Update: Thanks for your input. I've just announced the contest!

From the feedback I got when announcing the discontinuation of the weekly topic challenge, as well as some more casual conversations I've had with some of you in chat, I'd like to try a contest that rewards top-notch canonical answers on this site and encourages people to create more of them.

The Big Picture

We want to encourage definitive, authoritative, canonical answers and -- recognizing that those are a serious time and effort investment to produce -- reward your efforts with public recognition (on meta, and maybe the cooking blog) and a raffle for some sort of prize.

What Do These Awesome Answers Look Like?

Some examples that have been pointed out to me include:

Some of the things these answers have in common and that we'd like to see more of:

  • Do firsthand research. Set up a little at-home science experiment if no satisfactory answer can be found through research, or if the Internet presents two equally-weighted, conflicting answers.
  • Show, don't tell. Include photos when possible.
  • Make it accessible to everyone. While we are a site for experts, cooking has a broad audience, and we get a lot of traffic through searches. Including both a detailed scientific explanation as well as a simplified, more understandable summary, is definitely a sign of an awesome answer.

I'm not expecting every answer to look like the one's above. Sometimes, there is a quick, easy answer to questions asked here, and sometimes all you need to do is pull a quote from a cookbook or food blog from a renowned chef or author. But adding more of these awesome answers is a great way to give a good first impression of the site and impress first-time users.

The Contest

My proposed contest rules are as follows:

  1. Spread the love. Users will not be able to submit their own posts as "awesome answers" for the purposes of this contest. Part of the goal here is to let each author who puts extra effort into answers know that other people in the community appreciate them. So you can only submit other people's answers.
  2. Only recent posts within a given time period are eligible. There are a lot of really great answers on this site, but this contest will be about freshly generated content. I'm thinking anywhere from 2-4 weeks for content creation, followed by a week of submissions. Let me know if you think this is a horrible idea. Additionally, there must be some community vetting of these posts before they are considered part of the contest; only answers that have a score of at least 1 will be eligible.
  3. No duplicate submissions. Users will submit awesome answers to a meta thread; one awesome answer per response to the meta post. Rather than 5 people all submitting the same great answer, use the vote up feature to say that you also think an answer is prize-worthy.
  4. Some information is necessary. Each awesome answer submitted needs to be accompanied by:
    • the title of the question whose answer was awesome
    • a link to the answer
    • the name of the person who wrote the awesome answer
    • why you think the answer is awesome (can be just a sentence, nothing big).
  5. Keep it positive. Downvotes will be ignored.
  6. Unlimited praising of other people. You will be able to submit as many posts that fit the above criteria if you'd like. For every answer submitted and every upvote the submission receives (on meta, not on the answer itself), the OP's author is granted one entry into a raffle.
  7. Winner has a choice of prizes. I'd like to have the same prize system that we used for the weekly topic contests; the raffle winner will receive up to $50 in cooking-related books of his or her choice. If you have alternative prize suggestions, please note them as an answer to this thread. I like the book one because it allows the winner to choose something relevant to them (as opposed to me giving away, say, a new mixer that the winner doesn't need), and it's a prize that's easy to ship anywhere in the world.

What Do You Think?

Please leave any and all feedback you have on this contest format, the rules, the mechanics, the prizes, etc. This is your chance to tell me it's just the thing you've been waiting for, or that it's the worst idea you've ever heard. If possible, give me alternatives if there's some part of this proposal that you don't like.

  • 1
    I like it. What if we also included a smaller prize for people who submitted suggestions. Maybe $15 prize?
    – yossarian
    Jul 16, 2012 at 21:06
  • 3
    I am ALL FOR THIS. I've seen several posts that would merit a little extra loving, besides the rep they earned. Maybe this will encourage several more to answer questions that never got great answers, but deserved them?
    – BobMcGee
    Jul 17, 2012 at 3:45
  • 1
    Maybe kick it off with a 'classics' category, say answers from the past year (or two...).
    – Cos Callis
    Jul 17, 2012 at 3:52
  • 2
    I like it, but isn't it kind of obvious which are the best answers: they have the most upvotes. It seems a little extraneous to go through yet another process of recommendation. Why not simply have the most upvoted answer each month win a prize? Jul 17, 2012 at 9:55
  • 1
    @ElendilTheTall Answers sometimes get upvotes for being witty or humerous or generally amusing. This would narrow the field to only those being upvoted for being complete and extensive. Jul 17, 2012 at 13:47
  • And what's wrong with being witty, humorous or generally amusing? Jul 17, 2012 at 15:37
  • @ElendilTheTall Nothing at all. Those things just should not be the only reason for the upvotes. :)
    – Laura
    Jul 17, 2012 at 19:18
  • 2
    @ElendilTheTall Answers get upvotes based on the amount of views the question gets, not on the answer's merit alone.
    – rumtscho Mod
    Jul 17, 2012 at 21:32
  • True, true..... Jul 18, 2012 at 8:19
  • @ElendilTheTall If we were holding a "humorous answers" contest we'd want to highlight those that are funniest. Holding a "canonical answers" contest should eliminate those that are voted up for humor alone for the same reason. Jul 18, 2012 at 14:57
  • So basically it would end up looking like a curated answers election; meta thread to nominate and vote? Would we be able to add badges if this takes off (a la caucus)? This could also generate a pretty rad landing page resource.
    – mfg
    Jul 18, 2012 at 16:39
  • 1
    @mfg Yes to your summary of the structure. I'm not sure about getting badges associated with this, but it's a good idea and something I'll keep in mind. And yes, I'm hoping that this can turn into a good page to point people to when they're like "But what do you mean by great canonical answer...?"
    – Laura
    Jul 18, 2012 at 17:36
  • If the goal is to encourage good content from more people, I think it would be nice if there was a rule about repeat winners... Spread the love...
    – talon8
    Jul 20, 2012 at 15:04
  • Why not add a 'submission' button for the answer to enter the contest. This button could be added to the accepted answer or the highest voted answer. It would increase visibility of the contest. Jul 21, 2012 at 17:09
  • 1
    @Laura, add some CHAOS to the mix and get some muscle or mussels. :-) Jul 24, 2012 at 16:48


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