Since committing to the New Photo of the Week Contest on Main at the beginning of 2021, we have attracted many great submissions, too many to list. I'm supremely thankful for everybody who has contributed. For the most part, the PotW Contest on Main seems to be working fairly well.

However, I don't want to rest on the laurels of "working fairly well". I want to improve the contest, how it works, the participation level, the planning of future themes, etc.

Broadly speaking, I'm looking for suggestions to help the PotW Contest (as answers to this question). I'm hoping that particularly interesting responses will be spun out to their own Meta questions, to help generate discussion and consensus.

Any suggestion helps. Maybe just clarification of how some aspects of the contest work, if they are unclear to you.

(Note: Unfortunately, some suggested improvements, while probably very good in concept, will be shot down due to technical or organizational limitations. In particular, suggestions requiring custom code (i.e., custom voting mechanisms, tools to disallow voting for a period of time to first allow collection of submissions, etc.) are certainly welcome, but they probably won't get any traction as far as implementation.)


Perhaps we can add a blurb in the part that gets copy/pasted every cycle that encourages people to consider how well submitted images fit the topic when voting on images?

  • I think this is a good idea, but it goes counter to my (personal) preference/goal to make the boilerplate stuff shorter. I'm not exactly sure how to square that circle, though.
    – scottbb Mod
    15 hours ago

Don't permanently eliminate topics once used from reuse.

It seems to me the reason we're seeing fewer and fewer submissions is because the only possible topics from the pool are those that have been previously passed over for more interesting ones. We're forcing ourselves to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

Perhaps we can have a "topic reset" periodically, where all eliminated topics are added back to the list? Or perhaps any topic selected for the biweekly contest could be rotated back in three or six months after it was used? (Yes, this would probably be a bit more difficult to administer.)

  • This is a great suggestion. You're right, there should definitely be a way to recycle at least some of the themes that are good or "evergreen". For instance, "Film", "Labdscapes", etc., are so generic and common themes that they should pop up periodically, at least twice a year.
    – scottbb Mod

Make the contest weekly instead of biweekly


  1. More immediate results between posting a winning submission and seeing it featured in the PotW sidebar
  2. Faster churn through themes; unpopular themes don't linger for a long time
  3. Twice as many theme opportunities, allowing for repeated themes (see Michael C's answer) and holiday/seasonal themes without displacing too many interesting unique themes


  1. Faster churn through themes: we're consuming themes faster than they're being suggested (even with biweekly); requires more thought/management of upcoming theme schedule
  2. Possibly more frequent weeks with few submissions. This is admittedly a low risk (all but two of the biweekly themes had at least 4 submissions).
  3. More work for the PotW coordinator (me). Only a risk if the coordinator has to step back and/or hand over duties to another mod, if mod commitment availability is limited.
  • I'd prefer keeping it two weeks. That gives people who are busy more time to get in on a theme before it closes. Since we're currently adding the top two submissions to the HOF, that still leaves one per week, or 52 per year. For me, that feels about right.
    – Michael C
    15 hours ago

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