clauderainsrm (clauderainsrm) wrote in therealljidol,

Season 8 FAQ

The state of Mississippi is going to be voting on giving Idol's FAQ's Personhood.

Protests against this have appeared around the country, around the world even. In the parks, in the streets, inside of Burger Kings until they make you leave - it's all over the place, people are wondering one thing - when is Gary going to post the FAQ and how long will it take me to go "Hey, why didn't he change much, and why didn't he answer (insert question here)?"

Once the FAQ is a Person though, that won't matter. Much like other people (like corporations) it will have the ability to simply ignore your questions, even if they are asked frequently!

So, if you need to know anything before then, I would suggest asking it - before the good people of Mississippi have their say!

Tl; dr

I asked someone to sum things up: "Idol is a wild roller coaster of a writing competition combined with the best elements of reality TV. Competitors are placed in a weekly poll and eventually one winner emerges. Those who participate laugh, cry and push themselves to the ultimate of their writing capabilities, make new friends and find new favourite writers.

A little more

From someone who played the last couple of seasons, some general guidelines and tips:

It's decent advice, except of course, #9. Everything I do makes total sense and you should just accept it. :D has some more

A LOT more

What the hell is this?/I read the info page and I still don't have a clue</b>

There are a lot of different levels of Idol, and a lot of things that people can get out of it and explore - but the basic is:

It is a writing/journaling competition with twists and turns. It lasts for several months.

You are given a topic every week/round. You submit your entry. There is voting and people are eliminated.

How do I sign up?

There will be a "sign up thread" posted. Soon. When that happens you will be given instructions to write an entry in your own LJ and link it back to the sign up thread, declaring your intent to play this season.

Considering that you will be spending the entire season doing links like this, it is good to get some practice for people not used to doing it!

The sign up period lasts from the moment that thread is posted, until it is closed. There is currently no set time frame for that, so sign up before you miss your chance!!

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 Feel free to use it.

My assistants are: kittenboo. AKA Heather and boxsofrain AKA Ashlee. You will probably be seeing more of them around than kithan. They will be assisting me in keeping you lunatics in line this season. ;)

If for some reason you can't reach me, contact them - and they will get in touch with me.

They are both tremendous resources to have around for "how things work". kittenboo made it to the semi-finals in Season 4. boxsofrain won Season 5. These are people who really know the ins and outs from a contestant standpoint.

kithan aka Stephanie, aka Or "That chick who really likes bacon" OR "cheesehead" is still around, and will be available for emergencies. But scheduling issues prohibit her from being around as often.


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 – and then stretches it out over the course of months. ;)

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 – and in various other sites - that are very much influenced by us. (Everyone involved in the creation of them has been a contestant here before starting their own version.) Some of them are better than others.

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.

We have also had a volume published called Idol Musings Available at a online book retailer near you. A second book, Idol Meanderings, is currently in production and should be out before Christmas.

Quite a few people have used material and (in my opinion more importantly) the experience of being in Idol to jump start their own professional writing careers. Hopefully, if it is something you want, you will be able to do the same.

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.

Season 9 will be our final season. So coming in now, is really good for anyone who wants a multi-season Idol experience.

What do I win?

Ever-lasting fame.
That, a banner and an icon.
Oh, and an inability to compete again.

Hopefully a whole lot of confidence in your abilities as well.

”Is there an age limit to compete?”

No. But they are competing “at your own risk”.

We had a couple in Season 7, which is why this has come up.

I do suspend my “adults can deal with each other” policy when it comes to minors. But under a “certain age” (I know it when I see it) I expect that if you are the parent or guardian of an underage competitor, that *you* are someone that is known to me, and send me an email letting me know that they have your permission to compete, and that you will be filtering their experience, so they don’t see or hear anything you do not approve of them seeing or hearing.

I also expect that they do their own work. Which should go without saying. There is a difference between someone coming up with their own stories and you typing for your cat after all. Your children, at least in theory, have thumbs and are not "in charge" the way a cat is after all! :)


"I want to play the game with friends. Can we write together? Share one journal? Always intersect like season six contestants did? What if my friend doesn't want to write, but does want to read/edit my stuff all season. Is that allowed?"

