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Book Promo Suggestions ...

Dani Mazzuca
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 21, 2003
Posts: 70
Hi,
follows some suggestions to improve book promotion.
I did put the suggestions in the wrong forum some days ago(Java Ranch Servlet), and I was asked to put them in the appropriate one. Please, don't get irritated if you don't like the suggestions, they are just suggestions for improvement, not only the promotion, but mainly the "dialog" between book authors and ranchers.
I have just noticed that the promo work is been done by the collaboration of only one person, and that involves a lot of work, so maybe the suggestions are not applicable in this case. Also I know Sheriff Thomas, and others ranchers, are completely against these ideas. Anyway, thanks JavaRanch for the book promotion and thanks Thomas for your effort. Here are the suggestions:
My impression is that book promotions rules should change. Why? I think the intent is to promote the book, have the opportunity to "speak" with authors, promote high level discussions in JavaRanch about the subject, promote JavaRanch, and also have a chance to win a fresh book. The idea is pretty good, good for everybody. I confess, the possibility to discuss with authors and have with everybody a highly technological discussion is the thing that attracts me more. Things would be all right if ranchers make use of this promotion, but ... not abuse.
What I saw happening in the last 2 promotions was that some(few) ranchers are hanging on all the time at JavaRanch, answering as soon as he/she can, each and every question that suddenly appear, even if they didn't have a valuable info to add to the discussion, with the main intention to have one more chance to win a book. Some ranchers answered with only a link to some articles in the web. Note that we usually don't go to the ranch looking for a paper in the web, what we want is to participate in a high level interesting discussion with authors and other ranchers.
I confess I got irritated with some situations. No personal offense, seriously, I really believe in the good intention of ALL ranchers. Nothing wrong in wanting to win a book. Sure. I would like to win a book either.
So, I would like you to analyze the possibility to change rules, so that this promotions would not become a dispute to see how many messages I send to win a book. Some examples:

1) limit the book chance to a maximum of 2(n) per rancher:
i.e., if someone wrote more than 2 (or n) messages, he/she will only participate with a maximum of 2(n) entries in the promotion. With this you discourage ranchers that write every answers with the only purpose to win a book, without adding any valuable contribution to the topic, i.e., you avoid abuse. And you also stimulate others to participate.

2) don't consider answers; only questions:
with this you stimulate ranchers that want to have a high level technical discussion in a topic, avoiding the abuse problem mentioned in the previous item, i.e., answers without any value. Of course a person whose only intention is to win a book, can also abuse and ask a bulk of unvalued questions, but this doesn't bother other topic ranchers that have other intentions, and also item number 1 can limit this abuse.
3) some rancher that win a book may not participate in the next 3(n) promotions;
this doesn't limit the number of books that a person can win, and of course, doesn't limit her/his participation in the discussion, only in the promotion. This only avoids abuse and tries to give better opportunities and stimulate people that never win a book. Will a rancher be stimulated to participate in a promotion that she/he knows in advance that the winners will come from few people that frequently write a bulk of messages?
4) a combination of all above, or whatever, any idea that can improve the dialog with authors.

Dani Mazzuca
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
3 is easy to reject as people will just post under a different name and have the book shipped to their office instead of their home.
2 doesn't make sense to me. JavaRanch only makes sense as a place of questions and answers.
1 might have merit. Perhaps one or two posts per day limit would help stop people who post 100 times with no other purpose than to win a book. Or perhaps we shouldn't care as long as the post is on topic.


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Pradeep bhatt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 27, 2002
Posts: 8904

Existing rules are fine.


