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SIYE Time:0:13 on 26th April 2017

News
The SIYE Challenge Is Suspended Until Further Notice

At the height of its popularity, the SIYE Challenge received 15 to 25 submitted stories per Challenge.  The judges had a lot of reading to do.  The last few years has seen the Challenge submissions dwindle down to 2 or 3 per contest.  A few occasions we were worried that we would have no submissions.  With such a very low turnout lately, the Challenge is being put on hold at this time.  I would like to thank a) those judges that continued to help out by reading and judging the stories and b) those authors that accepted the Challenge and came up with original stories to meet the it.  Overall, we received over 550 stories over the years.

Sir Ollivander on 2016.06.15 - 07:32AM ()

Comments



mdauben came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.15 - 03:54PM to say:

Very sorry to hear that, but I can understand why you would make that decision. The one challenge I took part in was a lot of fun.



ellen came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.15 - 04:35PM to say:

That's a shame- I've loved reading the challenge fics and been amazed by the variety and divergence of the stories produced from a single start point. But I can appreciate that the amount of work needed to organise the challenges outweighs the apparent interest. I'm just sorry that I've never managed to come up with anything of a quality worth submitting on this site.



FloreatCastellum came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.15 - 07:52PM to say:

I hope you don't mind me saying this, and I mean it in a constructive way, but I feel that a large part of this may be that the last two challenges have been quite... restrictive? Specific? The last one in particular was a specific trope that's generally unpopular. Perhaps we could have more success with broader prompts that could inspire a wider range of fics. Prompts that are less tied down in scenario and more about, say, a theme. Like revealing a secret or losing something important.



GHL came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.15 - 09:03PM to say:

Thank you Flo for saying what also was on my mind.

Hopefully Sir Ollivander won't mind, but I'd like to extend your suggestion by sharing here what I wrote originally to him a week or so ago when he tipped off SIYE staff about the imminent announcement:

I've been a vocal proponent of the challenge concept in the past and I continue to regard it as a very useful exercise, but I too have seen the declining numbers. I realise that new story submissions are down from the levels of some past years, but in general they're still healthy enough to suggest that the challenges 'could' be revived. I think readers still enjoy the challenges and very much look forward to them, but perhaps the carrots to authours are not quite compelling enough.

I find myself in the uncomfortable position of wanting to propose some tweaks that might spice things up a bit from the writers' perspective, but also knowing that people who propose things often become a default candidate to enact them. Not that I'm inherently afraid of work and responsibility, but I'm playing my cards carefully right now because in the real world I'm on the cusp of a big new enterprise and don't want to promise anything I can't deliver.

All that said, let me trot out a few ideas for mass consumption. If anyone feels like debating or counter-proposing that would be great.

  • explicit comments from judges would be tremendously valuable to writers; I know that many judges do leave comments in the story review sections, but that forum is less conducive to pickier details on just how well authours addressed specific challenge requirements,
  • challenges that are based less on painted scenarios, and more on the types of writing exercises that encourage writers to refine and broaden their skills. Some examples might be:
    1. write a tear-jerker (or a knee-slapping comedy, a white knuckle adventure, heart-melting romance, etc.)
    2. write a cross-over fic, bridging to authour's favourite non-HP universe
    3. write a screen play or stage play,
    4. take your favourite serious HP story and write a silly parody,
    5. point-of-view pieces -- take a key plot in HP canon and write about it from a novel perspective (e.g., a portrait; an owl; a first-year Hufflepuff; an unusually perceptive Muggle, etc.)