That's actually a few questions. But let's break it down. :)

Can you write together in one journal? Yes. Provided that you declare it with me *before you start*.

Always intersect? If you like. That's more difficult, but if you really want to do it, I wish you luck. Granted, there may be twists that make that impractical at times.

The last part is basically asking "Can I have a Beta Reader?" The answer to that is "Of course you can". A lot of successful contestants have someone they trust and respect look over their work before they submit it.

"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 separate 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 its 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

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.

Writing Entries

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.

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. :)

Do we need to mark our entries with a rating system/Non-work safe etc?

If it's going to be something that you think people might be all "OMG" about (for instance nude photos) you might want to let people know.

Anything else - that's really your call. Some people put up "trigger warnings". Some people make fun of "trigger warnings". It's really an individual thing and you're adults. I trust you to make appropriate decisions.

Can I use pictures/graphics, etc in my entries? Can I do comics? Multi-media?

Can I do poetry? Haiku? Interpretative dance?

Yes. It's your entry. You can interpret the topic in whatever format you wish

Some people like them more than others, although all of them (as of last season) have a history of doing well.

The secret of course is that much like any other kind of entry YOU HAVE TO DO IT WELL. Experimentation is fine. But if it's clear that you are doing something in place of an actual entry or the work doesn't stand on its own, sooner or later that might catch up on you.

Just about anything can be an entry - but the quality needs to be there first and foremost. If it's not, you're really just cheating yourself.

“What about fan fiction?”

What about it?

Oh, you mean, “is it OK?” Is it your writing? Then, yes, it’s fine.

There are people who aren’t going to like the idea of you exploring “someone else’s universe” – but if you’re writing fanfic, you already know that. There will be people who will.

It’s kind of like poetry in that respect. Some people are going to get what you are doing, and others are not.

Stories, in general, should be accessible. So if you are writing for a focused audience, who knows that the clever line you threw in the second paragraph refers to page 245 of Book 3, that is great. But the stories, from a craft perspective, should stand on their own without that knowledge.

I don't want lj idol entries linked to my main journal. Is it okay to use an alternate journal just for the competition?

Is it OK if I use an alternate journal for "Idol related activities"?

Yes. That's absolutely cool.

Here's the kicker though - YOU NEED TO TELL ME. I need to know before you start who you actually are. You don't need to tell another person. Heck, you don't even need to tell a cat. But I suspect that they will figure it out. If they cared about it. Which they don't.

I, on the other hand, do care. I like to know who I am dealing with. Also to make sure that you aren't voting with multiple accounts.

There are many reasons to use an alternate journal - but if you are using one to participate or attempt to influence the competition and I *don't* know who you are from before the first entry, you will be subject to possible expulsion. I don't want to do it. Please don't make me do it.

Can I compete under more than one user name?

Yes. Provided that you follow the guidelines above. I need to know who you are, and what LJs are yours.

It's twice (or three/.four times) the work, but if you want to take it on, that's your business.

The only new restriction on this is that if we come to the Top 30, and you have more than one ID still in play - that you pair down to one. That might sound unfair - but what is even more unfair is the idea of one physical person taking up spots that could be occupied by other people, and making it so they can't share in that experience.

it's an unlikely scenario to happen - but just in case it does, I'm putting that out there. It's the right thing to do.

Reading/Voting for Entries

There are so many entries - are we REALLY supposed to read them all before voting?

If you don't, there are two losers - You and whoever it is that you don't end up reading. Because maybe they wrote something brilliant and you totally missed out on it. Sure, they might be around later in the game and you can go back and reread the stuff you missed - but won't you feel like a bandwagoner? How much cooler would it be if you were an original fan from Week 1?

People will laugh at you and your shoes. It's no wonder you didn't read ____'s stuff when you are wearing shoes like that! Seriously, how can you even leave your house like that??? :)

The real answer of course is that there is no way of realistically "making sure" that everyone reads every entry.

You want people to read and comment on your stuff? Well, it would make sense that you should be reading their stuff as well.

It's good manners and it's not a half bad strategy "game wise". "Life wise" you might find some new favorite writers and make some new friends out of the deal.

