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What Else Are You Reading? > 2019: Sword & Laser Book Club Challenges

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message 1: by Rob, Roberator (last edited Jan 06, 2019 09:58PM) (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
Challenges are live. More details and updated stats to follow.

Main Challenges
Sword Challenge: 10,000 Fantasy Books
Laser Challenge: 10,000 Sci-Fi Books

Side Challenges
Graphic Novel Challenge: 25,000 Comics/Manga/Etc
Short Story Challenge: 10,000 Short Stories

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Challenge FAQ

General Questions

What are the Group Challenges? The group challenges are a feature of Goodreads that allows a group the ability to create various challenges for members to participate. Sword & Laser first started doing group challenges

How can I sign up? Click on one or more of the links above to sign up for the challenge(s) you wish to participate.

Which Challenges Should I Join? As many as you want. That includes none for those of you who are uninterested. It's totally optional. Although if you're along with the group each month, you could pledge 6 sword and 6 laser picks for the year even if you won't read any others. But no pressure!

The Graphic Novel and Short Story challenges are new for 2019 and a bit of an experiment. I probably won't be given them the same attention as the Sword and Laser challenges, but if you read that stuff, they are there for you to join along!

Why aren't my books being counted?
The main reasons I've seen is that either:

1) Your challenge isn't pointing at the correct shelf
2) Your book isn't on the correct shelf
3) You didn't mark the book with a read date of 2019

I completed my challenge, why isn't it being counted? Last year we found the count of challenges completed was buggy. As such that number is unreliable. The book counts should be correct however assuming you've shelved your books and marked them as read.

Does this relate to the monthly pick? Nope. The types of challenges we do, the books we read, have no impact on how the group is being run. It's the same as always. This is more of a side thing for people to participate in.

Sword/Laser Challenge Questions

How Many Books are We Trying to Read? Both the Sword & the Laser challenges are each trying to hit 10,000 books. Both fell short last year, but we still read a lot of books as a group! The number read is the sum of all books for all members participating in a given challenge. So if 500 people read the monthly book, that's 500 books, not 1.

What Books Qualify? We're asking you only count Novella length books or longer. That's 17,500 words, 50 pages or 2 hours of audio.

The format doesn't matter (physical book, ebook, audio book).

We are asking you not to count graphic novels or short stories. Those have their own challenges this year anyways.

What Should I do if I'm not sure the genre of a book I'm reading?
You can ask in the thread, but in general I always suggest to use your best judgement. If something isn't clearly Sword or Laser, or you think it's both. Count it however you think makes sense. We're not auditing the books you contribute, we just ask you try to follow the guidelines.


Graphic Novel Challenge Questions
I read trades, should I be shelving/tracking Issues? No, please only count books by trade.

I only read issues/there is no trade, what should I do? If you're reading issues and a trade exists/has been created, we ask you to track by that. If none is available or you don't want to shelve comics twice, we're going by a rule of thumb to shelve every 5th issue to roughly simulate a single trade. As with most things, use your best judgement.

Does Manga Count? Yup! We just ask you count the trades, not individual chapters. If you're reading online via Crunchyroll or Shonen Jump, etc often times there will still be a trade book created on Goodreads even if the English translation isn't listed yet.

Short Story Challenge Questions
Should I count individual stories? That's the idea, although I've been told Goodreads tends to remove any individual stories in favor of collections/anthologies. I'm not sure how this is going to work out, if you're participating your feedback is welcome.

----------------------------------------

Survey Challenge Results
In December 2018, I posted a short survey to get a general sense of feedback.

Here are the final results (I'm putting the results in spoiler tags simply to keep this post shorter/focused on this year's details):

(view spoiler)


message 2: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4913 comments Done.

I do think T&V should mention it on the podcast more. I suspect that will boost participation.


message 3: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
I've asked, but I haven't heard back yet. I sent a follow-up email today.


message 4: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 992 comments Done too.

