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This is my solution to the popularity contest problem.
- Have a meta post about making a good popularity contest.
- Popularity contests after being posted must set a time period of a minimum of one day before answers are allowed to be posted. Therefore there is not a luck element to them. This would allow people to make answers and would help remove fastest gun in the west.
- The other option would be to wait a minimum of one day then record the votes on all answers then the winner is the highest increase of votes.
- Popularity contests should be written with a Objective winning criterion. Think of creativity as the tool not the guide. Give a clear example of what a ideal answer looks like. Make sure to leave room for people to expand and have fun.
- Example of good winning criterion: "Voters should consider how well the program patches the text." It allows humans to judge how well the code did. A bad example is: "Vote on how nice it looks!" that is BAD everyone views it different. You can encourage making it look nice. Offer a bounty for objective things like that.
- Discourage new users from using it by saying (something to this effect) in the tag wiki snippet: "This tag is highly risky. New users should avoid using this tag without posting first in the sandbox."
- To quote a removed user: "Another thing you want to make sure of is that the challenge is still ontopic for the site. If there were a challenge "write code that draws a pretty image", popularity-contest would clearly be the best possible victory criterion. That doesn't make the challenge a good popularity contest, though, because it's a bad challenge, and giving it an appropriate victory condition won't change that. It's important to pick a topic for which writing a popular answer will take skill (especially programming skill), and where the subject matter isn't too far from the sort of subject matter normally covered on this site."
That is my personal view on what we should do. What do you think?