Well, most of you are probably noticing that new little features continue to pop up here and there. The most recent feature I put together was a dynamic image counter. I'm not sure how accurate the numbers are but that can only be as accurate as the source material, so I'm hoping that the number of requests is at least close to correct. Once the new request system is implemented we'll have to be sure to mark things that are request as such.
I'm hoping to open up the site for new membership in the next 2-3 days. I'll have to devise some method of application for community members to submit to become guild members, but I'll worry about that after the site is accepting new members. I'll be clearing all the "blocked" members that signed up before I could turn that off out of the system so that there won't be any conflicts. We're slowly and steadily building up our new system. This makes me (understandably) very happy, and the images continue to pour in. We'll break 100 new images pretty soon.
With that in mind I'm going to chat about image techies for a minute here... Guys (former image techies) I love ya, and maybe at some point I'll need you, but as of this moment, the process is simple enough that I can take care of it myself, so, you can stop holding your breath, I won't be needing your volunteer time anytime in the foreseeable future. :-) I hope that makes you happy, I also understand if it's a bit of a disappointment. So, congrats and sorry... respectively.
So... I've been giving a bit of thought to SWAG's activities during the dark times... and I think at least one really great thing came out of that... monthly image contests. I say contest cause I don't know what else to say, but you know what I mean. Themed monthly image submissions. I'd really like to get something like that going again in a more formal manner. Let me know what you think about this.
I was an image techie for a while at the old SWAG and I enjoyed it immensely. It was time consuming, but at that time I was without full time employment so time wasn't really an issue. It was actually good preparation for the job I'm currently doing which often involves, cropping and optimising images. Having said that, I think it's great that the process is now mostly automated and I don't really have as much time to volunteer as I did back then.
And contests, YES! I'd love to see these make a return. I think an incentive might be in order to keep people participating, perhaps the winner each month gets the featured image slot on the front page? Though that might require some sort of anonymous voting system. I've been spending some time at www.pixeljoint.com recently and they run a very successful weekly contest. The winner there gets a little pixel award on their profile and also gets to determine future contest themes.
Oh, and while I'm here, thanks for featuring my Gungan Captain today, it was a very pleasant surprise when I logged on this morning! :D
First off, congrats on the growing success of the new website! I think we're all doing our part to make this place somewhere worth coming to.
Concerning the monthly 'contests', I always enjoyed those, and spearheaded their continuance. Unfortunately, participation seemed to slowly die away as the months rolled on. Perhaps with the new influx of members and the reawakening of old guild members it will have a more lasting success.
I like JawaStu's idea for a featured image slot. Unfortunately, the 'contest' was never really such. We never wanted to compare the drawings to each other because that could foster ill will among those who submit. "I wish he/she hadn't submitted, so I could actually have a chance to win," and all that. Any ideas for how we could provide incentive without making a winner?
Also, there was an extensive and well thought out set of rules to those contests. Do you still have access to those from the old forums, Eclipse? I'd hate to have to come up with them again.
I zipped up the entire old site before taking it down, and the database is still operational so yes, I should be able to re-create the site if I needed to at some point. I really like the idea of putting one from each month into the featured spot as well. As it is I'd like that to change monthly anyway, and this would encourage a steady influx of new art all the time (not that we need a lot of encouragement). With that in mind, I'll have to think about how to make a voting system work... I know I could do one, but I'm unsure how to separate the monthly stuff from everything else, so that may be a fun trick :-). As it is I'd rather get the request fulfillment system up first if I have to pick something to work on, so the voting system is almost certainly a way off just yet even if I can figure out how to do it.
These are all great ideas and I'll come back and revisit this soon. If you have more thoughts please post em here.
I have to say, I don't know if going the route of contests was such a good idea in that, we, being a tightly knitted guild should compete against fellow swaggers for a rank. As I remembered, the monthly image posts were simply themes of the month. I always enjoyed them for the ideas, never for who's best. They also sparked creativity in myself and I believe others, similar to the writing books that feature story ideas that a fledgling writer could expand upon. Instead I think maybe having the featured artist pick the next monthly theme would be interesting and easier (and still rewarding) since both are featured monthly.
But then that still leaves the thought, how does the featured artist get picked? Maybe we could have a voting system built into the comments where one could nominate a picture for the month anonymously and the picture with the most votes is featured?
I'm wary about the idea of the contest winner getting the featured art slot, since this means that only contest-themed art will ever be on the frontpage. I know it has happened at least once that the featured art was a completed request, which must feel good for both artist and requester, and it also involves more of the SWAG community. I don't want to exclude non-artists on SWAG. And I agree with Drig in that the contests never were quite as such. We never really competed. It was more of a themed submission, and everything was agreed upon. I think (though maybe this is a stretch) that it would be nice to have a slot for regular featured art, and one for the contest (if we wanted it to be competitive). But this is probably an impractical solution.
I don't want to promote "negative" competition, or even competition so much... truly an artist only competes with himself. I should know cause it's always a strain for me to do anything that's not very... rigid. Again, the word contest may have been out of turn and I knew it wasn't the word I wanted at the time. What if themes were established and there were a way to browse through all the images from past themes? So we could have essentially a new group of galleries based on the theme for that month? Just a thought.
I too am curious how the featured artist was picked in the past. As it stands at the moment I'm just kind of going with my gut. Asok was up there because he had the first new image in YEARS and rightly I wanted to make something of that. Stu's up there now cause I friggen love that gungan... but it's really just my whim at the moment and while that's ok with me (easy to manage :-)) I'm open to other thoughts on this as well.
I think a new gallery category for themed art is a great idea, akin to what I had in mind.