WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW TO GET STARTED
- On March 3rd, 2014, I will be posting a sign-up sheet. If you wish to sign up for Season 9, you can sign up there. There is no fee to sign up for take part in LJ IDOL.
- Not long after that, I will post the first Topic. Anyone who is signed up to compete needs to write an entry and link it to the Topic thread by the deadline indicated.
- Following the deadline, I will post a poll with all of the entries received. Votes will be cast, and when the poll closes, those with the fewest number of votes will be eliminated.
- Shortly after that, I will post the second Topic, and the cycle will continue, until we are left with the Winner.
- There will be twists and turns along the way, which will be explained when you need to know about them. Just follow along, and you should be OK.
- The Winner receives an icon, a banner, and ETERNAL GLORY!
MORE INFORMATION THAN YOU REQUIRE
(with apologies to John Hodgman)
WHAT IS LJ IDOL?
So, you’re here. Now what? More importantly, what exactly is this place?
LJ is short for LIVEJOURNAL, the site you are on. Idol is a reference to a popular television reality singing competition. While “singing” and Livejournal don’t really go together well, it occurred to me that writing and LJ were connected at the hip.
LJ Idol is a writing competition. A lot of people say it’s “not just a writing competition”, and they are completely correct. But when you say it, there is always someone in the crowd who misinterprets that statement. The emphasis in that statement is the word “JUST”. It’s not JUST a writing competition. It’s so much more.
It’s a game. It’s a social experiment. It’s a chance to hang out with, and get to meet other people who share the same passions as you do. It’s having your feet held down to a fire and forced to ride things you never would have thought of under other circumstances while surrounded by people in that same foxhole, knowing that ultimately, only one of you is going to make it out alive!
It’s those things – and more.
Idol is a Rorschach test. You are going to see different things in it, and come out with your own, unique experience. More people come out with a good one than a bad one – but that all depends ultimately on your own attitude. I’ll warn you right here, in this very first section of the FAQs - attitude can make or break your experience in Idol, and in Life.
This is cut and pasted from a previous FAQ, with a notable tweak or two, but I kind of like it as an overview:
About LJ IDOL
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.
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 also have had two anthologies published directly from Idol, and a third currently in production. They can be found at the Idol Store: http://astore.amazon.com/li0cd-20 along with a lot of other neat stuff from former (and current!) Idol contestants!
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, continuing what we have built over the years. Thank you for that.
How Long Does it Last?
That’s a popular question. The only thing that I can specifically tell you is that there are variables, but if you make it to the finals, you are looking at least 10+ months of writing ahead of you.
How can I Participate?
Sign-up during the “sign-up period”! There will be instructions on what to do in that post. Keep an eye out for it! If you miss that time, there may be a Second Chance to get in on the action, so keep watching.
If you miss all of those chances, get involved in the Green Rooms (see below), read, comment and vote for your favorites! There is more than one way to get involved with Idol!
Do I need a LJ to participate?
Not technically. Livejournal allows you to sign in from your Open Access, Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts. By the time that I post this, there will probably be at least three more, in the quest to keep relevant.
That means if you have a blog, you CAN post your entries there. Just keep in mind that I need to be able to link it. The great thing though is that when you sign in, LJ creates an account for you, so that you will technically have a LJ to use, if you wish.
You can also vote from those accounts – just keep in mind that it’s ONE VOTE PER BODY. (see below for more on that). I may be not catch you the first time, or the second – but eventually I will… and it wouldn’t be pretty. So don’t do it. Only vote from one account.
How do I sign-up/participate without one?
This is a pretty new option with LJ and Idol itself, so there is going to be trial and error. I wrote this specifically for facebook. But replace "facebook" with "twitter/Open Access blog/Google +, etc)
What are “The Rules” of LJ Idol?
(1) Don’t be an Ass-hat.
(2) When Gary tells you to do something, do it. Sometimes it will be “link your entries here” and sometimes it will be “don’t post here” or just “don’t be an ass-hat. When you listen to Gary, you have a better chance of having a better experience.
Who is “Gary”?
I am Gary. Clauderainsrm. Creator. Moderator. Host of LJ Idol. Treat me as you would be The All-Seeing Eye of Mordor, and we will get along just fine.
Are you a contestant?
I just said that I run this place! I know that other people don’t subscribe to my standard of behavior, but that sort of thing means something to me. In other words: No. I don’t participate in any way, other than the actual running.
Is there anyone else that I can turn to for advice?
There are always veterans around, to help you out in a pinch. They know the ropes. Just keep in mind that they are also contestants. If you need anything admin-wise, that would mean coming to me.
On a rare occasion, there might be a kithan sighting. She is my assistant. But generally keeps to herself these days, coming in when I’ve horribly bungled some html behind the scenes!
Is it true that this "Gary" guy is awesome?/Is it true that this "Gary" guy is the worst human being, ever?
What can I win?
An icon, a banner and Eternal Glory!
There are more ways to win than just finishing first. After all, you are going to be doing a lot of writing, and meeting new people. So, victory is easy to come by.
