1. It's fairly close to the top, actually. That said, I can give no ETA on when things will change.
1) just a question, but how far up/down on the list of improvements is the skin selection etc., and how long would it be estimated until it comes up?
2) What is the state of RPG staff? I know that only one RPG staff member is even active. Is appointing more staff or suchlike possible, and what are the chances of the inactive RPG staff becoming active again?
2. They're like the staff anywhere else, except moreso. They have real lives and get busy. I can't say when they might start showing their faces more often, but I always hope it will be soon. There's always a possibility of appointing more staff, but I only do that when I see a need. As of now, I think things are getting by alright.
Want to see your questions answered? PM them to me and put 'Mailbag' in the subject line.
I'm going to start things off by saying that running a contest is different on each subforum of BZPower, and even between hosts there will be changes. That said, I'd like to think I've been around enough and run/hand my hand in a variety of contests that I can speak to them as a whole.
Contests have a long history on BZPower, dating all the way back to the early days of the BBC forum. Since then they've expanded to art, the Library, RPGs, fan-made games, LEGO creations, storyline, blogs, and, in one instance, poetry. That's a lot of variety, and it's something we're proud of and do our best to continue as the years go on.
The first contest I ran was, of course, in the RPG forum. I had gotten tired of members asking me for permission to make RPGs, and decided a contest would be more fair. This is pretty different from most other contests, where the motivation is to get members to make something cool and win a prize if people like it. It helps keep the community active and pushes people to flex their creative muscles.
Anyway, the first thing you do when you want to run a contest is decide to have one, quickly followed by where you want to have it. Then you need to come up with a theme, unless you're lazy and want it to be an open contest. At this point, the next step is usually to go steal the rules from the last contest of that type and tweak them until they fit what you're trying to do. After that, you have to determine how long the entry period is going to be. This varies based on the type of contest, and in some cases, like if the finalists of the contest are supposed to send their entries to BrickFair, is very time-sensitive. Careful planning is also done to avoid/give extra time when major holidays are involved.
You get all your info together, pick your dates, themes, and rules, and you post it. Then you wait for people to enter. If you're lucky a Reporter will post about your contest on the front page to help make people aware of it. But mainly you wait, answering questions here and there.
Then the entry period comes to a close. If you're smart, you've been updating the entry list as you go, because otherwise you have a bunch of work to do now, sifting through the entrants and making sure everyone followed the rules. It helps if you have some assistants to do some of that tedious work. (Hey, it pays to have minions.) Once all the entries are together, you do one of two things - split them up into polls or start judging. Polls is by far the easier of the two - several rounds of people picking their favorites culminating with a winner and several runners-up. Judging is a bit of a nightmare - you need to get people to help, and then hope they don't back out. Then you wait for them to go through all the entries and get back to you with their results. Overall it's necessary for things with long, intricate entries like stories. Most members aren't going to read them and would just vote randomly or based on whether they like a member or not, and that's not very fair.
Congratulations to the winners! The contest is nearly done! But now comes the hardest part - prizes. Oftentimes contest hosts turn to me to ask if I can provide prizes for a contest, and usually I say yes. The problem is I tend to have a difficult time shipping them out in a prompt manner, so my apologies to all those who I still owe prizes. It's on the list of things to take care of, I swear. In the meantime, you may see us giving out more Premier Memberships as prizes, since those are a lot easier to deal with.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this look behind the scenes. If you have an idea for a Behind BZP, let me know!