Would love to have these challenges:
Female authors
Short stories
Novelette and novella


message 5: by David (new)

David (farrakut) | 751 comments I've made this comment a few times, but can't hurt to make it again.

If we go the short story route, be aware that the numbers may fluctuate--potentially badly--over the course of the year, as short stories (unless published individually, like on an author's webpage or from Amazon) are NOT supposed to have Goodreads pages, so are subject to deletion by GR librarians. (Heck, there is a whole controversy where the magazine FIYAH keeps getting deleted, despite the fact that literary magazines are allowed!).

(Side note: Individual stories published on sites like Clarkesworld and Uncanny Magazine aren't supposed to get individual pages either, despite the structure of the website--but the magazine issue is.)

Collections and anthologies--since they're books--are not going to be deleted, and most novellas are published individually (unless it's in one of the magazines like the aforementioned Uncanny or Asimov's/Analog/F&SF). And most SF magazine issues should be allowed, too (including FIYAH)--unless someone deletes them.


message 6: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
Silvana wrote: "Done too.

Would love to have these challenges:
Female authors
Short stories
Novelette and novella"


Right now we're allowing Novellas in the normal challenges.

What would you do for the female author challenge? Any book written by a female author? Female SFF books? One for each?

---------------

Along there lines someone also commented about encouraging diverse voices, but I'm not really what that looks like. Any non-white or non-binary author?

We can create as many challenges as people want, but so far most of the feedback indicates just sticking with the same 2 we ran this year.

I hadn forgotten about the issues with short stories David mentioned too. For me, I only ever read them in anthologies or collections, so I guess I never noticed.

I feel like those could simply be counted as part of the main challenges though.

----------

I heard back from Tom, and he's willing to help. I asked for him to message the group and to mention it on the next podcast/put the link in the show notes.

Technically, I could message the whole group myself, but I think it will have more impact from Tom or Veronica.

Thank you to everyone whose responded so far.


message 7: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin | 266 comments It might be interesting to see the stats on a three sided non-binary/female/male challenge. The only thing I'd change about the current challenges is lowering the target number of books so it's actually achievable. I presume it could be increased later in the year if we're going to blow by it.
I just really like working towards a common goal, but there's no point in even trying to get the 10k this year because it's not within reach.


message 8: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 38 comments Here is a group for anyone who wants challenges that don't fit into this group: http://gsbyvalentinoschoolwear.co.uk/group/show/...

There are lots of great challenges there already including "Shelving Unit" where you can designate any shelf you want to read and the moderator will create new challenges if you ask. The "Where's Your Card?" challenge was suggested by me for library books.


message 9: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4913 comments Rob wrote: "Silvana wrote: "Along there lines someone also commented about encouraging diverse voices, but I'm not really what that looks like. Any non-white or non-binary author?"

Ugh, that sounds like a lot of work.

I mean, where would we put Cixin Liu, author of The Three-Body Problem? Sure, in the US he’s a “minority” but he’s a Chinese author who lives in China; there are literally half a billion guys exactly like him there.

Other than “non-binary” I don’t know where to classify someone like Charlie Jane Anders. She’s living her best life, no doubt, but I’m not sure we’ve settled on a category for people who don’t slot neatly into the male/female duality. The other day on Twitter I saw some folks adding yet another category to LGBTQIA, which I’ve already forgotten.

I think we should eschew anything to do with authors entirely. What’s next, Religious v. Atheist? Conservative v. Liberal? Short v. Tall?

Let’s stick with the work itself.


message 10: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
A few people have asked for more/better stats. I'd love to do that, since I love stats (hence the monthly stats I started doing).

However, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to do that. It's hard enough with the crappy/buggy stats goodreads provides. Doing something like page count or highlighting members who are crushing it can't really work. Or at least it's way too much work for me to try to do it.

