Unfortunately, between the time that I came up with the idea of LJ Idol with the voting system and format of the show the idea of a "reality show" has turned from strategy based game show (Survivor, Amazing Race) into even more of an overblown personality fest for the "celebrity tabloids".
I still have a deep and abiding love for reality shows, just probably not the kind that a lot of people think of when they see the phrase these days.
Idol takes the standard writing competition and injects it with some reality show twists and pacing.
It was interesting for me starting it, because I thought for sure it was already out there somewhere. When I realized that it wasn't - I decided to create it.
Over the years elements of what we created here have spawned a series of sites here on LJ that are very much influenced by us. (Everyone involved in the creation of them has been a contestant here before starting their own version.)
The important thing though is that this is where it all started. One little idea of an multi-round elimination system for a writing competition that would keep people coming back.
Hopefully it will continue to do that.
We have been fortunate enough to make the Livejournal corporate website twice as an example of the quality that livejournal offers. Obviously there was no number bump from it, because the only people who really go there are advertisers and people in the industry.
But it was still a honor.
By signing up for Idol you are making your own part in our history and creating our future and continuing what we have built over the years. Thank you for that.
Who are you and what do you want?
My user name is clauderainsrm. But if you hang out long enough you know my name is Gary.
The creator and your host of LJ Idol.
I DO NOT participate as a contestant. It gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about the ethical implications of that idea. I'm not the focus here - the contestants and their writing is.
Which is how it should be.
I'm the guy you come to when you need to have your questions answered or to settle a dispute that can't be worked out any other way.
My email address is email@example.com. Feel free to use it.
My technical assistant is kithan. Or Stephanie. Or "That chick who really likes bacon" OR "cheesehead" OR... you get the picture. If you have a question that pertains to a more technical issue, she would be the one to talk about. Otherwise I will more likely than not just stare at you blankly and forward the email to her!
Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
"I am a newbie and curious when the next season will start and how I can get involved in it?
The sign up sheet for Season 6 will be up soon. As in "in a couple days".
It will be up until - well, until it's not. :)
There is probably about a week of time between the time sign ups open and when they close. Sometimes it has gone two weeks. But I wouldn't bank on it. If you want to sign up, I'd make the decision as early as possible.
The information is going to be in the sign up thread. But the basics are that you post a declaration of signing up for the season in your own LJ and come back to thread and post a link to that entry.
Considering that the posting a link from your LJ to a thread on Idol is something you will be doing all season long with your entries, it's good practice and you can work out any "am I doing this right???" issues before it actually counts!
What if I want to compete, but don't want to use my main lj. Is there a way I can compete with a different journal?
Yes, of course you can. WITH ONE RESTRICTION and I can't say this in capital letters big enough:
I HAVE TO KNOW
email me and say "hey, this is partyallthetime but I'm writing under seriousstudent"
That's all you have to do. I don't need to know that you are doing it because you don't want someone to see or you are a returning player who wants to try an experiment or any reason at all.
I just need to know for my own records. If you don't tell me, and I find out at any point you will be subject to being booted.
So tell me.
Another consideration though is that if you are going to be friending other people with this journal you might want to make it clear that it's a "writing journal" or "not my main one" etc. Because if people are opening their lives to you in *their* LJ they
should probably know what is going on with yours.
Can one person have multiple lj idol journals?
To compete? I think it's insane, but yes they can. They have twice as much work to do as anyone else but if they want the challenge - more power to them.
For voting? I know "too many" when I see it. See the section on voting. There's a difference between new accounts and established ones. But at the end of the day it's the same result. So I'd be awfully, awfully cautious if I were you and highly suggest *not* voting from more than one account.
Can people who normally post friends only still compete as long as the Idol Entries are public?
If you want to get technical. The entries don't even HAVE to be public. I've never made that a rule or even "general policy".
The problem is that if you *don't* then people who want to read your writing can't. Which is why as a standard you see everyone posting a public entry to allow the greatest number of potential readers to come check it out.
But as far as "Idol policy" goes - you can make it a locked post. Just keep in mind that people can't support what they can't see!!! I'm not really sure why anyone would sign up who only wanted their FL to read their entries though.
So I guess that's a "yes" to the question and a "shrug" to the rest of it!
What is the duration of each season?
Each season has lasted a different amount of time. This season I'm not officially announcing the projection right off. Especially since I don't know how many people are signing up and that has a huge impact on it.
I'd say 6 months tends to be the breaking point for most people though.
What if I need to skip a week?
In previous seasons there have been "bye weeks" given to contestants in order to avoid being eliminated. They aren't always given and they aren't always given right away though. So I'd try really hard *not* to miss one.
Who are the previous winners?
tinhuviel, tru2myart, welfy, chite and boxsofrain
in that order.