How can you keep track?

People seem to find making a spreadsheet useful for keeping track of who you have read and what you thought. I've been fairly resistant to the notion, but I do admit they have their uses.

If this season is like every single one of the others, there will be someone who steps up and offers to make everyone a spreadsheet!

How do I vote?

There will be a poll posted. It's a standard LJ poll. But in case you've never seen one of those before, there will a list of names followed by a box.

Like this:

PersonX's entry []

If you click on the word "entry" you will have a window pop up and you can *read* that person's entry. Which is a good thing.

If you click on the box, a mark will appear indicating that you have voted for that entry.

I would wait until you have a list of entries you want to support before voting, that makes it a lot easier.

But if you want to vote as you go along, you can go to "edit", click on it and add votes as you see fit. It's pretty straight forward.

Can I vote for more than one entry?

You can vote for as many or as few entries as you want.

Maybe I should say that in all caps: YOU CAN VOTE FOR AS MANY ENTRIES AS YOU WANT

Yeah, I left off the "few" because seriously there are going to be *a lot* of great entries. Voting for just one or two, that is a valid choice and often a strategy for people supporting a specific individual. But really you are losing out on an important part of the experience.

So don't be an asshat - read some cool stuff and support what makes you want to see more from that person.

Is there any protocol on recommending entries to read?

Some people love it and some don't.

Personally I lean toward loving it, unless it's clear that you are only supporting your friends. Then it can just as easily turn on you as self serving.

A good basic rule is to make sure you are reading, and recommending, a good cross-section that you think your non-Idol reading friends would enjoy. That tends to work out the best for everyone.

Can I vote under multiple accounts?

Only if you are an incredible douchebag.

Sometimes I will catch you. Maybe I won't though. But if I do – and eventually I will - the account will end up banned and the person you are supporting loses out because they thought they had one more person reading and appreciating them. Do you really want to risk that?

Why not just *tell a friend* to read their stuff and if they like them, to vote for them too?

Doesn't that make a lot more sense?

Can people use facebook/twitter/Open ID accounts to vote?

Yes. But, if you vote with more than account, see above about being a douchebag.

LJ allows it, so we have to – but I ask that people only vote from *one* account. If someone doesn’t have an LJ account, and they want to come out and support their favorites, great.

If they are coming out just to support, without reading though, they aren’t doing you any favors. I don’t think anyone really wants to “win” that badly that they would hurt their own experience in the process.

"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!)

General Info

What is the duration of each season?

As long as it takes.

Seriously. I have a general idea but don't like to "hazard a guess" until I see how many people we actually have sign up and how close that is to my estimate and general game plan. That tells me what might need to be adjusted.

I did say that Season 6 was going to be “always the longest” season – but I may have to go back on that. I hope not. But I might.

What are the odds LJ Idol will make me get pregnant?

Pretty darn good. There are usually a few Idol babies every season. This season it may be you.

People always think this is a joke. Until it happens to them.

What is a Green Room? What is a Work Room?

The Green Room is, much like it's namesake, a place for people to socialize when you "aren't on stage". It's usually posted daily. If you get the chance, you should definitely pop your head in and say hello. It's a great way of getting to know people and making new friends.

Work Rooms were introduced last season. It's posted, approximately once a week, or as needed. This is a space to specifically talk about writing, and issues you are having with pieces you are working on. It's a great place to turn to give, or receive, advice on your entries, or brainstorming in general.

Who are the previous winners?

The list is on the left-hand side of the page. They are tremendous resources to have around.

There is no one out there who could give you better advice at how to be "successful in Idol" than the people who actually went all the way to the end.

What are byes?
A "bye week" is a term usually heard in sports, but in the Idolverse it's a week where you use a "free pass" to not write.
Byes will be announced toward the beginning of the season (how many you get and when you need to use them by) but they are useful for unexpected life events (or planning ahead).

Life happens. Byes are a way to make sure that it doesn't take you out of Idol because of things outside your control.

Special Powers

Throughout the season there may be "special powers" that show up including things like immunity. I will explain those as they appear.

Is there any other way for us to take part in the "Idol experience?"

