October 23, 2019, 02:05:32 PM

Poll

Should the stories for the October Writing Contest be submitted anonymously?

Yes, let's try this out! (Submit the stories when you get them.)
10 (47.6%)
Yes, let's try this out! (All stories should be submitted on the last day of the contest.)
3 (14.3%)
No, the contest is good as it is and the option to anonymously submit exists for those who want to.
8 (38.1%)
I don't care.
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 21

Voting closed: September 29, 2016, 05:47:37 PM

Author Topic: Anonymous Submission  (Read 19565 times)

Offline m3mnoch

Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #45 on: September 26, 2016, 06:23:41 PM »
i haven't.

mostly because of the enormous amount of work it would be.  basically, the algorithm compares two known authors to a third unknown and determines similarity.  so, for me to use that to discover a single, random anonymous user, i'd have to setup a bracket-like thing where i iterate through everyone who's ever entered the contest and take the most likely match.  then, move that author on to the next comparison.  all the way until i'm confident i've finally found the right one.

like i said, i'd have to REALLY want to figure it out for all that copy/pasting or time invested into an automated tool.

tho, who knows?  maybe i will discover grrm entering our contest!

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #46 on: September 26, 2016, 06:42:01 PM »
or we can always try asking @xiagan with 'pretty pleases' ;D

(not the one in the current contest, just old ones hehe)
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Offline xiagan

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Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #47 on: September 26, 2016, 08:38:17 PM »
or we can always try asking @xiagan with 'pretty pleases' ;D

(not the one in the current contest, just old ones hehe)
What exactly is the sense in letting people submit anonymous if I tell you later who it was? It's their decision (not mine!) to reveal themselves or not. :)
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #48 on: September 26, 2016, 08:39:37 PM »
I know :) I guess I was hoping that they'd see this and eventually reveal themselves, not honestly hoping you would tell us.
I'm not really bothered, hehe
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Offline xiagan

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Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #49 on: September 26, 2016, 08:42:30 PM »
I certainly don't get what the point of doing it for a month is if there is no prospect of adopting it. That seems to be change for the sake of change, not change for the sake of making the competition more newbie friendly.
Afaik we're not doing it to make the comp more newbie friendly. I'm not sure having anonymous submissions would be more newbie friendly, tbh.
We do it because it may be fun and to see how and if it works. :)

IMO, if the trial month is good fun, then it should become a regular thing - an annual anonymous month for example would be pretty reasonable, similar to the annual fanfic month and possibly an annual flash fiction month - but not permanent in the sense that it completely replaces the normal way of doing things.
That sounds like quite a good idea. If it is good fun, then we could do it once a year. Not deciding this before we tried it, ofc.
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Offline night_wrtr

Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #50 on: November 16, 2016, 09:38:10 PM »
Bringing attention back to this thread to further the discussion!

From the Corpse thread:

Yeah the novelty value will disappear, but little of the enjoyment comes from sheer novelty. Most of it comes from the suspense, and from the shared speculation and analysis which everyone has been enjoying. None of that would go away, even if it was a regular thing.

The only thing it restricts is people who want others to discuss their work (and are grumpy at having to wait a month while the rest of us enjoy ourselves before they can bask in people's attention  :P ), and even that will still be able to happen after the reveal. If that's really such a deal-breaker for some, Bradley's suggestion would be a decent compromise imo. Not sure that an option to opt out would make sense, though I guess it wouldn't be a big deal.

I like @Bradley Darewood 's suggestion also. That narrows the 30 day wait down to around 14 days. (Lets be honest, maybe its a 60 day wait for those who read submissions as they are posted!) Although, I am sure @Anonymous would not mind to do a few edits if needed. There is a full month to write and submit changes, which is why it can be dangerous to read them before the submissions are over.

I can go either way on this, but definitely would like to see Anon subs more often. I like seeing the stories judged by the words on the page, instead of the name attached to it. Especially for the new members to the contest club this month because it puts them on equal footing with old timers. Who wrote what? Who knows! Will will find out soon!



Any updated feelings after we are halfway through the first ever Anonymous month?

Offline Nora

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Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #51 on: November 16, 2016, 09:50:18 PM »
My updated feeling is that I still can't believe you're saying you've been voting for names instead of stories all along, and that it's the first month you're giving consideration for newcomers.
I don't feel that way.
I personally feel that Anonymous submission should be encouraged for those who want it, and not forced on those who don't. Many liked it, some others didn't,  why force it either way when it's already an option? Just start using it.
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #52 on: November 16, 2016, 10:29:43 PM »
I think there's a wide divide between voting for names and being influenced by the names.

