Does anyone have any contest ideas that would help to strengthen a community but are not very time consuming to oversee / maintain and will work well with a big board? I don't want it to be where members submit entrees because then I would have to manually examine every response. I'm thinking more along the lines of a poll for "member most likely to ..." but I don't want to turn it into a superficial popularity contest. Should I be worried about that?
I did a contest that required examining every response, but it didn't take much time on my part at all. Here's what I did: I wanted a new logo, and I offered $250 to the winner. Each entry needed to be added as a new topic, one image attached per post. AND each entry needed to have a poll attached, with "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" as the poll options. And then, all the members were invited to review the entries and vote. It mostly ran itself from that point, because the members were in charge of both creating the entries, and voting.
So it wasn't too hard on my part. I checked the entries about once a week, to make sure they had done the poll options correctly. Some people didn't even attach a poll, and I just figured, lost votes for them. But then I'd attach the poll so they'd at least get something. I did that for 3 or 4 weeks, before the contest ended. It was a success -- lots of entries, lots of votes, lots of comments on the entries. And not a lot of work for me. I just found the 3 entries that were most highly rated, and announced them.
If you can think up entries that can be done with a simple poll attached, you should consider it.
I'm too lazy for that. Out of 67,000 members ... let's assume only 0.1% of them participates in the contest. We're still talking about having to manually look at 60+ threads and figure out which one of them has the highest poll approve votes. Then, for each new thread created, I have to make sure it was done right and add a poll or such if it wasn't. Oooh I'm way too lazy for that! :)
One thread. One poll. Now THAT I can deal with. :)
By the way, your idea about polls does work. I'm sure you've seen Slashdot's poll on the right side of their site. Every week (or two), they have a new poll. All they have to do is set it up, and then everyone votes & comments. The trick is to think up sorta troll-ish polls, because you are basically trolling for responses. I hate putting it that way, it sounds awful. But it's accurate. For example, you don't want your poll to cover a settled, uncontroversial topic. You want it to have some charge to it, like "democrat, repubican, independent" as voting choices would bring out advocates for every side. Or even moreso, try a poll question like, "why are democrats unable to win elections?" Oh man, that's going to generate huge responses, but it's also very trollish. It presumes one side is losing, even if objectively it may not be so black & white.
For a technology site, perhaps the parallel might be like this. Poll question: "PHP 5 fixes security concerns...." And the options might be: "...not at all, ...perfectly, ...but the tradeoff for ease of use sucks, ...who cares? Java is better." That might provoke participation.
Maybe you could do a puzzle, where clues in one thread lead to another thread, and so on, until you have about twenty threads in a line of which the final thread would give you the answer to post in the competition threads.
You could edit answers into old theads, so that they don't just show up as new posts, and use alternate user accounts to hide clues in Technical requests.
Example of clues;
- Take the number of presidents before Bill Clinton + number of forums in Daniweb x 6 = answer to add to url, (doesn't work btw), or other clues requiring web research.
- Find a blog about ..... and follow the link
- Find a code snippet about.....
Ok, so I am rubbish at making them up, but I remember Tgreer said that he was into that stuff, maybe he could do it, and the bonus is, you could use it as a way for people to explore the forum more. Either offer a prize for finishing the whole thing, of a small prize for first person to answer each clue, (people can win only once of course).
I think the poll would work well, but only amongst the most popular members, and they would be the most likely to actually vote. It would certainly be a popularity contest, but I wouldn't worry about that. The most sucessful posts, between ocasional users, seems to be ones that share interests, like what music you like, or what films, Some sort of photo competition might be fun, but just choose a winner yourself, and use one post, maybe with an IT theme.
That's a really good idea, actually. Something else along those lines is to do an easter egg hunt. For example, every few posts I reply to, I would include a hidden riddle at the end. Find all my posts, solve all the riddles, and win a prize. Of course, something more creative would have to be done to get around the user simply searching for all my recent posts ... or, it could be something a bunch of moderators do over the course of a couple of months (to get visitors coming back) and the prize could be fairly large.