Super User's 2nd birthday is coming up in about a week, on August 18th (next Thursday). It has been discussed among community coordinators and other moderators, and we'd like to do something similar to last year's Super User Contest. We'd appreciate your input on what we can do to make another awesome contest.

Ivo Flipse is in possession of some funds from Jeff which we can use for purchasing prizes for users, and Stack Exchange may be able to provide some swag such as t-shirts or stickers. We need to come up with a proper proposal though so that we can tell SE what we need.

Last year's contest went well, but we're thinking it would be nice to have some different criteria for the contest. For reference, last year's criteria were:

  1. The best rookie performance of a new user in that week, as measured by the Super User leagues, will receive a 32 GB USB key.
  2. The highest reputation produced in that week, as measured by the Super User leagues, will receive a 22″ LCD monitor.
  3. The “most awesome” new Super User question or answer that week, that most embodies the type of Q&A that make the site great — as judged by the Super User community moderators — will receive a two bay NAS device.
  4. The most useful Meta Super User question or answer of the week — as judged by the Super User community moderators — gets a Super User t-shirt and stickers.

What new things can we add this year to encourage participation? Some options that have been discussed include things like improving tag wikis, contributing helpful edits, reviewing suggested edits, increasing flag weight by flagging helpfully, improving old posts, writing canonical answers for Community FAQs, etc. The problem is that these types of contributions are much harder to quantify than answers and rep.

Some thought has been given as to a more flexible reward model. Since the hardware from Jeff is only available to users in the US, we could award that stuff to two deserving US users who win some portion of the contest. Alternatively, we could give the hardware to US bloggers who have made good contributions, as Jeff originally suggested. Other prizes could include SU swag (shirts, water bottles, laptop bags, etc.), software, or hardware, which would be less geographically limited since there are computer stores in most parts of the world. Now that there is an SE store, coupon codes for free SE merchandise would be an option. It's up to you, the Super User community, what we should give away, and how to decide who gets what.

Here are some questions to ponder when answering:

  • What should the contests be?
  • How should we quantify performance?
  • What should we do with Jeff's hardware, given its geographical restriction?
  • What prizes should we have in the contest?

We need to figure this out very soon, so that we can propose it to the Stack Exchange community team, to figure out the funding details. Please leave your thoughts on this in an answer or comment.

Thanks everyone for your contributions. Hopefully we can make this next anniversary a fun event which will also benefit the community!

Thanks to @nhinkle for writing the majority of this.

  • 5
    In this day and age, why give away hardware? It's expensive to ship and most SU users probably have it already. I'd be more happy with a few moths of paid VPS (for example Slicehost), an amazon/itunes giftcard or an O'Reilly subscription.
    – Nifle
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 23:22
  • @Nifle Because the hardware is available, and as said, it could only be shipped in the US. It's just an extra thing that's readily accessible. Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 23:23
  • 5
    I understand that this is the case this year. I'm nearly putting my opinion forward as a resident of the Old World. I think that I speak for a lot of us when I say that we feel a bit snubbed in the rest of the world when internet promotions/discounts/give-aways are restricted to US only, especially when it is a global brand.
    – Nifle
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 23:34
  • 2
    @Nifle I myself am in Canada, so it's likely I won't even be able to get to it either. That's why were looking for ideas Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 23:41
  • 1
    The US-only restriction only applies to the hardware Jeff has, and that's because shipping to other countries is prohibitively expensive. Other things can be purchased locally for the winner. Coupons/discounts/other services are a nice idea though.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 2:57
  • 4
    I will post some ideas as CW, which can be individually voted up or down. Maybe we can find our favorite this way. All of these criteria should be measured over a certain amount of time. However, given that most users aren't that active over a long period of time, I don't think that measuring this over a year would be very representative. What do you think?
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 10:36
  • 3
    Send everyone free pizzas. Maybe one of the big pizza manufacturers can sponsor this? ;-) Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 22:15
  • Answer to the title but not the paragraph: You could put a notice at the top of the main Super User page denoting its birthday like Ask Different did. Don't forget the cake! Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 23:59

5 Answers 5


Based on the feedback in this meta post and in chat, here is what I'm proposing for the contest categories right now. We have until Wednesday to finalize this, so we can get a post up Thursday.

