New Contest System Updates Coming…

February

28, 2010

by John Shedletsky


Archive

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RobloTim and I have been double-teaming the ROBLOX building contest system for the past couple of days, trying to get it into a reasonable state. Those long-time ROBLOX players out there know that the ROBLOX team prefers to get new features out into the wild early, get them in the hands of players, and then slowly refine them. The new contest system is still a work in progress, but it has been fun to watch it evolve.

I discussed some of the issues we’ve been having with the contest system in detail during OBC Cast 8, which is now public.

To those just tuning in, the problems we’ve been trying to solve are these:

  • Entries not getting enough votes to accurately rank winners.
  • “Most visited” category almost always full of off-topic entries.
  • Making off-topic and “empty” entries lose and lose fast, so they are never seen again.
  • Voting is not fun enough – for a variety of reasons.

How We Fixed It and What’s Coming Up

Some of this stuff is out, and the rest is currently live on test.roblox.com. With luck, we’ll be pushing these updates out by tomorrow.

Voting is More Fun – We removed the restriction where you had to visit both places in order to vote. This means you can just sit there and click through any boring-looking places that come up. If a cool place shows up, and you do check it out before voting on it, we count your vote 5x.

Accuracy Score – In order to make voting more of a game, voters now get an “Accuracy Score”. Your “Accuracy" Score” is exactly the chance that given two places to vote on, you vote for the currently winning place (as determined by everyone else voting on places). For technical people, here are some facts about accuracy scores:

  1. Your score is an exponential running average. This means your recent votes count more than your past votes.
  2. It’s easy to get your score to 60 or 70, then it gets a lot harder because mistakes hurt your average more, and right answers help your average less.
  3. Your score is relative to the ROBLOX community. You may pick the “correct” place, but if everyone else thinks that place is no good, you will lose points. This may not seem “fair”, but it happens to everyone occasionally.
  4. If two places are within 30 points of each other, your vote will not effect your accuracy score.
  5. Your accuracy score is judged on a per-contest basis – but your best ever accuracy score will appear on your profile page.

Skip Button – A lot of people are currently gaming the accuracy score by refreshing the vote page until they get an “easy” question. For this reason, in the next release all current scores will be reset. In the next release, you will be unable to get new items to vote on unless you vote on the current entries or skip them. Skipping incurs a small accuracy penalty (but less than you would lose for guessing wrong).

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Prizes for Accurate Voters – In future contests, we now have the capability to reward accurate voters with prizes.

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Most Visited” Category Gone – It wasn’t working and we couldn’t see a good way to make it work, so for now, it’s gone.

New Matchup Algorithm – One of the things that made voting not fun was the amount of time that lame or off-topic entries were presented for a vote. We’ve coded up a new matchup algorithm which lets us bury low-rated entries so that they seldom come up for a vote. Top-rated entries will show up more. New entries with no votes will show up more, but can only be matched up against middle-rated entries.

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So if you’ve read to this point, you obviously care a lot about contests. Let me give you some tips for contest success.

Entering Early Does Not Help You Win – The rating system for contests is designed so that, unlike the visit-based building contests of the past, entering early *does not help*. If your entry is good enough to be scored 1750 (a high score), it’s going to be scored 1750 as long as you enter it before the contest ends.

But Don’t Wait Too Long – At the same time, entering at the last minute means you risk not having enough people vote on your place to catapult you into the top echelon.

Do Not Enter/Enable Voting on an Unfinished Place – You need to come out swinging in these contests. If you enter a place that doesn’t look “finished”, it’s going to be voted down. Once this happens, the matchup algorithm is against you, and your place will be voted on less. It will be hard to recover, even if you finish up your place later.

Early Votes Count More – The first 10 votes your place gets count roughly 50% more. This is another reason not to enter before your place is done. If you can win those first 10 votes, your place will be ranked 1700-1800 right out of the gate. If you lose those votes, your place will be ranked 800-1200.

Have a Good Thumbnail – A lot of people won’t visit your place before voting on it. So make sure your thumbnail is presentable.

The Winners Have Fun Games – Of course, if people do play your place before voting on it, you get a 5x bonus in points – that’s a ton. So having a good game is your ticket to a rocketship ride to the top of the leaderboards. In fact, if no one ever visits your place before voting, you can’t possibly win. That’s because everyone at the top is “winning” the same number of matchups. The only way to get ahead is by getting 5x the points in the matchups you win.

Off Topic Places Only Get You So Far – There’s a ton of people trying to maximize their accuracy scores. They might choose your off-topic entry vs. a newbie’s blank place, but against an on-topic place, you’re going to lose no matter what you do. In the most recent contests, the best off topic places only get you to around 1420 – often not enough to win anything.

Telamon