Anyway, thoughts to stir (or perhaps not stir) discussion.





pleurocoelus came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.16 - 12:07PM to say:

As FloreatCastellum noted, some of the challenges have been overly restrictive, IMO. They were downright specific in the requirements. I got an idea, but it only loosely fit the specifics. E.g. my story "Don't Cry Daddy." It was about Harry and Ginny as professional Quidditch players, which was the challenge. However, I got some grief about not depicting the actual game. I was trying to emphasize the drama off the pitch, more than on. I thought it fit, but some disagreed. I also have an as-yet-unfinished-and-unposted story based on the Bond Challenge that fit *some* of the characteristics, but it wouldn't be an exact fit. It would still be a SIYE-compatible story, just not for that challenge. I have other ideas for various past challenges, as well, but no real impetus to write them. If we are doing away with the challenge as a thing, perhaps the category could be left open as a way for people to write stories that fit into the past challenges. Alternatively, a once-a-year challenge that has a longer deadline and less restrictive parameters. By the way, I don't believe we've ever had a "James and Lily Potter are still alive" challenge, have we?



pleurocoelus came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.16 - 12:09PM to say:

As FloreatCastellum noted, some of the challenges have been overly restrictive, IMO. They were downright specific in the requirements. I got an idea, but it only loosely fit the specifics. E.g. my story "Don't Cry Daddy." It was about Harry and Ginny as professional Quidditch players, which was the challenge. However, I got some grief about not depicting the actual game. I was trying to emphasize the drama off the pitch, more than on. I thought it fit, but some disagreed.

I also have an as-yet-unfinished-and-unposted story based on the Bond Challenge that fit *some* of the characteristics, but it wouldn't be an exact fit. It would still be a SIYE-compatible story, just not for that challenge. I have other ideas for various past challenges, as well, but no real impetus to write them.

If we are doing away with the challenge as a thing, perhaps the category could be left open as a way for people to write stories that fit into the past challenges.

Alternatively, a once-a-year challenge that has a longer deadline and less restrictive parameters.

By the way, I don't believe we've ever had a "James and Lily Potter are still alive" challenge, have we?



Dianne came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.17 - 02:23AM to say:

Oh man, I haven't logged in since March of 2012. Life has been busy. I'm sad to see the challenges go but it's hard to keep things up. Perhaps fresh inspiration will come from The Cursed Child stageplay and stir enthusiasm in the fans. This site has always been so welcoming. I don't want to stray from the thread too much so I'll just go read some past challenges I missed and hope submissions come up when hopefully, they come back after a rest. Write on and have fun, best wishes.



potterfan2008 came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.17 - 12:02PM to say:

I am also saddened by this decision. I agree with the other authors. I loved the idea of the last challenge, but had a hard time with the specificity. I like the idea of having a prompt or concept. I think the idea of having a way for judges to communicate to authors is a good idea as well. I've served as a judge several times and it would be nice to provide feedback or why it was scored up or down.



isabel380 came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.17 - 08:15PM to say:

I agree with the others. Also, maybe a bit more time to write stories to submit. Many times I've started a story to submit but the Challenge is closed before I've completed it. That is partially my fault. I want the story to be perfect. No errors.



GHL came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.18 - 06:11AM to say:

The suggestions that pleurocoelus and isabel380 made about rethinking the timeline are good ones.

I suspect that a full year might be a bit long, in that over that amount of time, some people might forget that a challenge was occurring... but a 4 month or 6 month cycle might be more writer-friendly.

It also occurred to me that a longer time frame might permit a preliminary evaluation which does not count for final story ranking, but rather would be an opportunity for writers to edit the story based on early feedback. Speaking personally, if I come up with a decent story, it is due to the editing more than the writing.





BigFatMaybe came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.18 - 06:23PM to say:

I agree with what the others said. Make the challenge less specific and don't force them to revolve around tropes that many people don't like. Like the magical trunk, for example I showed a friend my story for proofreading, and as soon as he got to the trunk part, his first reaction was "oh. Please no." And I don't blame him. Make those tropes optional, leave it up to the author whether they want to use it or not. Also, have you thought about advertising these challenges in places other than just SIYE? Especially looking at the fact that Harry Potter fanfiction is a slowly dying phenomenon and it's taking a toll on this site. Maybe at the start of a challenge you could post an announcement on places like reddit.com/r/hpfanfiction, fanfiction.net and darklordpotter.net. It's a way of attracting new people to this site.