What are the Topics, and do we have to write on them?
Every “Week” (more on that later) I will post the topics. These are words/phrases/prompts that will inspire your entry. Different people are going to interpret these in different ways. These should be your jumping off point, not your destination. I say this knowing that there will be a ton of “Our topic this week is…” type entries early on. Prove to me that you’ve read the FAQs and avoid that.
You are required to write on each topic (unless you have a “bye” – more on that later) in your own space, and post a link to that entry in the comments section of the “Topic post” by the set deadline.
You used “Week” in quotes, what’s up with that?
An Idol week may not be the same as a calendar week. Idol weeks are from the period of time that a topic is assigned to the period when the poll closes and contestants are eliminated. This time frame will vary.
This section is cut and pasted from a previous FAQ. But I still rather like it:
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.
What is a “bye”?
A bye is a NFL football term denoting when a team doesn’t have to play in a given week.
In Idol terms, it’s a “free pass”.
At the start of the season, I will inform contestants of how many they will have for the season, and how long they have to use them. For example, I could say “You have 2 byes and they expire when we reach the Top 50. That would mean you can “sit out” two weeks (and not write anything, while still remaining in the game) twice before you are eliminated.
Real life happens to the best of us. There are going to be times this season when you absolutely cannot write something. I understand this. Everyone understands that it happens. Which is why you should be smart and save these byes until you really need them. If you just don’t like a topic, you can use a bye – but it might not be there when you *really* need it.
Also, this bit about the Home Game. Another cut and paste job! Clearly, I’m getting lazy! :) :
"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 work.
This is really the final season of LJ Idol?
That’s a question that I get quite a bit, and going back to my original statement on the subject – back in Season 7, I said that “unless something completely unexpected happens” that Season 9 would be the last one. (I’m paraphrasing from memory. But it was something like that!) There have been things that I didn’t expect happening, and am still looking at ways to continue the competition in other forms.
That said, yes, what we know as LJ IDOL is coming to an end with this season.
Will there be another format? In another place? Another (fill in something here)? Might I retire it for a couple years, and bring it back?
Honestly, I don’t know. I love it. But does take a lot of me. There is only so much time and energy to go around. But I also think that the concept still has a ton of life in it. We will have to see how this season goes. I’m trying to keep my options open and seeing what opens up. But for right now, yes, this is the end.
Big long technical section, that is most definitely cut and pasted. Geez, I’m barely trying at this point! :)
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.
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?
Here’s a break from the cut and paste, before going right back into it:
This is something that comes up often enough that I figured that I needed to say something about it.
Is "Pimping" allowed?
I assume that you mean "advertising your writing" as opposed to "being in charge of the organization of sex workers who work on the street". The second isn't really allowed in the context of Idol. If you want to do in your spare time though, that’s your business. The first is perfectly OK as long as you obey certain criteria.
That criteria? It's pretty simple: Don't forget why you are here! You are writing, and you want other people to read your writing. So, if you are going around just telling people to click a box and not actually read, you are hurting yourself. If you aren't telling people to read other people too - you are hurting yourself, because then other people aren't going to tell them to read you either.
So, in the spirit of "stop hitting yourself", Stop Hurting Yourself, and don't let it become about who can get the most clicks.
If I see it, I'm probably going to call you out on it.
If you catch me in a bad mood, I may tear you a new anus. Which would give you two anuses. Or perhaps anui. I'm not sure what it is, but I do know that you are going to have to join some sort of support group to stop the shaming of people who have two of them. Because that could very well happen - and it's entirely preventable!
What do I do if I have a complaint/need help resolving something?
Email me at email@example.com and I'll see if I can help
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 its 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 are a little different. They are 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. There will, on occasion, be a “Mentor” - someone that I have hand selected to lead in the discussion and get people talking. Their selection is not an endorsement of that individual, or their writing by Idol, nor should it be taken as such. What it means is that I think they might have something interesting to say to a segment of Idol.
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.
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.
(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 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
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 href="http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/244507.html?thread= 22324763#t22324763" alt="LJ Idol">LJ Idol
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 would be:
Poll #1196877 filler poll
Open to: Friends, detailed results viewable to: Just Me, participants: 75 What have you been up to lately?
This and That
Writing my Ass off you (^)_&()_)*&!!!
cursing your name
cursing other people's names
waiting for a poll to watch
being harrassed at a convention
posting updates about my cats
spending time outdoors
wishing there was a Green Room
Waiting for this post
*** 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
Where http://yourjournalname.livejournal.com/#### 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
I love this game, and want to say “thanks”? How can I do that?
There are a few ways. (1) Say “thanks”. It’s always nice to hear. (2) Make your experience the best that it can be, and help others get the most out of their experience as well. (3) Part of that second part, but important enough that it needs its own number, if tempted to go negative – don’t. Frustrations can get the better of people, but if you really want to say “thank you”, keep things positive and non-disruptive. That helps more than you might realize. (4) If you want to give financially, there are a number of ways of doing that: http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/708268.html (5) Spread the word about Idol to your friends and family, get them involved in the community!