The only numbers I get are:

1) Number of participants
2) Number of books pledged
3) Number of books read
4) Number of challenges completed (which we've found is buggy/unreliable)

Someone had a suggestion of creating threads just for tracking completions, but that's not really any different that what I'm doing with the end of year poll. However, it would allow me to more easily track the count during the year, rather than the end of the year. So I might give that a shot next year.

Given the fact that not everyone who has participated in my survey so far answered the questions for "Did you finish the sword/laser challenge"? I'm not optimistic about any sort of mechanism that requires participants to do extra work. I mean, it was 1-2 extra clicks when filling out the survey, and they just decided to not answer. The only thing I can think of is they are unsure if they'll finish and I should have added a "Maybe" option.

I do feel like trying to run an author based challenge will be harder, but I'm willing to do whatever people are interested in. So far there doesn't seem to be a swell of interest in doing anything but a repeat of 2018, but I've only had 36 people respond.

Honestly it really just comes down to how each participant shelves books and applying the right shelf to the right challenge. As I said this year, I'm not here to police anyone's contributions.

It's all for fun anyways.


message 11: by Silvana (last edited Dec 02, 2018 05:45PM) (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 992 comments David wrote: "I've made this comment a few times, but can't hurt to make it again.

If we go the short story route, be aware that the numbers may fluctuate--potentially badly--over the course of the year, as sho..."


Hmm, I did not know short stories are not supposed to have Goodreads pages. Also weird that individual stories like the ones in Tor.com can't have their pages. I actually have a short story challenge in another group, I guess I'll just continue there next year.


message 12: by Silvana (last edited Dec 02, 2018 05:54PM) (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 992 comments @Rob: I'd like a female SFF challenge and SFF novella challenge but no group target.

As for diversity challenge, here's some category included in my own 2018 challenge:

Main Character is Chinese/East Asian
Main Character is Middle Eastern
Main Character is Central Asian
Main Character is Southeast Asian
Main Character is Black
Main Character is Indian/South Asian
Main Character is Native American
Main Character is Latino
Main Character is Russian/Eastern European
Main Character is Ginger
Main Character is Gay
Main Character is Lesbian
Main Character is Bisexual
Main character is Asexual
Main Character is Transgender
Main Character is Disabled
Main Character is Not Human
Main Character does not have the ideal(ized) body type

But it was not for a group challenge, just a personal one where you can have a thread then update it as you will.


message 13: by Mark (last edited Dec 02, 2018 06:12PM) (new)

Mark (mmtz) | 1027 comments Silvana wrote: "Hmm, I did not know short stories are not supposed to have Goodreads pages. Also weird that individual stories like the ones in Tor.com can't have their pages."

Shorts published in magazines or anthologies are prohibited, but shorts are allowed if they are

* Published separately
* Published online as a specified short story (i.e. not a 'bonus')
* Complete flash fiction

See http://gsbyvalentinoschoolwear.co.uk/help/show/3...

It's unclear to me where shorts in online magazines fall. Many can be linked directly, so does that make them "published separately"?

Individual comics are another question mark. If we do a graphic novel challenge in 2019, the question "individual" or "trade" will come up. What will the Roberator rule? ;-)


message 14: by David (new)

David (farrakut) | 751 comments So Tor.com isn't as clear as an online magazine, because it doesn't really have issues (monthly or whatever). I don't add short stories on Goodreads, but I would allow Tor.com stories as a librarian.

However, Clarkesworld, Uncanny, Lightspeed, and others publish stories *specifically* as part of issues--every story is associated with a month issue. What will happen if you add such a story (and it's not republished separately) is that it will likely be merged with its parent issue and your rating will apply to the magazine or anthology it came from.

It's *very* messy, and plus, I don't like to add short stories because it makes my Goodreads challenge seem worthless since I do read so many shorts in a year.


message 15: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4913 comments Plus you run into issues such as microfiction, like those one- or two-sentence stories people write on Twitter.