BigFatMaybe came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.18 - 06:27PM to say:

Sorry for the lack of enters and punctuation, by the way ^_^



Sir Ollivander came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.19 - 12:01PM to say:

I just read the numerous comments concerning the suspending of the SIYE Challenge. A few threads of thoughts stood out so I thought I would put my own comments to words. 1) The Challenge used to be six times a year with a 30-day time frame. Some of the e-mails I received stated that it was too fast and too restrictive. Therefore, discussion with the SIYE Staff and other prominent members, the Challenge was changed to a 45-day period of writing, four times a year, and a lot of the specific qualifications were reduced. Further received e-mails from members stated they forgot to write a story thinking they had more time. That was the purpose of the Challenge Updates; to keep perspective authors to remember there was a Challenge going on. Plus to throw out some ideas to anybody interested. 2) Feedback from the judges were very few and far between. Some did explain why they voted the way they did. But it wasn't specific enough to inform individual authors of any constructive criticism.



Sir Ollivander came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.19 - 12:04PM to say:

3) CREATIVITY!!! A few members think the last Challenge, "The Potter Trunk Challenge," was too restrictive. Please, how narrow minded can you get? The trunk was a delivery system. Anything could have come out of that trunk! A library, a potions lab, and a study room/den could contain anything:



Sir Ollivander came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.19 - 12:16PM to say:

The trunk held numerous magical portraits of famous witches and wizards throughout history. They could have been a wealth of knowledge. The trunk could have had tour tapestries showing Harry that he was descendant of all four Hogwarts founders, maybe even Merlin. Harry owned Hogwarts, lock, stock, and barrel. The trunk could have held a lot of cold cases from Harry's father James when he was an Auror; information the ministry didn't want to leak out for whatever reason. The trunk could have Lily's notes while she was a potions-master as an Unspeakable. The trunk could have held a pensive and hundreds of vials of educational information for Harry to pass any ministerial NEWTS level tests with mastery. The trunk could have contained notes of MOM laws and procedures (magically updated to be current) to be quite beneficial to Harry and how to use them to his advantage. The trunk could have held valuable notes and instructions of Goblin financial dealings and methods. Harry could learn how to get very rich, with or without the Goblins. Think; he could run his own wizard newspaper, build a successful department store for muggleborns and halfbloods across the street from The Leaky Cauldron, or open a travel office. Even start a new school for non-purebloods.



Sir Ollivander came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.19 - 12:16PM to say:

4) If members had issues or suggestions with the Challenge, I wish they would have communicated with me or SIYE. What few e-mails pertaining to the Challenge I received over the years were mostly suggestions for Challenges. And as of this writing, no staff member has volunteered to continue running the Challenge. Too Little too later.



BigFatMaybe came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.19 - 12:16PM to say:

In reply to Sir Ollivander's last point: I fully agree. I've noticed here that although people review a lot here, a lot of it is simply a happy message saying something along the lines of "keep up the good work". As a writer, that doesn't really help a lot. Don't get me wrong, it's better than no reviews at all, and it's nice to hear that people liked my story, but I still wish for more constructive criticism. Or even plain criticism. Ruthless reviews with no regard for sensitivities. You don't like a chapter as a reader? Give it the low star rating you think it deserves and explain why you didn't like it. I post stories because I want to improve my writing, so I need the reviewers to point out to me what needs to be improved! But I don't see how that is relevant to the decision of putting the challenges on hold. True, there isn't as much constructive criticism as I would like, but at least people read the stories and vote on them. And I think that's good enough in its own right to keep these challenges going.



Sir Ollivander came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.19 - 12:27PM to say:

The decision to suspend the SIYE Challenge was simply because we were receiving very few stories submitted. And in hindsight, no feedback for improvement. The program lost its effectiveness with the SIYE membership. With four categories to win and only one, two, hopefully three stories submitted, the work towards the Challenge was not worth the end results. That was the bottom line.



