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Re: Admin - How Check Ballots Work

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  • nau_tika
    I just checked this week to see how many stories were in the same category as my fic, but thought I was doing something wrong when I couldnt figure it out. I
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 4, 2008
      I just checked this week to see how many stories were in the same
      category as my fic, but thought I was doing something wrong when I
      couldnt figure it out. I guess it was just rushing things!

      Thanks for the info!
      nautika

      --- In MEFAwards@yahoogroups.com, "melayton@..." <melayton@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hey guys,
      >
      > We're going to start what's known as check ballots in a few days. I
      want
      > to use this week's educational post to discuss how that works. That
      way
      > you can ask any questions you might have about check ballots or
      > categorization before we get started.
      >
      >
    • Imhiriel
      ... Martha, thank you for laying it out so detailed; I was especially grateful to be reminded that you use the option to fill out just barely too small
      Message 2 of 10 , Jul 4, 2008
        --- In MEFAwards@yahoogroups.com, "melayton@..." <melayton@...> wrote:

        Martha, thank you for laying it out so detailed; I was especially
        grateful to be reminded that you use the option to "fill out" just
        barely too small subcategories.

        > --- Genres: Adventure: General
        > --- Genres: Adventure: Fixed-Length Ficlet
        > --- Genres: Adventure: Incomplete
        > --- Genres: Adventure: Minas Tirith
        > --- Genres: Adventure: Pre-Ring War
        >
        > Of these, General, Incomplete, and Pre-Ring War were subcategories for
        > nominations with the type "Story" - as I described things above, they
        > would have been placed in Genres: Adventure: General to begin with, and
        > the categorizer would have broken General into three subcategories
        based
        > on the stories' content. The point I'm trying to make is that, even
        > though "general" has been divided into three subcategories, one of
        those
        > is still called "general." It's a sort of miscellaneous subcategory for
        > the Adventure stories that don't fit in either Minas Tirith or
        Pre-Ring War.

        I think you meant to say that General, Minas Tirith and Ring-War were
        subcategories for "Story", as "Incompletes" are in their own category,
        as you described above.

        I don't know if you can talk about this, but if so, I'd be very
        curious to know if the sorting is difficult. Part of my curiosity is
        surely that you had difficulties sorting two of my drabbles in either
        of the three categories I named - does this happen often? But I'd also
        be interested generally - how much hair-tearing is involved in trying
        to reach the best possible solutions and compromises?

        > In situations like this, the categorizers have to
        > look at the summary, maybe even skim the story if it's short enough,
        and
        > make the best decision they can.

        A time-consuming endeavour, I can imagine, especially for the longer
        stories... OTOH, it gives you a sneak-peek at some of the stories you
        might want to be reviewing in your "private" capacity, later ;-).

        > However, we can't honor every request made. A lot of times these
        > subcategories are very carefully constructed so that they have a good
        > size and a good mix of authors, and if too many stories are moved in or
        > out of the same subcategory, it can create problems.

        Especially as it took so much time and consideration to come up with
        the best choices in the first place.

        And again, my nosy question: Does it often happen, either the
        question, or the actual moving?

        Imhiriel
        ...A happy Independence Day Weekend to the MEFA members in the US!...
      • heartofoshun@aol.com
        In a message dated 7/4/2008 11:03:25 AM Eastern Standard Time, melayton@gmail.com writes: But most importantly, it tells authors where their story will be
        Message 3 of 10 , Jul 4, 2008
          In a message dated 7/4/2008 11:03:25 AM Eastern Standard Time,
          melayton@... writes:

          But most importantly, it tells authors where
          their story will be competing. Authors are highly encouraged to check
          out the ballots to make sure their stories are placed in an appropriate
          sub-category.



          I didn't look at these last year. Thought they were posted for some arcane
          purpose of the MEFA administrative staff. And they seemed to go on
          forever--felt like months.

          I am now wondering for next year if WIPs are a viable category. If a story
          runs against finished stories as a WIP then they are still eligible as a
          Finished story in the future?



          **************Gas prices getting you down? Search AOL Autos for
          fuel-efficient used cars. (http://autos.aol.com/used?ncid=aolaut00050000000007)


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • heartofoshun@aol.com
          That may be what you re thinking of? (Or I may very well be wrong.) Yes. It must have been the reviews I was thinking of... I read reviews a lot, but at the
          Message 4 of 10 , Jul 4, 2008
            That may be what you're
            thinking of? (Or I may very well be wrong.)

            Yes. It must have been the reviews I was thinking of... I read reviews a
            lot, but at the site. They are so much prettier and easier to read there.



