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09 June 2013 @ 10:00 pm
Icon challenge planning  
So, now that I've gotten all the fandom stuff out of my system, it's time for icon plans! I posted some very generic initial ideas for a rewatch-based, episode-centric icon challenge comm in this entry; now it's time to go to the details with the planning, and any input is again very much valued cause I don't want to screw a good idea up by executing it all wrong.

The comments and votes for the previous post convinced me to pick the 6th idea in the poll, which was:

creating a multifandom challenge comm for episode-specific challenges, type A: a comm where you sign up for a rewatch with a specific show and then post icons and opinions for it as you go, anyone could set their own pace and also decide how often they want to post (a fast watcher could just post a set for a whole season in one post, while a slower one like me could just make a few icons each week). Due to not having deadlines or even any set structure, this comm could hardly have votings. Think of this as a multifandom, less scheduled version of #2! Pluses: this could be a really fun place for different fandoms to meet and for us iconers to get to know each other through the discussions. If it would be possible to have more than one show on the list, I could definitely take something other than Farscape too, maybe SPN since everyone apparently wants me to icon it/talk about it, so why the hell not :D Minuses: if there wasn't much interest, I could again just end up iconing there all by myself and looking silly. Or if this *would* actually take off, the place could get chaotic and difficult to run quickly, and I'd probably need a co-mod. Also, this would mostly just work for those who watch popular shows, as the less known ones probably wouldn't spark discussion. This might also very well become one of those comms that start strong but die quickly, especially if there were no deadlines.

So in short it would be a challenge where everyone claims a specific fandom and then makes a few icons of all the episodes and posts them to the comm and can also discuss the episodes.

The most important thing to decide now is what exactly people would icon after watching an episode; are there themes? Some possible solutions include:
1. static themes (like the 'favorite character' + 'favorite scene' for each episode, such as in this project; this would be the easiest for mods, and I like the fact that it's a natural way to share one's opinions. However, a static structure can easily lead to inactive comms as there isn't anything new every week to get people motivated?)
2. weekly themes (if we go with 3 icons/ep, this option could maybe mean having one technical theme, one interpretative, inspirational or opinion-related theme, and one ac? Or possibly a mix with the static option so that there would be a new technical/interpretative theme each week, but the other two icons would be the same, maybe one AC and one icon about something you liked about the episode particularly much? This would be the most work for mods but could probably keep the comm alive the most efficiently)
3. (monthly?) table of prompts where everyone could pick what to icon and when (thanks raiindust for the idea! This would require lots of work from mods at the start of each month but the other times would be easy. This might be a very inspiring thing for the participants too because it's flexible enough to let people go with which themes they're the most inspired by, and also allow people to skip themes that just don't work for them or their show. My only concern is if this is too loose a structure, can it lead to the effect where people have too many choices so they can't decide what to do?)
4. general theme of the month/week that people would apply to all their icons made that month/week; another great suggestion by raiindust (so, the way I read it - correct me if I'm wrong - is that theme of the week would basically be option 2 but there would only be one theme per week so it would be a bit easier for the mods, yet keep the comm active just as efficiently. Theme of the month would be even easier to maintain, but might work best combined with something weekly happening?)
5. some combination of these
6. something else?

The poll in my previous entry about this suggests that people do want some sort of themes, and that different prompts each week seemed more popular than the static option. I'm not sure how well the poll measures anything though since so few people filled it and it didn't have very many options.
Honestly, I'd be very inspired by any of these options so I'll probably just go with what seems the most popular, so please pick 1-3 of the options in this poll!

Poll #1918214 Theme poll

What sorts of themes would work the best for you?

static themes
weekly themes
table of prompts
general theme of the week
general theme of the month

Then there are some questions about the practical structure of the comm; I think it would be best if everyone just posts their entries as a new comment, the way it happens in icontests, but there's still some stuff to decide:

- how many icons per episode? (this should be a pretty small number, I think the 3 we used with vampire_sessah worked really well. If it's much larger than this, the iconing would slow down the rewatching. It could be even less than this but idk, I'm sort of partial to 3 so I hope it works for others too :D)

- discussion: where does it happen? One possibility would be to encourage everyone to ramble about the episodes in their entries (maybe even with a provided, totally optional form?) which would make it easy to exchange opinions in the comments and to me it would seem like a very natural way to interact, and it would also be a major differentating factor between the entries there and in other icon challenge comms. However the big minus here is that if multiple people claim the same show, the discussions will be divided into multiple entries so idk if everyone wants to share the same opinions in the comments to all those entries... An option that solves this would be that there would be specific discussion posts (weekly?) where people could freely discuss the shows they're watching, but I don't think this sort of thing has ever really worked in any of the other comms that have tried it. So, what do you think? Any other ideas?

