I might as well make a map/spell/system/model in private and possibly upload it when I finish it.

Naturally the competition is a part of the reason I do so.

But.. I am not -that- serious about it, I do my work and I leave it there. I work until it is functional most of the time, I rarely if ever polish anything.
So I am never aiming for first place, but third would not be too bad.

And if I only want top 3, well I can afford some fun. I do not think it should be dead serious.
 
Fun is the primary goal lastly, that's for sure. And it's also for example my goal, but I don't see it contradictory with a defined no-teamwork rule and some level of competive environment. I believe it can still make fun, too.

What I see contradictory in a contest it is competetive environment when it's also about prizes <-> having learning & teaching set as uppest goal.

Something like Joining the Texturing Contests - A decade too late! by Arowanna, next to a running contest, seems to be like a perfect platform for such casual submitting, giving free critiques without limitation, learning things etc.
 

deepstrasz

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To edit @Chaosy's post, fun is on the second place. Contests help people get the best or at least a lot of energy out of them to create something good as competition leads to a faster development in general. It's the stimulus most people need to actually do something.
 
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I like contests because it is a mix of these 3 reasons:
  • The fun aspect: participating in something that a lot of other people are also participating and commenting on the same thread. It's a good occasion to interact more with other users, either by giving feedback or just having a little of silly fun on each other (like this).
  • The learning aspect: It's not my main goal, but I like the fact I learned many things from contests by reading feedback targeted torwards my entry or other users' entries.
  • The competitive aspect: It is nice, I admit it. The competition makes this cooler than merely uploading a resource in the resource section. Competing with other contests also leads to self-improvement, which I like too. But personally I've never been reeeeally competitive/serious in the Hive contests (or in any videogames/hobbies). We all have work/study in real life to be competitive and serious already.
In short, I log in here to spend my free time when I'm not working/studying, so if joining a contest isn't primarily fun, I'd not even bother joining.



PART 2: SHOULD THE ABOVE BE DETERMINED & PROMULGATED? (i.e. set in place/stone, etc)
No. We all have personally different motivations to participate in the contest. Even when we have similar motivations, the main reason may be different from one person to another. It seems to me now that contests could benefit from being in a middle ground, so it doesn't feel completely off to anyone.
 
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Kyrbi0

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========

I want to thank those of you who have read & commented about this topic, as I believe it to be of prime importance.

However, I may not have been quite clear; I'm hoping (with Ralle, hopefully) to set up a (series of) Poll(s) about this; that's where we'd actually have the discussion about each of those questions in turn.

Here, I guess I was kinda more laying my thoughts down in order, and seeing if there was a consensus about them; specifically, if we can break the "Purpose" of a Contest into those 2 3 elements (upon which we will then Vote as a site). Does anyone disagree with my reasoning? Can anyone think of a more fundamental question to ask?
 

deepstrasz

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What will defining a few words for contests do? Let's just have some simple and somewhat liberal rules so everyone can be happy.

Stratifying isn't a really good idea in things like this, especially regarding art.
 

Kyrbi0

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What will defining a few words for contests do? Let's just have some simple and somewhat liberal rules so everyone can be happy.

Stratifying isn't a really good idea in things like this, especially regarding art.
I don't know what you mean.

We're not 'defining a few words'. We're trying, as a site, to determine how we feel about Contest on the whole/generally; "what is the Point"?

This is because this singular Question will inform every other question. It's impossible to effectively debate about defining words like "teamwork", because (for example) if you think Contests are all about 'Fun', then it basically doesn't matter! Maybe you draw the line at "actual work", but past that whatever! However, if you think Contests are all about 'Competition', then you would want more fairness, brought about by more rules & more enforcement. You may very well want absolutely no teamwork of any kind, including comments or reviews; this would, I'm sure you agree, result in absolute fairness and a true test of "my skill vs. your skill". (More likely, you fall somewhere along the spectrum, instead of being 100% on either side. Humans aren't really black-and-white, we have shades of gray, so maybe you want some strict Rules but others you don't care so much about)

However, if you don't agree on the fundamental premise ('fun' vs. 'competition'), there's no way to agree on the ancillary issues. The definition of Teamwork is just one of many, many examples.
 

deepstrasz

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However, if you don't agree on the fundamental premise ('fun' vs. 'competition'), there's no way to agree on the ancillary issues. The definition of Teamwork is just one of many, many examples.
I'm saying it doesn't have to be a versus but more of a mix of best parts of each side.
Contests here should be fun, aid entrants improve and help the site. Once these three (and maybe even more) are settled, it'll all be going according to plan.
 
