Insight into the SYTYCB Selection Process and Important Question (see end)

Before I crash to bed, I wanted to take the time and answer and address a few things. We all know who the top 7 are. But what happened to the rest?

Why you were rejected

I know most of you would be okay with not getting the call back for the next step in the process. Both Wyn and I went through all of the entries many times. I know I wouldn’t like it if I got a term paper back with all red marks and slashes without remarks and critiques. I’m going to attempt to do the same here.

Wasn’t taken seriously

For a lot of you, I could tell the interest level just wasn’t high enough. It was blatantly obvious to me that you just decided to submit something on a whim. There wasn’t enough thought going into your submission and it didn’t seem like it was something that you really wanted to do. Yes the question and such was for fun but that doesn’t mean I’m not serious in looking for another writer. I’m not going to take someone whose going to apply and then figure out that it’s not something that they want to do.

Language or writing challenge

This is more of a technical thing than anything else. As a blogger, clear communication is a requirement. I know there was at least one submitter whose English was not their first language. I can’t fault them for that but I can’t take them on either. For the rest, minor things like uncapitalized I’s or “urs” or other signs of unprofessional use of the English word is not something I’m looking for. Obviously there are going to be exceptions, but when you’re trying to make a first impression it better be a damned good one and I just didn’t get that feeling.

Nothing special

At that point in time during the initial selection process, there many good posts. However, there were extremely few special posts. The 7 underbloggers that are competing right now not only submitted a post, they wrote a Matticus styled post. They took the bar and they popped Heroism, Winterfall Firewater, and Noggenfogger to set the bar even higher. An example is that I had 1 blogger attach images to her submission to help illustrate a point. Another blogger was aware that I had extremely aversive and allergic reactions to wall of texts resulting in immediate program shutdowns (thankfully, Wyn has developed an immunity to them). Ergo, they spaced it out accordingly and added emphasis and other formatting wonders.

In the future, when you’re applying for any kind of a position (even if it’s not a blogging one), try to stand out from the other applicants. Try to attract the guy’s attention.

Axe now or axe later?

It’s difficult to judge the bloggers individually. These guys have done excellent work thus far. Here’s an idea that I’ve been entertaining:

I know I said in an earlier post that I would cut bloggers week after week. But, would it be better and more entertaining for me to keep all 7 of them and then make 6 cuts at the end?

Don’t forget, the last 2 bloggers will be having their posts up later on today.

I’m also toying with the idea of giving my critique and feedback publicly on my blog – via webcam. Yes, I picked up my Logitech Orbit Webcam and played with it briefly. Anyway, why critique on video? Why not just do it as a blog post?

Honestly, I don’t know if I can accurately convey the true meaning of what I want to get across in a simple blog post. I’m afraid that what I say could get interpreted in too harsh of a manner or misinterpreted entirely. The problem with text based communication is that you can’t exactly impart tone, style, emotion or any of that stuff across.

I rarely ask for public opinion. I always do my own thing. When I do ask for your thoughts and comments, it’s usually for a reason. I’d love to hear your thoughts on both the elimination scheme and the critique idea.

(PS, underbloggers you are also allowed to comment. There is no conflict of interest situation here.)

20 thoughts on “Insight into the SYTYCB Selection Process and Important Question (see end)”

  1. 1) I like feedback. Text vs. webcam, however? I’ve really no preference. (I guess the OTHER option would be dragging us all aside in vent or something, but that removes some of the public aspect of this challenge.)
    2) If you make cuts tomorrow, that will be based on (at most) two posts. This could be seen as a disadvantage, we were “good enough” to make it this far, but which do you decide is the fluke? The “try out” or the first official post?

  2. Honestly, I like the original plan better. Only because it goes more along the lines of your SYTYCB theme. It also makes things get more intense closer it gets to your selection. Building up to the climax so to speak.

  3. I think a video blog would be a nice change of pace, and as a friend of mine says, “98% of meaning is lost of the internet.”

    I’m torn on the cuts idea. I mean, the way that I see it, someone should impress you the whole way through, and for that reason I still like the “cut-a-week” idea. Then again, judging someone so early on is very hard, but if you feel confident in it, then that’s what you should do.