You will probably see most of them around these parts throughout the season. They are incredible resources to have around.
Where can I find the topics and how much time do I have to complete it?
The topics will be announced in a thread called "Week ___ Topic thread" or close enough to that you will get the general idea.
You post the link to your entry in that thread.
ONLY the link to your entry. Nothing else goes in that thread. If you want to respond to someone else, go to their LJ or the Green Room. Otherwise that thread can get really cluttered really quickly and no one wants that.
The amount of time you have to complete each topic will be announced in that thread. It varies.
What is "THE LIST OF SHAME"?
It's a light hearted way of reminding contestants that they still needed to get their entries in. Because what do people react to better than a good clean public shaming? ;D
Is there a min or max word limit for our entries?
Yes. The number that you think "This works best this way". No more and no less.
I don't put any sort of restriction on that sort of thing. Personally I think it's silly.
Other people like that sort of thing. But they aren't writing this FAQ now are they? No. No they are not. :)
Can we use photos in entries? Graphs? Pictures of monkeys? Charts? Sea Shanties? CAn they be fiction? Poetry? Youtube videos? Done in mime?
This is actually several questions but for me they come down to the same answer. It's your entry. If you want to do it - do it. If you think "wow, this is a really great entry", do it.
Just understand that other people might not like it, and they might not vote for it.
Or, they might. . .
More often than not they might like it one week, or two, but if you keep coming back with the same thing they will want to beat you upside the head.
So I'd be careful. Risks are great. But make the ones that you feel passionate about, not just to do it.
"But, just because I wondered sometimes last year, is one allowed to
use something written before the week of the topic? How about if someone altered and changed it? Is the idea that the
entries are always new and written fresh that week?"
Let's be candid here. Since it's just you and me. But keep this between the two of us OK?
There is literally no way that I would know if you wrote it this week or 10 years ago. There's a good chance that no one else would either. Maybe some of your friends who read a lot of your posts. They would know.
But not anyone new.
So let's get right down to it. Could you? Sure.
But aren't you cheating yourself in the process? You're the only one here who stands to gain anything from the experience. If you want to rehash old material you aren't doing anything new with your writing.
If you aren't going to do anything new - why are you bothering?
Like I said, I can't stop you (as long as it's your own work of course) but I think you need to sit down and consider *why* you would be doing it and decide if that is a good enough reason.
"Is it alright, to request editors to read an entry that is friends only before posting it public and linking it in the topic post?"
What goes on between you and your trusted friends before you post it is between you and them. You want an editor/beta reader/Shakespeare typing chimpanze to check out your entry before you link it - absolutely.
You want your FL to read it so they can comment and give you feedback before you post it - do it.
Idol's not involved in that. It's my position that Idol *should not* be involved with that.
It's a competition. People can help each other - heck, if a contestant or former contestant stepped up and said "hey guys, anyone who needs a second pair of eyes on their entries???" I wouldn't blink twice at it.
It's a nice idea.
My problem would be if it was done as part of the actual Idol process. WAY to many ethical questions that would arise for my taste. :)
How does the process of voting work?
When a Mommy vote and a Daddy vote love each other very much sometimes they can come together and make a baby vote.
Wait - wrong speech. Sorry.
That's a more complicated question than you would think because there are variations on the answer to that due to twists and turns during the season.
The instructions will be included in the "voting post" for each week. But for the most part it is the straight forward "a poll is posted and there are clicky boxes" (as opposed to radial circles)
The box, in LJ terms, means that you can vote for as many (or few) entries as you like. (The radials, which you almost never see here except in extreme circumstances) indicate that you can only vote for one.)
The contestant with the lowest amounts of votes in each poll is eliminated.
Most times the poll will be public - meaning that anyone with a LJ can vote.
Some times the poll will be members only - which means you *have* to be a member of therealljidol community in order to cast a vote.
There have been contestant only votes over the years as well. Which is what is says it is, that only current contestants are able to vote.
There have also been "Gatekeeper" votes. Where a select panel of hand picked (by me) individuals whose opinions I trust are given the task of voting for their favorite entries.
It keeps things interesting!
Why aren't the entries anonymous?
I think it's a lovely theory that (1) doesn't survive the sniff test of actual on-going activity (2) brings up a variety of interesting legal questions that I would just as soon avoid and (3) IMO completely misses the point of having something like this on LIVEJOURNAL.
LJ is a community oriented website and getting to know each other and interacting is severely impacted by that sort of thing.
Can I ask my friends list to come vote for me?
Of course you can. Like everything else - from posting pictures of your vacation to "What Kind of Tea Cup Would I Be" memes, "vote for me" pleas can reach a point of annoying people.
You know your friends list better than I do. When you reach that point you are going to have to decide what to do from there.