- entries: should there be an own entry of X icons for each episode, or should people get to decide the amount of episodes in one entry post? The latter would be more flexible, but might make the comm less neat and more chaotic.

- schedule: the initial idea was to have a free schedule where everyone just sets their own pace, but the poll in my previous post suggests that people actually prefer set schedules? This result surprises me a bit as I thought people would like flexible rewatching more, but then again a set schedule makes it more possible for people who claim the same show to discuss it as they go (if they start at the same time, they can have the whole rewatch at the same pace which does sound like a fun thing, and also a comm without deadlines is often easy to forget about - no reminders for anything - but then again I wouldn't want to turn away those who want to watch and icon more than say one episode per week, or don't have the time for a pace that fast)

- should there be some sort of 'summary posts' for each fandom where the mods would add all the icons iconned for them? Sort of like the table in the BSG project. The plus is that all the icons for one fandom would be easily accessible for someone looking for icons of them, but then again tagging could easily serve this purpose and having these posts would be a lot of work for the mods so I'm not sure the gain would be good enough? I think the only case where these would have actual added value is if we'd pick the static themes options, so they would serve as tables showcasing everyone's opinions of the show in icon form, but since that didn't seem like the most popular option for the themes I'm not sure these posts would be needed - anyway, I'd like to hear your thoughts!

- anything else?

Sorry, I know this is a lot of questions, I just want to hear what others think before deciding anything for certain! I don't expect anyone to comment on all of this, some thoughts on just one or a few of the points mentioned here (or other feedback) would already be really awesome!

Please ask if you have any questions, and also let me know if I left out something important from the previous post, there was a lot to sum up so I might have missed (or misinterpreted) some ideas that were presented!
Juliejulie_izumi on June 9th, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
I love this idea of comm! It would be awesome!
Fun twist to regular rewatch comms!
I like the idea of a table of prompts as it allows more flexibility and maybe more participation. A fixed theme might be too restrictive and might not fit to every episode/fandom.
Weekly themes is also a great idea, I like the diversity it could bring.
Overall, I think a fixed theme could be fun at first but might get boring as it goes along, but IDK it's only my opinion, I guess I like versatility in the iconing world! :)
a random javascript function: les mis blood of the martyrsjsfunction on June 11th, 2013 12:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the input and interest!! :)

The prompt table idea does sound like something that could work. I think it looks like the best candidate out of these. My only two concerns are that if there aren't new themes every week, would everyone just forget about the comm, and also I kinda question my ability to come up with that many good themes at a time. But I think all the other options have even more problems to solve, so right now I'm kinda leaning towards this option as well :D

I hope to see you there when I actually get this started!
i'm not really a waitress...raiindust on June 9th, 2013 11:37 pm (UTC)
Ugh. I just wrote like, a legit full comment and then clicked something on my stupid iPad and it refreshed and everything is gone. Woe. Ugh. Here I go again. P.S. I apologise for having a brain full of opinions and ideas for this. I am genuinely excited by the prospect, and apparently can't contain myself.

Re: themes.
As someone who has modded communities with weekly and monthly themes, I definitely prefer the latter from a participation and modding point of view. In this case, I think you could probably set up a format in which you can either have the table of prompts, or create four weeks of themes in one post. The bonus here is to give participants freedom without being limiting, and from a mod perspective, once it's done you can begin work again. It's a slower, more drawn out process that allows for busy weeks in which nothing can really be done online. Also, if you have two or three mods working well together, you would be surprised at how easily the themes can sometimes manifest themselves. So that's definitely my preference regarding themes.

Re: icons.
In creating a minimum, you could possibly isolate people who want to play but can't see themselves getting that done in a week. It sucks, but is also a changing reality of the icon world. You see it everywhere, people saying they have signed up for too many things and in seeing a minimum of 3 they may just not even stop. So I would suggest just having a maximum (I like 3 for that to be honest) and letting the minimum be 1, to invite as much participation as possible.