    Plus, I feel like keeping all 7 and making 6 cuts at the end would be pretty scary for you and Wyn – that’s 7 posts normally, and 14 posts on the double weeks. That’s a lot to sort through for just two people; do you feel that such a diversion of attention would be more fair than a cut every week?

    Maybe a compromise? If you feel that everyone’s putting in their all, and you need another post to judge, then wait until next week, and make cuts along the way as you see fit. That might be too “open-ended” though, and not quite as rigid as you want.

  4. As far as cuts go, I’m with Jen… I prefer the original plan, because it builds more to an interesting climax, and because I feel the other way doesn’t create the right kind of tension. There’s a reason these TV shows like Survivor and American Idol cut one a week… imagine if they kept everyone for the whole season? I would also be interested in a plan that only cut one person a round until the end.

    Also, as far as feedback goes, I’m ok either way. I feel like, this is a text blog, and having the feedback be text is also fine.

  5. Just found your blog and sad to see I missed the comp. Maybe you could take a look at my blog and see if the content is up to posting on yours? Feel free to check out my blog at Wow Blogger and pass on any suggestions you may have 🙂 I would love a link in your blogroll if you like the blog 🙂

    wowbloggers last blog post..WOTLK pre launch patch

  6. Something I’ve actually been noticing lately, since I’m a geek and watch some of those reality shows, they haven’t been bringing it down to one on one anymore. SYTYCD, for example, had the final 4 for the last episode. So, in case you’re clinging to that concept you could go with eliminating 1 a week instead of 2.

    It allows for more opportunities to show our talent. You could even take aside who you would have placed as the second person to knock out of the competition and let them know they weren’t up to par and need to work that much harder (tons of tv shows do it, but usually the one that’s shining from the beginning makes it to the end anyways).

    I agree with Tulani though, only if you think you can spend the time each week going over all the entries should you go for a bigger cut at the end of the competition. I do think that more experience and feedback for us (especially the unfortunate few who don’t win) will help us on our own. Unlike top chef and sytycd, we’re pretty much newbies to this and can use all the xp we can get.

    I think the video would add something new and interesting to your blog. I know BRK does plenty of videos (well, without him literally in them) and maybe having a video for this contest would be a good experiment to see if you have the right voice/face and to see general reactions. It might not be the right fit, but it’s totally worth a try at least.

    And lastly, about the critique itself, I think criticism is great. As an artist I thrive off of people’s input, good and bad, otherwise I’d never know what I was doing right or wrong.

  7. I’m not sure video feedback is the way to go. Where it’s not something you’ve done much (or any) of in the past, it seems that adjusting to the new medium will add a layer of complexity we don’t need. You can clearly communicate in writing, otherwise we wouldn’t all be reading your blog. 🙂

    As for cuts, I’m of two minds. Part of me thinks that everyone can have an off week, and eliminating them on that basis might deprive you of someone that normally does much better. Another part of me knows that it can be a bit of work to put these posts together, particularly if we’re trying to fit them into a prescribed format that might not be a good fit for our natural communication style. This latter part of me thinks that if we’re sure to be eliminated, it would be better were it done early.

    So, my recommendation would be to let it ride without a clear misfit, but don’t make those that you’re sure will be dropped jump through further hoops.

  8. Here’s my question about the entire process in general, and a few concerns about the potential direction your blog might be taking:

    1) What’s the purpose of adding additional writers? When does “World of Matticus” metamorphose into something thats beyond the scope of your tone and personality, which, I imagine, was what drew readers into your fold?

    The obvious point here is that it’s not my blog and I’m not privy to any of your machinations, but I’m actually not a fan of the whole “writing conglomerate” in the WoW blogging community. There are a few exceptions, but beyond that, I feel that when readers go back to a blog, they go back there because yes, theyre interested, but more importantly, because they feel like they have some kind of connection with the writer. Parsing your readership may earn you a wider audience, but not necessarily one that’s what you want.

    2) As WoM is your site, its understandable that you’d want the added content to conform as closely to your standards as you can manage—but the way your guest bloggers have thus far been “treated” (or rather, the way it reads), is like theyre auditioning for some glamour spot in a television series. They’re not. As e-famous as your site may or may not be, we’re all still a bunch of gamers who are blogging about an MMORPG. “Underbloggers” implies to the reader that they’re not “the real thing” and that they’re only trying to live up to some greater shadow of being – sure, that’s a little hyperbole, but I’m sure you get the picture.

