What's going on?
I'm going to pull the plug on the Weekly Topic Contest as a Stack Exchange organized and funded activity. Effective tomorrow, July 10, 2012, I will no longer be running a weekly topic contest on this site.
This contest has been running for over six months now and has failed to gain significant traction or growth. From the very beginning up until now, the number of questions generated for each contest has been constant; most weeks average about 10 new questions in the designated tag. We've only had one topic that generated more than 20 questions (bread), and some topics have resulted in only 2-5 questions. (This might be because they were poor topics, and I take responsibility for the decision in that case.)
At the start, there was some discussion about lack of visibility being the reason for the contest not pulling in many people. Since then, the community bulletin has been introduced, the meta thread about the contest has received over 1600 views, and I've seen some of you comment on questions noting that they are part pf the topic contest. Despite these great attempts to promote the contest, I haven't seen a big increase in new users participating (new to the contest, not necessarily to the site) and the number of questions has remained pretty constant.
But what if we want to keep doing contests?
Some of you seem to enjoy having a particular theme to focus your quest for culinary knowledge on each week. I encourage you, the community, to continue choosing topics / tags each week and posting those events to the community bulletin if you'd like. (Moderators have the ability to create events in the community bulletin, and featured meta questions will show up there, too.)
While there will be no prizes awarded, weekly topics continue to be a good way to build up content and give users a chance to explore different areas they may not choose to focus on otherwise. Mi Yodeya (the Judaism Stack Exchange site) has successful weekly topic challenges without awarding prizes. Travel Stack Exchange doesn't have a topic challenge every week, but they sometimes do topic challenge days with an accompanying chat event. I hope that you all will discuss whether you want to continue and use this as an opportunity to brainstorm different ways to implement this idea or tweak it to fit your community.
I'd love to try something new to help strengthen the community and engage new users of our site. I will schedule a chat event to brainstorm with anyone who has ideas about what we can do to promote the site, which will likely be followed by another meta post summarizing any ideas. You are always free to ping me in chat, email me, or post your idea to meta if you don't want to wait for the chat event, though.