Gardening & Landscaping turned 1 last Friday (8 June 2012) — a big round of applause to everyone who participated in the site! I've talked to SE Inc. and they've agreed to sponsor a site promotional contest to celebrate this occasion. Prizes generally involve generic SE swag (tshirts, mugs, stickers, etc.) and some gardening specific items.

The focus of the contest will be on community participation, such as improving tag-wikis, editing posts, making suggested edits (if below the rep required), flagging stuff for moderator attention, etc. I think Super User's anniversary contest* would be a good model to base ours on.

This post is to get the community's input in some of the details:

  • what contests should be held?
  • how should the performance be judged in each of these categories?
  • what are some possible prizes that can be awarded for different categories, etc.

Aarthi from the SE Community Team will be in The Garden Shed all day, as will the mods. Please drop by and discuss your ideas (and post them as answers here!) and feel free to ask her about anything regarding SE's involvement in this (and to check if a particular prize suggestion is reasonable).

We'll probably have the contest a week or two from now when the discussion here has matured and we have some concrete ideas to work with. Let's make this an awesome contest!

*I personally don't think that Apples vs. Peaches or Peppers vs. Tomatoes style showdowns that are standard on some sites work well here. These will only tend to splinter the community (since A stands to lose if they vote for B and vice versa) and make the distribution of questions very lopsided.

The following are some loose ideas to start off on (some based on the SU post I linked to)

  • Best new user's performance for the duration of the contest (only those with accounts created in 2012 are eligible)
  • Highest reputation for the duration of the contest
  • Answering the unanswered — for the most number of answers to currently unanswered questions. Only answers rated +3 (or +2?) and above will be considered.
  • Most helpful editor — this won't be based solely on number of edits, but the usefulness of edits
  • Meta participation
  • For the most useful tag-wikis
  • Most upvoted question/answer during the contest
  • MVP?

Also, I think that there should be some categories for continued participation (the regulars here are what keeps the site alive and active), in addition to participation during the contest.

Please suggest improvements to these or other possible ideas. When you suggest something, bear in mind that it should be something that everyone can participate in.

  • what is a tag-wiki? It sounds like a grafted fruit tree.
    – kevinskio Mod
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 14:01
  • Here's one for identification. It tells you about when to use that tag and when not to, possible FAQs, etc. Each tag should have one, but not all do. You can get to that page for any tag by clicking on the "Learn more" link from the tag page Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 14:04
  • 2
    should I start now? Could I win a small grazing animal like a goat? :)
    – kevinskio Mod
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 14:28
  • 2
    The contest hasn't started yet... Hmm. Goats, eh? Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 14:43
  • 1
    @kevinsky Just saw this... That was the best. I almost spewed forth coke onto my keyboard! A goat... =]
    – J. Musser
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 1:54

4 Answers 4


Happy Birthday!

I like most of the ideas in your post.

I'm not so much excited about the idea of "most useful tag wiki". Are wikis really that useful? Do they get many hits? Inbound search engine traffic? Do other SE sites get loads of traffic from these? I hit SO and SU questions in DDG all the time, but have never hit a wiki.

  • Most inbound referrals. Would seem prone to generating spam, but perhaps there's some element of "stickiness" on the referred clicks that would resist this?
  • Most starred messages in chat. I think the bar is low enough (20 rep) that this is close enough to including "everyone"? It only takes a couple of votes on an answer to get there.
  • Most badges earned during the contest. Encourages participation in the breadth of the site, since there are a variety of activities you can do to earn badges: editing, voting, asking, answering, excavating, chat, meta, etc. This is arguably easiest for brand new users, who can get a handful of badges with a very small amount of effort.

As for prizes, I think a 10-wheeler load of the winner's choice of screened loam, wood chips, or composted manure would make a great prize! I'm glad I have a couple of weeks to prepare -- gives me a chance to create some sock puppets. :P

  • 1
    Tag wikis are not that popular here, but I've been repeatedly told by the devs that there's major changes in the pipeline (at this point, it's just vaporware though). Hence the relatively new "Research Assistant" badge to encourage tag wiki edits. Nevertheless, it's something that we can improve on. The link sharing is a good idea. It was done for Apple.SE's iPad contest and they track inbound referrals anyway (if you use the "link" option which embeds your id). The other suggestions are good too for entry level prizes. Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 20:02

A couple of points:

  • I think a range of categories would be best, to encourage both the long-term users and new users of Gardening SE.
  • It would be nice to have a category that encourages (reminds) of the value of voting since Gardening SE seems to have quite a low rate of voting across all questions. Voting for useful/correct answers is probably nearly as valuable as the correct answers themselves and is an activity just as accessible to newcomers as oldtimers.
  • I would like to have something based on voting, but I'm worried it'll lead to arbitrary voting (which we don't want either). Do you have any suggestions on how to go about it? Also, I'm thinking of drawing lots in each category, so that will reduce chances of negative and indiscriminate behaviour. Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 4:00
  • That's a good point, Yoda, and I haven't thought about how to discourage arbitrary voting. Perhaps only count the first vote on any question or assign fewer points for secondary votes on the same question or fewer points for votes in the same 1-minute time period. As I understand it, SE has general systems to encourage proper voting (eg. at least 25% of votes must be on questions to get badges, time limits enforced between votes). Someone may be able to come up with a cunning system to reward healthy voting behaviour.
    – Lisa
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 4:10
  • I was thinking about voting when I mentioned badges. There are several badges available for completely new users related to voting, and a few available to oldtimers who haven't yet bothered. (E.g. Lisa, it looks like you could still get Vox Populi and Suffrage.) For badge-whores like me, there's nothing left :( -- but I still vote a lot anyway. It doesn't focus on voting, it's merely a side effect, but as @yoda mentions, it's hard to directly encourage "good" voting without getting "bad" voting...
    – bstpierre
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 16:10
  • @bstpierre (cough! Copy Editor) You're not whore enough... Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 16:11
  • I've been waiting so I can get Copy Editor and Archaeologist with the same batch of edits. Does that make me a cheap whore or a lazy whore? ;)
    – bstpierre
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 19:17
  • @bstpierre ? ? ? ? Wherever you are... I think there are enough old posts for you to carry out your 'lazy whore' scheme.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 2:00

I'd like to suggest prize packages similar to what U&L was able to do for their anniversary contest:

  • Several SE store gift certificates (redeemable for SE swag) perhaps to be used as weekly prizes or individual awards based on specific categories.

With a gardening specific capstone prize like a subscription to a gardening magazine, a gift card to a hardware/gardening store/amazon. U&L used a choice of memberships in an organization, I'm not sure we have the equivalent.

  • 1
    Yes, UL's prize structure seems very reasonable and simple to implement. Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 14:06

The suggested awards are fine. I would rephrase them in my own way as:

  • most upvoted question by a new user in 2012
  • most upvoted answer by a new user in 2012
  • it would be nice to get some of the previously regular users back to say hello so how about a new badge "Boomerrang" for users active in 2012 and not heard from in 2012 till the time period of the contest?

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