That would essentially be logging individual daily 3-panel comics as separate stories. I mean, technically they *are* but....


message 16: by Mark (last edited Dec 02, 2018 07:01PM) (new)

Mark (mmtz) | 1027 comments Another tidbit for this discussion. Someone added every 2018 Hugo nominated short to Goodreads, regardless of how they were published, making it simple to track reading them.


message 17: by Mark (new)

Mark Kaye | 122 comments I love listening to S&L there are lot of Authors and Series of book that I read now because of S&L. But I don’t like reading challenges, it’s just me. It takes the fun out of the story. I prefer the story, rather than how many books I can read in the year. Just my opinion, I mean no offence.


message 18: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (JohnTaloni) | 2618 comments ^ I don't like the challenges either as I prefer a more unstructured reading style, so I just stay out of the way and let others enjoy them. Participation isn't mandatory. We're all here for the fun.


message 19: by Allison (new)

Allison Hurd | 200 comments I like the group challenge of just swords and lasers! I really want to hit 10k! I don't mind slightly unobtainable goals if they're encouraging ones. We're not too far off, maybe next year!!

If inclusivity/diversity is something the group wants, there's lots of ways to add that to challenges (non-white, lgbtqia, woman & fem-presenting authors, etc), but if that's not something the group is interested in looking out for expressly, then I say stick to the big buckets--this S&L challenge was uniquely S&Ls this year and that was fun.


message 20: by David (new)

David | 67 comments I like the group challenge. I just didn't realize until today that none of my entries were actually credited toward completing the challenge. This may be just me, but I haven't generally entered the date I completed reading the book, which in turn kept them from being counted. So today I just entered some guesses at when those dates were (they were at least in this year). I wonder how many other people faced the same issue - the group totals could be much higher and just aren't reporting.


message 21: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 36 comments Next year I'll be challenging myself to read more Classic Sci-Fi and Fantasy. See how it's changed over the years.


message 22: by John (Nevets) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (Nevets) | 994 comments I tend to agree with Alison with regards to the 10K number. I'd prefer to have a goal that is slightly out of reach, and encourages striving for it. As apposed to one that looks like a nearly sure thing. It appears we will be near 15% of the goal in committed Sword books, and under 25% off for committed Laser books. That doesn't sound like it was a drastic under estimate. Granted, we may not even hit it in 2019, but I think it will be achieved sometime.

All that being said, I'm not helping the cause much, and I'm not competitive enough for gamification to encourage me to read more, so I'm not an ideal participant. If others are encouraged by more achievable goal, then maybe that is what we should do.


message 23: by Randall (new)

Randall Andrews (marsman1) | 1 comments Did the survey!


message 24: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 36 comments John (Nevets) wrote: "I tend to agree with Alison with regards to the 10K number. I'd prefer to have a goal that is slightly out of reach, and encourages striving for it. As apposed to one that looks like a nearly sure ..."

I agree. Keep it at 10,000.


message 25: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
We're approaching 400 responses to the poll, which is great! (It was only about 50 people prior to Tom's broadcast message). Thanks to everyone whose already filled one out!

However apparently about half of those people didn't participate this year.

We had roughly 500 people participate in each challenge, which means about 300 people who participated haven't responded to the survey yet.

My plan it let the survey run through the end of the year, but to evaluate results midway through the month (roughly around 12/15) and try to come up with a plan for 2019 before the holidays so we can hit the ground running on New Year's day.

There are a lot of good ideas so far, although many of them aren't feesible. People apparently love stats and want more/better stats. But as I mentioned above what Goodreads gives me is limited. A lot of these requests would require Goodreads to improve their Group Challenge data/pages.

I'm also getting a lot of general feedback on the group as a whole. I should remind people that I'm not running Sword & Laser with Tom and Veronica. I'm just a very active member that they gave moderator status to.

I'll pass along your ideas/suggestions, but inevitably it will be up to them if they want to incorporate any of them into how they run the group.