We have a facebook and a twitter account. There really isn't much more than links to things you already know though. I’ll admit, I didn’t use them last season as much as I thought that I would. Everything you really need is right here on LJ.


"Hey Gary. Those are neat graphics. Can I use them? Can I make my own LJ Idol icons? What about promotional banners and stuff? Do you care what kind of user icon I use in the Green Room?"

These are all kind of part of the same question, and since it's come up before I will address it here and now.

I *do* mind about people making their own Idol icons. Use ours. If you want a custom one, let me know - or I'm sure there will be people around who can do that for you in an official or semi-official capacity.

Everyone has their own quirks and pet peeves, and that's one of mine. So before you start using Idol related icons - just get my thumbs up.

Also, icons or ads for other groups - particularly other writing competitions - that's a no-go. As a general rule, if you think "should I do this?" Check.

9 times out of 10 it's not going to be an issue.
People who have been around for multiple seasons know the kind of stuff that I *don't* approve and what I do. But I want a consistent look to things and really *not* violating this rule isn't difficult. You kind of have to go out of your way in order to do it.

This season we actually have "two looks" to choose from, that will be made available for customizing.

Does the post on my journal have to be public/remain public?

Actually it doesn't, if you want to be completely technical, be a public entry. However, that does mean that not many people can read it. Only the people who would be on that filter. It's pretty difficult to gain new readers and meet new people if you don't make it so people can read it.

That said, I'm not going to ever tell someone that they *have* to be public, for any reason. But you probably should. I would imagine, if you are someone who signs up for something like this, that you would come in with the idea that you want people to read what you have to say. Restricting access seems counter-productive to that goal doesn't it?

Technical Questions

(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

like this:




Select the entire address of the post and hit CTRL-C/COMMAND-C to copy it.

Alternatively, you can hover over the title of the post (usually the date) or the "link" tag of the comment, right-click your mouse, 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="" alt="LJ Idol">LJ Idol</a>

< a href=" 22324763#t22324763" 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

the code:

< lj-poll-### > where ### is the poll id.

For example, on May 31, 2008 there is a for-fun poll entry: The poll id in this entry is 1196877. To embed this poll in your journal, the code would be:

Poll #1196877 filler poll

Open to: Friends, detailed results viewable to: Just Me, participants: 75What have you been up to lately?

View Answers

This and That

46 (61.3%)

No Good

29 (38.7%)

Writing my Ass off you (^)_&()_)*&!!!

9 (12.0%)

cursing your name

8 (10.7%)

cursing other people's names

12 (16.0%)


33 (44.0%)

waiting for a poll to watch

12 (16.0%)


30 (40.0%)

attending Wizard World

2 (2.7%)

posting updates about my cats

6 (8.0%)


8 (10.7%)

spending time outdoors

21 (28.0%)

spending quality family time

25 (33.3%)

wishing there was a Green Room

10 (13.3%)

Waiting for this post

16 (21.3%)


*** 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 (,

or you can put in the following:

< a href="" alt="submission">some title text</a>

Where is the address of your post.


*** 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 the entry</font>


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. ;)

Bottom line

Show up. Make some friends. Write some entries. Have a good time and try not to step on anyone else having a good time!

Easy enough, right?

Let's Go!!

Tags: faq, season 8

  • Vote - Week 4

    It’s time to click on some boxes! But before you get to that, I’m going to say a few words that you will ignore. Yes. I can see you. You are eyeing…

  • Vote - Week 3

    The Idol veterans know that this happens now and again. For the newbies though - surprise! This week there is no poll you can click on. I know. I…

  • Vote - Week 2

    People often stop me on the street and say “Gary, what really matters in life?” and I tell them, “stay away from me. COVID isn’t gone. Back up.”…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →
← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →

  • Vote - Week 4

    It’s time to click on some boxes! But before you get to that, I’m going to say a few words that you will ignore. Yes. I can see you. You are eyeing…

  • Vote - Week 3

    The Idol veterans know that this happens now and again. For the newbies though - surprise! This week there is no poll you can click on. I know. I…

  • Vote - Week 2

    People often stop me on the street and say “Gary, what really matters in life?” and I tell them, “stay away from me. COVID isn’t gone. Back up.”…