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I, like Naze, think the three main factors to consider when talking about the point of a contest is the following:

- Fun Factor: A contest needs to be engaging, stimulating and interesting in order to be viable.
- Competitive Factor: A contest needs to be fair, challenging and promise an appropriate prize for the winners.
- Educational Factor: A contest needs to offer ways of improving one's own skills in order to be viable.

Now, obviously, the weight and distribution that is put on either of these factors will likely vary depending on the demographic it is aimed toward.
For instance, a contest for children will put extra emphasise on the Fun Factor, while a contest for extremely skilled artists will likely put it on the
Competitive Factor, and lastly a contest a school will likely put extra emphasise on the Educational Factor. And where does this leave us?

Sadly, we have to deal with all three factors, and we have to cater to people pertaining to all three aforementioned categories. This is a modding
community where we have people who are so skilled that the only thing they want is competition, hard competition. But there are also people
here who are still learning, still looking to improve themselves, and those people want the focus to be on the educational side of things. And then
there's the casuals, the children, who only wants to have fun and fool around.

We are currently discussing this matter, or rather, specifically the matter of how the "no teamwork" rule was defined in the past as opposed to how
it is defined now, and which ramifications that has. This thread is an amazing help in gauging where the community stands on the matter, so by all
means: Keep those opinions flaring like brazen bright embers to light the bonfires that will lead the way into a brighter future! ;)
 

Kyrbi0

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This is a most cogent response, and the most pertinent. As I said, we really oughta save our Actual Opinions for the (hopefully upcoming) Poll about this; this topic is about whether or not I'm right in my paradigm of Contests, & in how to work towards resolving it.

I, like Naze, think the three main factors to consider when talking about the point of a contest is the following:

- Fun Factor: A contest needs to be engaging, stimulating and interesting in order to be viable.
- Competitive Factor: A contest needs to be fair, challenging and promise an appropriate prize for the winners.
- Educational Factor: A contest needs to offer ways of improving one's own skills in order to be viable.

So, @Keiji , it appears you agree with me that there is a three-fold 'spectrum of focus' when it comes to Contests (and that those three foci are "Fun", "Skill/Challenge/Competition", and "Education/Eudaemonia"). I'm glad to hear some consensus; while for the many years I've thought about this topic I've only ever considered the first two, Arowanna has convinced me of the 3rd being separate enough from the first two to consider (though it does complicate things somewhat, so I may still sometimes focus on just the first two).

Though I think that every Contest should tap into all three, I agree that there are some problems with that:

Keiji said:
Now, obviously, the weight and distribution that is put on either of these factors will likely vary depending on the demographic it is aimed toward. ...
Sadly, we have to deal with all three factors, and we have to cater to people pertaining to all three aforementioned categories. This is a modding community where we have people who are so skilled that the only thing they want is competition, hard competition. But there are also people here who are still learning, still looking to improve themselves, and those people want the focus to be on the educational side of things. And then there's the casuals, the children, who only wants to have fun and fool around.
To the first statement, I completely agree. In fact, I may be so bold as to say that is the entire point of this Question; what are the demographics on this? What do people say, what do they want to see? A Poll is essential.

To the second statement... I do not entirely agree. I think there are many levels that this Question exists on, and I'm willing to talk about it at any or all of them. If we can decide as a Site what the overall 'thrust' of our Contests should be, great! Let's settle this once & for all, to avoid future heart-ache or wasted effort*. However, if no consensus can be found, I believe it may exist on merely a subset of the Site; perhaps on the level of the main Modding disciplines (the Modeling or Hero-design community, etc). Or even just a sub-subset, like for Icon or Voice Acting Contests specifically.