Finally, I'm seeing some confusion, questions about things like finding out what we're reading or how things are selected. I feel like all of that is covered already in the FAQ but if there is something you'd like to see added to that, please post a suggestion over there.

My guess is those folks simply don't read the group/know the FAQ thread exists.


message 26: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Richter (StephenofLongBeach) | 923 comments I am going to do this again, If you want to read more short stories please go to the website:

http://www.rocketstackrank.com/search...

Create after the Puppies controversy, its goal is to list best short stories create each month from both print and online. The site points to where you can find it, how long it would take to read the story and some of the stories even has audio.


message 27: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
Last call for filling out the survey. I'll be leaving it open until the end of the year, but I plan to compile the results and start planning for next year's challenges this weekend.


message 28: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2253 comments I'm a bit late to this as I was on vacation last week and unable to answer so I'll throw my $0.02 in now.

I think keeping it simple is best. Sci-fi and fantasy goals are easiest. However, I know a lot of people make goals to read books already on their TBR pile so maybe that can be a goal? Really encourage the group to read stuff they've been meaning to.


message 29: by Clyde (new)

Clyde (wishamc) | 314 comments Rob wrote: "Last call for filling out the survey. I'll be leaving it open until the end of the year, but I plan to compile the results and start planning for next year's challenges this weekend."

Rob,
The link to that survey is rather obscure, buried in a line of text as it is. I overlooked it at first. Just searched and found it.


message 30: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
Clyde wrote: "Rob wrote: "Last call for filling out the survey. I'll be leaving it open until the end of the year, but I plan to compile the results and start planning for next year's challenges this weekend."

..."


I added it again at the bottom on the post, does that help?


message 31: by Clyde (new)

Clyde (wishamc) | 314 comments ...I added it again at the bottom on the post, does that help?"

I expect so for those who haven't found it yet.


message 32: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
Clyde wrote: "...I added it again at the bottom on the post, does that help?"

I expect so for those who haven't found it yet."


Yeah. Participation has been pretty good. About half of the people (250+) who signed up in 2018 did the survey, and another 250+ who didn't participate in 2019 did as well (total is 553).

Although I think there has been some confusion about what the survey was for. Some filled it out as general feedback for the group, but still I think I have a better idea on what to try for next year.


message 33: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
So I updated the opening post with stats from the survey. I'll update it again when I have details about the 2019 challenges.


message 34: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 992 comments Thanks for all the hard work, Rob!


message 35: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4913 comments Silvana wrote: "Thanks for all the hard work, Rob!"

Yes, ditto that.


message 36: by Linnea (new)

Linnea (RobotMaria) | 65 comments I've answered the poll, and in conclusion I just have to say that I've really enjoyed doing the challenges (even though I failed the laser challenge). My only wish for next year is that we have a comic challenge, I would really enjoy that.


message 37: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
Last call on filling out the survey. I'll be shutting off responses sometime this weekend (whenever I get around to doing a final pass at the stats).


message 38: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
2019 Challenges are live. Apparently I could have posted them sooner and just didn't realize. Oops.

Well they are up now and I'll include links in the next monthly group message (had I realized, I would have made them BEFORE the December message. Live and Learn).

I'm also planning to put together a challenge FAQ at some point. So if you have questions or suggestions for stuff, please let me know and I'll see about adding it.

I've decided to add 2 new challenges for 2019, while keeping the Sword/Laser challenges the same as 2018. I'm keeping the new ones as "side" challenges, simply because there is enough interest to try them, but I already spend too much time on the monthly upkeep and I don't want to promise the same level of attention I give everything else.

Most relevant details will be going in the original post to keep things in one easy to find location, but I'll periodically post when I make updates to it so people following the thread are notified.

Anyways, here are the challenges. More to come after I've had some breakfast.

