How To Annoy Lit Contestantsbyoggbashan©
Copyright Oggbashan May 2008
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
The Literotica themed contests are popular. They attract a significant number of entrants each year. Although some, such as Valentine's Day have far more entries than the How-To contest, they could have many more IF the contestants had some confidence in the results.
There are several aspects of the current contests that have been commented on at length in threads in the Author's Hangout and other Literotica forums.
There are two separate voting systems. The five stars at the end of a story allow voting from one to five. If the weighting was balanced, a normal score for a reasonable story would be three stars, a good story would be worth four stars and only something exceptional would deserve five stars. A newcomer to Literotica could reasonably assume that voting anything from one star to five stars is what is expected.
However the system doesn't work like that. A "Hot" story is rated at 4.5. To get that sort of score most of the votes must be fives. Anything lower than a four has a disproportionate effect. A vote of one star has to be balanced by several fives if the H rating is to be reclaimed. Therefore a one vote is considered abnormal and has to be "swept".
The second voting system is the thermometer that is a mandatory field if a Public Comment is left. The five possibilities also register from one to five BUT if the person wanting to leave a Public Comment has already registered a star rating then they will have voted twice. The second, or perhaps the first, vote will be "swept" when the ratings are revised.
The current system encourages readers to leave two votes and then declares at least one of them as illegal.
All voting can be anonymous. Even Public Comments and Feedback can be anonymous. As "anonymous" a vote can be a deliberate attempt to spoil another contestant's score and there is no way to challenge the validity of the vote.
Behind the screen of "anonymous" anyone can manipulate the voting system either to gain advantage for themselves or can vote low just out of malice against the author that has no relevance to the quality of the competition entry.
Anonymous can leave derogatory feedback or Public Comment with impunity. The author has no means of redress. Of course some people recording messages as anonymous can be complimentary and/or offer helpful criticism but I think most of Literotica's authors have received some very savage anonymous attacks.
ALTS (Alternate IDs)
Literotica allows as many alternative identities as you want to set up. I have three. If I sign in as myself, a pen name, I can vote as oggbashan. I can then sign out, sign in again as one of my alts, and vote again, and repeat the process for as many alternate identities as I can set up. In theory if I had twenty-five alts I could vote twenty-five times for an oggbashan contest entry. Of course, because I wrote the entry, each of my twenty-five identities is bound to consider that oggbashan is the greatest author ever and vote five stars each time...
I don't even have to set up an alternate identity to vote for myself. I can do that anyway. Is that honest? Or if I don't vote for myself, how can I expect others to vote for me? Most politicians in public elections have a vote and are seen to vote. If they were voting on prime-time television, whom would they vote for except themselves? Although there was once one candidate for a local government post in England who suffered the real embarrassment of recording "No votes". Even his mother had voted against him and he had spoilt his paper by mistake.
From time to time throughout the themed contests there are sweeps. The program is supposed to remove duplicate and troll votes so that the entry only has genuine votes. However none of the contestants really understands the sweep process. The process seems completely random. After a sweep contestants can lose some, none or many votes and sometimes end up with fewer votes than Public Comments. That doesn't seem likely if only false votes are removed. Some genuine ones must have been swept as well.
I, like most contestants, want to know how well my entry is doing. More votes, particularly fives, are a matter for rejoicing. Fewer votes after a sweep can hurt especially if the latest sweep has reduced the total number of votes to lower than the minimum contest requirement of twenty-five. Hence the proliferation of begging threads and posts wanting just a few more votes. Yet that pleading may have been in vain after the next sweep.
The result of any themed contest is announced after a final sweep. The positions of the front runners may change drastically with that sweep. Entries that have been well regarded can drop out of contention and an entry that has few votes might win. The winners might be startled to have won. They could so easily have lost. None of the contestants has any real idea of who is likely to win -- until the result.
SUGGESTIONS AND CONCLUSION
The dual voting system should be scrapped perhaps by removing the thermometer with public comments.
Voting should require the voter to be registered on Literotica and signed in. Alternate identities should be linked so that only one vote can be made from the same IP, although that might disenfranchise people using the same computer.
The Star system should have a value message emphasising that anything lower than a four or a five is damaging. To vote one or two stars there should be a requirement to leave an open explanatory note as a public comment by a named user.
The sweep mechanisms should be improved and the logic of their system made public so that authors have confidence that only genuinely flawed votes are removed.
The current voting systems and the sweeps do not inspire confidence in contestants. Whether a particular entry wins or not appears to be a lottery, a lottery that can be manipulated by anonymous and alternate identities. Literotica needs to review its systems so that votes actually reflect the worth of the entries. Those voting need to know that their vote will affect the result.
Until changes are made the present system annoys and irritates contestants and deters entrants.