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Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

I think the rules are fine the way they are. Part of the purpose of the book promotion is to stimulate discussion in the forums. If we limit indivuduals to a 2(n) chance of winning, they will post 2 times and then leave. Granted, it is a bit selfish on Javaranch's part to use a book promotion to increase site traffic, but that is only part of the benefit. And really, it is Javaranch's ONLY benefit. Every other benefit extends to the participants and the authors.
If someone thinks someone else is posting obvious "trying to win a book" posts, so what. That someone can do the same thing. I say, do everything you can to win a book. There is a thin line between fairness and breaking the rules. So play around that thin line.
I agree that it is annoying what some people do in the efforts to win a book. Specifically when you see these people posting ONLY during book promotions. But I think changing the rules that we have is wrong. Maybe extending or adding to the current rules might help. But all and all, I have to say they are fine.
[ November 17, 2003: Message edited by: Gregg Bolinger ]

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paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20496
    ∞

I think meaningful discussion is good and would not want to limit it.
Granted, there are problems with people posting empty messages in a cheap attempt to improve their odds of winning a book. Currently, the policy is that we try to make folks aware that those posts will not win a book and we delete those messages. If any of those messages make it through, then Thomas will skip them when the program shows him the 10 potential winners.
1) I think this discourages discussion. If a person posts ten really good messages, and 200 messages qualify for the giveaway, I think that person should get a 10 out of 200 chance of winning. Making this person's odds of winning the same as somebody that posted only two good messages doesn't seem fair to me.
2) If somebody posts an answer, there is nothing to stop more people from providing answers also. After all, there may be some details that the first answer-er left out. I don't think the problems are answers. The problems are empty posts.
3) Again, I think that if somebody contributes a lot of good discussion, my the end of the year, they should have scored more books.
I suspect that there are ways to make the book promotions better, but so far I haven't been convinced. The rules we go by now are simple and appear to be effective. I think the publishers are happy, the authors are happy, the winners are happy and the people that search for answers to their questions in the months to come are happy because there is more material here that may hold the answers to their questions and the dreck has been removed.
I suppose there will be folks that not be winning as many books as they like. If that's the case, we can try to think of something to fix that. Thomas has already implemented something where more than one book can be promoted at once, thus doubling the number of books given away in some weeks.
This might be a good time to brainstorm of more ways to promote books in such a way that more books end up in the hands of JavaRanch users. If we came up with something, it's possible that publishers might be willing to part with more books. Perhaps something tied to the bunkhouse ....
In straining my brain just now, I came up with this idea: Currently, books are reviewed by somebody recognized by JavaRanch as a trusted source. And then we have a thread where people can comment on the book and the review. What if publishers (or JR staff) viewed the comments after, say, a month and picked the two best comments. "Best" comments would reflect that the commentor did, in fact, read the book and offered at least one item of healthy praise, and one item of healthy "needs improvement". Points off for appearing to be the author's friend, or the friend of the author of a competing book.... etc. The end result may be that we get more feedback on books, and, possibly high in quality. The publishers would probably like that sort of quality feedback too. The winners could select one book that that publisher offers other than the reviewed title. If the review is good enough, we might move it into the bunkhouse.
Just an idea.


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Marilyn de Queiroz
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 22, 2000
Posts: 9044
    
  10
1) limit the book chance to a maximum of 2(n) per rancher:

This would be difficult, if not impossible to enforce.

2) don't consider answers; only questions:

This doesn't seem very practical. Answers are just as important as questions. Why would someone ask questions if there are no answers to those questions?

3) some rancher that win a book may not participate in the next 3(n) promotions;

I disagree with Thomas on this one.
First, I think that it is common for contests to exclude past winners, at least for a period of time.

Second, I think that although a certain percentage of people might change their name/address, I think that percentage is very, very small and would be easily detectable.

Third, I think that they would quickly run out of valid addresses to ship the book to without giving themselves away. And if the "past winners exclusion rule" is for a short period of time, they wouldn't gain much anyway. They might have a lot to lose if they were caught and permanently excluded. Perhaps we could add a rule that a person could not win a book more frequently than -- oh, say, once a month?
[ November 17, 2003: Message edited by: Marilyn de Queiroz ]

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Matthew Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
Originally posted by Marilyn de Queiroz:

First, I think that it is common for contests to exclude past winners, at least for a period of time.

Second, I think that although a certain percentage of people might change their name/address, I think that percentage is very, very small and would be easily detectable.