After all, it's YOUR LJ. If you want the people who signed up to be a part of your friends list to read your entries - you know, things about YOUR LIFE - and want them to support you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
"Are there any rules on posting to my friends list to vote for me or for commenting back on other people's lj idol entries? What about socially? Do people in lj idol historically care about these behaviors?"
I like this question(s) because it's a twist on the above and feeds into our Ethical section (below).
It's your LJ. Other than the points I make down in the Ethical section it's not my job to police it. I'm not even going to pretend that I have that authority.
I have the power to get irritated with you (again, see that section below) but asking your friends to come out and support you isn't something that is going to trigger that response. :)
There is absolutely no "rule" for commenting back to other people's entries. There is no committee set up to do it. There is only common sense.
You came here for a reason. To be a part of something. Common sense says that if you want people to comment on *your* entries, you should probably act accordingly and comment on theirs.
"Historically" - yeah. People care about it. I've seen perfectly wonderful writers meet their downfall because they never commented and people decided that was not acceptable.
I've also seen people who go *way* too social and drive folks nuts who meet the same fate.
"Being social" isn't a "part of the game", it's a part of life. Like it or not. People are going to react more favorably to what you put out there if they connect to you on some level.
I've seen people do quite well - even WIN - without doing much interacting at all. So it's possible. Very possible.
But especially in the early phases of the game there are A LOT of new faces. Any chance you get to put yourself out there and have them remember your name, the better.
(which is a lot like breaking into publishing or any other field for that matter - visibility and making connections matter!)
(compiled by spydielives - thanks Spydie)
****NOTE FROM THE GARY: Other than the cut and paste method of posting a link, there is nothing in this section that is *required* to know. In the past though there have been folks who have asked these questions. So we provided "how to do this". You don't have to have to do any more coding that you *want* to do for your entries!****
*** How to link to a post/specific comment thread in a post: ***
In the address bar at the top of the screen, you should see something
Select the entire address of the post and hit CTRL-C/COMMAND-C to copy
Alternatively, you can hover over the title of the post (usually the
date) or the "link" tag of the comment, right-click your mouse, and
select "Copy link location."
In the post you are writing, you will need to write the following code:
< a href=" " alt="LJ Idol">LJ Idol</a>
Paste the link you have copied into the quotation marks following the
href= like this:
< a href="http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/244507.html"
alt="LJ Idol">LJ Idol</a>
alt="LJ Idol">LJ Idol</a>
Now you will have a link back to a specific LJ Idol post, or even to a
specific comment thread in a post.
*** How to encourage voting ***
There are three different ways that contestants in the past have used to encourage their friends to vote for
them. The first is to point your friends to the community and ask that
they join. Then they will know when the voting polls are posted and
will see the poll on their own friends list. The code to point to the
community is therealljidol.
The second is to post a link to the voting poll, using the instructions
above. For example, VOTE is a link to a poll posted on May 31, 2008.
The third is to embed the poll itself into your journal. Every poll has
a "Poll #" at the very top. Using that poll number, you can embed just
the part of the voting that you care about into your own journal with
< lj-poll-### > where ### is the poll id.
For example, on May 31, 2008 there is a for-fun poll entry:
http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/165875.html. The poll id
in this entry is 1196877. To embed this poll in your journal, the code
What have you been up to lately?
*** How to submit an entry (with a title) ***
When you are ready to submit your entry for the round, you will need to
add a comment to the submission thread. Use the instructions above to
get the address to your submission post. In your entry comment, you can
paste in just the address (http://yourjournalname.livejournal.com/####),
or you can put in the following:
< a href="http://yourjournalname.livejournal.com/####"
alt="submission">some title text</a>
Where http://yourjournalname.livejournal.com/#### is the address of your
*** Adding a tagline to entries ***
While not required, some contestants in previous seasons have added a
short comment at the end of their entry explaining that it had been
written for the competition. They included links to the community, the
topic, and anything else they thought might be useful.
Others put this information at the beginning of the entry and some left
it off completely. If you choose to include it, you may want to be sure
that it is somehow distinguishable from the rest of the entry. A simple way to do that is with a font change:
< font size=-2>This is some explanatory text, but isn't really part of
Things that are Technically Questions
"Are we going to have an official LJI baby rule or just have it be as it comes up yet again?"
As with most policies, I play this one by ear and make a case by case decision when it comes to emergency situations.
In the past there have been players dealing with all the big issues that can come up during the course of the year:
Death, life, pirate invasion, etc. Some of those occasions I have extended an extra consideration to them usually (but not always)
amounting to an extra bye week so that they could deal with their real life.
Will I do that again? As I said, there is no hard and fast rule for it. The person dealing with the situation needs to contact me as soon as they can and we can see if we can work something out.
