Where Music & Dance Fall Face First Into The Internet

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How To Fix Or Improve Song Fu Voting:

I know people have been complaining about the unfair voting system for a long time. Hopefully this blog will show that it is possible to at least improve on the current system by giving a couple possible solutions.

For about a month the suggestion of forcing people to vote for 5 people has been floating around. Before I talk about what could work, let me tell you why this is a bad idea. A lot of people come to the site & only vote for 1 person, which is the reasoning for this suggestion of forcing votes. A lot of those people are probably fans of an individual artist who are only coming to support that artist, and do not listen to everyone’s music. Granted that isn’t a good thing, but forcing someone to vote for 4 other people doesn’t mean they will actually listen to all the other tracks. It just means that they will continue to vote for that 1 person then randomly select 4 other people. That doesn’t help the problem at all, it actually makes it worse. Instead of getting 1 thoughtless vote from someone you’re getting 5. It could even out the vote count a little, but not much, and who wants votes if they're from people who don’t bother to listen to the songs? The point is to grow as an artist & expose people to your music…not just get votes.

Now what people have to understand is that if you allow the voting to be open to the public, you CAN’T have a perfect system. Some people will always have more “fans” then others, and some people will vote for reasons other then merit & talent. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to use your voting criteria. Every system you look at which allows the public to vote will have the same problems. I can think of 3 people in my family that vote Republican no matter who is running in every single election. Is the student body president always the most deserving person in your high school? Of course not, popularity & ignorance will always play a part in these things.

So all that being said, how can the system be fixed then? Well I don’t think anyone wants to take away the publics vote, so I say we leave that as it is. Allowing the public to feel involved is key to getting people to return to the site after all. So the winner of the popular vote should move on to the final round.

What you need to do is settle on a way to pick a second person to go up against the master in the final round. Thankfully, Song Fu 6 has shown that Ken is willing to allow 2 people in the last round. So how do you pick the 2nd person? Well there’s a few options, and they don’t require much effort from Ken. (Hell I‘d volunteer if Ken is too lazy.)

Option #1: Have the actual challengers decide who is worthy. This can be done by having each challenger e-mail Ken their votes. Sure it’s a little tedious for Ken, but it wouldn’t take long to add up 20 votes. Well I guess it could be up to 100 if he stays with the maximum of 5 votes each, but it’s still something that can be done in 5-10 minutes easy. This is probably the fairest & easiest way to do it. I mean who better to decide who moves on then the challengers themselves?

Option #2: Have a jury of music bloggers vote at the end of the competition. The person who gets the most votes from the jury competes with the master & the popular vote winner. I’m sure some people will still complain about who moves on, but it’s not a bad way to drum up some publicity. The jury could be made up of people who are known for spreading the word about online musicians like Alan Lastufka, Rafe Malach or even online musicians that have a big following that are not in the competition (like Jack Conte, Walt Ribeiro, Hank Green or any Master that isn't competing). Think about how many viewers Hank & Molly brought to the competition. Whether you’re a fan of theirs or not, having thousands of extra people exposed to your music…isn't a bad thing. Now think about how many viewers a jury of people like that could possibly bring in. It’s not going to be as fair & easy as option 1, but it can be done.

Those are the 2 options I like best, and are the only ones I’ll go into detail about now. However there are still other things you can do to improve the voting. The most obvious to me is to hide the vote count until the voting is done. This helps stop the artist from obsessing over what place they are currently in, and helps limit the people that repeatedly vote just to give someone they like a boost in the standings. I don’t know how hard it is to randomize the order of the songs for each individual visit to the site, but that's a good idea as well.

To summarize…there are 3 things that have to be realized…

- When you allow the public to vote…it WON’T be perfect, and ignorance & popularity will play a part.

- The only way to fix this is to come up with a second system to work in tandem with the popular vote, or to eliminate the popular vote.

- It’s not about the votes.