Third, I think that they would quickly run out of valid addresses to ship the book to without giving themselves away. And if the "past winners exclusion rule" is for a short period of time, they wouldn't gain much anyway. They might have a lot to lose if they were caught and permanently excluded. Perhaps we could add a rule that a person could not win a book more frequently than -- oh, say, once a month?
[ November 17, 2003: Message edited by: Marilyn de Queiroz ]


In contests where only luck determines the winner, I would agree with a policy of excluding past winners for a short period of time. In the case of the JavaRanch book giveaways, I don't think that would serve the overall benefit the book giveaways provide to JavaRanch.
We a person posts on-topic questions or answers, it will benefit the rest of our community. It really doesn't matter to me why the do it. If they are only doing it to win a book, then they will not post if they are not elligible to win. As a result, we might loose that knowledge.
Overall, I suspect that the number of people posting good questions and answers just to win a book is probably pretty low.


Matthew Phillips
Dani Mazzuca
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 21, 2003
Posts: 70
Again, I would like to point out that these are not only book promo suggestions, but also suggestions to improve "dialog" with authors during promotion.
1) limit the book chance to a maximum of 2(n) per rancher:
You can enforce it ordering the messages by rancher name/number, and discarding all that have more than 2(n) entries (this might require some update of the current program in use).
2) don't consider answers; only questions::
This might make sense because promo days are very atypical ones. Observe that during promo days, most questions are directed and intended to be answered directly by authors. The rancher that is asking really expects to see the book author answer. For example, if Pradeep Bhat asks,

Marty,
Do you think that it will be next major thing in J2EE web application world?

he is mainly interested in read the personal Marty opinion, not Dani Mazzuca opinion. And most answers are expected to come from authors in the promotion.

3) some rancher that win a book may not participate in the next 3(n) promotions;:
Again, I believe in the good intention of ranchers, and if some not well-intentioned rancher changes their name/address, which I believe would hardly occur, he/she would be risked to be discovered and banned. Also note that the current winner selection is actually been done in some kind of lucky random way, considering only quantity, but not quality. So in practical terms, I think this rule might be effective.
4) A new one, let authors decide who is going to win:
the ball can be passed to authors; they can decide based on quality, not only quantity, considering better questions, better comments, participation, etc. JavaRanch will also have less promo administration work.

5) I discarded a Duke-dollar-like idea, because it is complex to implement. But note, that Duke-dollar idea, where who asks gives points/DukeDollars to the best comment/answer, promote both, participation and quality at the same time.
Dani Mazzuca
Marilyn de Queiroz
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 22, 2000
Posts: 9044
    
  10
I think if some of the comments that have been directed at Thomas would be directed at an author, he or she may just decide to never come back.
Andres Gonzalez
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 27, 2001
Posts: 1561
Dani -
1) limit the book chance to a maximum of 2(n) per rancher:
why?
2) don't consider answers; only questions::
you gotta be kidding.. I believe you're gonna have to stick around long enough at the ranch to find that this is not only about questions, but helping people in every forum, not just the one that is offering a book.
3) some rancher that win a book may not participate in the next 3(n) promotions;:
yes, that might help.
4) A new one, let authors decide who is going to win:
nope. I personally don't like it. Let a random program do it. If the author chooses someone, then you will get people complaining that this was the author's friend.


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Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30136
    
150

Dani,
Nobody commented on the "links to articles." (probably because they were two busy with your main point.) I find links to be valuable. Often, people post links that they use. Sometimes these are hard to find by google. At the very least, a linked article has been read by somebody and is guaranteed to have good content.


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Ko Ko Naing
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 08, 2002
Posts: 3178
I think everybody should calm down and like Dani said "Peace and Love"... We are here to share our knowledge about Java and related stuff... I've been using the JavaRanch, since last year, even since I was preparing for SCJP 1.2...
I just won one and only one book, coz I didn't actually participate in all the book promotions. And I also think that wasting a lot of our valuable time on posting messages just to win a book is foolish...
As for the book I won, that author (Kathy) is the author that I admire and even I have ever read most of her books in the past like SCJP and SCJD Guide from Syngress and Head First Java as a reference... And I am also preparing for SCBCD.. That's why I was participating in that forum and won a book...
What I want to say is that why a person wants to waste his/her time on posting a thousand of messages just to win a book... Instead of wasting time on posting like that, why don't we read a book and get knowledge from it? I guess we(most of us) are programmers(earn pretty high salary) and I do believe that it's not a burden to buy a book with our own money...
So why do we have to argue about the book promotion? It's free!!! JavaRanch gives us free and it's their right to set their rules in selecting the winners... So let's stop complaining about the book promotion and share your knowledge here...
You see the motto of the JavaRanch at the first page....
A FRIENDLY PLACE FOR JAVA GREENHORNS
So let's help greenhorns and respect to each others...
Thanks...