            **************Gas prices getting you down? Search AOL Autos for
            fuel-efficient used cars. (http://autos.aol.com/used?ncid=aolaut00050000000007)


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Kathy
            ... Something I found really helpful this year was all the changes and additions in the subcategory fields...in particular, the streamlining of characters for
            Message 5 of 10 , Jul 5, 2008
              --- In MEFAwards@yahoogroups.com, "melayton@..." <melayton@...> wrote:
              >
              > And finally, the liaisons did a really good job getting good
              > information about the stories in the nomination season. That meant
              > that we categorizers had the information we needed to make the
              > choices that need to be made.

              Something I found really helpful this year was all the changes and
              additions in the subcategory fields...in particular, the streamlining
              of characters for categorization and the new subgenre choices. The new
              subgenres (including angst, tragedy, friendship, family, etc.) seemed
              to be very popular with authors, judging by how many were selected, and
              I found this made categorizing much easier, and allowed the creation of
              many interesting subcats.

              Kathy/Inkling
            • melayton@gmail.com
              Hey guys, We re going to start what s known as check ballots in a few days. I want to use this week s educational post to discuss how that works. That way you
              Message 6 of 10 , Aug 4, 2008
                Hey guys,

                We're going to start what's known as check ballots in a few days. I want
                to use this week's educational post to discuss how that works. That way
                you can ask any questions you might have about check ballots or
                categorization before we get started.

                Also, Yahoo group members may want to consider changing their email
                delivery options. As I'll describe below, check ballots involve more
                group emails than is usual for this group. I encourage everyone to keep
                up to date, but if you would prefer to read check ballots at the group
                website, you might consider switching to digest or "special notice only"
                mode.

                ***************************

                HOW STORIES ARE CATEGORIZED

                Nominations for this year's MEFAs closed on June 15. Authors had until
                June 22 to finalize their nomination by completing a form on the
                nominated piece and notifying their liaison. You may be wondering what's
                been happening since then. Elliska, Inkling, Radbooks and myself have
                been sorting pieces into a main category, and then dividing each main
                category into appropriate subcategories of 5-13 pieces.

                To begin with, each story is placed in its first-choice category. We
                divide each main category four ways, based on the story type:

                --- fixed-length ficlets
                --- incompletes (work-in-progress)
                --- poetry
                --- finished stories (story type: story)

                So for each main category there will be four groupings of stories. For
                instance:

                --- Genres: Drama: Fixed-Length Ficlets
                --- Genres: Drama: Incomplete
                --- Genres: Drama: Poetry
                --- Genres: Drama: General

                Some of those groupings will have five nominations or more, no problem;
                others won't, in which case we look at moving stories into their second-
                or third-choice categories. For instance, let's say there are only two
                fixed-length ficlets in Genres: Mystery. That's not enough to make a
                fixed-length ficlet subcategory in mystery, and it's not even close - so
                we would try to move those two pieces into the fixed-length ficlet
                grouping in their second-choice main category.

                If, on the other hand, one of those groupings is close to having the
                five stories, we would look for other stories that could be moved into
                that same category, to maybe make the grouping into a viable
                subcategory. Say there are four stories with Dwarves chosen as the
                first-choice category. We would look for stories with Dwarves as a
                second-choice category. If there are some such stories, they would be
                moved out of their first-choice category into the Races: Dwarves:
                General grouping.

                Now every story is in a group in one of its three category choices, with
                other pieces of its same type. Each of these groups has at least five
                pieces by at least three authors - but often quite a lot more. If there
                are thirteen or less pieces in the group, it can become a subcategory -
                but if there are more, then we need to further divide each group into
                more than one subcategory. To do this we look at the other questions on
                the form filled out by the author, mostly the setting, characters for
                categorization, and subgenres. Basically we want to find a way to divide
                the nominations in each grouping down to a size that would work as a
                subcategory.

                When a grouping is divided into more than one subcategory, there will
                always be one "miscellaneous" subcategory and one (or more than one)
                more specialized one. I'll take an actual example from last year to show
                you how this works: the Adventure category. This category was divided into

                --- Genres: Adventure: General
                --- Genres: Adventure: Fixed-Length Ficlet
                --- Genres: Adventure: Incomplete
                --- Genres: Adventure: Minas Tirith
                --- Genres: Adventure: Pre-Ring War

                Of these, General, Incomplete, and Pre-Ring War were subcategories for
                nominations with the type "Story" - as I described things above, they
                would have been placed in Genres: Adventure: General to begin with, and
                the categorizer would have broken General into three subcategories based
                on the stories' content. The point I'm trying to make is that, even
                though "general" has been divided into three subcategories, one of those
                is still called "general." It's a sort of miscellaneous subcategory for
                the Adventure stories that don't fit in either Minas Tirith or Pre-Ring War.

