I plan to submit my first game to IF Comp (gulp) and am pondering this part of the entry form:
You may also specify an email address that players can use to contact you during the competition.
Is this a good idea or a bad one? I’d certainly like for players to ask questions or share feedback, but I have obvious concerns. Do most people share their email addresses with their entries? Should I make a new email address for this? Or should I just not worry about it?
I’d love to hear how others do this. Thanks!
You could make a new email address that redirects to your usual one.
This is just one data point, but last year I included my regular email there, and also included it in the ABOUT text of my game since I asked folks to contact me with bug reports or feedback. I got maybe half a dozen notes back over the course of the competition, all of them helpful, polite, and really nice, and I didn’t notice any uptick in new spam or anything else that would have indicated my address had gotten picked up by spambots.
My experience may have been influenced by the fact that I’m a white guy, which of course means I tend to have a much better experience online than most folks, and that my entry last year was a silly puzzlefest with basically zero in the way of thematic depth. So it might not be a universal guide to what other folks have seen. But my personal experience was completely positive, so figured I’d pass it along for what it’s worth!
If it’s only for the length of the competition, something like this site might work for you:
It’s a disposable email service. It gives you a randomly generated email that you can give to others and they can use it to contact you like any other email address. You just go to that page to check your mail and respond like a typical webmail service. It’s a bit like pastebin, but for email.
Unlike other temporary email services that will delete the mail account automatically after 1 - 6 hours, this one continues to be active until you click the delete button yourself. There’s no need for registration, but I think it saves the temp mail address in your browser storage, so accessing it elsewhere may be an issue.
Divorced from the tech issues (should I use my real email? Will spambots see it?) I think it’s a good idea to supply a means of contact. You can help players and might collect additional positive feedback you may not get if you don’t let people contact you personally.
Based on last year, the comp site does supply feedback forms for all entries (you as an author might have to opt it? I’m not sure, I wasn’t in the comp) so people can send you info down a one-way chute even if you don’t supply contact info. That is what it is – something slightly different and separate.
Tech-wise, the IFComp site itself will keep the email address you supply out of spammers way. If you include the address in the game itself, there’s probably no long term guarantees. I really don’t think spambots are scraping ifcomp entries themselves!.. but if a text transcript or grab or synopsis appears somewhere online, later, and it inadvertently includes the bit where you supply your email, then the usual spambots could collect it.
Here’s what I do.
I have a Protonmail account for my IF identity that rarely receive messages.
I set that account to notify me daily at my regular address whenever there are messages in the pseudonym account.
It does not forward messages; that way I can’t accidentally reply from my main address.
Thanks to everyone for these replies. I had a bad experience with sharing my email in a small gaming community and getting some truly icky emails, so I’m less worried about spambots than about folks who think female gamers need some special attention from them.
But this community has been proving itself to be really different, and it’s pretty wonderful.
I don’t think I can handle another email account (I can’t keep up with the 3 I have and I’m always in trouble for it), so I might just go ahead and take the leap. I heard in a PM that there was a troll who emailed everyone in IFComp last year about a dispute with the brass, and if that’s the worst thing that happens, well OK then.
I appreciate all the suggestions and responses.
Oh yeah - I apologize, I completely forgot about that! So yeah I guess my experience wasn’t wholly positive after all, but as you say not the world’s hugest deal.
It’s happened for the last few years. I generally haven’t gotten a ton of feedback, but I’m glad the option is there, and I encourage it.
I know I’ve appreciated email feedback I’ve received, though also I’ve had some good PM threads on the forum here related to my entries. In 2019, two authors who placed higher than I did both touched on a very worthwhile feature to add, which helped kick me into gear and put a post-comp release out quickly.
And while it’s a neat rush to get a mention on twitter, 280 characters (and worries about generally calling someone out over something minor with a backhand compliment) make it hard to say, for instance, “Hey! You know what’d be great in a post-comp release?”