Updates during the competition, aka the elephant in the room

That’s fair. I was responding more to your suggestion of a new rule stating that 1s be reserved for “broken and unplayable games.” I’d prefer that read “broken, unplayable, and objectionable games.” I’d rather not have the comp rules disallow punishing a bigoted game in the harshest possible way.

I would actually take it a step further and completely eliminate my “broken and unplayable” stipulation, and your “objectionable” stipulation. And go entirely with remove “outliers” for the solution to the problem we are discussing.

Your concern is a valid one, the problem I see is that what is interpreted as objectionable is both on a societal and individual level. Defining what is grossly objectionable on a societal level would turn into a convoluted nightmare for the officials once the obvious ones are written down, and defining what is objectionable on an individual level is whatever that persons deems grossly objectionable. The result of this latter criteria is that it would accomplish nothing more than to give punishment voters carte blanche authority to give 1s on a whim without repercussion since they could just claim they found “x” grossly objectionable by whatever standards they adhere to, made up or not. A 1 will appear as a standard score in something wildly offensive, and an outlier in something that is not.

Eliminating outliers at the low end means you’d need to eliminate them at the high end too. And allowing statistics to potentially overwrite legitimate votes on either end isn’t something I’m comfortable with.

This discussion is also hypothetical. Nobody cast blanket 1-votes for updated games last year, and honestly I don’t think it’ll happen this year. If it does happen, then it won’t be a movement or anything like that. It’ll be one or two people, which is technically a non-trivial number, but a single vote is non-trivial in IFComp so that’s kinda moot. In my view, it’s not productive to rewrite the rules around such a small number of dissenting votes, especially not when they remain hypothetical. The guideline instructing judges to vote in good faith already covers this area.

Isn’t there already some sort of automated judging system that eliminates some outliers or ‘strange’ votes, anyway?

Perhaps the easiest thing to do is simply keep quiet on whether something’s been updated or not.

I know Inform games have a date stamp for when they’re compiled, but I think that can be overridden for the purposes of the comp. Can it? If so, the author just needs to be advised and informed on how to do it.

I don’t really want to open the can of worms of “what games deserve a 1?” but it’s safe to say that it’s not ideal to have games receive 1’s based not on content or implementation but on exercising a feature given to authors on the backend. It would be like giving a game a 1 solely for containing cover art, or for the author taking advantage of the lifted muzzle rule.

Unfortunately, this is no longer a hypothetical discussion, exactly. It was a hypothetical discussion when it took place on pages 3-10 of a thread ostensibly discussing Spring Thing rules that became almost entirely about the upcoming comp. It ceased to be a hypothetical discussion when the comp started and the possibility resurfaced. The key word here is “possibility”; since I posted the thread there have been a number of updates swearing to the high heavens and the italics and the bold that they aren’t ACTUALLY going to do it. I’m replying to here because the posters involved are unwilling to “explicity [sic] reject [intfiction.org]'s totalitarian so-called ‘Terms of Use’” and do it themselves. (This forum, according to that post, has also “lost the right to be taken seriously by reasonable adults,” and I in particular am peddling “the usual sort of hysterical nonsense from people who use that forum.” These discussions always reveal themselves as proxy wars, don’t they?)

Which is fine, in the way that actually following the rules of a contest is “fine.” But why is authors updating their entries something that needs to be vented about, or “got off one’s chest,” to begin with? Where, exactly, is the problem with authors doing something that has been explicitly allowed them by the comp rules for several years – and, as Steph pointed out, tends to be correlated with good entries, at least this year? Clearly this is not a lone opinion. I don’t actually expect an answer to this to be forthcoming, nor do I expect to change anyone’s minds. I just want to make authors aware of it. When I mentioned elsewhere to some authors that some voters might think less of them for updating your entry, the very next reply, within minutes, was someone surprised that this was even possible.

This is what I mean by “unfinished business.” The rules get changed, people resent that the rules got changed, and instead of being dealt with the resentment is left to stew until it bubbles over into judgments of authors based on the rules. Meanwhile, new authors come to the comp unaware that this is even happening.

Yes, it could, but the page displaying all the games will still show “last updated at (date):” ifcomp.org/ballot/

So if someone’s really vindictive, they can check their game shuffle, which has the “last time updated” listed. There is no way to stop them or to police a small amount of bias, but then again, there’s no way to stop people sending votes that bash parser or Twine games specifically.

Also I think the “I might give a 1” is very hypothetical. Someone said “I had the urge to do that, but that’s really mean.” And we should take that at face value.

I’ve had the urge to give a 1 to games before, but I took a step back and realized I was having a bad moment. That’s something people can’t police, nor should they. Unfair voting-down is going to happen, but all the same I suspect there’s a way to eliminate the most egregious of it, and the contest organizer has ways to chuck suspicious votes.

When I used the word hypothetical before, I was talking about 1-votes actually being cast for updated games. That hasn’t happened yet to my knowledge, and I think it’s unlikely to happen this year. Of course the discussion itself isn’t hypothetical; the discussion is still happening. I simply don’t expect it to materialize into any negative votes that authors need to worry about, and if by some chance it does, there will only be a few dissenting voters, and IFComp already has guidelines in place to address this.

