Summer Promptathon?

3:12 PM, Tuesday June 13th 2023

Hi Uncomfortable. I was just wondering if there was going to be another promptathon soon. I have really come to enjoy those. The interesting and detailed prompts coupled with the time limits makes for an a really fun challenge.

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9:48 PM, Wednesday June 14th 2023

As things stand right now, yes, but I haven't completely committed to that and won't until I actually announce it. Reason being, in the middle of last month when I was starting work on getting the promptathon going, I suddenly had to drop everything and fly across the country to attend a funeral, which also accelerated our existing travel plans to help my parents move into a new house. We only just got back, so now I'm looking at whether or not I'll be able to get all of the preparatory work done in time.

I am of course glad to hear you're enjoying them. While we're still not really sure if they meet their intended goal of giving our TAs an actual break (we still get a significant increase in submissions right after they conclude, which suggests that it may not be working), but we know the promptathons are beneficial for other reasons. We want to be able to do them seasonally, but they are quite expensive to run (both in time/labour and in actual costs to offload some of that work), so we're not yet at a point where we can feasibly commit to them every three months. Hopefully we will be at that point before too long, and we're considering some things - like making the September/fall promptathon a revisiting of old favourite prompts, allowing students to earn their avatars if they'd missed them - to help reduce those costs.

5:40 PM, Thursday June 15th 2023

So sorry to hear about the funeral. My condolences to you and your family.

I have noticed the increase in submissions myself and you are probably right that people may still just be using the time to continue their lesson work. It does not appear from submissions that everybody is spending as much time on the prompts as perhaps they could. I am surprised to learn about the cost, but it makes sense. The detail on the prompts is impressive compared to other prompts I have seen online. Have you thought of user submitted prompts to use as a pool of resource? Maybe a little less work for you guys.

I said I enjoy doing them, but for anyone reading this let me explain specifically why I think the prompts are useful for me. One, I am applying everything that I have learned (not just from Drawabox, but all of the sources that I have used). This can be a real stretch and it always feels like I am tackling something that is just out of reach of my current skills. Two, really doing the 50% rule. I tend to work in spurts and only draw personal stuff when inspired. I can go days or weeks before the inspiration hits. The Promptathon forces me to put in the time. The prompts themselves are detailed enough that I find myself spending a few hours on each prompt. This is also a stretch. I hear of some artists spending days and weeks on a piece. I'm still working up to that level of commitment. Finally, I think drawing something that is not your idea is great practice. Working artists are often spending most of their time on somebody else's project. The prompts force you to draw outside your comfort zone in terms of subject. I have been inspired to try things I never would have done on my own. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I've learned something either way. So my recommendation is give the team a real break, really push yourself with the prompts, and see how much of what you are learning shows in the final projects.

7:12 PM, Thursday June 15th 2023

You've certainly hit the nail on the head for many of the reasons the promptathons have clearly shown their value to the community. The biggest for me is when people struggle with the 50% rule, but are able to find the courage to participate with the rest of the community (the communal aspect likely helps here) to give "just drawing" a shot. I've heard from many of them that participating in the promptathons helped them better understand what the 50% rule is about, and to keep it going afterwards.

As to taking user submitted prompts, there's something of a mixture of reasons why we don't really want to go down that road. The main one being that we have a policy against accepting unpaid labour where that labour would otherwise be assigned to paid contractors. It allows us to maintain a certain standard for things that reflect upon the resource/website/business as a whole, while also giving us the confidence that we're not taking advantage of anyone to achieve our goals.

Instead, our long term plans are to set aside a chunk of the budget to have both the avatars and the example illustrations completed by contractors from the community (as with all our contractors, these are people I choose based on what I see in the discord, rather than something with open applications). Currently sluggy (one of our older TAs who now handles a lot of the overflow illustrations for the videos) is paid to handle the avatars, mainly cleaning up and colouring my rough sketches. I still handle all of the example illustrations, and am about to start on those for this upcoming promptathon after finishing this reply, but eventually I want to offload some, then all of that.

The promptathons are certainly here to stay, although there may be some adjustments. For example, if they don't really have the desired impact for our TAs, we might eventually give up on that aspect of it - meaning, we'd still run the promptathon events, but wouldn't force TAs to stop their own work if they don't wish to. In that case, we'd also remove the "double credits" bonus for participation, as that would only increase costs and workload for our team, while failing to achieve their intent.

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