April 1, 2016

A Modest Shitpost Proposal (Or, Shitposal)

By Daniel

I’m blown away by the vigor that the SCP community jumped on the Crack Fiction Contest with. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s allowing for low-level funny posts, or because of the super-short notice, less than a day to go from title to execution. Whatever the reason, there’s a lot of latent excitement there. I am thus wanting to seriously consider a spin-off wiki that does nothing but short-term events, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, these contests are incredibly disruptive when we do them on the main wiki. It positively fills up the newly created queue, drowning out unrelated mainlist entries and tales, drowning out requests for critique, and generally derails the site for the duration of the contest.

(Note, I am not advocating that there should never be contests on the main site, just that when they occur pretty much nothing else can.)

Second, some people just work better with a writing prompt, and there’s really no limit to how the prompts can work. It will result in an altogether different content then what’s on the main wiki, and logically they should probably be separated as people looking for one type of content aren’t necessarily interested in the other. This is a similar reasoning to the aborted attempt to run regular fuel contests on /r/scp which would become a writing prompt, ultimately axed because it would be too disruptive to do on the main site regularly (see the first point) and Reddit wasn’t a good place to host the content.

Third, it will give me a good way to get live Admin-level access to a working, active wikidot wiki to better build out PF, should the time come that we actually incorporate. I have put out there that I will not continue development of Project Foundation until we are at least moving in the direction of being incorporated in some way. I’m not working on it, but I am thinking about it, and how I might want to do certain things and solve certain problems.

Fourth, it might just be a hell of a lot of fun, and a way to avoid the problem of “Everything I want to write about has already been done.” It should be much more relaxed, much less pressure if you don’t do well because, hey, a new contest is coming up soon.

Alright, I want to talk about some of the ways this could work. I like somewhere between 24 and 36 hours between being given the prompt and the deadline. It’s roughly enough time to sleep on it, write something, get some feedback, and let it go, sink-or-swim. I also like the idea of “flash” events on a shorter timeline like four hours. I also like the idea of keeping track of these contests across “seasons”, keeping track of accumulated contests and having the top X writers participate in some sort of “gauntlet,” mixing different kinds of media. Since it’s not fun to show up halfway into a season and having to wait forever for the next, seasons could be short, maybe 3 months.

Writing prompts could be any number of things:

  • Given a lead-off sentence.
  • Given a word or phrase to include.
  • Given a random image from the internet, vetted by prompt team for CC compliance and quality.
  • Asked to reference an existing SCP, AA, GOI, or something else from the main site.
  • Word count, word limit, word-size limit, etc.
  • Web-based sources that generate randomness, e.g., a friend of mine has a bot that generates poetry. There are sites like the library of babel that can be referenced in an article.

One thing with prompts, they could also be solicited from the forums. I think the list of all accepted prompts, prompts that will be done at some point in the future, will be public knowledge, but the choice of a prompt will be done randomly by a script.

Considering a schedule, I’m thinking something like an average contest would be prompted at, say, 8AM Monday, deadline at 8PM Tuesday. Voting runs to 8PM Thursday, winner declared, discussion, etc. New prompt goes up on Friday at 8AM. So every four days, and that’s not a bad thing. It means if you’ve usually only got one or two good days in a week to write, the contest schedule will eventually line up with yours.

There’s one big problem. I don’t have a name for this. SCPs Done Quick? Flash SCP? I have no idea. So many good ideas were a name away from success.