Regarding bias: the author's reputation (or lack of one) can be a weighty thing, positive and negative, based on their interactions and posts on the forum, their past work (whether in the contest, published books, blogs, etc.), as well as all the unmentionables - things that can bias a few directly or indirectly, a little or a lot - gender, background, age, nationality, education, etc. I am not suggesting we are rampant with bias - I am suggesting we're not magically immune to it.

This is potentially important, beyond our personal feelings, because anonymous submissions make the contest more legitimate to outsiders who don't know us or our culture. Maybe we don't care about how the contest is viewed from the outside, and if that's the case, it's an irrelevant point. But if some of us do, it's worth considering. I don't actually know why this forum exists - I have no idea if revenue is generated or if this is one, huge, wonderful hobby for the people that make it happen. But if it's making people money, that means there are competitors, and keeping the forum healthy is more important than anything, to all of us that love this venue. And if the contest is important to that health, then in my opinion the success of this past month trumps other concerns.

Several obvious considerations:
Spoiler for Hiden:
- It cannot be argued that the anon-submission was a smash success almost universally, measured in the number of submissions, the number of new contestants, the energy and enthusiasm of the discussions, and the fun (whether lasting or not remains to be seen). The concerns raised against it seem minor and transient. The editing issue is one that can be dealt with - that one hit me in particular.
- Only by working together have our collective guesses approached anything close to mostly inaccurate, vs. completely inaccurate. Turns out, it's not that obvious to most of us. So anon works, even with the hints and admissions (albeit contaminated with some misdirection  ;D)

Several less obvious considerations:
Spoiler for Hiden:
- Filtering names allows people to submit who might otherwise be embarrassed or have some other issue with putting their name out there before the work's been warmly received. Is it purely coincidental so many first-time submissions arrived with anon?

- Interpretation of votes is not the same in each person's head. If someone voted for a popular member over me, and I was not a popular member, I might suspect bias had something to do with it - even though there's no evidence to support that emotion. Anon submissions mitigate that sentiment entirely.

- The reverse of the above is also potentially true: if I am a kickass writer and have a reputation as such, on some level I know that that helps my story - packaging and preconceptions matter, warnings of judging books by covers notwithstanding. I am not talking about voting for X because I consciously decide their work is better than anyone else's - not that does not or cannot happen. I am talking about where real bias occurs, below the surface where even people trying to be objective don't always see it.

My last point: being anonymous when not everyone else is only addresses biases related to the anonymous author. It does nothing to prevent biases based on the authors who are not anonymous. As I said, preconceptions matter, whether we want them to or not.

My overall opinion/vote: I like anonymous and would like to continue with it, either sporadically, or as a permanent adoption with the occasional "open submission" month for variety. I enjoyed this experience so much more than open submissions (granted, mine were poems with a snowball's chance in hell).

-Gem Cutter
« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 10:48:25 PM by Gem_Cutter »
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #53 on: November 16, 2016, 10:35:18 PM »
Just saying:
We already have the option for people to submit under 'anonymous' on any normal month. We've had one for the last 3-4 months, and it didn't affect their votes, which ranged from really low to a win.

Maybe we just need to remind people of this in the initial monthly post? @xiagan, what do you think?
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Offline night_wrtr

Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #54 on: November 16, 2016, 10:41:29 PM »
My updated feeling is that I still can't believe you're saying you've been voting for names instead of stories all along, and that it's the first month you're giving consideration for newcomers.
I don't feel that way.
I personally feel that Anonymous submission should be encouraged for those who want it, and not forced on those who don't. Many liked it, some others didn't,  why force it either way when it's already an option? Just start using it.

Not sure if I should feel a little insulted here?  :o Clearly an unfounded assumption.

Anonymous submissions eliminate all bias, which is my point. There is no way to judge a story apart from the words on the page. We can analyze and make guesses all month long. Even with a majority of guesses, we are probably mostly wrong, as @xiagan has pointed out.

I have mad love for @m3mnoch and his ebook with-no-authors. Does everyone use that? Probably not, but they should. Because it's awesome.

Bias can come from anywhere and does seep into things you wouldn't expect, even subconsciously. I use the ebook because it helps to maintain that equal footing that I mentioned earlier.

