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We did something similar on Philosophy, where we designate one philosopher each week, and each person who asks a question relating to that philosopher is eligible to win a prize. It's gotten a positive response so far, and we could easily adapt the model for this site - that is, designate a cooking topic each week, and everyone who asks a question about it that week is entered into a drawing to win prizes.

Some example topics are bread baking, vegan cooking, recipe scaling, breakfast foods, etc. A great way to start would be to think about topics that are popular during the holidays and begin with those.

What do you think? If you have suggestions for weekly topics, please leave them here as well!

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Sounds like an interesting promotion to me. I'd ask for a couple of ground rules to protect against the possibility of people spamming low-quality content (which we've already seen on other sites):

  • The question has to remain open - closed questions aren't eligible;
  • One entry per person per week - i.e. posting 30 questions won't improve the odds any better than posting 1 question;
  • (Maybe) require at least one upvote in order to be eligible.

Other than that, I'd say go for it.

Some ideas for topics that I think would help distinguish the site: /, /, , , , , and maybe (canning, pickling, etc.) These are all topics that (a) don't get a lot of love here and (b) take a fair amount of expertise to be able to answer questions on.

Would also like to see some of the less popular -cuisine tags like , , and so on. Site's got a pretty heavy American/Italian cuisine focus (and to a lesser extent Asian), and I think the community could use some encouragement to explore new cuisines.

  • All good points. We would make closed questions ineligible for sure. I would also probably say that the question has to have a net positive score to be eligible. (I.e., if it gets one upvote but three downvotes, it has a score of -1 and is ineligible.) If we do that, do you still propose one entry per person per week? It seems reasonable that if people spend more time asking a greater number of good questions, they increase their chances of winning, but I'd love to hear your reasoning. – Laura Dec 21 '11 at 19:14
  • I love all of your suggestions for topics as well. I will make a separate meta post down the line so we can have a place that is just a repository of topics without wading through discussion about the contest format, too. – Laura Dec 21 '11 at 19:15
  • Maybe 1 entry per day would work better, a couple people doing that would noticeably increase question volume, but not overwhelmingly so. – derobert Dec 21 '11 at 22:16
  • @Laura: I guess you don't need both rules - but, you know, polls tend to generate a lot of noise and upvotes, so just want to be careful. Derobert's suggestion of 1 entry per day is a good compromise rules-wise, although it might be a lot of work to enforce (allowing carryover would probably result in the opposite of the intended effect - last thing we need is 10 people all spamming 7 questions on the last day of the week). – Aaronut Dec 21 '11 at 23:29
3

I love the idea. I think we can do it even more varied, if we have four types of topics and rotate them each month. For example:

  • 1st week of the month: Holiday topic. We pick one holiday which will occur within the month (doesn't have to be American-centric, but will probably get more attention if Americans have at least heard of it).
  • 2nd week of the month: A type of cuisine. Like Aaronut's ideas above a regional cuisine, or something people have chosen to (or must) eat, like vegan or gluten-free.
  • 3rd week of the month: An ingredient which is in season at the time.
  • 4th week of the month: A class of dishes. "Deep-fry", "Pies", "Pasta sauces".
  • 5th week, if exists: anything we can think of, which doesn't fit the above.

We don't have to rigidly commit to the schema, because it may not work out as planned. But if we try to plan roughly along it, we will attract a wider audience than if we stuck to one type of topic only.

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I'm all for @Aaronut's .

Sounds like a good idea, I just worry somewhat about bringing in too many questions. Our current question volume is pretty low, we have 13 questions in the last 24 hours currently (at least judging from the questions page). That feels above normal. But of course, the site is fairly small, a sudden influx and its not clear we'd keep up.

So, maybe, encourage up to one question per day.

Agree fully that only open questions with a positive score should be eligible, and maybe only answered (with positive answer score) questions as well. I mean, there are questions that just aren't very answerable, and they really don't seem to help the site much.

I assume prizes are things of minimal monetary value—e.g., site stickers, pens, t-shirts, aprons—so we won't have to worry nearly as much about people attempting to game the system?

Typical holiday topics (typical to me, and my background, no doubt):

  • cookies
  • jams
  • fruitcakes (assuming for the moment they're a food, not a building material)
  • beef, etc. roasts
  • hams
  • turkeys
  • kitchen gadgets (gift giving)—though this may skirt close to not constructive or off-topic
  • meal planning
  • Agree on a 1-per-day rule in principle - I'm just not sure how we'd regulate that effectively. Is somebody going to validate the dates on each question? I'm not sure if the contest(s) will actually get so much attention, but if they do, and it's not monitored carefully, it might encourage people to post an entire week's worth of questions on the last day. So I think it's a good rule if we can figure out a way around that and not create a ton of work for the organizers. – Aaronut Dec 21 '11 at 23:43
  • @Aaronut: If CHAOS can get any dev time, they should be able to query that out of the database. But I think it wouldn't even be required—make it a guideline ("entries should be limited to one per day", or something similar) and then you don't have to worry about the person who posted two things 23 hours apart; instead, you can only use it when someone posts 5 in a single day. – derobert Dec 22 '11 at 17:08
  • Not counting on dev support here. I see no problem with letting it fly and seeing how it pans out, but we should be prepared for unintended consequences. Any promotion is good promotion but our engine/community can't really handle a sudden massive 1-day spike, so if that does end up happening, we'll need to be ready with the fire extinguisher. – Aaronut Dec 22 '11 at 19:05
  • The whole point of this contest is to get more questions; putting a limit on the number of questions that can be asked is counter to that goal. I can see your concern about maybe getting a lot of questions that remain unanswered for an extended period of time, but I think let's just try this out and deal with that problem only if it actually occurs. :) Questions don't necessarily have to be answered within minutes or hours of being asked; it's okay if it takes a couple of days or weeks. – Laura Dec 22 '11 at 19:17
  • @Laura: Well, if we're going to do holiday-themed, we really need to start now. Well, actually, probably last week. But the holiday season is almost over. We could avoid excess questions in some other way (e.g., how about suggesting "good questions get good answers—make sure to give the community time to respond, then accept the best answer you get", though the wording needs some help.) – derobert Dec 22 '11 at 21:18
  • @derobert I think we've missed the chance to make a Christmas-themed one, but that was more a suggestion to get people's brains working than anything else. I think Aaronut proposed some great non-holiday-specific themes, so we'll probably shoot to launch a contest just after the new year. – Laura Dec 22 '11 at 22:31

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