    Ultimately, these are the folks who would be doing you a favor by enriching the content/spectrum of your blog, potentially generating a larger readership, and maybe even giving you a day off or two. I guess the process here just seems a little distasteful to me, and honestly, if I were doing something similar, I probably would have considered all the entries privately, consulted one or two other folks I trust implicitly, and then just posted the results. Why? For one, it’s a little more polite. Secondly, it’s not cluttering up someone’s RSS feed with a series of posts that may or may not be well written, but ultimately aren’t things your readership is interested in. Old news.

    3) I’m sure most would be quick to point out that the applicants willingly put themselves into this process—although they may or may not have understood the whole shebang. That’s true, but it still doesn’t change the above points. What are you willing to withstand for exposure? Think: Survivor. Putting together a successful or even moderately successful blog isn’t difficult, so long as you have the time necessary to sit down and do it.

    Regardless, best of luck to all the competitors. BlogAzeroth is a great resource for folks who want to get started—and you know what? You’re right about one thing, Matt, the only way to establish readership and better your own writing, is to keep doing it, and to keep doing it OFTEN.

    Runycats last blog post..World of Trouble: Addressing Druid Tanking in WotLK

  9. @ Runycat — In all honesty… at times, part of me thinks I bit off more than I could chew when I signed up for this. Yes, I signed up, I came into this with my eyes open, well aware of how this was going to be handled.

    I was still totally petrified when my post first went live.

    I’ve never considered myself to be a writer, much less a good one. Now I’m refreshing WoM several times a day to see what kind of comments and feedback I’m getting, as well as what sort of “competition” I’m up against.

    In all honesty though, I don’t really consider this to be a competition. I’ve never really been a competitive person; the only person I’ve ever worried about competing against is myself.

    There are people competing in this who are better than me. They’re better with language, better with humor, better with passion, better with something. Every person competing has something that they’re better at than others. That’s okay, I’m fine with that. It may make me selfish, but I’m treating this as a way for myself to learn to improve something I don’t honestly have a lot of confidence doing.

    I have things to say. I’m taking this opportunity to say them in a way that (at least hopefully) teaches me to say them better, with help both from Matt and Wyn and the other “underbloggers” (well, he’s gotta call us something. Super 7 maybe?) but from the community as a whole.

    That’s kinda the determining factor. WoM has a built-in readership. If I created my own blog, I’d be saying all this stuff out into the ether, with no real hope of response. Presenting this as a challenge, a competition, people are more inclined to read, comment, and give feedback. THAT is why I’m here.

  10. I totally second that sister! Glad to know I’m not the only one refreshing this page to death!

    Also, it is wonderful to get critiqued from bloggers and readers that I admire (if you read WoM you’re smart so I admire you :P). I write for a living, but only in an IT department, so being able to write creatively and receive feedback is a dream come true. It sure beats “Yes this spec meets all the business requirements…job well done!”

  11. As I said, only an outsider’s perspective, and actually, a lot more curious in terms of what sort of tonal/theme changes this means for the blog. I too, write for a living, but truthfully, I would much rather be admired for something of my own doing than for reading something on my RSS feed, however good or not good it might be.

  12. The tonal and theme changes will be entirely dependent on whoever is picked to be the #3 blogger. I would imagine, however, that it’s not going to be much different from when Wyn joined the force.

  13. Runy, you’ve raised some excellent points. Allow ms this chance to address all of them bullet for bullet (I also fixed your comment).

    1) The purpose: I want to diversify this blog more. I’m not adding a LARGE crew of bloggers. I’m looking to add 1 more. I’m a University student and I’m still not allowed to declare my major because my grades are still low. Yes that is my problem and yes I asked for it. I’m getting there slowly but surely. Wyn and whoever gets chosen aren’t going to replace me, the writer. They’re there to help supplement my blog. They’re there for me to bounce ideas off of or someone that can double check my work. I’m surprised I’ve gotten this many readers and followers with all the factual, technical, and whatever else errors I’ve made. I’m not leaving. My blog load may decrease somewhat slightly, but I will always be the one captaining the blog.