I speak from personal experience; in a Contest long ago, I was reasonably dismayed to discover how different my goals & expectations for that Contest were from those joining (& even Hosting) it. My discussion about 'standardization' & such was basically moot, if indeed the Site as a whole (or even just the Contestants as a smaller whole) want(s) to focus on the Fun/Enrichment angle, over that of the, Anthony


Basically, we don't need to appease everyone all the time; if we can, great, but much more likely we can "open it up" such that dialogue is had more commonly & specifically. Anytime a Contest comes up, the interested parties can gather and, in addition to voting on/discussing the "Contest Theme", can vote/discuss about what kind of Contest it is; a Fun-focused on, a Skill-focused one, or an Education-focused one (or some combination).

Keiji said:
We are currently discussing this matter, or rather, specifically the matter of how the "no teamwork" rule was defined in the past as opposed to how it is defined now, and which ramifications that has.
The "Teamwork" Rule is but one root of the greater tree, and it's a good illustration of the primacy of this Question:
  • A "Competitive-based" Contest, at it's most extreme, would probably ensure absolutely 0% Teamwork by obfuscating the contestant's entries right up until the Poll -- no public showing or discussion -- ensuring that only the user/team gave input. This maximizes fairness & uniformity; hallmarks of those who want a "true test of skill". (Even when pursued less extremely, the Teamwork Rule would probably be interpreted as it is currently; 'nothing more than minimal, surface-level discussion in public')
  • An "Educational-based" Contest, on the other hand, would want to maximize community interaction; it's not controversial to say that we most rapidly improve with the guidance/tutelage/support of others (whether a jury of peers or a personal mentor). It would probably use the Teamwork Rule to ensure that everything was open, short of actual, physical work on the entry; i.e. only the user/team could actually do physical modding work on their entry, but beyond that (reviews/discussions/sharing/comparing/discussing + suggesting in detail), no problem.
  • A "Fun-based" Contest, at it's most extreme, would probably just do away with the Teamwork Rule entirely! If I'm making a spell and my modeler buddy wants to throw together some cool SFX for it, why not? If I'm putting together a Hero & my coder buddy wants to help me code some spells, why not? Etc. More community, more resources, more fun. Fun is diametrically opposed to 'Skill' in this instance; no need to ensure a level playing field or even the same bullseye. Give everyone a blank canvas & a general direction & see what happens! Freedom is fun! (Even when pursued less extremely, the Teamwork Rule, I would argue, would be mostly a suggestion; if it doesn't matter (for competition or for self-improvement) whether someone helps you to varying degrees, why not?)
All of these things are dependent on the Answer to that Question: "what is the Point?". At whatever 'level' (see above) this Question exists on, it informs all the rest of those questions.
(In the example of Teamwork, where a given Contest falls on that Rule is directly correlated, I would submit, to how much to one side the Users pull. It's unlikely to be 100% anything, but the Contest could be 'mostly Fun, with a touch of Competitiveness', where Teamwork is ensured to be only from the Team, but with a great deal of latitude. Etc.)

Keiji said:
This thread is an amazing help in gauging where the community stands on the matter, so by all means: Keep those opinions flaring like brazen bright embers to light the bonfires that will lead the way into a brighter future! ;)
I appreciate the rousing accolades, but I must reiterate that this topic is not the true Question. This is something that, I feel, must be done not only via a Poll, but one with as wide a reach as possible (i.e. site-wide), and as cohesive & informative an explanation as possible. I look forward to drafting such, but I'd like to first hear from one of you Administrators that this is the path to take.
 
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I hate polls, it's very limiting because you basically have to choose between few pre-selected answers, that prevents you from thinking large, so nothing innovative can come out of a poll.

