I think the process by which we vote for promising picture of the week themes is a very interesting use of the stack exchange engine for voting. I wonder if we could change the picture of the week contest to use a similar system?

It Would Work Like This

  1. One "Featured Picture of the Week" question/thread would always be open.
  2. Entries would look just like current entries.
  3. You could enter at any time, with an enforced-by-agreement rule that you shouldn't enter more than one photo within a week.
  4. Every week, the top voted entry would be taken from the top, with that answer moved to the Hall of Fame thread. (And of course featured on the site.) As currently, downvotes wouldn't count.


  • Less work, since new threads don't need to be continually opened and closed at a certain time.
  • Less "winner take all", more collaborative community.
  • Great photos that happen to be beat one week by something amazing would automatically get a second chance.
  • Current process has a slight bias towards entries submitted earlier in the week; this would even that out.
  • Always something to look at even on slow weeks.
  • "Slow-burning" interesting-but-not-obvious photos could eventually accumulate enough votes to win (but wouldn't automatically, since great new photos could easily jump ahead).
  • Interesting format different from most contests.


  • Interesting format different from most contests
  • Could take a little while from submission to winning


  • If one person's work wins too many times in a row, the next time it comes up it could be skipped for a week with a comment from the moderator.
  • The themed contests would run for a limited time and work on the existing system.
  • If you don't like a certain themed contest, you could still add an entry to the regular one that week.
  • Voters could be encouraged to look at all three of the "answer tabs" — active, oldest, and votes.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the idea writeup, matt! Sounds very intriguing. There may be a few kinks to work out, but I think the idea definitely has merit. Personally, I would welcome the lower mod overhead, as I seem to be the only one addressing PotW lately, and I am not always available to change the photo over when the time comes. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Nov 26, 2012 at 21:55
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @jrista: looks like people basically like the idea; for our meta recently I think five votes counts as strong feedback. :) Can you think of any immediate kinks? Want to start this right after the current Dec 3 contest ends? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 28, 2012 at 2:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think a mod will still have to do the actual changeover, but with this system at least it doesn't leave things in limbo if no mod is available to do it at the exact right time. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 28, 2012 at 2:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm good with starting after the current contest ends. I can handle the changeover. The most difficult part of that is creating the new contest thread, locking and closing out the old one, etc. A continuous rollover will work well, I think. We'll just need to archive winners in the history thread, but that should be pretty easy...and, for that matter, I think anyone could do that part. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Nov 28, 2012 at 4:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like it, it's a got legs in my opinion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Nov 29, 2012 at 2:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ The thread for the themed contests could start immediately after the previous one finishes. This would help get more (and better) entries. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 3, 2012 at 6:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @damnedtruths Exactly. My suggestion is to run them both in parallel all the time, with the themed winner running the first week of every month. See meta.photo.stackexchange.com/a/2654/1943 \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Dec 3, 2012 at 11:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ This might work, but only if downvotes counted. Otherwise, after a while sheer inertia would take over and the oldest pictures would rise to the top, deservedly or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Martha
    Dec 4, 2012 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Martha: That's possible but I don't think necessarily the case. Bad photos don't automatically go up, after all — they do need postive votes. If something manages to get 50 upvotes over the course of a few years, maybe it actually deserves it after all. In the past, allowing downvotes mostly ended up making people feel negative about the whole contest. And, it was clear that some people were simply downvoting everything but their own photos. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Dec 4, 2012 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jrista — I'm going to create the thread for this in a few minutes, okay? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Dec 4, 2012 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Frankly, people who can't handle downvotes on a meta post need to grow a pair. IMNSHO. Which I know isn't terribly helpful. Would it help to explicitly explain in the question text that votes simply indicate whether you would like to see the picture in the header? I.e. a downvote doesn't mean "I hate this picture, and I think the photographer is an idiot", it just means "I don't think this would make a good header picture for the site". \$\endgroup\$
    – Martha
    Dec 4, 2012 at 18:36
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I think that photos that have low votes (say less than two) after a certain period of time (say 2-3 months) should be deleted to prevent the thread having so many answers that it is impossible to go through them all. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 7, 2012 at 5:13
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @damnedtruths: very possibly. Let's see how it goes. I'm not sure what the limit is on number of answers to a post, for that matter. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Dec 7, 2012 at 5:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ We may need to remove low-vote items more frequently than 2-3 months. There may not be a limit to answers to a post, but I wonder if people will fall into "vote the top one up" syndrome more frequently with the new method than the old. It would be nice if we mods could change the default viewing order for meta topics, to ensure that the newest uploaded items get shown first. That would ensure that new entries get visibility and votes as appropriate each week. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Dec 11, 2012 at 3:55
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It is not really the current winner that I am worried about...it is the runner ups. I guess we'll see what gets up there next, but I think we might find that photos that aren't of the greatest quality find their way onto the header, when superior photos that were more recently posted should really probably be there instead. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Dec 11, 2012 at 4:33

2 Answers 2



Vote this up to indicate that

Yes, this is an interesting idea. Let's try it! If it doesn't work out, we can always go back.

(Feel free to add your in-support own comments in a separate answer; just vote this one up as part of your vote as well.)



Vote this up to indicate that

No. I prefer to keep the contest as it is.

(Feel free to add your own why-this-is-bad comments in a separate answer; just vote this one up as part of your vote as well.)


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