BigFatMaybe came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.19 - 01:04PM to say:

In reply to Sir Ollivander's last point: I fully agree. I've noticed here that although people review a lot here, a lot of it is simply a happy message saying something along the lines of "keep up the good work". As a writer, that doesn't really help a lot. Don't get me wrong, it's better than no reviews at all, and it's nice to hear that people liked my story, but I still wish for more constructive criticism. Or even plain criticism. Ruthless reviews with no regard for sensitivities. You don't like a chapter as a reader? Give it the low star rating you think it deserves and explain why you didn't like it. I post stories because I want to improve my writing, so I need the reviewers to point out to me what needs to be improved! But I don't see how that is relevant to the decision of putting the challenges on hold. True, there isn't as much constructive criticism as I would like, but at least people read the stories and vote on them. And I think that's good enough in its own right to keep these challenges going.



GHL came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.19 - 01:13PM to say:

Dear Tom et al.,

First of all, just about every comment ought in here ought to begin and end with at least an implicit bow to the tremendous effort that has been invested in challenges over the years by the organisers, the judges and the many authours. The result has been a tremendous array of stories that would mostly never have arisen without the challenge impetus.

That said, although the tone and tenor of written words are notoriously fallible, I do believe the intent of the discussion is less to diminish what has been done before, and more to feel around for what prospects might exist to rescue a long-loved feature.

But ultimately, things that you say are very true -- some better real-time feedback on our parts could have paid dividends earlier and, more importantly, after the well-deserved stepping down of a greatly valued leader, we have not yet found ourselves without a clear recruit or volunteer to keep the endeavour going.





ProfessorBinns79 came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.19 - 02:40PM to say:

Firstly, I agree with everything GHL said about having nothing but good things to say about everyone here and all the past challenges and stories. My one idea of what might save/resurrect the challenges would be perhaps a system where several suggestions for challenge topics could be put forward and when a certain number of authors say "Yes, I will write a story for that" the challenge starts and gets announced on the front page of the site. That way there would be a commitments for a minimum of stories from the time the challenge is announced. Who knows, one might even coax me into finally writing something! ;) Just a thought.



Brennus came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.19 - 04:10PM to say:

I'm not sure I should be even commenting on this as I've never once entered a challenge and generally don't like one shots, but I have to add my agreement that I consider that most of general guidelines for the challenges are quite constrictive. However, a lot of good ideas have come out of this discussion which I feel have a lot of merit. Wider guidelines, longer timeframes and perhaps as ProfessorBinns suggests a vote as to who wants to participate would all be good. Can I also say that this sensible discussion it an example of what I love about that site and what raises it above other sites.



FloreatCastellum came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.20 - 04:19AM to say:

I don't think it's fair to suggest that the lack of entries regarding the trunk challenge was because of narrow mindedness. The idea of a magical trunk with rooms and convenient/over powered knowledge inside has been an unpopular trope for many years (as is the mysterious late and overpowered inheritance), and while fantastic Beasts has sparked new possibilities for stories around it, the challenge still required people to write specifically for that trope, even qualifying which character the trunk belongs to and how he got it. That's a story idea rather than a challenge/prompt. If you don't like the very concept of a magical trunk with rooms in, of course that is restrictive. If the aim was to generate stories about Harry receiving a meaningful inheritance, that should have been the prompt. If the aim was to explore the concept of magical trunks, it should have come without the qualifiers of belonging to Harry as a result of inheritance, which could have resulted in a wider range of stories, like harry and Ginny coming across newt scamander's old trunk, or trying to create a trunk of their own, or accidentally getting trapped in one they found in boring and burkes. I'm of the opinion that short and vague prompts produce better writing. For example, on MNFF I wrote a one shot based on the prompt Padma/Astoria along with the title of a song. I haven't been on this site very long. I've only seen two challenges, and both times I wanted to enter but disliked the ideas, and wouldn't know where to give feedback; I certainly didn't know we could suggest challenges ourselves. I'm not staff either, but would be more than willing to assist with any future challenges or other thingside to keep this awesome community going.