My opinion about contests:
  • Contests help keeping the site alive:
    • That's why it's important to reward participation, to have as much contestants as possible.
  • Contests stimulate creativity:
    • Which means themes have to be innovative somehow.
    • Seeing what others do with the same theme also helps you to stimulate your artistic mind.
  • Contests should be fair:
    • Same deadline for everyone and no teamwork (in my opinion giving simple advices on forums is not teamwork).
  • Contests help you to improve:
    • It's important to give good reviews to all entries, and it's not good to do so after several months (I believe judging should be modified : let anyone provide a review for an entry, if the judge lacks time then he can base his judging on other's reviews).
  • Warcraft modding is a hobby:
    • Stop these "money prize" contests, reputation rewards are enough for true modders.
 
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So, @Keiji , it appears you agree with me that there is a three-fold 'spectrum of focus' when it comes to Contests (and that those three foci are "Fun", "Skill/Challenge/Competition", and "Education/Eudaemonia").

I am sorry I did not notice you mentioning this, I did admittedly skim through some parts of this thread.

To the second statement... I do not entirely agree. I think there are many levels that this Question exists on, and I'm willing to talk about it at any or all of them.

I did not say that we only have people exclusively of one of these three categories, but that we have people of all three categories.
And that it is important to keep this in mind when considering where to go from this outlook.

I did not mean to generalise to offend or to diminish the variety of users we have here in our community, I was merely referencing my
previous examples while pointing to the extreme outer edges, which tend to be the most opinionated and loud speaking parts of any
community, and pointing out that we have to cater to them all in order to make them all satisfied.

I agree that there is certainly a greater variety of levels this question exist on, and that there are a mixture of people around here with
varying degrees of priorities pertaining to the aforementioned categories.

Basically, we don't need to appease everyone all the time; if we can, great, but much more likely we can "open it up" such that dialogue is had more commonly & specifically. Anytime a Contest comes up, the interested parties can gather and, in addition to voting on/discussing the "Contest Theme", can vote/discuss about what kind of Contest it is; a Fun-focused on, a Skill-focused one, or an Education-focused one (or some combination).

This is more or less the exact thought I've been arriving to time and again after I started considering this subject, we might want to
have different contests for different people. Some that are highly competitive, and some that are fun and educational, as you say.

The "Teamwork" Rule is but one root of the greater tree

Indeed, but it is the immediate problem the community is currently having with contests in general, so it needs to be rooted
out and solved before we can tackle the rest of this subject. Fret not, however, this does not diminish the importance of this
discussion.

I appreciate the rousing accolades, but I must reiterate that this topic is not the true Question. This is something that, I feel, must be done not only via a Poll, but one with as wide a reach as possible (i.e. site-wide), and as cohesive & informative an explanation as possible. I look forward to drafting such, but I'd like to first hear from one of you Administrators that this is the path to take.

A poll posted in the news section might be a good idea, and might actually be a good policy idea as well for future site-wide decisions,
so that the staff can, at the very least, see what the community wants the most. However, while you don't think this thread/topic is the
"true" question, it is a very good hub to accumulate general opinions on the subject, which is why I would like people to throw out their
opinions. I would, personally, like to see what people have to say on the matter.
 
It seems some people got afraid in general of giving feedback in a contest. As said, I don't see feedback as forbidden in general, but only if it goes too detailed and too instructioned. Thinking about it I would like to list some points, that I guess we would like to have answered in some way:
  • Will there be a line for feedback, or should be everything allowed but maybe physical touch (which can't be regulated the same 100% btw)
    - for me: yes, some line for feedback is essential for contests. It's not needed to be defined too strict, and has some place for place for interpretation of strictness, but I as overwatching mod want a chance to step in case I see it being unfair.

  • What will happen accordingly to Challange Section? It has some similarities to a contest, but smaller design and the face to face / competive aspect seems chosen more directly. Will there exist then a "no-teamwork" rule, or is learning there still more important?
    - for me: yes, detailed feedback is not allowed here, too. Though I would probably not step in if both challengers are suggesting any things to each other, as the only people affected by their fair- or unfairness are them selves.

  • Locking resource threads during contest to follow "no detailed reviews" thought.
    - while I say yes, I agree I don't very like this part how it's handled, because it seems an annoying side-effect next to a contest, and means extra hustle for mods.
    Having teamwork allowed would remove this extra work, but not sure I see it as main argument, but more as consequence.