                Bottom line: eventually every nomination will be sorted into a
                sub-category within one of its main category choices. And that's what
                will be on the checkballot.

                **********************

                THE CHECK-BALLOTS - HOW IT WORKS

                In a few days, I will post the first check-ballot. I will send one email
                per main category to the MEFAwards Yahoo group. (People reading at LJ:
                you will see one post with a link to all the MEFAwards messages.) Each
                email will have a subject like "Adventure Check Ballot." It will begin
                with a heading like

                "Check Ballots for Main Category: Genres: Adventure

                SubCategory Genres: Adventure: General"

                Under the SubCategory header, you'll see the pieces that have been
                placed in that subcategory. Each listing will give you some basic
                information about the nomination. These listings will be of the form:

                [title] ([story id #]): [author's name]
                URL: [nomination's url]
                [rating], Reason for Rating: [warnings]
                Romance Partners: [romance partners]
                [summary]

                The stuff within [square brackets] will obviously vary from story to
                story. It gives you a good overview of the kind of stories in each
                subcategory, so if you're trying to decide what you'll read, it's great
                to pay attention to these. But most importantly, it tells authors where
                their story will be competing. Authors are highly encouraged to check
                out the ballots to make sure their stories are placed in an appropriate
                sub-category.

                In most cases we sort categories based on the information you give us -
                both your category choices and the questions about your story setting,
                characters involved, and so on. Of course, it's possible that we made a
                technical mistake entering information into the website. A stray
                keystroke and your story may end up in a wildly inappropriate category.
                :-) Obviously, we want to fix that.

                Occasionally we have had to categorize stories based on their summary
                rather than their selection of setting, character, etc. This usually
                happens when an author does not provide answers to every question on the
                form. (This isn't necessarily a criticism - the form is complicated, and
                sometimes there's not an appropriate option - but more a statement of
                the situation categorizers sometimes face.) Remember, subcategories can
                have at most thirteen stories - so if enough authors weren't able to
                answer those questions, then there would be too many stories in the
                General subcategory. In situations like this, the categorizers have to
                look at the summary, maybe even skim the story if it's short enough, and
                make the best decision they can.

                Check ballots is the time authors get to say they'd like their pieces
                moved to a new category or subcategory. That's their main point - to
                give everyone a chance to make sure the subcategory selected is correct.
                However, we can't honor every request made. A lot of times these
                subcategories are very carefully constructed so that they have a good
                size and a good mix of authors, and if too many stories are moved in or
                out of the same subcategory, it can create problems.

                This doesn't mean you can't ask to have your story moved. This is
                especially the case if your story was assigned to a subcategory you
                didn't select. If you just see a subcategory that you think would be a
                better match than the one you're currently placed in, we may not be able
                to move it. But if your subcategory is inappropriate, please do mention
                it when the check ballots are posted.

                If you do see a story that you think has been placed incorrectly, you
                should reply to the ballot with the story you aren't sure about. (LJ
                members: you can comment at the LJ entry; please mention what category
                you're replying to.) The other categorizers and I will discuss it and
                get back to you within a day or two.

                Before I end this post, I want to mention two "special cases" that
                affect check ballots.

                *****************************

                SPECIAL CONCERNS - FIXED-LENGTH FICLETS

                Above, I've talked about fixed-length ficlets as being categorized
                together. It's true that FLFs are only categorized with other FLFs. But
                more specifically, we usually place drabbles with drabbles and other
                types of FLFs (drabble series, double drabbles, etc.) together.
                Subcategories containing just drabbles will have the word "drabble" in it.

                Subcategories containing the other types of fixed-length ficlets will
                have the phrase "Fixed-Length Ficlet," but something else as well -
                either "Other Fixed Length-Ficlet" or "General Fixed-Length Ficlet," or
                if we have more than one such subcategory in the same main category it
                may be something like "Gondor Fixed-Length Ficlet" or "Noldor
                Fixed-Length Ficlet."

                In a few cases we have had to combine drabbles with longer FLFs. In this
                case the subcategory is just called "Fixed-Length Ficlets," with no
                other words.