I agree with what aschultz said too.

I have my doubts that many games this year will receive a 1 for the contents of the work themselves, so perhaps voters should be required to give a reason when giving a 1? I understand that this would introduce a lot of extra work for some folks on the backend of the comp, but voting a game a 1 because the author updated for minor spelling errors or the voter has an axe to grind with Twine games or whatever seems disruptive to the spirit of this competition. I say this as a first-time entrant, so take that as you will.

+1 CMG.

Perhaps in the dropdown with score they should add options for statistical purposes that aren’t scores:

Could Not Run - Broken
Could Not Run - Format
Category Fail - Not IF
Violates Entry Rules
No Play - Personal Preference

They could be tracked for data, but wouldn’t contribute or detract from a game’s actual score, leaving the 1 open for true expression of quality.

Hmm, well, it seems like if you do that for the 1, you kinda ought to do it for all the numbers. But maybe you’re right. Everyone does seem to focus on the 1.

I’d expand the list of reasons though. Perhaps add “Personal Dislike” to cover something that doesn’t fall under category/format/unplayed. I say this because I think most of Taghairm’s votes were due to personal dislike, and I support people being able to cast votes for that reason. Anyway this is straying into another topic.

It seems to me that there’s not a lot of point in having a rating system that goes from 1 to 10 if you’re going to pick one of the numbers in the range (any one) and force people to explain why they chose it. Picking ‘1’ as a rating that needs to be explained may be a way of guaranteeing getting more ‘2’ votes, but would come at the expense of compromising a longstanding open and deliberately subjective rating scale.


For the ‘No play’ option, I think it should be able to distinguish between
‘This game is upsetting/offensive/unpleasant to me, and I don’t want to play it, but neither do I want to punish it by giving it the lowest vote possible’
‘I’m just not interested in this because it’s not my kind of game’.

I make a serious effort to try and play all works in the competition, but sometimes - quite often, actually - I simply don’t enjoy them because of genre preferences (I don’t like sci-fi much, for example) or because I believe they would have worked much better as novels (NOT trying to stir up the ‘choice vs parser’ controversy here, but it happens, sometimes with parser games too)

So I often end up giving them moderately positive votes (6-7, I think I may have given an 8 to this kind of game once) if they’re well done anyway and I respect the author’s effort and I don’t want to ‘punish’ them even though I honestly can’t say I enjoyed the game…however I would still prefer to be able to vote them ‘Not interested/not sure I can judge this/this IF is not for me’, rather than simple not voting.

Maybe in addition to the dropdown menu with votes we should be able to enter a short comment providing feedback for our choice? Would that complicate things too much?

ybosde, you’re probably right. The 1-vote just seems to suck up so much energy in conversations surrounding the comp that I wish there were a way to soothe worried authors without taking away flexibility from judges. It’s likely an insoluble problem as long as voting remains public (which I think voting should).

I think that that’s simply how the “crowd” works and we have to accept that somebody may give a 1 rating because of (insert random reason here).

This, or else we start deciding how the people should vote and with what reason behind.

The thing is, the comp basically already has (bolding mine):

Then there should also be options for those who feel a strong urge to give a 10 but think this doesn’t reflect the game’s objective quality.

Like, “The Game Is About My Favorite Historical Period”, “The Author’s Last Year Game Was Amazing And I’m Still Being Impressed”, “I Have A Crush On The Author IRL”, etc.

You know, for statistical purposes :smiley:

I think a way to say “Could Not Run”—without it counting as a negative vote—would be useful. Category Fail and such are more subjective, but as an author I’d definitely appreciate distinguishing between “this game was so badly-designed and badly-made I couldn’t bring myself to play it” and “this game crashes on Linux so I couldn’t play it”.

Well, about that…

Some people vote the game they like the most 10, and then rate the other games based on that.
A bit like ‘grading on a curve’, perhaps, and a way to make your positive votes count the most (and negative ones, if you go down to 1).

This doesn’t fit at all the guidelines at ifcomp.org/about/judging, which suggest giving a 10 to a game that ‘epitomizes what interactive fiction can do, perhaps breaking new ground in the process. It dazzles and delights. People interested in the form will be talking about and studying this game for years to come’ - that is, trying to be more objective by comparing the game to the world of IF as a whole…however, it seems to be accepted practice and I’ve never seen any controversies about it.

So you can vote 10 for the game you think is the best in the comp even if don’t consider a ‘masterwork’ - you’re not following the example guideline, but you’re not actually breaking any rules of doing something widely considered ‘bad’.

This is my understanding as someone in their 3rd year following the comp & judging - people with more experience & knowledge, please correct me if wrong.
(and it occurs to me - but I don’t want to go offtopic - that if this practice is common enough perhaps the guidelines themselves should mention it)

Lucea posted the following quote from the rules (emphasis mine):

The examples after the dash in this quote are examples of reasons for which a judge might be unable or unwilling to play an entry. The quote says that, if you’re unwilling to play a game because of its content (e.g., fish sticks), then you should not vote on it. It does not say that, if you do play a game and dislike it (for whatever reason, including the presence of fish sticks or dragons), you are prohibited from voting on it.

Now you’re getting it. “Remove outliers”.