We obviously have a wide range of opinions on the subject. I dont think you have to worry about major changes without substantial discussion. Hence my bump of,the thread as some discussion has blossomed from the corpse thread.

Please realise this is a discussion, and not a proclamation of law. No one is forcing anything. So let's have an actual discussion that can bring some insight into other opinions and their merits.

Offline Nora

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Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #55 on: November 16, 2016, 11:08:22 PM »
Don't make the mistake of taking one month as data enough to draw outlines. 1750 as a topic is being pretty unpopular right now, like some other topics some people found more restraining and contributed less.
'Corpses' is both easy and wide open, we all write in genres that very often features dead bodies. Nothing is there to prove that 1750 would be a hotbed of submissions if it were anonymous right now.

Also, most of Gem's points for anonymity can be solved by applying as anonymous any given month.
As far as I'm aware, no one is making money off our back through these contests. In a normal online competition that doesn't revolve around a community, you would submit your story to the website, and most likely you wouldn't even know the people judging your work, just like submitting to a literary magazine.

I came to this forum for the community. I enjoy seeing what people write.. I enjoy reading Lanko's submission, Gem's submission, Rukaio's predictably funny submission, Tebakutis' cool sci-fi submissions, etc.
I don't think that anonymous treatment of the contest would give the satisfaction of the normal one. I don't look forward to entire months where we'll have to peruse through pages of threads to match who wrote which anonymous submission to see how their work evolved, or not being quite sure who wrote what.
I think I just don't get the problem everyone is gripping about. I feel like my work improved tremendously through almost two years of submissions, and never felt like I was favoured or disfavoured. If I hadn't done all that work, I probably wouldn't have discovered how much I love writing in present tense, first person, because I just don't "try stuff out" the same way when I write a WIP. The contest is for fun, for improving, for honing skills, not only for some sense of transcendental gratification (though always welcome), and living by your work shouldn't be a problem.
How much more hurt would people be from getting only 1 (or 0) votes when the submission was anonymous? Meaning that people, not knowing it was them, truly didn't care for their piece of writing? Just because it'd be fairer wouldn't make me more reassuring to timid contributors.

Anonymous is an option, I think it should remain one, just like it is now. And then you won't have to be associated with your work, if you truly wish so.

I don't think the brand of being 'new' is such a problem. When I was still quite the beginner, on my second contest, I gleaned 7 votes, made it 3rd place on the podium alongside Jmack who was already an institution.
An entire year later, my 'nightmare' submission got 2 votes, still beating by one vote regulars like Henry Dale and ArcaneArtsVelho!
Published names had stories here which only got one vote, notably the only month I won (on my 9th submission).

@night_wrtr : I don't mean it in an aggressive way, sorry, it's just when you said :

Quote
I like seeing the stories judged by the words on the page, instead of the name attached to it. Especially for the new members to the contest club this month because it puts them on equal footing with old timers.

Seemed to imply that you believe we do indeed vote for the name, instead of the words on the page, which I strongly believe we don't, especially when I browse through vote results from previous months and I see big names with few votes. I mean, the month I won, some guy called ChooChooChoo had double the votes Saraband did... Meaning he had 2 when Saraband had 1. I think if people followed name/fame, you would'nt see such results.
You yourself had a month with zero votes, and in August just crushed everyone with an amazing story. Can't invent it.
I mostly meant by my wild comment that I thought "influence" of the names had been discussed, and this month's anonymous sub was offered as a non permanent game, because most people had agreed we're only mildly influenced by names.


In the end I think when we see something that truly appeals to us, we vote for it, regardless of the name. The one thing I can believe, is people tending to use "fillers" if they have a spare vote. 'kinda liked this and it's from X, I'll give that vote there', instead of really nitpicking about their final choice, which story is most deserving in the ones left, because if all of the same level, then the name can indeed influence?
Don't know if I'm being very clear, I'm a bit sleep deprived, sorry...  :-\
« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 11:17:19 PM by Nora »
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Offline Lordoftheword

Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #56 on: November 16, 2016, 11:33:53 PM »
In the end I think when we see something that truly appeals to us, we vote for it, regardless of the name. The one thing I can believe, is people tending to use "fillers" if they have a spare vote. 'kinda liked this and it's from X, I'll give that vote there', instead of really nitpicking about their final choice, which story is most deserving in the ones left, because if all of the same level, then the name can indeed influence?
Don't know if I'm being very clear, I'm a bit sleep deprived, sorry...  :-\

I think your sleep deprivation may have worked to counter your own strong argument by providing what I would say is the strongest argument for keeping the stories anonymous. :P

Being new and with only one vote, I never even considered that some of you have a whopping five votes (I like that system by the way). I certainly wouldn't have any issue picking my absolute favourite story regardless of name. But if I had five votes I might get lazy with my voting and maybe look for name recognition or a friend to toss a vote, regardless of story. I might not even do this on purpose, but if I had to pick from a random person and a friend who had stories of similar quality, I would be inclined to vote for my friend every time.