                *****************************

                SPECIAL CONCERNS - WORKS-IN-PROGRESS

                This year we had a few works-in-progress that we had a hard time placing
                because we couldn't offer Incomplete subcategories in any of their
                category choices. I contacted these authors and discussed the situation,
                offering them the choice to select a new category where a WIP
                subcategory *could* be offered or to let their story compete against
                finished stories in one of their category choices. Four authors chose to
                compete with the finished stories. Namely:

                The Dwarves Treasure by eiranae
                Moon of the Sea by pandemonium_213
                Solid Frodo: Hobbit Espionage Action by Princess Artemis
                Wars of the Valar by Fiondil

                If you see any other WIPs placed with completed stories, let us know.
                These four stories, though, are *supposed* to be competing against
                completed stories. Their authors chose this rather than to have them
                compete with WIPs in a category that didn't fit them as well.

                ********************************

                I think that's enough on categorization and how the check ballots will
                work. We'll start posting actual ballots in a few days. In the mean
                time, if you have any questions or want to discuss any of this, now is a
                good time.

                Marta
                (MEFA Admin.)
              • melayton@gmail.com
                ... arcane ... Hi Oshun, We did post them last year, but I think just for a week or two. The point is to give authors a chance to request changes, before the
                Message 7 of 10 , Aug 4, 2008
                  heartofoshun@... wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > In a message dated 7/4/2008 11:03:25 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                  > melayton@... <mailto:melayton%40gmail.com> writes:
                  >
                  > But most importantly, it tells authors where
                  > their story will be competing. Authors are highly encouraged to check
                  > out the ballots to make sure their stories are placed in an appropriate
                  > sub-category.
                  >
                  > I didn't look at these last year. Thought they were posted for some
                  arcane
                  > purpose of the MEFA administrative staff. And they seemed to go on
                  > forever--felt like months.
                  >

                  Hi Oshun,

                  We did post them last year, but I think just for a week or two. The
                  point is to give authors a chance to request changes, before the
                  subcategories are set in stone.

                  We did also post the reviews people wrote, because some people prefer to
                  see the reviews that are being written without needing to check the
                  website. I personally find it more convenient to check reviews at the
                  website, but infinite diversity in infinite combinations. :-) I have
                  heard from various members that they find it helpful, especially to be
                  reminded that reviews are being written. That may be what you're
                  thinking of? (Or I may very well be wrong.)

                  > I am now wondering for next year if WIPs are a viable category. If a story
                  > runs against finished stories as a WIP then they are still eligible as a
                  > Finished story in the future?
                  >

                  Yeah, those four WIPs will still be eligible in the future. And the
                  website will still list "Incomplete" as their story type. They'll be
                  treated just like if they had run in an Incomplete subcategory, as far
                  as future eligibility is concerned. The only difference is the
                  subcategory they'll be competing in.

                  Marta
                • melayton@gmail.com
                  Hi Nau_tika, Yep - the categories aren t available on the website yet. They ll be posted here next week, and should show up on the website a few weeks after.
                  Message 8 of 10 , Aug 4, 2008
                    Hi Nau_tika,

                    Yep - the categories aren't available on the website yet. They'll be
                    posted here next week, and should show up on the website a few weeks after.

                    Marta

                    nau_tika wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    > I just checked this week to see how many stories were in the same
                    > category as my fic, but thought I was doing something wrong when I
                    > couldnt figure it out. I guess it was just rushing things!
                    >
                    > Thanks for the info!
                    > nautika
                    >
                  • melayton@gmail.com
                    Hi Imhiriel, ... *blush* Yes, exactly! Thank you for catching that. ... It really depends on a lot of factors. The number of pieces nominated (and the variety
                    Message 9 of 10 , Aug 4, 2008
                      Hi Imhiriel,

                      > Martha, thank you for laying it out so detailed; I was especially
                      > grateful to be reminded that you use the option to "fill out" just
                      > barely too small subcategories.
                      >
                      > > --- Genres: Adventure: General
                      > > --- Genres: Adventure: Fixed-Length Ficlet
                      > > --- Genres: Adventure: Incomplete
                      > > --- Genres: Adventure: Minas Tirith
                      > > --- Genres: Adventure: Pre-Ring War
                      > >
                      > > Of these, General, Incomplete, and Pre-Ring War were subcategories for
                      > > nominations with the type "Story" - as I described things above, they
                      > > would have been placed in Genres: Adventure: General to begin with, and
                      > > the categorizer would have broken General into three subcategories
                      > based
                      > > on the stories' content. The point I'm trying to make is that, even
                      > > though "general" has been divided into three subcategories, one of
                      > those
                      > > is still called "general." It's a sort of miscellaneous subcategory for
                      > > the Adventure stories that don't fit in either Minas Tirith or
                      > Pre-Ring War.
                      >
                      > I think you meant to say that General, Minas Tirith and Ring-War were
                      > subcategories for "Story", as "Incompletes" are in their own category,
                      > as you described above.
                      >

                      *blush* Yes, exactly! Thank you for catching that.

