So we’re almost a week in, and the twitter contest is ticking along nicely….
(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can check out the first blog explaining the game here.)
There’s been a lot of discussion as to the best way to refer to a group of Rothfi. A ponderance? A blither? Someone very clever suggested “Pontography.” Someone else proposed “Pisser” as the proper collective noun. There were a lot of good ones.
Personally, I think a group of us should be “a maunder of Rothfi.”
And don’t bother running off and seeing which of the profiles has mentioned that. I just made it up right now. I’m not going to tip my hand here.
Grammatical flummery aside, so far the contest has been a ton of fun. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, and it seems like most of the spectators are digging it too.
And honestly I’m amazed at the level of competition. Amazed. I knew I was bringing in clever people here, but I didn’t give them *nearly* enough credit.
But it hasn’t all been sunshine and kisses in the shade. There have been a few problems, and the biggest of these has been…
Normally, getting verified on twitter is something you strive for. It’s a stamp of legitimacy. It shows you’re *really* Neil Patrick Harris, and not just some schmoe that grabbed a picture off the internet.
Before I started this contest, I thought verification was something you applied for. I thought there was some arduous process, some gauntlet you had to run. A quest you needed to complete that would please the distant ineffible twitter gods, high on their mountain.
And apparently, that’s kinda true. There is a form you can fill out. There is an application you can submit. Many do strive for verification. Apparently John Scalzi himself has been trying to get verified for ages and hasn’t managed it.
But look at what happened to us about 18 hours into our contest:
See that little blue checkmark? That means that they *verified* one of our accounts.
What’s really funny is this. We created all these accounts using throwaway e-mail addresses *literally* named like this: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org…
What’s more, the accounts were all identical except for the name and the picture. They all followed the same 7 profiles. They all had the same tagline: “It’s my job to break your heart.” They all listed my blog as their website. They all had one identical post.
And they’ve all sat there, inactive for more than a year.
Then the contest started, and within 18 hours, one of them got verified.
This is because, in addition to having an application process, twitter has a bot that searches around for people and auto-verifies them.
We were all a little stunned when this happened. We figured it was an odd fluke, and figured out how to remove the verification by changing the name on the profile and changing it back.
Then less than a day later….
We don’t know what sort of algorithm the twitter-bot uses. Nobody does.
After the shock wore off, I realized how hilarious it was. You see, this means is that one of us has completely convinced twitter that this profile is Pat Rothfuss.
And I think this is awesome.
A lot of people have taken this to mean that the contest is over. That it’s spoiled. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact is, the only information the twitter-bot has access to is circumstantial. It’s deciding based off the tweets themselves. The friends added. The links linked. I dunno. Maybe the picture, too?
It’s making a judgement based on those things. The same information you have access to.
All this really means is that the twitter-bot has decided to cast its vote early in our contest.
You can trust it if you want. It seems pretty sure of itself.
But personally, I’d like to think that my readers are more independent than that.
In fact, one of my favorite things about the contest so far is watching people declare their allegiance, sometimes just due to a turn of phrase:
Or a piece of punctuation:
Some folks are just having fun with it:
I see folks planting their flags, then sometimes spinning 180 with such force that you’d be amazed they don’t break their own necks.
Here’s one of my favorites:
I love this. These guys are fucking *into* it. They are using their vasty human intellect to crack this puzzle.
This is the very essence of a #BeautifulGame.
So… yeah. If you want to pick a profile based exclusively on what some computer algorithm thinks. That’s your choice. But honestly? I’m a little sad for you….
- Other ways to screw yourselves by being too clever.
I know a lot of you are game players. Probably excellent game players. And if you like my books, odds are that you have at least a passing interest in looking for hidden clues.
So when I put this contest together, I knew I had to thwart those tendencies. For example, if you try to guess based on what device different profiles are twittering from? You’re probably going to be wrong. Why? Because one of the requirements for all the players is that they tweet from all manner of different platforms and devices.
Also, you should be aware that some of the profiles started this game with 5000-6000 more followers than others. In the year the profiles sat around, some collected 6-7 thousand followers. Others only collected 1-2 thousand.
So if you look at a profile and think, “Wow, this one has 4000 more followers, obviously that’s the one pat would pick to use as his own.” or “Wow, this is the one pat would pick because this twitter name is more like something he’d want.” you’re kinda screwing yourself.
First, because you’re missing the main point of the contest, to see who’s best at being me.
And second, you’re screwing yourself because when we assigned these profiles, we pulled names out of a hat for each one. They’re deliciously random.
Ultimately, this game is based on skill. It is a contest of trickery, persuasion, and cunning.
If I were you, I’d base your choice off that….
- What’s still to come.
Two weeks is kind of a long time. Particularly with something that moves as fast as twitter. Maybe I should’ve thought of that before, but I had no way of knowing.
Lest things start to get a little same-y. We’re going to add a few things to the contest just to keep things interesting.
One of the suggestions someone made to me was that if I’m selling out and getting on twitter, I might as well go whole hog and start making memes too.
I don’t know if they were being snarky or not, but either way, I think it’s a great idea. I think memes and twitter go together like…
Like a pithy writer and a good analogy.
So I’m going to challenge my fellow competitors to meme everyone’s new favorite pet from the photo contest.
That’s right: Ugly Cat.
I’ve never memed before. So we’ll use this as another piece of the puzzle that will help people discover #TheRealRothfuss.
(Oh Ugly Cat, you still fill me with such joy…)
Are you good to go, gentlemen? Ready… set…. meme!
- On Being A Winner.
After my first blog post, there was some confusion about how the money was going to go to the charities in question.
So. Just to clarify, when the contest is over, there will be a great voting. The profile that gets the most votes, wins. The person running that profile will be the winner, and the charity they chose will get the $1000 from DAW.
Originally, that was my entire plan. But now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t see why y’all can’t be in the running for some cool things too….
These are some prototype drabs we’re working on. They’re not ready to go up in the store yet. But do I have a few we can give away as prizes….
So here’s what we’re going to do.
The whole point of this contest is for people to be clever and have fun. To play a beautiful game.
So starting now, if you do something on twitter that strikes me as particularly cunning, or funny, or sly, or smart. I will make a post along these lines.
“Congratulations, @JoeTwitter. That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen today. You know how to play #ABeautifulGame.”
“That’s a really good point, @JustSusan. I bow to your unassailable Aristotelian logic. Congratulations on #ABeautifulGame.”
Then one of my lovely assistants will get in contact with you, get your mailing address, and we’ll mail you one of these prototype drabs. You can then use that drab to taunt your friends until they cry.
Each of my five Rothfussian comrades will be doing the same thing, of course.
This is a new part of the game. Not only do you have to guess at what might tickle the fancy of the Rothfi, but seeing what behavior each profile rewards should give you a lot of insight into which one of us is #TheRealRothfuss.
Have fun, everyone.