SharperIron

2011 Writing Contest Update

The 2011 Writing Contest ended 7/29. A few more contest submissions will be appearing this coming week and the next. We hope to announce winners by the end of August.
If you’d like to informally vote for your favorite article, hit the Like link at the bottom of the article and/or post a comment expressing your appreciation.
Contest submissions published so far

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Ideas, Not People

Should SharperIron serve as a place for people to out other people, especially leaders?

We don’t have a “final” answer to that question. What we do have is a clear idea of what SharperIron has been about so far and what it’s about right now. It is not about victim advocacy, justice, exposing coverups or holding evil-doers accountable.

For a few months (especially the last six weeks or so), conversations have been occurring in various places on the ‘Net expressing various levels of displeasure regarding SharperIron’s failure to “publish something about x” or “say something about y” or “hold z accountable.”

We’ve had a fair amount of discussion about that, and related matters, on the moderating team. Several of us have had conversations with concerned individuals outside the team.

The time seems right to try to clarify a couple of things.

Why SharperIron is not a place for “outing” people

1. No website can be about everything.

Though SI has “scooped” a story a few times in it’s six-plus years, that sort of thing has been more the exception than the rule. In almost every case, if something has turned out to be “big news” after it hit SI, it would have been big news anyway, because we learned of it through some published news outlet. So making news—especially about individuals—has not been “our thing.”

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Announcing: 2011 SharperIron Writing Contest

It’s that time again! SharperIron is inviting anyone with writing talent to submit an article for our 3rd annual Writing Contest. This year, we’ll be selecting up to four winning articles and awarding each a spot on the front page as well as $75 (but you could win a good bit more! See below.) If you submit more than one article, you might even win more than once.

Below, you’ll find the usual details, but first, note that a few things are different this year.

  • Registered users can click the “like this” link on contest articles to give them votes. The “likes” count will be a factor (not the only factor) in choosing the winning submissions.
  • All contest submissions this year will be tagged “2011 Contest,” so you’ll be able to view all the contest entries in one place by clicking here.
  • To encourage writers to submit, we’re simultaneously running a “Chip-In” campaign. Donations to the campaign will be divided up among the winners, in addition to the $75 prize. A percentage may be divided among the non-winners as a consolation prize.

The deadline for turning in an article for the contest is midnight, July 15.

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Announcing: Revised Comment Policy

signThe SharperIron moderating and admin team has learned a thing or two the last couple of years. As far as policy is concerned, we’ve got a better idea of what sort of tool a forum comment policy is, what it needs to do for us and what it needs to include.

Accordingly, we’ve revised the site Comment Policy, and the new edition goes into effect today. We strongly encourage everyone who is a registered participant at SI to read through it and tell us what you think. We’re not above making a few quick tweaks right away if they turn out to be necessary. Above all, we want to make sure what’s intended is sufficiently clear.

So, by all means, ask “Why?” or “Why not?” or “What does that mean?” (or maybe even “Are you out of your mind?!”)

In general, the new CP focuses more on principles: post what’s legal, ethical, doctrinally healthy, and helpful. The particulars are still “rules,” but serve as examples of the principles we’re aiming for. The new CP emphasizes that the listed rules are not intended to be exhaustive. Being what we are as human beings, we can come up with an endless variety of ways to conform to a rule while thwarting a principle.

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Random Thoughts on the Year Ahead

Please consider this post as being intentionally below our usual front page standards. “Intentionally,” because we’re coming off of a holiday and I haven’t completely taken my heels off my desk yet.

What I aim to do here is share some pretty much random thoughts on the year past and the one head from a SharperIron point of view.

The year past

Over all, twenty-ten was not a bad year for SI. Site traffic was down about 3% compared to the year before, but from October 1 on, was higher than the year before by a significant and increasing margin. November increased over October and December increased over November. It’s hard to tell yet whether that represents a trend. But I’m encouraged by the fact that we began 2010 with traffic levels below those of 2009 and finished the year well above them.

Of course, site traffic is kind of like church attendance. It’s just the easiest factor to look at to gauge how you’re doing—not necessarily the most meaningful one.

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