The "other Idol Baby Rule" (that several contestants a season have to become pregnant during the course of the season) is still in effect. This year it extends to male contestants as well! ;)
"I want to play the Home Game! How is that run? Where do I find the questions, and where do I post my answers?"
The "Home Game" is what we call it when you are not a current contestant and want to write on the topic. Maybe you were eliminated or perhaps you came along too late to sign up and so didn't get the chance to be involved.
That's where the Home Game comes in. It's not a seperate topic. It's the same topic that the contestants are doing. It's just a way of indicating that you aren't actively playing.
There will more likely than not be a thread in the Green Room (our common area) where people can post a link to their entry. As time goes on it will become it's own thread, but that isn't going to be until well into the season.
My reason for that is tied into my general philosophy about Idol - it's about our contestants.
I want you to be able to find their entries. I want people to read them. If you aren't competing, you are someone else asking people to read your entries.
I am going to keep the attention on the contestants as much as possible.
Unless you miss the sign up deadline - you are far better off signing up than not signing up, if you want to have an audience for your work.
In the past we have also had "Free Topic"s. Free topics always have their own thread to post in and are open to everyone regardless of if you are playing or not.
"If I write a lousy entry, will people laugh at me?"
Yes. Yes they will. Especially me. We will also point! ;)
Seriously though, people are going to have as many different reactions to things as there are people. Will people laugh at you? I can't guarantee that they won't.
I would LOVE to be able to say "Of course not. Don't be silly!" But I try my level best not to lie to people, as a general rule, so I can't honestly sit here and say "No one would ever do that".
I WILL say that people who act like jerks toward other contestants tend to be treated as jerks.
These things have a way of coming around. Idol have a tendiency to be its own experiment in social karma at times. :D
I have a group/am part of a group/have a website. Is it OK if I promote it?
I'm really glad you asked that particular question faceless internet person. Because I actually do have an opinion on this one.
It's a simple rule actually - you go to someone else's event it would be rude to promote your own while you are there. Unless you asked permission.
So that's the rule - ASK ME before you post something about another group ESPECIALLY another writing oriented group. 9 times out of 10 I'm going to say "yes". You do it *without* asking first though 9 times out of 10 it's going to be deleted.
Since this usually comes up every season I figured that I would go ahead and make a statement about it.
Here's the rule: Don't be an asshat.
If you are an asshat people are going to hate you. Some times they might end up not liking you even if you aren't actually being an asshat.
That's how people are. So why go out of your way to be an asshat??? Seriously.
Things can get a little rough and tumble at times when personalities clash and egos get involved, and I try hard to stay out of personal disputes. You are adults. You should be able to figure out a way to behave like adults.
Even on the internet. Yes, I know that's a difficult concept to grasp. But try.
Some general stuff that is frowned upon. Frowned upon as in "if you are doing it someone is going to call you out on it, and if you make me get involved I might handle it with a heavy hand that involves you no longer being here"
Negative campaigning. The votes are *for* someone for a reason. The polls are set up so you can vote for as many entries as you like for a reason. So people *don't have to not vote for someone else*.
It does come up when the race is tight. BUT you are far better off telling people why they should support YOU and less about why they shouldn't support someone else.
Why? Because when you do it you look like an asshat.
Fake accounts. We do check. Don't set up accounts just to vote. See the "asshat" comment above.
The bottom line is that it's an internet competition where the prize is an icon and a banner. Yes, you can very well get emotionally invested. It's been known to happen.
But what you do is what you have to live with when the season ends. Why anyone would want to compromise themselves just for the sake of doing it or "proving a point" is beyond me.
You might disagree, but, you know that "asshat" comment? Go check it out again. Because it might do you some good to read it again. ;)
The "LJ IDOL BOOK"
You might see a mention or two about this in the coming months.
The backstory is that a contestant from last season, inspired by her time playing, decided to follow her dream of starting her own publishing company!!
Which is amazing and I am so proud of her!
The first book she decided that she wanted to publish, as a "thank you" was an anthology of LJ Idol entries (and new material) from some of her favorite writers from over the years.
The anthology should be out for Christmas '09. I'm a *quite* certain you will see announcements of when it is available for purchase.
Will there be future volumes? Will your work for this season have a chance to be published????
That is still being determined. I guess it will probably come down to sales. I know she's expressed an interest in future volumes and I would be open to it.
But obviously she is going to have to decide if it is doable or not.
That said - even if there is not another volume - Idol contestants have a pretty decent percentage of "cleaning up" their entries and submitting them to various publications.
Some of your fellow contestants came in as published authors. Others became that as a result of their time in Idol.
I like to think of it as a proving ground - but at very least it's an interesting form of lighting the fire under you to keep you writing every week for months on end!!