BigFatMaybe came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.20 - 08:16AM to say:

I completely agree with Floreat that the problem isn't narrow-mindedness, and the challenges do need to be more vague, more open. But I wanted to talk about the thing she said about making suggestions, because I'm in the same boat as her. I've been here for maybe a year now, but only since January have I become a more active member. Although I can find a link to contact staff members (it took me a while to find it, it's under the 'extras' tab at the top), I don't see anything that says something along the lines of "go here to suggest a topic for the challenge." The only thing vaguely hinting towards it was in the Challenge winner news flash. "The Challenge category is back open", it said there. For new people and people who aren't as active and involved on this site, that's not good enough. Make a link on the homepage, provide a link in the news flash when the challenge winner is announced, anything to make it more accessible. And more suggestions for challenges are guaranteed. I like these challenges, and I like this site. I'm making these comments because I think it would be a shame if the challenges stop here.



ginnyweasley777 came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.20 - 10:55AM to say:

I think that the main reason for the drop in the number of submissions for the challenges isn't to do with the wording, subject, or time frame, but simply because there isn't as many active authors on the site any more. I remember when there used to be regularly 10+ stories each challenge and it used to be within a much shorter time frame.



FloreatCastellum came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.20 - 04:36PM to say:

That will certainly be a large part of it, which is why we have to make sure the rest of the challenge is as accessible as possible.



I Love Ginerva came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.22 - 04:49AM to say:

I'm not sure I should post since I'm not a writer (not enough imaginative property in my mind). I just want to say that I love reading the challenges. I hope that they can be revived



pleurocoelus came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.22 - 07:26AM to say:

I think that some of the instinctive and strongly negative reaction to the discontinuation of the challenges might be related to fears of the fandom's decline. So many HP fandom sites have dropped off the web, especially canon-pairing specific ones. I think that some of us may be looking at the possibility that SIYE.co.uk might eventually go the way of simplyundeniable.com. We all hope it never comes to that, but I think this unspoken fear might be coloring our reactions.

Certainly, fanfiction.net won't go away anytime soon, but wading through all the "snarry" and "harmony" that so many of us here find unpalatable does tend to wear one down. SIYE is a welcome respite from all the crack pairings and incest fics *shudder* that one can find on other sites. (AO3, I'm looking at you.)

I also find that the general standards are higher here, not just in terms of our preferred ship, but in terms of the use of the English language. So many of the interchangeable, disposable stories don't make it here due to the minimum standards.

I hope that no one interpreted my comments as critical of those who so graciously volunteer their time to help run this site. I have no intent to criticize their efforts because I have not stood up to do what they do. (Having me as an admin would be a very bad idea for all concerned.) Since we pay no membership fee to be a member of this site, I also do not feel that I possess the moral authority to snipe at the leadership, anyway.

As GHL noted above, the intent of this discussion is to try to save a much beloved feature of this much beloved website. I would be remiss if I didn't throw out the ideas I had. It may be for naught, but at least we tried.



ginnyweasley777 came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.22 - 01:27PM to say:

I agree with you pleurocoelus. I think it's inevitable that since it's so many years since the last book came out that there has been a decline in the fandom. I love SIYE specifically for the reasons you've mentioned and I'm glad to be an archivist and help the site any way I can. I'm willing and considered offering to help out with the challenge when I first received the email from Sir Ollivander as it's been such a part of siye, but to be honest I wouldn't have a clue where to start! And as the fandom has declined so have the numbers of authors and stories submitted to the challenge. It's impossible to please everybody and I think a challenge every six months or a year would be too long as interest would wain, not just for writers, but from reader's perspectives too. I either forget or get bored of a storyline on tv if it goes on for too long, I don't know about anyone else. An open prompt/idea is good, so long as it's not so open that half the stories on the site would fit and it's still a "challenge". Anyway, I must go for now and I hope I've made some kind of sense - I often don't!



demonesprit came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.23 - 02:43PM to say:

For the first time ever, I had an idea for a story, but I never got an answer to my question about how closely it had to follow the "script" ... I may still go back and finish it, but I was really intimidated by the prompt. I write fanfiction in another fandom, so I'd love a more open prompt that let me connect up HP and it.



