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Author Topic: Escape Pod Flash Fiction Contest 2016 - Voting Schedule and Rules  (Read 21186 times)

Kabal

  • Matross
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  • Posts: 166
Hello? Is it me you're looking for?



South of No North

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 241
  • Oneironaut and Alchymist
Hello. I love you. Won't you tell me your name?

"Yes, of course I can blame you. Without them, where would all of us outlaws be? What would we have? Only a lawless paradise...and paradise is a bore. Violence without violation is only noise heard by no one, the most horrendous sound in the universe." --The Chymist by Thomas Ligotti


Thunderscreech

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 343
(ding dong)  Hello, my name is Elder Price ♪
♫ And I would like to share with you
The most amazing book ♫



FireTurtle

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 898
(ding dong)  Hello, my name is Elder Price ♪
♫ And I would like to share with you
The most amazing book ♫

 :D :D :D :D

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. LeGuin


kamaskar1984

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
hi



zmbchsr

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 5
HI!



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Hello. I love you. Won't you tell me your name?


Ooh!  That's a good one, I forgot about that song.



jusbreel

  • Extern
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  • Posts: 2
hi



Thunderscreech

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 343
A couple decades ago, I got my first exposure to usability testing.  This is where we would give folks off the street some cash to come in and do tasks from a list while we recorded their screen.  We'd ask them to talk their way through what they were working on so we could understand why they decided to click certain things or type others.

Basically, can normal people use our software?  That was the question we were asking.

Task: Turn off the firewall temporarily
Task: Create a network rule to allow Netscape Communicator
Task: Check for product updates

Stuff like this, we'd give a basic task and then we'd sit back and watch through the mirrored-glass (exactly like you'd find in any number of spy or law enforcement movies)

Now I've been working with this program for months and I know it inside and out.  I know we're ready to go, anyone can use it and it's a really straight-forward interface so in my mind, this is a formality. 

As people started doing the tests, I first began to question the criteria used to pick them.  Were these actual adults who could hold normal jobs or did they need constant care?  I couldn't understand why they messed up SO MANY THINGS.

"Why doesn't he click the button RIGHT THERE?" I'd ask someone next to me after watching a tester spend a couple minutes hunting for an option. 

Later, another new member to the team shook their hands over their head.  "I don't get why she doesn't drag the icon into the folder!  Has she even USED a computer before?  Just drag it!"

"He's in the wrong screen!  Why does he think he can make a firewall rule HERE?!  I think this is a prank.  Nobody could be this thick!"  I said to the other team member.  They nodded their head

The seasoned developer in the room, would wave at us to quiet down.  "Just listen to what they're saying", she told us.  "This is why we're doing this."

We finally quieted down when one of our eruptions could be heard through the glass and the person running the test asked us to quiet down.  When we listened, we began to actually hear what that developer wanted us to look for.  No, it wasn't obvious that they needed to drag something into a folder.  Creating the firewall rule in this screen might make sense if they expect this part of the product to work like that other part they tried earlier.  That button...  I knew that button would take them to the option needed, but that was because I'd played with the product for months.  With time, I grew to appreciate these tests because they showed me what we needed to do to make our products better.  I started being able to see some of the problems ahead of time, early in design, and that saved us money and schedule.  I grew to be better at my job and eventually to really look forward to these sessions.

Reading responses to my story feels like I'm riding an emotional time machine.  I'm that younger version of me again.  Instead of a mirror-wall, it's the anonymity of the contest and the need to not post (because of the danger of revealing which story is mine) that separates me from the readers.  "No", I want to post, "that's not what I meant at all!  The character is supposed to be like XXXX, not YYYY.  You're wrong!"  "That's not it at all, that was on purpose!" I want to tell another poster.  After reading a couple responses and yelling at my monitor, I hear that voice from my past again and this time, I really listen. 

"Just listen to what they're saying", that developer murmurs to me from the 1990s.  I haven't spoken with her in years, but I can still hear that advice like I'm back in Pre- Dot Com Santa Monica.  I pause.  If I'm going to become a better writer, I can't expect to hand-hold my audience.  My story needs to be self-contained, if it needs explanation then I've screwed up.  "This", I hear her say in my mind, "is why we're doing this".



nikolop

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 102
A couple decades ago, I got my first exposure to usability testing.  This is where we would give folks off the street some cash to come in and do tasks from a list while we recorded their screen.  We'd ask them to talk their way through what they were working on so we could understand why they decided to click certain things or type others.

Basically, can normal people use our software?  That was the question we were asking.

Task: Turn off the firewall temporarily
Task: Create a network rule to allow Netscape Communicator
Task: Check for product updates

Stuff like this, we'd give a basic task and then we'd sit back and watch through the mirrored-glass (exactly like you'd find in any number of spy or law enforcement movies)

Now I've been working with this program for months and I know it inside and out.  I know we're ready to go, anyone can use it and it's a really straight-forward interface so in my mind, this is a formality. 

As people started doing the tests, I first began to question the criteria used to pick them.  Were these actual adults who could hold normal jobs or did they need constant care?  I couldn't understand why they messed up SO MANY THINGS.

"Why doesn't he click the button RIGHT THERE?" I'd ask someone next to me after watching a tester spend a couple minutes hunting for an option. 

Later, another new member to the team shook their hands over their head.  "I don't get why she doesn't drag the icon into the folder!  Has she even USED a computer before?  Just drag it!"

"He's in the wrong screen!  Why does he think he can make a firewall rule HERE?!  I think this is a prank.  Nobody could be this thick!"  I said to the other team member.  They nodded their head

The seasoned developer in the room, would wave at us to quiet down.  "Just listen to what they're saying", she told us.  "This is why we're doing this."

