July the 12th marks one year since we came out of beta:
And we have had continuous growth ever since, steadily gaining new users and questions, and the odd peak where a particular incident or burst of activity has boosted the community. Our birthday is an excellent opportunity to generate another burst of activity.
Other sites have held miscellaneous contests to encourage participation, and our anniversary seems as good a time as any to try one, assuming we have any clever ideas. There are two things to come up with- the contest itself, and the prizes for the winners
Since other sites have held contests in the past, we might be able to steal one of their ideas:
Super User has done this several times. At 1 year they had a four week contest, where they rewarded users each week based on performance that week:
- Highest rep gain from a new user
- Highest rep gain in general
- Best post that week
- Most useful post that week (this is different from #3? Apparently) They did a similar thing this year, but changed the categories a bit to cover things other than just Q&A (editing, tagging, blogging, cleanup, etc.). Jeff warns that it's important to incentivize the right thing
Gaming has had much success with giving top users free copies of a new game, on the assumption that they'll ask questions about it and other people playing that game for the first time will search for the question and find the site. Science Fiction did the same thing with Star Wars. Not sure whether there is anything in this area that would be relevant here, but worth thinking about.
Gaming also had a contest centered around two popular games that came out around the same time, tracking which game was getting more posts on the site, and rewarding the top question and answer for each
Android picked a number of good questions that had gone unanswered for a long time, tagged them all, and entered all the accepted/top voted answers on those questions in a drawing to win Kindles. They also had a twitter-related promotion, but I don't think I would call it a contest. They've talked about doing an SU-style contest as well, but I don't know that it's happened yet
Unix & Linux had a question clean-up competition, rewarding members who supplied good answers to old, unanswered questions. Philosophy rewarded users who ask questions about a chosen philosopher. History is doing it with wars.
All of these are excellent ideas. Obviously we're not limited to these, but we need something that will attract attention, new users, questions, answers, quality etc.
Have a look at this associated question on prizes. Security already has some branded swag, and the Stack Exchange store has the usual fare. If we can come up with more Security-specific prizes that might give SE some useful ideas. For example, free attendance at a major security conference, EFF membership, things of that nature. can't make any promises, but if we come up with clever prize ideas I'll see if Stack Exchange is willing to pay for them
I think the Unix & Linux one (suggested by @Gilles) and SU's second contest (rewarding specific activities on a weekly basis) make a lot of sense.
What are everyone else's preferences? Any other ideas for contests/prizes?
Update - we have had a little interest and attention, but not many ideas. Any thoughts from the community?