The duration of the contest will likely be 2 weeks. Some awards will be determined based on activity during the entirety of the contest, others may be awarded twice (once per week). A few of the awards are based on prior participation, to reward users who've made valuable contributions over time.

Prizes are still being discussed with the Stack Exchange community team, and will depend on their stock available and the cost. Possible (not guaranteed) prizes include SU/SE t-shirts, stickers, water bottles, laptop bags, and other swag that appears in the SE store. For "higher achievement" prizes that reward truly excellent work, we might consider awarding hardware, a subscription to a tech magazine, or perhaps a computer-related book or other item. This has yet to be decided, and will somewhat depend on SE's ability to provide prizes.

For categories with judges, the judges will be active moderators, and possibly other users appointed by the moderators for excellent site achievement. Judges and moderators are ineligible for these categories, but depending on what SE grants us, there may be some prize for moderators/judges just for being awesome.

So, without further ado, my suggested prize categories/challenges:

  • Three <2k users with the most reputation gained from suggested edits during the contest
  • Three >2k users with the most reputation gained from suggested tag wiki edits
    for both of these, the user must not have more than 3 rejected edits during the contest, to make sure they aren't just spamming suggested edits to see what sticks
  • The top two new users by reputation
  • Two users gaining the most reputation during the contest
  • Two user gaining the most reputation during the current quarter (to reward effort over time)
    This will be judged by the Super User Reputation Leagues

  • The author of the best canonical answer/community FAQ post, as determined by the judges
    If the post is community wiki, any user contributing at least 25% of the post will also receive the prize

  • The user contributing the most useful edits during the contest, as determined by the judges. To be eligible, a user must do at least 15 edits during the contest, and the edits must be non-trivial. Candidates will be selected from the top 20 editors for that week.

  • The best blog post draft submitted by a new blogger, as determined by the judges, current blog editors, and moderators.

  • The crap cleaner award, for the user with the most cumulative close votes, valid flags, and edits. Data for determining this award would require some help from SE employees with database access.

  • And, for the grand prize, the "Most Valued Super User", as determined by the community. Voting would occur on a meta post, and each candidate would be an answer. The winner would be determined by total vote score on the answer for that candidate. Candidates would not be permitted to enter themselves, but any user can nominate a contestant. Contestants must meet certain criteria, to be determined, such as minimum reputation, edits, or specific badges indicating participation in the site. I would suggest the following badge requirements, to indicate participation in various aspects of the site: citizen patrol, enthusiast, strunk & white, tag editor, quorum.

Please note: this is a potential proposal, not a finalized plan. Nothing here is guaranteed. None of the suggested prizes or competitions will necessarily occur. Don't blame me if you think you're going to win a certain thing and you don't.

  • 2
    Are we taking <2k and >2k from the start or end of the competition period (or any time within)? If someone moves over the boundary during the competition are they eligible for both?
    – DMA57361
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 12:34
  • 1
    Sounds great in my opinion. And as a side-effect, we'll clean up the site a bit!
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 12:58
  • 1
    So would this be just a one-week event?
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 13:15
  • Does anyone know how to measure how much someone has done to help clean up the site? Like: no of edits, voted to close/delete, tag (wiki) edits stuff like that. If we can track some of those stats, we can try and come up with a [Crap Cleaner] prize
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 13:30
  • The number of edits is pretty easy to find out. The rest will involve a bit of querying data.SE though. @Ivo
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 13:39
  • 1
    @slhck doesn't data.SE lag by about 3 months of data? I think we'd need to have Jeff or an office SE employee do the data mining for this one Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 13:46
  • 1
    @Ivo I like the idea of rewarding close votes, especially for finding valid duplicates.
    – sblair
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 14:30
  • Well it would be a combination of several factors, giving that everyone specializes in something different, but at least community moderating would be rewarded :-)
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 14:36
  • 2
    @DMA57361 I'm thinking if they cross 2k then they're still eligible for the former - whatever rep they earned from suggested edits during the contest counts.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 16:11
  • @IvoFlipse I'm not sure if it should be just one week or if we should spread it out a bit. What do you think? We could probably make it two weeks - gives people a bit more time to make contributions.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 16:12
  • @KronoS we could probably have one of the community coordinators help us out with obtaining more detailed data. What criteria would we want for a crap cleaner prize? Maybe a combination of most edits, votes to close, and proper flags?
    – nhinkle
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 16:13
  • @nhinkle I think that's a good collection, is that possible? Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 16:18
  • 1
    @nhinkle IRT time period I think at least two weeks would be great, but no longer than 3. Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 16:19
  • The reason I asked was that the previous contest lasted a month with weekly prizes. Changing it to a 2 weeks with prizes at the end would be a nice compromise
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 16:44
  • 2
    Balance it out with datamining for the long hold users and those wanting to shoot for activity in the contest period. Maybe a 60/40 split
    – random Mod
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 17:37

In my opinion there should be no contest.