Unfortunately the Song Fight community has a much stronger grasp of that last point, then the Song Fu community.


  1. Pt1:
    (Cos its giving me a bogus error message about 4096 characters)

    Hey Travis-
    Obviously a lot of thought has gone into this,
    but it's missing a point- It's only an opinion-
    Because for some people, it IS about the votes.
    Or rather, it’s about the vote being 'fairer'.

    It seems to be getting lost that SF is still a 'contest'- with a rather hefty, expensive prize at the end of it. After all, if people are entering, & they don’t *care* about the vote, why not just enter songs as *shadows* & clear space for those who want to actually compete?

    Y'see, I’ve spoken with a LOT of people engaged in The Fu since SF3, & we all like to say the vote doesn’t matter- but, at the heart of it, I've seen those same people ECSTATIC when their vote's increasing.

    The contention that 'forcing a vote' won’t mean more people'll listen to the music is a little disingenuous, because people are ALREADY not listening to the music by coming in, voting once & shutting down.
    I would even wager without listening to the song of the individual they are voting for

    'Forcing' the 5 votes will help level the playing field.
    It’ll hinder the runaway expansion of votes with no-one else getting a look in.
    It’ll return a sense of adventure to the contest.
    It may ALSO make people think;
    “Well, if I have to vote ANYWAY, I may as well listen.”

    But, to do this, The Fu must stay at the level it is.
    No more 30+ 1st round entries.
    Maybe even return the knock out round.

    Y’see, you can't have it both ways.
    You can't say all that above & then use the argument, 'Think about how many viewers Hank & Molly brought to the competition'

    All that did was bring in multiple 100’s of individual votes for Hank and Molly.
    500+ more votes than their closest challenger in the last round?
    Most of them coming in the last day?
    With a TINY increase in other votes?

    It must also be said this was before SF went through its unfortunate Master-Lack which certainly led to a drop off of regular visitors.

    Y'see, SF is many things to many people.
    To me the *vote* is an intrinsic part OF it.
    The battle that Sara Parsons & I went through during SF5 was IMMENSE, and thrilling - because the vote was shifting all the time & it looked, to me anyway, that this WAS down to people actually listening to the songs.
    Because neither Sara nor I have the 1000’s & 1000’s of 'followers' others have.
    To 'me' that’s what the contest part of the competition is all about.

  2. Pt2:
    It was (to my mind) a TRUE vote, which is why I was so VERY pleased & proud to win it-because I felt it was an actual vindication of my abilities & dare I say, talent. And a HUGE kudos to Sara's also.

    Mollys & Hanks -in essence people who make a living by creating music- being included in the Challenger Section makes the point of votes moot.
    So why bother with it at all- in THOSE circumstances?

    No matter what anyone says about the vote 'not mattering', NO-ONE likes having their arse handed to them, but especially not when that outcome is a forgone conclusion.

    Everything you say about the taking part, the experience, the honing of talents etc is TRUE. But the VOTE can be just as important.
    And that’s why it needs to be addressed.

    Do *I* have the answer?

    HELL, NO!!!

    But, I LOVE Song Fu, despite it's flaws, so much so that I decided to Shadow these rounds rather than *enter* because, right NOW, the votes DON'T matter to me... but to be honest, that’s because I've just won.

    I hated watching songs which 'to my mind' were AWFUL (Peep fight anyone?) flying ahead of the pack due to single votes.
    It makes a mockery of the entire thing.

    My hope is this isn’t viewed as an *argument*, or even a critiscism of the Fu.
    OR of any of the contestants in this incarnation.

    We’re ALL aware these problems are inherent in online contest.
    The *panel* idea isn’t a bad one, but the panel would also have to be seen as impartial, & how could that be assured?
    People may say they don’t care about the vote.
    But I am sure they also want their output to be treated fairly.

    To all Song Fu-ers past & present...
    Keep on doing what you are doing... & I'll keep listening and voting!

    I love you guys and gals!