    I’m not the most mathematically or stat oriented person in the game. I’d like to Minmax my Priest, but I don’t have the brain capacity to crunch all the formulas and plug in all the numbers. Wyn is. That’s part of the reason why I brought her on because I felt she could complement my other writing strengths and offer an extra dimension to readers.

    2) The whole Underblogger thing was the first name that occurred. Why that? One, if they had a blog already, they wouldn’t be here. They’re not bloggers yet. They’re just writers who *I* felt have exhibited signs of some raw talent. When I started blogging, my posts were utter crap. No one ever starts at the top. You start from the bottom rung and work your way up. It’s like that in blogging, in WoW, and in life. You have to earn it. I’m sorry you’re getting the impression that they’re auditioning for a glamor spot. They’re auditioning for a blogging spot. And you’re dead on that they’re a shadow because that’s what they are.

    The original plan still remains the same. I give them a chance to to diversify my blog some.

    But more importantly, I’m giving them a taste of what it’s like to actually blog. Blogging is NOT for everyone. Some people can handle the social pressures, some can’t. Some people can whip out posts on demand, some can’t. They’re not only auditioning for the blog, they’re also auditioning for themselves. Somewhere out there is a gamer or writer who wants to start a blog. But they’re hesitant because they don’t know if they’ll be good at it or not.

    I wanted to give these seven excellent individuals an opportunity. Here, they get to write a post, have immediate feedback, and know that they’ll get read.

    At the very LEAST, I’m hoping that the ones eliminated will be able to learn and take something away from the experience.

    The best possible thing that could happen is if all 7 of these people withdraw immediately from the contest because they now have the confidence, desire, and knowledge to start and foster their own blog. If all of them got up and said “Thanks Matt, I’ve learned a lot from this, but I’m going to have to step away because I’ve decided to write under my own name” I would be speechless and happy. The WoW blogosphere will always benefit from more bloggers.

    So, why didn’t I just take their submissions and consider it in private? Because blogging isn’t just about writing posts. It’s about how you present your ideas in addition to the written word. It’s about how you interact with readers. It’s about how you handle pressures.

    When I tried out for my high school volleyball team, they didn’t put us through drills. We got organized into squads and scrimmaged for several hours. I am not only judging their writing, ideas, and posterity. I want to see how they respond to feedback they get both positive and negative. I want to see how they’ll deal with the onslaught and the dread of cramming out a post by a deadline. I want to work these guys and I want to work them hard. Only by placing them in a real tried and test environment can I get a picture close to the real deal.

    Hell, I could pick up the most brilliant writer in the world who’d be spot on about everything, flashy posts, sharp wit, etc. But if they don’t have the promotional, social, or other non tangible skills that I’m looking for, I’m more likely to pass on them.

    This isn’t just a try out for me. It’s a trial for them. This is what blogging is like. You write, you post, and you get tomatoes or roses in your face. You either go home crying or walk off standing tall. Can they handle that? We’ll see.

    And putting together a successful blog isn’t difficult. But it takes a looooong time. But I don’t consider my blog successful just yet. It’s okay. I know I can do better. I’m going to do whatever I can to continually improve it. I’m not doing this for Wyn, for readers, for money, or anything like that.

    I’m doing this for me. I’m doing this to prove to myself that I can do this. If I can cause an effect on even ONE person, then that will have made all the difference.

  14. To address Runycat’s comments:

    You’re one of the bloggers I read most often, and I like your work tremendously.

    I’m not sure, but I believe I was the originator of the term “underblogger.” I thought it was funny–I picture my character riding to her virtual office on an Underbat. The term works for me, because I love to write, but I know next to nothing about blogging. I’m an “under” blogger, because I want to learn.

    I also think Matticus is offering us a great opportunity to get some feedback on our writing. On a new blog, I might just be speaking into the ether for weeks or months before someone notices.

    One of the things I’ve learned about writing is that published writers deal with criticism all the time. There’s a multi-tiered evaluation process at every level leading up to publication. In addition, people tend to be very open with their criticism. This rule holds just as true for internet publications as it does for novels and academic essays. I’m fine with the contest in any format–as long as I don’t have to do a video blog right now! I’ll watch them happily. I’m a little shy, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want my students to find videos of me on the internet. If there’s a need for that, I’ll figure out how to make a machinima of my character delivering my lines.


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