GHL came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.26 - 09:16AM to say:

So I did take note that Hannah/ginnyweasley777 did come dangerously close to volunteering! I hope all you readers and writers take note that she is an exceptionally diligent (and fast!) archivist. This is true, despite the fact that she's been active with the site for quite a long time, which is an indication of dedication and a giving spirit. In this sense, I believe she would be a great candidate for someone who might be able to coax the challenge back.

Hannah, what would it take for you to accept a position like that? Perhaps Tom could provide you with an instruction manual comparable to what we received as archivists? In addition, maybe we could recruit another archivist or two to lighten your load on that front? Maybe an assistant to assist with judge recruitment, and other communications issues?

Maybe if a few people magically volunteered to help out with the site in general (or specific) ways, it might make it seem more feasible for someone who's already shouldered responsibilities to shift that service upwards a bit?

What say ye all?





ginnyweasley777 came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.26 - 01:14PM to say:

Well I'm open to suggestions, although the lack of stories entered into the challenge latterly is still something to be addressed and thought about. Like I said, I love the site - it's the only one I've ever stuck with - and I've time on my hands once I've finished shearing this week (that's a whole other story, and I might have an amusing picture for you on that front, GHL!) Anyway, I'll have a think about it. Could you be persuaded to share duties, GHL? I think we'd make a formidable team and anyone that's read our conversation in comments knows we're completely crackers!



GHL came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.26 - 02:01PM to say:

Verily -- crackers, scatty, and certifiably wud!

Yes, I looked up that latter adjective just for the occasion. No weekend is complete without an obscure word or two from old Scots.

Anyway, yes, I believe I would go halfsies (or some other feasible split) on the duties if that made sense. I would still like to see at least one or two other people pipe up to fill out the staff ranks though. I know that the site hasn't put out a specific call for vols recently, and I know that I don't have a true license to recruit, but we've lost several very active 'doers' in the last while, and fresh enthusiasm would surely be welcomed.

Now, to shift gears to the shear humour of it all, I would love to see a snapshot or two to inspire the nascent story of our past discussions. Let me PM you (soon) with a URL where we can share a few creativities of that nature.

My apologies if any of this sounds mysterious or confusing to those of you who are not gifted and beautiful shepherdesses. Any obfuscation is strictly intentional...





ginnyweasley777 came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.26 - 02:36PM to say:

Verily - yep, that sounds about right! Anyway, that all sounds good to me, and if I don't answer the pm then it's because it's on the blink again and just email me instead. Oh, and think specsavers advert...



FloreatCastellum came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.26 - 03:23PM to say:

I'm happy to volunteer in general, if possible, I really want to keep this site going.



ladybug_9 came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.26 - 05:11PM to say:

I realize I've never submitted a story on here and am an infrequent reviewer at best, but I've loved this site since I first stumbled across it ten years ago (Ten years!! Goodness, how did that happen?), but I would be more than happy to help out in a general way if it meant keeping this site alive.



GHL came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.28 - 07:11AM to say:

Great!

Ladybug_9 and Flo, I will send you a PM within a day or two with next steps. Hannah, it *did* eventually occur to me that I have your e-mail address, and so I'll be sending something that route fairly soon as well (with Tom copied).

Thanks folks!





ginnyweasley777 came out of the woodwork on 2016.06.28 - 07:31AM to say:

Snap! I've just emailed Tom!



CharmHazel came out of the woodwork on 2016.07.01 - 07:59AM to say:

I know people are worried about the lack of submissions to the challenge and even new stories. But I think you may just see an increase next month after the release of the Cursed Child script. I was lucky to see the play yesterday (it was amazing) and I already have ideas for new stories all thanks to the numerous Hinny moments we were provided. I really love this site. I discovered it pretty quickly after I finally started reading fan fiction, so I do hope this site can keep going and I do hope people are inspired by Cursed Child. I know I am!


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