                      > I don't know if you can talk about this, but if so, I'd be very
                      > curious to know if the sorting is difficult. Part of my curiosity is
                      > surely that you had difficulties sorting two of my drabbles in either
                      > of the three categories I named - does this happen often? But I'd also
                      > be interested generally - how much hair-tearing is involved in trying
                      > to reach the best possible solutions and compromises?
                      >

                      It really depends on a lot of factors. The number of pieces nominated
                      (and the variety of said pieces) makes a huge difference. I can only
                      speak for myself, and this year I was assigned the fixed-length ficlets
                      in all the categories, plus a few medium-sized main categories. (Each of
                      the categorizing volunteers is assigned several story groupings and they
                      come up with a "first draft" of the categorization, which is then
                      discussed by the group.) FLF took me two days of pretty solid work to
                      get something I like, and subsequently required some modification as
                      well; my other groups were much easier and divided up quite naturally.

                      There were three factors that really helped this year. First, this is
                      the second year that Elliska, Inkling, Radbooks and I have worked
                      together which means we work pretty well as a team. Speaking for myself,
                      I think we're open with each other and also willing to take suggestions
                      from each other. And I think we work well together to shift stories so
                      they make the best categorization possible. I've been really pleased
                      with the flexibility I've seen this year, and that does make things easier.

                      Also, we've emailed authors a lot more than we have in the past, if we
                      were having trouble placing their stories. This eliminated some of the
                      most stressful aspects of categorizing: finding homes for those really
                      hard-to-place nominations, because we shifted the decision to the
                      authors in those cases. That decreased the stress a lot, not only
                      because it meant we made less hard decisions but also because we could
                      be sure that those stories had a good subcategory. (Or the best that was
                      available, in any event!) So the fact that authors replied quickly to
                      these emails helped a lot. A *whole* lot, actually.

                      And finally, the liaisons did a really good job getting good information
                      about the stories in the nomination season. That meant that we
                      categorizers had the information we needed to make the choices that need
                      to be made.

                      Even with all of that, there's been moments when I've had to throw my
                      little stress ball against the wall to let out frustration over a
                      category refusing to sort. It's better than it ever was, but this
                      process is always a bit difficult.

                      > > In situations like this, the categorizers have to
                      > > look at the summary, maybe even skim the story if it's short enough,
                      > and
                      > > make the best decision they can.
                      >
                      > A time-consuming endeavour, I can imagine, especially for the longer
                      > stories... OTOH, it gives you a sneak-peek at some of the stories you
                      > might want to be reviewing in your "private" capacity, later ;-).
                      >

                      *nods* My wish list has certainly grown longer!

                      > And again, my nosy question: Does it often happen, either the
                      > question, or the actual moving?
                      >

                      Thankfully we haven't had that many in the past - I'd say less than a
                      dozen requests last year. I'm hoping that we'll have even less, because
                      of all the emailing we've done with authors during the actual
                      categorizing. But with most things related to the MEFAs, it can be very
                      unpredictable from year to year. So we shall see!

                      Marta
                    • melayton@gmail.com
                      Hi Kathy, I absolutely agree - the improvements to the websites definitely made categorizing much easier. Thanks for pointing that out! Marta
                      Message 10 of 10 , Aug 5, 2008
                        Hi Kathy,

                        I absolutely agree - the improvements to the websites definitely made
                        categorizing much easier. Thanks for pointing that out!

                        Marta

                        Kathy wrote:
                        >
                        >
                        > --- In MEFAwards@yahoogroups.com <mailto:MEFAwards%40yahoogroups.com>,
                        > "melayton@..." <melayton@...> wrote:
                        > >
                        > > And finally, the liaisons did a really good job getting good
                        > > information about the stories in the nomination season. That meant
                        > > that we categorizers had the information we needed to make the
                        > > choices that need to be made.
                        >
                        > Something I found really helpful this year was all the changes and
                        > additions in the subcategory fields...in particular, the streamlining
                        > of characters for categorization and the new subgenre choices. The new
                        > subgenres (including angst, tragedy, friendship, family, etc.) seemed
                        > to be very popular with authors, judging by how many were selected, and
                        > I found this made categorizing much easier, and allowed the creation of
                        > many interesting subcats.
                        >
                        > Kathy/Inkling
                        >
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