I suggest that you mine the last three (or there about) months data and find users that have contributed above average. Divide them into 3 parts, noobs, users and veterans (not sure how this division should be).

Then have a lottery and pick one of each group and give them some goodies.

  • 4
    I have to agree with this. I can see no possible way a "race for reputation" contest will ever benefit the community... Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 23:31
  • 3
    Note that we're looking for alternatives to a "race for reputation contest". Things like improving tag wikis, community FAQs, etc. would help the community. That being said, looking at previous activity and rewarding users would be an interesting way to approach it.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 2:56
  • 3
    We can have something like a MVSU ;-)
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 5:04
  • 3
    What does Mississippi Valley State University have to do with anything?
    – mmyers
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 18:35
  • @mmyers: By MVSU, I suspect that Ivo Filpse meant "Most Valuable Super User." Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 21:29
  • So does that mean Jerry Rice isn't going to be giving out prizes then? @ran
    – mmyers
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 21:31
  • @mmyers: Heheh, someone could always use his name as an alias when assigning prizes -- yeah, people do this on the internet all the time! (For example, have you seen the massive collection of variations on the name "Eric Cartman" on YouTube?) Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 21:37
  • 1
    Disagree. This does very little if anything to attract new users, which I think should be part of the purpose. The contests on other sites are oriented towards promotion so I assume this one would be the same.
    – user59659
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 2:35
  • 2
    this is actually a good idea, but as @matt pointed out, it has one fatal flaw: it only rewards those who already participate. There has to be a rookie award program at a minimum... Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 11:20
  • Completely agree.
    – nopcorn
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 18:15

Most reputation gained through suggested edits

A user who makes substantial and good edits is clearly helping out the community. Especially when they're still way below the 2000 rep threshold, it means that they're new to the community, yet want to contribute in a special way.

  • This is a good one, I like it. In addition, perhaps we could have a prize for users >2k who have tag wiki edits approved.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 3:42

Best cleanup of a popular Q/A or CW

Our most popular posts should be representative for the site. However, due to their popularity, the noise on these is quite high. A thorough cleanup would include flagging unnecessary posts for deletion, editing our existing ones to make them more readable and understandable, et cetera.

For example, for software suggestions, having a uniform look would be nice. I did this a couple of days ago with our "Alternative to Photoshop" question, by including proper titles, screenshots and feature excerpts from the software developer's homepage.

Of course, this would have to be judged by the moderators, as it can't really be quantified.

  • 4
    This isn't a good idea. It's nigh impossible to go through all edits and check which was "the best".
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 18:24
  • 1
    I just took one of the suggestions above (like cleaning up old posts, helping the CWs). But yeah, it's going to be hard to judge :/
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 21:52
  • I think with a small jury and asking the users to propose a selection of their best work (of that week), we should be able to pick a winner
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 13:31

Most flag weight gained

Flagging posts that don't belong on the site or need attention helps us to focus on the important stuff and also helps the moderators do their job to keep everything civil and maintain a good signal to noise ratio.

  • Is there a way of monitoring flag weight ? Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 15:25
  • Probably only for the mods, staff.
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 15:49
  • Flag weight is available for all to see.
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 18:22
  • In the sense of monitoring though.
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 18:56
  • 1
    @Sathya although it is publicly viewable, we'd need to see an actual list to monitor it for this Commented Aug 13, 2011 at 20:38
  • 4
    I strongly dislike this idea, because publicly visible flag weight causes a shocking amount of angst for some users, and by extent of that, for mods. I don't want more users getting outraged because we dismissed some flag of theirs.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 3:42
  • @nhinkle Right, I hadn't taken this into consideration. Valid point.
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 9:32

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