Filtering names allows people to submit who might otherwise be embarrassed or have some other issue with putting their name out there before the work's been warmly received. Is it purely coincidental so many first-time submissions arrived with anon?

^This. Once again, I can speak from my experience as a new guy to these forums. I felt "safe" and "comfortable" posting my story here anonymously, because I knew that if I didn't perform or I churned out pure garbage, there wouldn't be eye rolls or otherwise pointed in my direction. Now that I've witnessed the people of integrity on these forums it seems funny that I thought that, but think about when you showed someone (best friend, girlfriend/boyfriend...mom) your first piece of writing. Were you afraid? Were you nervous? Hell yes, you were.

Anyway, it's pretty obvious where I stand. But I'll compete and comment and love this contest no matter what, so however we come to a consensus I'm 100% in. :)
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Offline Nora

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Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #57 on: November 16, 2016, 11:39:50 PM »
@Lordoftheword not sure what you mean or understood, when you say "some of us have 5 votes"?

We all have the same amount of votes to cast. It depends on the amount of stories entered each month.
A winning story can have anything to 8-9 votes to 13, in the August month for example. It's the amount of people who cast one of their votes for them.


Also, no I was never nervous showing my work to anyone... Mostly because none of my family or old friend speak enough English to go beyond asking for directions. :D
But again, your entire problem is already solvable, since we always have to option of anonymous submission, as is clearly stated in the rules now each month.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 11:42:10 PM by Nora »
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #58 on: November 16, 2016, 11:50:36 PM »
Personally thought the Anonymous month was fun, I appreciate the effort put in to the tables and the great discussions of who's who, but at this point I'm over it and look forward to seeing the results. I would be sorry if it became permanent.

The following is not meant to be controversial or upset anyone but I feel it needs to be considered.

Maybe everyone should take a step back and decide whether they are only writing for votes or whether they are using the contest club as a vehicle to get their names and work out for everyone to read and acknowledge.  I imagined the writers were really proud to enter and have their name and work associated. 

As a reader I have really enjoyed seeing how some people have developed, expanded their style and content becoming so much better over time. If they are always Anonymous I'm not going back all the time to try and check names to stories from a previous competition, especially with so many entries.

Newcomers who write well often get votes and the number crunchers have already proved this.  If they are shy newcomers the Anonymous option is always there as has been pointed out numerous times. They may then feel more comfortable and decide to  name-up later.

It's also time this suggestion of bias was put to bed, personally think it demeans everyone here.*

@Lordofthe Word
Quote
Being new and with only one vote, I never even considered that some of you have a whopping five votes (I like that system by the way). I certainly wouldn't have any issue picking my absolute favourite story regardless of name. But if I had five votes I might get lazy with my voting and maybe look for name recognition or a friend to toss a vote, regardless of story. I might not even do this on purpose, but if I had to pick from a random person and a friend who had stories of similar quality, I would be inclined to vote for my friend every time.

This is incorrect, you have misinterpreted the rules. Make sure you understand all that is written in the introduction and then ask if you are not sure. The number of votes is only reliant on the number of stories entered. Everyone gets the same number of votes. 

Nor are you compelled to use all the votes available, sometimes people prefer to use less. Rather than being lazy and tossing random votes to friends just vote with fewer votes.

*ETA But also how are you going to cope in RL with reviews on Amazon when you get one star because the postal delivery was too slow or they didn't like the cover? :P

« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 12:13:36 AM by Lady_Ty »
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: Anonymous Submission
« Reply #59 on: November 16, 2016, 11:54:57 PM »
I never voted for names, I voted for the story I enjoyed the most.i always seem to vote for a different person each month, I'm more influenced by what the style of the story is, if it was comedic and shared my humour I would always vote for that before a poem or horror.regardless of author
« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 12:00:17 AM by Eclipse »
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