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SCJP1.2, CCNA, SCWCD1.4, SCBCD1.3, SCMAD1.0, SCJA1.0, SCJP6.0
Dani Mazzuca
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 21, 2003
Posts: 70
Jeanne,
about "links to articles." I agree with you, links are usually very helpful and welcomed. But, again, promotion days are atypical ones, where ranchers usually ask questions directly to authors, and expect answers from them. In practical terms, if some rancher says:

Hi,
I have a problem running a client that access an EJB located in WL7 ...

and some other rancher answers with a link where there is a discussion and a workaround for that problem, perfect.
But, if during promotional days, a rancher asks:

Marty,
would you please give us your personal opinion about ...

you are trying to start a dialog/discussion with the book author. You are expecting an answer from them, not a link to a web paper.
Dani Mazzuca
Dani Mazzuca
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 21, 2003
Posts: 70

What I want to say is that why a person wants to waste his/her time on posting a thousand of messages just to win a book... Instead of wasting time on posting like that, why don't we read a book and get knowledge from it? I guess we(most of us) are programmers(earn pretty high salary) and I do believe that it's not a burden to buy a book with our own money...

Completely agree. The point is that, there are no means to guaranty that a person will not post "a thousand of messages just to win a book... ", and disturb, what I think, is the most important part of the promotion - the opportunity to exchange ideas with authors, like Alur-Crupi-Malks, Marty Hall, Kathy Sierra, etc.
It is not about complaining. It is just about calling the community attention to some problem occurring during promotional days, and giving suggestions to improve it.
Dani Mazzuca
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Dani Mazzuca:
It is not about complaining. It is just about calling the community attention to some problem occurring during promotional days, and giving suggestions to improve it.
And if it ever becomes a problem where someone is posting thousands of messages to win a book then perhaps we will do something about it. As far as the problem you are talking about, I don't see it as a problem. If someone posts a link as an answer, that doesn't mean the author can't post!
Dani Mazzuca
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 21, 2003
Posts: 70
Two more suggestions:

6) Authors choose 25(n) best questions/answers/comments, and then the random program choose the 4(m) winners

the intention here is to limit complaining to authors through the random program; it would also consider quantity, but at the same time quality, i.e., if someone participate with many good questions/answers/comments, she/he would have more than one entry in the author's list; at the contrary, if some rancher post "empty messages", she/he would have less opportunities to be chosen by the author.

7) Create a special "room" where ranchers may exchange ideas with authors, out of the book promotion

messages posted in this "room" will not be considered for the book promotion; this "room" would only focus on authors dialog; its intention is to promote smooth author conversation and reduce "empty messages" and disturbance.
Dani Mazzuca
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
6) You can forget anything that involves authors choosing winners. it just is not going to happen. We can barely get some authors to participate. Asking them to do more work that isn't directly related to promoting their book is a waste of time.
7) Why would I want to set up a separate forum to talk with the authors? That is the purpose of the promotion!
Ko Ko Naing
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 08, 2002
Posts: 3178
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
6) You can forget anything that involves authors choosing winners. it just is not going to happen. We can barely get some authors to participate. Asking them to do more work that isn't directly related to promoting their book is a waste of time.
7) Why would I want to set up a separate forum to talk with the authors? That is the purpose of the promotion!

In this case, I totally agree with Thomas Paul...
Authors are here just to clear our doubts on their books and share tips from their books... We rarely see authors posting messages... It's our chance to talk directly with the author... I can also see that we cannot tell them to do that and this...
So let's go on with the same selection process and have fun!!! The Ranch is for studying and fun, not for arguing...
So have fun!!!
Pradeep bhatt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 27, 2002
Posts: 8904

So let's go on with the same selection process and have fun!!! The Ranch is for studying and fun, not for arguing...

Well said Ko Ko ! Let us prepare for SCWCD beta.
 
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