5

I think that the contest we have is a great idea, and I have heard positive reactions from other users too. But except for cheese week, there doesn't seem to be much participation. And I suspect that part of the reason is that most users don't know the contest exists.

Currently, there are two official ways to know about the contest: The meta question announcing it, and the community ad. But when a user surfs with an adblocker, the community ad is not shown, there is an invitation to subscribe to the site newsletter in its place. As for the meta question: not many people read meta.

The inofficial way to know it is to be in chat when somebody mentions the contest. But there is almost nobody in chat except for the regulars, and the transcripts are so long and rambling and offtopic that I can't imagine anybody reading them for informational purposes.

I tried to include a new channel of information: I asked a question which was so broad as to go unpleasantly close to a poll, in the hope that it will elicit the "I have an opinion too" reaction, and mentioned in a comment that it is written for a contest. I don't know if it helped or not, but at least it was answered by non-regulars, so maybe it attracted views from the people we want to target. Still, the method has its drawbacks. First, it is maybe still not visible enough, and second, there is the ethical problem of asking contrived questions once I am eligible for a prize again.

Does anybody have ideas how we can promote the contest better?

7

On the Photography Stack Exchange, which hosts the "picture of the week" contest, there's a photo and a link to that week's contest right in the header.

We've got a fair bit of empty space in our header that could likely be used for this. It could even go with a nice food photo (although it would have to be one occupying less vertical space).

Alternatively, it could go above the tag widget, i.e. top of the right sidebar. Again, a relevant picture would improve visibility. It's trivially easy to find a good photo of just about any food, and it would be eye-catching.

Even if the community ads were actually being used for this (currently I just see the "help this community grow" ad), the location is pathetic. I actually have to scroll down to see any of it!

I beseech you, dev team, if the header is too complicated, then get rid of the obnoxious and pointless newsletter widget or demote it to the bottom, and give us a space above the tag widget (or above or just below the "welcome" widget for unregistered users) for the contest. I know you guys are really proud of this newsletter thing for some reason but honestly, it's wasting perfectly good real estate that we could (and should) be using on promo.

  • Interesting that you mention photo.se. They have had the "Picture of the week" for ages, which has high visibility and plenty of submissions. They also tried a second contest in the same format as ours - ask questions about a topic, win a book - and it got suspended due to low participation (meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1817/…). I think this confirms how important promotion is for this type of contest, and how people don't pay any attention to the featured meta questions, or, indeed, the whole column on the right. – rumtscho Feb 6 '12 at 14:36
  • Wow - they actually did it! Sort of! Look! – Aaronut Feb 7 '12 at 13:28
  • ...and now they bumped it back down below the stupid meta and newsletter widgets again. Sigh. – Aaronut Feb 8 '12 at 21:23
  • Aaronut is right, only a permanent box in the header or at least somewhere "above the fold" on the home page is going to get broad contest participation. – FuzzyChef Feb 11 '12 at 22:24
  • I agree, something in the header would be fine. – BaffledCook Feb 23 '12 at 19:33
3

We're working on a feature that we can introduce to all SE sites that will serve as a community announcement space. Please bear with us as we figure out what it will look like, how it will function, and then actually build it. :) Do continue to post your ideas here, though; I will check back and make sure that your feedback is incorporated into discussion about the feature.

For now, however, the official options are the community promotion ad, meta thread, and announcements in chat. Please do not use system messages for this.

2

I mentioned this idea in chat: we could use the sponsored-tag feature that Stack Overflow has (where a tag gets an icon next to it) to promote the contest. The week's tags would get some sort of contest icon.

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