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I'd like to get some input on how we run Winter Bash this year. For the past several years, TLG has provided prizes for this via one of our activity support requests. We've offered prizes for most hats, random drawings with a hat threshold, and building contests. Last year, we had a random drawing with a 5 hat threshold and a building contest.

I'm personally considering not offering prizes this year. I received feedback from several folks last year that they didn't realize that there were prizes, or they didn't do anything out of the ordinary to qualify for them. Participation in building contests has generally been low. I'm not sure the prizes drove engagement in a meaningful way.

Using our activity support for prizes, especially around the holidays, ends up being a logistical headache. TLG is backed up at this time of year, so the team that generally processes activity support requests is performing other duties. In the past, it's been March, April, or even May before these prizes have all arrived. In addition to creating a long wait for winners, this delay often causes other issues, such as products going out of stock between when a winner selected them and when they ultimately get shipped out.

I'm interested in all sorts of feedback about Winter Bash, but I'm most interested in the following:

  1. Are Winter Bash prizes worthwhile versus using our activity support to drive engagement on the site in other ways?
  2. If we're going to offer prizes, what should the prizes be awarded for?
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Based on some of the previous issues we've had with hat goals promoting a large number of very old posts to the homepage through edits, etc. I'm fairly happy with not driving too much hat-based prize giving ;).

I guess things we might want to consider going forward are things like most improved rep/questions/votes given over the year - albeit some of those do tend to favour the long tail of old questions/answers - things that are harder to game in the last 2 weeks really.

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I basically won my last two Christmas sets through this site, so I won't complain about the possiblity of winning real LEGO prizes through Winter Bash. ;-)

However, I do understand that awarding them for random hats can be a bit problematic, since on the one hand hats don't always come for the most meaningful tasks. And on the other hand it also can have the effect of people not even realizing they won something. While a prize out of the blue can be a nice surprize, it's probably better to undergo this effort only if people really want the prizes.

I did like the idea from last year to make it a build contest, because on the one hand you hand out prizes for actual direct achievements and you also make sure people only take part who really want the prizes. However, I understand that when there's only 2 people contributing to the build contest it's not really worthwhile and I don't really want to win just because I was about the only one showing up in the first place. I would have liked to see more engagement in the build competition last year, too.

It's a bit of a problem with low meta engagement on such a rather small site, since a build competition, however advertized on the main site, still only captures a rather small core userbase. Although, I would have thought the lookout of a neat prize (and $100 definitely is neat!) could help with that, there's probably still only so much you can do to advertize it.

So I can definitely live with there being no prizes this year if it takes a lot of effort and the engagement is rather low. Also, if that means there's more room for other, maybe more directed engagement initiatives, that's great, too.

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If I understand it correctly, Winterbash is going to happen regardless, so people will be chasing hats, correct? That on its own will drive behavior that will bring up old topics with small edits and any of the other downsides of winter bash you mentioned.

But perhaps instead of offering prizes for either meaningless activity (like the beforementioned edits) or something that not a lot of people participate in, perhaps you could consider handing out prizes for the most upvoted answer and the most viewed question? The latter might be hard if it is a fly-by user who creates the question, but you could always go down the list if the person doesnt respond within a given timeframe.

P.S.: My Q2 support posts will be coming in the next few weeks. I am finally able to spend quality time on LEGO building again after the passing of my wife at the end of Sep. Stay tuned!

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  • I'm glad that your personal life is settling down to the point that you're able to get some quality LEGO time back in. Winterbash will happen with or without prizes. My concern with providing prizes for quantitative metrics like most views or votes is that this encourages botting and sockpuppetry, which has unfortunately been a problem with Winterbash in the past.
    – jncraton Mod
    12 hours ago

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