I do sometimes idly wonder how significant the “it might affect the rankings” issue is in practice for things like IFComp…I can see the argument, but I suspect there are other factors which have nearly as much effect, like “the creator has a fan base” or “is it a 1:45-long humorous parser game (or one with a parser-like world model) with good puzzles?” I’ve definitely seen fan-base affect voting in other, non-IF jams, so I can see that going either way.
But that aside, I’ve always thought the “never previously released” rule was interesting precisely because it is a little arbitrary and maybe not something you’d expect, and it’s cheap to follow if you know the rule exists. So it feels like it comes as close to being a pure “good citizenship” test as you can expect to get. This question asks: are you the kind of person who’s going to try to make the organizer’s lives easier by actually reading the rules and trying to follow them even if you don’t agree with them, or are you the kind of oblivious person who’s going to go, oh, I’m a decent human being, obviously I’m not going to mistakenly do something against the rules? And…if I were an organizer I feel like I’d be OK with saying that actually reading the rules is a minimum requirement for entry.
But you should know that it does seem to disqualify some people from IFComp every year who just weren’t paying attention and weren’t intentionally breaking the rules. And that definitely puts some people off and deters them from coming back. For instance, just before 59 minutes in this Script Lock podcast episode you have two professional writers talking about how one of them disqualified “the best Twine she ever wrote” by doing the obvious thing of asking for feedback on a forum devoted to that purpose, and both of them pointing out how much it sucks when that happens to you and how these rules are from the stone age and are long overdue to have been changed.
So…thought I should point out that you’re probably going to get a biased response in this forum because some of the people who would be put off by the rule have been…well, put off, and don’t post here.
So if you don’t have the rule, how much is it going to bias your results, and how much are the results of a competition somewhat arbitrary anyway (you probably don’t have enough voters to smooth out the random fluctuations, if nothing else), and how high are the stakes if you get robbed of your ParserComp victory by someone who has been maliciously building a fan base for their story ahead of time?