We finally quieted down when one of our eruptions could be heard through the glass and the person running the test asked us to quiet down.  When we listened, we began to actually hear what that developer wanted us to look for.  No, it wasn't obvious that they needed to drag something into a folder.  Creating the firewall rule in this screen might make sense if they expect this part of the product to work like that other part they tried earlier.  That button...  I knew that button would take them to the option needed, but that was because I'd played with the product for months.  With time, I grew to appreciate these tests because they showed me what we needed to do to make our products better.  I started being able to see some of the problems ahead of time, early in design, and that saved us money and schedule.  I grew to be better at my job and eventually to really look forward to these sessions.

Reading responses to my story feels like I'm riding an emotional time machine.  I'm that younger version of me again.  Instead of a mirror-wall, it's the anonymity of the contest and the need to not post (because of the danger of revealing which story is mine) that separates me from the readers.  "No", I want to post, "that's not what I meant at all!  The character is supposed to be like XXXX, not YYYY.  You're wrong!"  "That's not it at all, that was on purpose!" I want to tell another poster.  After reading a couple responses and yelling at my monitor, I hear that voice from my past again and this time, I really listen. 

"Just listen to what they're saying", that developer murmurs to me from the 1990s.  I haven't spoken with her in years, but I can still hear that advice like I'm back in Pre- Dot Com Santa Monica.  I pause.  If I'm going to become a better writer, I can't expect to hand-hold my audience.  My story needs to be self-contained, if it needs explanation then I've screwed up.  "This", I hear her say in my mind, "is why we're doing this".

This post was one of the best I've ever read explaining why the writer has to sit still and listen to the readers.

When the readers don't like something that the writer wrote, this may be a matter of opinion; one person could love what another hates, and vice versa. But when most readers misunderstand what the writer meant, it's definitely the writer's fault.



adrianh

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 752
    • quietstars

The seasoned developer in the room, would wave at us to quiet down.  "Just listen to what they're saying", she told us.  "This is why we're doing this."


Y'know I do usability testing often. Indeed content-specific usability testing in many instances. And yet the analogy to how the strangers read my fiction never occurred to me. Thanks for that, it's going to be a useful extra mental tool for listening to feedback.



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Whoa, that is a great analogy, Thunderscreech.  Great enough that it would be cool to share it beyond this contest.  Do you have a blog?  Would you be interested in a guest post on mine?

Seriously, really good, really solid idea there.

This can be one of the really difficult parts about starting to write is learning to take feedback.  I've seen so many times a new writer just explain in response to a critique.  No matter how much the explanation makes sense, the story won't be published with an explanation, so the story's gotta handle that itself.



Thunderscreech

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 343
Thanks!  If you think it's worth sharing, then sure.  I've never done a guest post anywhere (excepting those times when I broke into computers as a teenager but those were less 'guest posts' than 'un-approved console login messages'), sounds neat.  My blog (alphahole.net) is more of a place where I post silly pictures and personal stories and has the ongoing readership of an archived geocities page (infrequent and typically accidental).



Estelindis

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Hey! :)



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
As of this morning, all stories have been posted - we will now have a week to wait while the remaining groups are voted on, and the round 2 groups will be posted next Saturday.



Thunderscreech

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 343
A week each for these last two rounds is brutal!  The round 2 threads are ghost towns, the only thing changing is the 'view' count on the voting threads.  :D  I can just imagine offices around the world with authors mechanically clicking 'Refresh' as they gaze into their flickering monitors.  "Did someone vote?  No.  How about now?  ....no.  (pause)  There, I showed self control, I didn't refresh for almost a minute, has anyone voted?  ...........no.  k.  Ok, we'll get through this.  Only 11 days to go.  (click)"



Not-a-Robot

  • Guest
A week each for these last two rounds is brutal!  The round 2 threads are ghost towns, the only thing changing is the 'view' count on the voting threads.  :D  I can just imagine offices around the world with authors mechanically clicking 'Refresh' as they gaze into their flickering monitors.  "Did someone vote?  No.  How about now?  ....no.  (pause)  There, I showed self control, I didn't refresh for almost a minute, has anyone voted?  ...........no.  k.  Ok, we'll get through this.  Only 11 days to go.  (click)"

By gar Thunderscreech! Talk about exaggeration, I only logged on 7 or 8 times today, at most, to check if the vote tally has changed. Nope, hasn't changed... *wanders off to sleep until Saturday.



Thunderscreech

  • Lochage
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  • Posts: 343
I only logged on 7 or 8 times today, at most, to check if the vote tally has changed.
A true ascetic!  Your self control is humbling, I shall endeavor to- brb, gotta go check tally.

Sorry, what was I saying?



Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3919
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
You gotta give both the office people and the weekend people a chance to read the stories and vote.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


MeganGW

  • Extern
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  • Posts: 1
Hi everyone!



Moritz

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 504
I feel really bad for not participating in the voting and reading - was very busy with work and traveling schedules :(
Didn't even vote for my own story, not that it would have helped.



Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3919
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
I feel really bad for not participating in the voting and reading - was very busy with work and traveling schedules :(
Didn't even vote for my own story, not that it would have helped.

It's not too late to make a difference in the finals. Currently third place is tied, so every vote really does count.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Dantzel

  • Palmer
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  • Posts: 29
Not a big deal, but are the entries ever officially 'rejected' on Submittable?



adrianh

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 752
    • quietstars
Not a big deal, but are the entries ever officially 'rejected' on Submittable?

Mine was FWIW.



Hamletta

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Not a big deal, but are the entries ever officially 'rejected' on Submittable?

Mine is still marked as "in progress"...