JS1k community award


People have asked before to allow everyone to vote on their favorite demo. The problem with that is that it's very difficult to get voting systems right. People are bound to try and game the system. Regardless of how I feel about that, I just don't want to open the competition up to that sort of abuse, you know? But.

I do recognize that there's some merit into allowing the community to express its appreciation. So I've opted to try an alternative way of doing the voting. Every demo has been announced through the twitter account, which is still the main communication channel. These tweets already get lots of love and I see it as a way to express the appreciation for a certain demo. Certain demos go viral because people are impressed by them, one way or the other.

This year I'll try something new with that. The demo announcement tweets that get the most favorites and retweets get the community award. I'm not yet sure how that'll fit into the site, but the runner will at least receive 50 steam games so that's something. The games can be picked off a limited list of games that I'll provide. See below for details.

When counting these "votes", I'll count retweets double. The reason for this is simple: a favorite is like a silent "like". A retweet is explicitly telling the world you like it. More on that below... When I do the counting I'll only look at the number that's reported by twitter. But this probably won't be a photo finish :)

The judges will of course still cast their official vote and we'll still get a top 10. Nothing changes there. This community vote is completely separated from that. In fact, I won't conclude the community voting before the official top 10 is known, or at least a week from now, whichever comes last.

So go ahead, take a look at the announcement tweets and start clicking those fav/rt buttons for the demos you like!


I'd be lying if that was all there was to it. There's an obvious ploy going on here though. I'm not hiding it, I don't think I need to. The goal is simple: reach more people.

I've noticed a steady decline in the reach you get on twitter. It's kind of its own fault with the favs. When you choose to favorite something over retweeting it you are pretty much a dead end for spreading the word. I think twitter is facing a serious problem there because it's making their service less efficient, but I'm sure it knows about that. Regardless, I have to deal with it as well.

This competition has to sell itself. I'm putting in a lot of effort behind the scenes, trust me on that, but I can't also pull the cart when it comes to promotion. If you're reading this you probably already know that. JS1k is big because of its immediate appeal to many people. You just have to show a demo and explain that it's less than 1025 bytes to get somebody moderately impressed, more so if this person is technically aligned.

At the same time the participation is declining. I'm not exactly why this is, but I feel part of the reason is the decline in twitter reach and my somewhat lack of social network skills, which is kind of ironic in my field.

As for participation numbers, the first competition had 460 unique demos. I'll never match that again, I'm pretty sure of that. The second (xmas) was a failure and too quick in succession; 42 demos. The third started half a year after the first, Oregon trail, and rounded up 72 demos. From there on out I went with a yearly competition. The fourth, love, was great: 166 unique demos. Fifth, spring, had 152. Sixt, dragons, 125. And the last one, hypetrain, only 86. I suppose this was in part due to the short time span; a month is too short. Had the deadline not been extended it would have ended around 40 or 50. Lesson learned.

But what else? It "got old"? I doubt that. There's plenty to be done and I think the yearly theme at least gives you a generic idea to play around with. Not enough prizes? Well, maybe. But I think that for the most part people participate because they enjoy building a demo. There's usually only one or two that actually get a real prize. And this year that's not even true because Surfly is giving a great physical board game to each of the top 10. With these numbers that gives you a 1/8th chance to actually win something. Wow much?

When I see this competition reach thousands of people, many of whom are web developers, and I see less than 100 entries it makes me wonder what's wrong.

So yeah, I don't know. I'm hoping this community vote thing pays off. I hope it prods people a little to spread the word about the demos they love. Maybe one or two will go viral again and reach people that would otherwise not know about this. And I think making retweets count double adds a little incentive to not just "fav" a tweet because you like it, but let the world know that you do so.

I mostly regret not thinking of this a little earlier. Like a month ago? :) But if it's a success I'll do it again next year, from the start.

In the end JS1k is just a non-profit competition, you know? No big corp paying the bills, no large team working on the site, no huge budget to work with. It runs on shared hosting and free time and depends on lots of donations for prizes.

Oh as for the games? Well I buy many game bundles. My steam has over 1700 games, mostly indies, many crap. At this point it's quite rare to buy a bundle where I don't own at least one or two of the games already. I put these keys in a sheet for later use. A common practice for people who do this, by the way. And it's this list where these 50 games will be picked from. So it's not like you get a budget, or I pick all the cheap games per se. It's just a bunch of games I already have anyways and I think this is a good cause to reduce that dupe list :) There are many good games on that list!

The main downside I see in this thing is that it's relying on two closed eco systems: twitter and steam. This means you'll need a twitter account to cast your vote. It means you need a steam account to enjoy the games (ok, I suppose you could try to sell the keys, I don't care). As somebody who hates those facebook logins this is the negative part. I'll live :)

So yeah. Help a guy out, spread the word, start retweeting. Or use other social networks. I think there's this facebook thing? Or reddit? Or ... yeah, you get the idea :)