Wow don't know how I missed that part, oopsies :~)
Maybe it won't matter, but at the same time, it could skew the results a little bit in determining who gets into the final round, which could then maybe affect third or even second place. Personally, I don't see why not balance out the groups as fairly as possible. If nothing else, balancing out the groups may encourage voting for that last round. If you presume that the majority of voting happens from the people in that round (who are looking out for themselves), then a group of three might not encourage as many votes as the other groups. Most of this could end up being irrelevant, but at the same time, seeing as the last rounds haven't even been announced yet, why not balance them out as SLC suggested? It's not like any harm comes out of it.
Credit to HikaruIzumi for the awesome avatar!
To be fair, offering people 3k for voting will get enough people to vote that I don't think the difference will be noticeable. That being said, since there will be no difference there is no argument one way or the other. Which leaves it up to Buoy since he is running.
And again, my other point still stands. Having a small group of three compared to every other group could result in a story making it into the final round when in fact, another story in one of the other groups might be better but was just forced into a tougher group with an excellent story. Let's make this an extreme example say that this story was, by consensus, the second best in the competition. But, it was forced into a group with the best story, and therefore won't get into the final round. If, however, if was shifted over to the smaller group, then it would enter the final round and win second place, a very noticeable difference from if it was stuck in the earlier group. That's definitely an extreme example, but it's also why balancing the groups as much as is possible is ideal. Your preference is to avoid that if you can, right?
Either way, I'm bored of talking about this. Do what you want with this
I think based on this problem, there should be an evening of the groups and maybe even an extra round for all of the second places? I mean, obviously this doesn't totally solve the problem, but ya gotta figure it would help.
Personally I think 3k isn't that bad of an incentive to vote. If you vote every round you make more than the cash portion of the prize for first place and all you have to do is read some stories and pick the three you like the most. For this first round nocturnalDualblade, ccdefoe2000, Bunnerz, WhiteWove Cleric, YellowMagikarp, and myself got in a Skype call and read the stories for the round, incorporating fun voices where appropriate and/or not appropriate. It was a pretty fun night and in the end we each get 3k for having an enjoyable time. Not to mention Yellow and I got points for our stories by voting.
Personally I intend on doing this Skype thing for each round. You can't really beat getting 3k for doing effectively nothing. Read, have fun, get paid for doing it. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.
As for the number of voters each round, I've mentioned five in this post that I am pretty sure will continue to vote each round. Not to mention myself. And before someone mentions it, we all seem to have a fairly diverse concept of what we like and what we don't. There was one story in particular that pretty much hit every possible level of like or dislike between the six of us, one of us really liked it, one of us was glad when it was over, a couple of us didn't have an opinions one way or the other. Obviously I can't name the story as this round is still going on. But I would assume that between the six of us it was probably voted first, second, third, and not at all in some combination.
So right there you have six individuals willing to vote each round and rather diversely at that. Add to that the people that will vote to help bump their own story and each round has give or take ten voters minimum. Then there will of course be other voters. In the end I think you will find that regardless of the number of stories in the round there while likely be a relatively equal number of voters from round to round. If anything, the smaller rounds would encourage more voters due to less perceived work in voting. Which would likely balance out with the idea that people will vote when their story is up.
So again, while I see where people are coming from on the number of stories in a round, I personally think Buoy's set up will work fine. Besides, the only way to eliminate all the issues with the system would be to have just one round in which all stories are up for vote. Which would lose voters because they would perceive it as too much work. Some of the writers would opt not to vote because they would see three free points for voting as not enough to push them above the competition. Beyond that, at that point 3k would become too low a pay. Let's face it, one time pay of 3k and the competition is over, compared to five or six times getting paid 3k before the competition is over. Same per vote, but more chances to vote makes it more appealing.
And then of course, in the end, the person that wins will be the best story in the competition anyway and second and third place will be the second best and third best of the best. Therefore it would be unlikely that a story that gets voted out in the primary rounds would be considered better than the stories that make it to the finals, thus making it worthy of second place. That's my opinion anyway. If there is really concern about it, convince Buoy to add an honorable mention place that can be any story from any round and give them like 3k and a Medium Pokemon or something.
tl;dr: I think the competition is set up just fine and I am willing to type a long post to get that point across because I have already seen the episode of Futurama that is on like a hundred times and there is nothing else to do right now.
That's the thing with the rounds -- what sort of round you're in is entirely up to chance. Sure, you could be in a difficult round and other stories could be better than yours in that round, but that's simply how it is. I'm not picking and choosing the stories that go into each round, so it's a fairly random process. Sure, the second-best story in the competition could be forced into a round where the first best story is, but that's tough luck. 'Balancing out the rounds', as you put it, may still result in largely the same people in the same rounds, with only a few being put into other rounds as a result. Look at the SWC 2011: Dragoness' story was in the same round as MagikChicken's, and I think that perhaps Dragoness' story was better than my own at the time, and I was the one who got third place in that competition because I was in a different round. It's just how it is. Additionally, although a round with less people may not draw as many voters because the authors who have their stories in that round may not want to vote for it, that's also how it turns out, and what are we going to get by balancing out the rounds? One person?
By the way, I'm going to be late with getting the results for this round up, since I'm away all weekend, I believe.
Okay, looks like I managed to scrape some internet access... so RESULTS.
Summer Snow | 3 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 2 + 3 (+3) = 28
Liquid Heat | 1 + 2 = 3
Revelations | 2 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 1 (+3) = 18
The Smokeless Fire | 1 + 3 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 1 (+3) = 12
The Slowpoke Challenge | 1 + 3 + 2 + 1 (+3) = 10
Our winner this round is the inestimable Sormeki! Good job on such a well-written story, and we'll see you in the final round. You can claim 5k for your endeavours. :>
Thank you also to our wonderful voters this time around:
Jack of Clovers
You can all claim 3k for your own efforts! Hushie, you did submit late, but I'm allowing it seeing as I thought I was going to be without internet access until Monday evening anyway.
Yes, Sormeki, you get to claim this 3k as well. :>
Here comes ROUND TWO:
Claiming round one voter pay.
I'm taking my $3,000, thanks.