  • Enforcing people for who to vote, or better said for who not to vote, as currently voting for one self is not allowed.
    - this is I think also such a competive-fun-whatever question, and I would personally not see it as required to limit any voting. Having it enforced might seem honorful for some, but for me it's not needed in a competition to deal with it and maybe discuss always the same.
Line for feedback - should it be defined differently?
- yes: proposal, so we see agreements and differences
- no: is a normal contest then still perfect place? are ranks etc all needed? (serious question)

===

I have some thoughts in mind, but I want prefer to have such basic questions clarified at first, to see if it could even make sense.



(bit different topic)

@Freddyk
I agree judgement plays a very important role, and as far I can see it, it has been taken not seriously enough (for me) for very much contests - the judging per se, and the whole process. And yes, it should not just happen several months after contest is over - that's simply too late. The problem is, it requires much work and effort from host/mod to follow all this and to guide it, and not many people have the time or motivation to do this. We tried to improve overall structure, but it's not so simple all follow it and not making things too strict.
But not sure it's a solution anyone can write reviews and it will be taken as judgement. To be a proper judgement I want to have reasoning required why/why not something is good and to see where points where deducted. This sounds simple, but it's not. Thing is, people want give most casual feedback, without reasoning all scores, and maybe with skipping time-costly aspects / entries, etc.
Though afterall, everyone who could think of wanting to judge can just announce it, and he will be considered - it's not a real big deal I think, if one person really wants.
 
By the way, I wanted to note something else, because I'm not sure it's very understood as it is. After contest has ended, so when poll occurs, then any feedback and critique is allowed, and of course not considered as teamwork anymore - also now already. That is, because at that point all voters are encouraged to test and to give honest opinions anyway, and changes won't be made anymore. Also at here, most users who write feedback, make some statement to most of entries, and not only to one, and so hope is potential unfairness is kept at minimum.
 
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  • Will there be a line for feedback, or should be everything allowed but maybe physical touch (which can't be regulated the same 100% btw)
    - for me: yes, some line for feedback is essential for contests. It's not needed to be defined too strict, and has some place for place for interpretation of strictness, but I as overwatching mod want a chance to step in case I see it being unfair.
  • What will happen accordingly to Challange Section? It has some similarities to a contest, but smaller design and the face to face / competive aspect seems chosen more directly. Will there exist then a "no-teamwork" rule, or is learning there still more important?
    - for me: yes, detailed feedback is not allowed here, too. Though I would probably not step in if both challengers are suggesting any things to each other, as the only people affected by their fair- or unfairness are them selves.
  • Locking resource threads during contest to follow "no detailed reviews" thought.
    - while I say yes, I agree I don't very like this part how it's handled, because it seems an annoying side-effect next to a contest, and means extra hustle for mods.
    Having teamwork allowed would remove this extra work, but not sure I see it as main argument, but more as consequence.
  • Enforcing people for who to vote, or better said for who not to vote, as currently voting for one self is not allowed.
    - this is I think also such a competive-fun-whatever question, and I would personally not see it as required to limit any voting. Having it enforced might seem honorful for some, but for me it's not needed in a competition to deal with it and maybe discuss always the same.
I'll address to these points of yours, but obviously I alone wouldn't decide anything:
  • Drawing a line on feedback: I'd have it allowed and still prohibit teamwork as physical work. Perhaps pay a special attention when making this rule for code contests. Thinking about it now, I never felt like feedback played a big factor on someone winning anyway: generally the winning guy is the one who least needs feedback, being the most expert of the participants.
  • Challenge section: I'd have challengers choose whether to apply the feedback restriction or not. It's their thing anyway.
  • Locking resource threads: well, I guess I wouldn't lock them if I had it my way. No surprise here =P
  • Self-votes: I would make this remain as it is.
Hey I think we should make the poll soon. We gathered some input from those interested and I don't think we'll have much more for it. Also, creating a notice board or a news post linking to the poll may be good, we'll have to think of it.
 
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