Re: discussion.
Probably the most trial and error aspect, and perhaps it will just have to be that way until something works. I personally like the idea of having one discussion post, and maybe generic questions/memes that can be filled in to spark participation. Then if that doesn't work, offer the freedom to discuss in entries. The thing about icon communities is that they begin with a bang, then participation weakens pretty quickly, so I think having a flexible way to achieve the discussion is probably the best way to go about it. I know I'm more likely to comment in one big thread, but others may prefer entries, so in all honesty, just begin one way and change it up if that doesn't work.

Re: entries.
Maybe set the number of icons required for a post, rather than worrying about episodes. Like, 12 icons at three an episode is 4 episodes. That's one post a month if people are watching weekly, or two posts a month if they are doing two episodes a week. If they are doing more (like I probably would, if I were not going to practice restraint for this challenge), perhaps suggest they wait till they finish a half season or season to post their icons. Alternatively, you could simply have a monthly icon post, where people post their icons in a reply, or as an entry to the community at the end of the month - or maybe just let people who don't have 12 icons to post do this, so the comm isn't spammed once a month with icons. Ugh, I just pretty much found the fault in that plan. Anyhow, maybe something in there can be adapted?

Re: schedule.
I think having some things on a schedule is probably the best of both worlds here. Like, having a weekly discussion and weekly/monthly theme post scheduled, but letting others take the reign on when they post icons, or even organise weekly rewatches of their fandoms. That way there is organised chaos happening.

Re: summaries.
This is where I don't mind anything. I like the way comms have a monthly round up of things posted, but I'm also not fused.

Annnnnnnd yes. That is is. I am still really excited for this to happen. And definitely willing to help out with anything if you want it :)
a random javascript function: amy yellow blue lightingjsfunction on June 11th, 2013 01:48 pm (UTC)
(augh, the character limit tells me I'm getting too rambly again - sorry about that!)

Wow, thank you so much for your invaluable input again! I don't have almost any modding experience so it's good to hear feedback from someone who does.

Ok, so I think I'd like to try the monthly table of prompts/monthly themes - when writing the post I didn't even notice that in a way these can be seen as the same thing, if each of the monthly prompt tables has a general theme of some sort that the individual prompts relate to. The oher option of course is just random themes, which would possibly be easier to come up with, and as it would probably be more diverse, it would work for more makers/fandoms/episodes, but then again I think having a general theme each month would be much more fun, so my instinct would be to go for that option. Any opinions on this? :D

Re: icons.
In creating a minimum, you could possibly isolate people who want to play but can't see themselves getting that done in a week. It sucks, but is also a changing reality of the icon world. You see it everywhere, people saying they have signed up for too many things and in seeing a minimum of 3 they may just not even stop. So I would suggest just having a maximum (I like 3 for that to be honest) and letting the minimum be 1, to invite as much participation as possible.

I guess you're right, though this would probably be more of a problem if there is a weekly structure of some sort - if there's the monthly table and everyone sets their own pace, there's always the option to vary the rewatching speed. But I do get it if people don't want to slow it down too much, especially if they're watching a longer show, so allowing just one icon per episode would probably be a good idea.

The only reason I like the idea of everyone having the same amount of icons about each episode is that it keeps things a bit more clear, I fear that the whole appearence and function of the comm will be chaotic and difficult to grasp if everyone makes icons at a different pace using different themes with a different amount of icons per episode in entries that have varying amounts of episodes in them. It sounds like too many variables to my overly organized mind, haha :D But obviously if that's something that would work for others, I definitely won't mind doing it that way!
i'm not really a waitress...raiindust on June 12th, 2013 01:17 am (UTC)
I think the good thing about general themes (vs. random themes) is that general is still quite random in the way you approach it. I really enjoy overarching themes because they are broad by nature, and therefore it can still be applicable to all the episodes. You could even being with a word, like "colour" or "dramatic", and go from there. And even look to combine technical aspects found in shows (like camera angles) as themes as well. So yeah. I think I'm in support of general themes.

I fear that the whole appearance and function of the comm will be chaotic and difficult to grasp if everyone makes icons at a different pace using different themes** with a different amount of icons per episode in entries that have varying amounts of episodes in them.

