Updates during the competition, aka the elephant in the room

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”.

Let me expand.

Ifcomp is ruled by POPULAR VOTE. This means that the people vote and they do it as they want, as in any popular vote. They can choose to vote against Jesus Christ for no objective reason and have Our Lord be crucifixed.

That’s how it works and either we live with it or else we make Ifcomp a competition with an unbiased, “professional” jury.

If we want the REAL audience to decide, a certain percentage of said audience can think that it is ok to give a 1 for an update and that would be not unfair but THE TRUTH. That’s really what the audience thinks.

I’ve definitely had problems with this too. I mean, if I feel something is overwritten, there’s the contrarian part of me saying “Well, you just don’t appreciate complexity. You don’t deserve to vote.” Or if I feel a game is all sizzle and no steak, there’s a part saying “Well, you are just jealous the game’s more emotionally evocative than what you could write.” And I think we want to be open-minded about this. But we don’t want to twist ourselves into knots. And I’ve seen one post that said “HOW CAN YOU GIVE GAME X ONLY 3/10?”

I think “use your common sense” can and should be a general guide, and we can’t/shouldn’t fiddle with that too much. There are plenty of ways to detect gross cheating and trolling. But even without overt pressure, I’ve felt wrong about my Miss Congeniality votes for certain games in the past because I “didn’t get it” and wonder if I’m just overreacting to a “DON’T GET IT 2/10” I got.

It’s a tricky rope to walk especially when you want to give a 5 or 6 out of 10 but have an idea that a game might get an 8 or so. Do you bother to make your vote matter? And I think if we have too many of these rules, we put effort into giving a number instead of maybe trying something new.

And the thing is we all know a number isn’t what really counts, but all the same, it’s annoying to read a low score for its own sake. And really for me the highlights of the comp are finding something cool, or having someone say “Thanks for showing me something cool!”

Plus the XYZZYs often have a different metric for success, and really, seeing myself be nominated for a nomination helped me forget about any negativity.

Hm. It occurs to me I may have knee-jerked a little. “It’s a popular vote” is a good argument, and it does strike me that if a judge has played a game in good faith, and genuinely believes that the game deserves a score of 1, it should be fine to rate it as such. Still… granting a rating of 1 just because a game has been updated does seem to go against the spirit of the thing, and rubs me the wrong way.

That said, proposals to disqualify or otherwise “normalize” votes don’t seem like a very good solution, either.

I will be interested, at the conclusion of the comp, to see if this actually materialized as a concrete problem, or if it remains a mere possibility.

I’m guessing this thread came about because someone spotted the thread on Intfic where it was mentioned that several people had considered voting 1 for games that got updated. Yes, I was one of those people. And no, I’ve never 1 voted games that got updated. Since this bad, bad change to the IFComp, I haven’t participated in the comp full stop, whether as an author, a reviewer or a judge and I doubt I ever will again (unless the comp organiser decides to remove the updates rule, that is).

If people feel I’m lying and that I’ve secretly registered several dozen accounts under false names with the intention of swaying the voting in favour of games that didn’t get updated, they’re more than welcome to waste their time trying to spot which votes are supposedly mine. Good luck with this fruitless endeavour.

The sense of this thread, as I read it, has already settled out as “people may have been talking about blanket-1 voting but there’s no reason to think that anyone is doing it.” (Which I agree with.) So no, people don’t think you’re lying.

The argument then switched over to the perennial topic of what the voting criteria really mean. :slight_smile:

(The suggestions of adding more fields to the voting form are interesting, although I expect the organizer-and-guy-who-runs-the-voting-server to take a conservative tack.)

I don’t think anybody is lying. But I do think it’s pretty obvious evidence that in-comp updates are frowned upon, to an extent authors really aren’t warned about.

I would like to hereby officially register the fact that in-comp updates are also actively approved of by some people. I would much rather see a game that’s been debugged than one that is still holding on to problems from the start of comp, and regard this as a sign of authorial care and maintenance. Doesn’t necessarily wash out the other point, but it’s possibly worth considering in the balance.

So…since I imagine JMac is reading this thread, it’d be interesting to see what judges think about updates in general. Maybe have a small text box (optional of course) writing their thoughts?

I’m very pro-update and I don’t care if it means another author leapfrogging me. Part of this is due to my own “ability” to drop the ball badly, but really, helplessness is a bad thing.

And right now in the author forum we’re pointing out typos and such to help others fine tune, and I think this cooperation is a very good thing I wouldn’t want to get rid of.

One thing to remember is that the opposing voices can be louder than consenting ones. But I’d be interested in seeing how judges feel about it. Perhaps they have some new perspectives the intfiction.org regulars don’t

Guess the problem is in the fact that there is too much interest around the “Comp” part in spite of the “If” one.
I second Emily and Andrew, here, but this doesn’t mean David’s point is unfair. The point is: we shouldn’t really care about who wins but about the great bunch of incredible, new IF we get.

(Of course, being able to update a game surely sends us towards having MORE great IF, but I’m not arguing).

I wasn’t using WORDS IN CAPITALS against a change in the rules. It was me being OBVIOUS. Of course the rules can be changed. I was just expressing something about how they are NOW.

The extent to which judges oppose the idea isn’t really clear. As Andrew noted, the angry voices are loudest. (And, again, dwhyld isn’t even a voter.)

However, the extent to which authors support the idea is very clear. I count that 40% of the comp entries have already updated at least once. I expect it will be a majority soon.

So the idea of trying to register a protest vote against the policy, by punishing game authors, is kinda setting the ship on fire after the horse has sailed.