Clearly I’m addicted. But that doesn’t mean I can’t see ways to improve FanLit.
The way I see it, the biggest problem with FanLit is human nature, and the fact the system doesn’t compensate for it. The voting pool has become what Garrett Hardin called “the commons”.
On one hand we see noble people proving Hardin wrong by rising above it. But more often we see everyone suffering from .5 bandits, 0 bombers, and meaningless 5’s. This is because we all have a vested interest in seeing everyone else NOT do well. What an unhealthy set up.
What we need is people doing the rankings who have nothing to gain by giving low scores and nothing to lose by giving good ones. If we had enough people reading because they like to read and rank but who hadn’t entered anything, we would get a much truer picture of how good our entries are. But the only ones willing to wade through all the stuff that doesn’t interest them are our fellow writers.
Avon should have offered a prize for non-writing voters. It should have been as nice as the package offered to the winning entry.
Of course it would be hard to determine who should be the winning voter, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The winning voter would have to 1] do the most rankings. 2] show a reasonable statistical probability in the range of her rankings 3] give rankings in line with what other people give and 4] have picked at least one of the top 10 while in the preliminaries. If a tie breaker were needed then who picked the ultimate winner could be considered or who produced a top 10 list that most closely resembles the ultimate rankings.
Bringing in voters who don’t suffer a conflict of interest is only a first step. Strictly speaking, those who entered a particular round shouldn’t be allowed to rank at all. If you have enough people going for the reader prize, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Conflict of interest goes beyond those who have actually entered. Friends and family might also be contributing to the unfairness of this contest. But not all friends and family are going around trying to hurt competitors while giving 5s to their darlings. I think the solution there would be to keep track of HOW each voter does rankings. Anyone whose rankings are only ever below a 1 and/or above 4.5 should have their rankings removed from all tallies. Simply don’t let their votes count. Whether the pattern of voting comes from those who are cheating, those who are ridiculously biased, or those with bizarre tastes, they have no place in FanLit.
I also think the way the entries is presented is causing problems. Everyone I’ve talked to about it finds having one entry presented to them at a time has a negative, eye-glazing effect. Instead, I think an entire batch should be presented the same way the finals are now being presented: all the promos visible at the same time.
This would negate the skip feature, but so what? Final ranking would be based on how many people clicked to view as well as average score given. To compensate for those who have lousy promos, randomly drawn entries could be given a featured position and voters encouraged to comment on the entry.
All entries should be available for ranking through a search feature during the course of the preliminaries so that those who have become interested in a particular title due to comments in the forum can quickly find the entry in question.
By letting readers pick and choose what they want to read, we would more closely match the book store experience. I believe doing so would encourage more reading, and a more positive attitude toward each entry a reader chooses to view.
Back to scoring, I cannot stress how important transparency is! Everyone should be able to take the numbers provided by FanLit and calculate for themselves what their ranking is. Let there be NO woo-woo involved. Go head and feed our obsessive tendencies. We are much easier to live with when we can assure ourselves over and over that what we are getting really is what we deserve. The average should be available to all writers through My FanLit at all times. Not just the last score given, although that should remain available as averages hide fives and ones.
Ok, this is the tip of the iceberg here, but I’ve gone on long enough. Thanks for letting me unload.