But I also think that allowing this chaotic nature to happen might promote activity in the comm, rather than place limitations on everything? Structure is important, but maybe not so much if the goal of the community itself is participation. I absolutely understand where you are coming from (challenge communities have beautiful, neat structures to follow that makes everything make sense), but at the same time, the nature of this community is bound to create distinct differences between itself and generally every other icon comm out there. Perhaps it's another place where you can set things up how you want them to be to begin with, but be flexible if things don't necessarily work as planned.

** With the themes though, everyone would have to pull from the monthly theme (at least, that's how I was reading it) so at least if you had a monthly posting requirement (whether it be one icon or a season of icons?), then the themes wouldn't change. And maybe that way you also bypass the need for a minimum number of icons per episode?
a random javascript function: amy this is an awesome cropjsfunction on June 11th, 2013 01:48 pm (UTC)
...and continued:

Oh, you have lots of good ideas about the entries! I think the preferable icon amount in each post sort of depends on how much participation the comm would get - small entries, like just 3 icons per entry, would work best if it wouldn't get much participation or if most participants would watch slowly, but if there would be lots of active participants it would probably be best to have a higher icon limit like 10 or 12. It's really difficult to estimate how it would go, but I think starting with a high icon limit and adjusting it if needed would probably be a good idea, and 12 sounds great.

Re: discussion.
Probably the most trial and error aspect, and perhaps it will just have to be that way until something works. I personally like the idea of having one discussion post, and maybe generic questions/memes that can be filled in to spark participation.

This would probably be the most sensible way of doing it, at least in theory, as it doesn't have the problem of same discussions happening all over the place. I'm just thinking of the attempted weekly discussions over at icon_talk and how quickly they died and how awkward I felt trying to enter those conversations anyway, whereas writing fandom stuff in the entries and comments would be really easy for me. But, now that I think about it, I don't think discussion in entries and discussion posts should be mutually exclusive? There could be big discussion posts (how often? Is once a week too often, or would weekly chatting be a good component to keep the comm active?), but of course people could still discuss stuff in the entries too, so everyone would get to do it whichever way works best for them. (though the entry comments interaction only works if people actually post their entries, instead of just links, to the the comm - another detail I forgot to mention in the post. It would be a bit unusual for a comm with entries that big to have the full entries in the comm, so idk if it would work anyway. Maybe I just need to get over my real-time-ish chatting anxiety and go for the discussion posts :p)

Your thoughts on the schedule sound perfect, scheduled chats + new prompt table each month should keep it active and organized enough.

Thanks again for putting so much thought into this, I have no idea what I'm doing tbh so it's good to get insightful help from a modding pro like you :D My summer course ends in three days so that's when I can actually start actively doing stuff again, including setting up this comm - I'll finally have vacation in practise, and for two whole months too! \o/
i'm not really a waitress...raiindust on June 12th, 2013 01:29 am (UTC)
And to continue the thread from above, if you just have a requirement to post monthly based on the theme table rather than the number of episodes, you could also have someone who posts 3/4 icons a month, alongside someone who posts 20+. Does that make sense? IDK. I feel as though if you want to add some structure into the process, limiting the amount of posts made monthly by individuals is probably more useful than limiting the number of icons in the long run? That all being said, if you wanted everyone to have the same # of icons per episode, 2 seems like a healthy medium between 1 and 3, haha. And two would be achievable for someone during a week where they can watch an episode, surely?

how awkward I felt trying to enter those conversations anyway
That's definitely how I feel when it comes to talking about everyday life etc. I'm always wondering if I'm not really interested in what's happening to me, why would others be? But fandom is different. Fandom is passion and intrigue and discussion and if you do work with starting off topic points, it might broach similarities between peoples opinions and encourage discussion.

I definitely agree that the two don't have to be mutually exclusive, and more so it gives you more places to spark points to discuss. So something could happen in one and be continued elsewhere and be nice and well, welcoming.

Is once a week too often, or would weekly chatting be a good component to keep the comm active?
tbh, I think again, trial and error. If once a week isn't getting too much activity, see what it's like once every two weeks. I would probably not go with monthly though, unless it's going to be a pinned post, or unless there's a variety of comments happening in actual icon posts.

And I think in this case, you could probably maintain the aspect of posting icons to the comm for the discussion point of view, as people can always include icons in another icon post to their comm and cross-post from there!

ANNNND DONE. I apologise again for being very wordy, haha. And also, please feel free to take these ideas with a grain of salt. If you want to do something because you think it will work, try it out! There is actually a lot of fun in it, I promise!