CSR is the largest and most popular recurring challenge on the Automation forums, but of late has metastasised into something it was really never meant to be, with extremely long deadlines, long turnarounds and frequently very long-winded reviews and world-building.
While it is fantastic that we have a community that is very committed to doing the very best job that they can, and are so willing to devote an incredible amount of time and effort into not just their builds, but also into running the challenges themselves, we’re at a point where these extremely long-winded, 2+ month turnarounds on CSR have strayed so far from what the challenge is supposed to be, that it’s actually causing us issues in the community at large. People obviously complain about the time these rounds take, but the knock-on effect is that it has a serious damping effect on forums traffic - with slower turnarounds, people don’t read the forums as much or as long, and quite often other very worthy challenges go un-noticed and underappreciated because there just isn’t the sort of traffic “push” that CSR used to generate.
A Possible Solution
What I am proposing, is that after the conclusion of the current CSR, that we have a wholesale return to the roots of CSR. Namely:
Quick turnarounds - Ideally, CSR should turn over completely every two weeks, maybe three if it’s an exceptionally large challenge. This is also a key aspect of why CSR was such a compelling challenge before, is that the quick turnarounds forced entrants to make design choices that they otherwise wouldn’t have to, and learn to work efficiently to create the best possible design in a short amount of time.
Re-focus on the cars and reviews, less on the world-building - While a certain amount of world-building is necessary for a good CSR round, we don’t need multiple maximum-length posts of character and world-building to make it happen. This needlessly prolongs the challenge, makes it difficult for hosts to keep up with the workload and (as has happened before) can end up with a host writing themselves into a corner, so to speak. Challenges heavy in world-building are, in my opinion, better off being their own stand-alone entities, rather than part of CSR or any other recurring challenge.
Maintaining a balance of challenge versus accessibility - Being the largest recurring challenge on the forums means that CSR needs to maintain a balance of producing interesting and compelling challenges, versus being accessible to as many potential entrants as possible. For example, mandating interior design, while nice in terms of visual appeal, dramatically increases the amount of time and effort that entrants need to put in, and might turn off a lot of potential entrants, particularly those who are still new to Automation.
From my perspective as Community Manager, one of my biggest motivations for doing this is, quite simply, CSR makes for good marketing material, and gives me something that I can bring to the community at large, or to prospective buyers of Automation, and say, “look, we have this exciting and fun competition that our community runs, you should be a part of it!” Having CSR turn around every two to three weeks makes this a much easier sell, from my perspective, than if it’s every two months. And in the end, we all want more people to be drawn into the community; it’s the lifeblood of what makes Automation as good as it is!
The Argument Against
There are also very good arguments against this return to CSR’s roots that deserve to be discussed as well.
There is a place for a long-form build challenge - This is probably the biggest and best argument against returning CSR to it’s roots, is that there is clearly a strong desire for a recurring, long-form build challenge series.
A long-form build challenge allows for much more detailed builds - More build time allows entrants to take on stuff like detailed interior designs, complex re-shaping of cars with 3D fixture use and creating complex advertisements and Photoshop showcases for their entries. While it made sense for quick turn-arounds before Automation had 3D fixtures, it makes less sense now.
Where You Come In
We’re going to have a poll!
Polling will close in a week, so get your votes in while you can!