Main Challenges
Sword Challenge: 10,000 Fantasy Books
Laser Challenge: 10,000 Sci-Fi Books

Side Challenges
Graphic Novel Challenge: 25,000 Comics/Manga/Etc
Short Story Challenge: 10,000 Short Stories


message 39: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
I updated the results of the S&L Challenge Survey in the main post to their final numbers. The survey is now closed.

I enclosed the survey results in spoiler tags in an attempt to keep that post more focused on this year's challenges.

I also posted the final results for our 2018 challenges: http://gsbyvalentinoschoolwear.co.uk/topic/show/...


message 40: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 2338 comments Mod
A challenge FAQ would be a good idea.

25,000 Graphic Novel Volumes/TPB seems a bit high.


message 41: by Ian (new)

Ian Seal (Rebel-Geek) | 85 comments I have a theory regarding the inaccurate numbers for the 2018 challenge:
Some participants may have been simply marking books read and adding them to the challenge shelf. We must mark a book as Currently Reading then select “I’ve finished this book” as well as adding the book to the challenge shelf, in order for GoodReads to save the dates that make it count for the challenge.


message 42: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
Tassie Dave wrote: "25,000 Graphic Novel Volumes/TPB seems a bit high."

Yup, but those that responded seemed to think that's how many we should read!

I'm torn on the amount. On one hand I can read like 4-5 trades in one night, when I can't read even a fairly short novel in that time.

On the other hand, I've been only averaging about 10 trades/year since joining Goodreads.

We'll see how it goes. I can always adjust for next year. Assuming we do it again.


message 43: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
Ian wrote: "I have a theory regarding the inaccurate numbers for the 2018 challenge:
Some participants may have been simply marking books read and adding them to the challenge shelf. We must mark a book as Cur..."


Hmm. I hadn't heard that. Of course I always do that for books I read, so it's hard for me to say.

I was under the assumption you just needed the correct year in your read date, the correct shelf and have it marked as read.


message 44: by Ian (new)

Ian Seal (Rebel-Geek) | 85 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "A challenge FAQ would be a good idea.

25,000 Graphic Novel Volumes/TPB seems a bit high."


Agreed. I’m planning to say I read the Graphic Novel for the corresponding 5 or 6 individual issues I read from my subscription folder at the comic shop.
Also, 10,000 short stories seems high since we mainly have to read them as a collection/anthology which count as 1. It seems unbalanced that we can choose individual short stories or collections for this challenge with either counting as 1.

I wish we could select the value of a book in GR. Even with novels, I’ve seen entries for collected trilogies & box sets which would only count as 1 book if we used that entry.


message 45: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
Yeah, their challenge system is limited if you want to read anything other than novels, and even then it's not great.

Short Stories were the same sort of thing. I don't expect either one to go super well, but enough people were interested, so I'm trying them.

I can always lower the bar, but I think the bar is less important than what we actually pledge and how well we do meeting those goals.


message 46: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 2338 comments Mod
Rob wrote: "I'm torn on the amount. On one hand I can read like 4-5 trades in one night, when I can't read even a fairly short novel in that time."

I'm the same. I'm on my 3rd GN Volume for the year already. (I've added the 2 I read yesterday to my challenge total)

I doubt we'll get a high enough participation to get to 25k though.
But we'll see how we go :-)


message 47: by Bill (new)

Bill | 79 comments If you read the trade would you put the trade in or the individual issues?


message 48: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 2338 comments Mod
Bill wrote: "If you read the trade would you put the trade in or the individual issues?"

"Please limit your books to collected volumes only. No individual issues."

from Rob in the Comic Challenge guidelines

http://gsbyvalentinoschoolwear.co.uk/challenges/...


message 49: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5267 comments Mod
Sorry, I plan to put the rules here too..but today's a vacation day..and there was a LOT of upkeep this morning..


message 50: by Bill (new)

Bill | 79 comments Thanks. I didn’t realize the rules were on those pages.


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