1 2 3 Previous 105 Replies Latest reply on Jan 22, 2021 7:10 PM by dougw

    What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?

    tariq.ahmad

      Its been a long time since we've made any kind of changes to the format of Project14 but its due for an upgrade.   Its natural for programs to evolve overtime and things can't stay the same forever. We've experimented with different things with the program and some have been received more enthusiastically than others.   I'm starting this thread to see what kind of changes you would like to see us to make with this program.  What shouldn't be touched,  what would make things more exciting, and how do we grow the program without turning it into something different?  Should it be something different?   Where does Project14 fit in with the larger community?  Before getting this conversation underway, I would like to stress that the goal is to improve not diminish the program.  My managers have been very supportive from the beginning of this program and I want to reward their confidence.   Some of these changes are workload related.  Others are business related.  I'm open to all ideas and suggestions.

       

      Topics on the Table:

       

      - Launch Themes Every Other Month or Keep them Monthly?

      - Shorter Contests or Longer Contests?

      - If we have fewer contests Is there Stuff We Can Do In-Between?

      - How Can We Make It Easier For More People to Participate?

      - Should We have Bigger Prizes?

      - Should we have a giveaway before we launch every contest?

      - Most Importantly How Do We Make These More Fun?

        • 1. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
          ntewinkel

          Hi Tariq,

           

          I kind of like the way things are set up right now, I just wish I had more time to spend on it.

          I've just had a few meetings with my managers and they've allowed me to free up my Friday afternoons for random tech projects, so I should be back soon

           

          > Shorter Contests or Longer Contests?

          I wouldn't mind seeing more weekend- or afternoon-sized quick projects happening. Maybe there can be an in-between kind of contest with that kind of criteria?

          I love seeing what people are building, of all kinds of sizes and budgets, so I wouldn't want to discourage that, but shorter quick-builds would allow for more try-this-at-home participation.

          It's great to see all those amazing projects people have built, but I wonder if that might discourage novice makers from participating when shadowed by such greatness.

           

          > Should we have a giveaway before we launch every contest?

          This runs the risk of encouraging users to sign up just for the free stuff, never to be seen again. I'd be more interested in seeing element14 offer parts for builds, which would require participants to outline their project and provide a parts list - something that maybe shows a bit more commitment.

           

          Another contest style that would be interesting would be along the theme of "build something with this specific set of $10 worth of parts".  Or even "build something that uses an old power toothbrush".

           

          Best,

          -Nico

          9 of 9 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
            ntewinkel

            Another option could be an extension or variation to the short evening/weekend projects, making it more of a teaching/learning thing: encouraging others to copy the project for themselves. Bonus points for every time your project gets built by another member.

            8 of 8 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
              tariq.ahmad

              Thanks ntewinkel ,

               

              >> Another option could be an extension or variation to the short evening/weekend projects, making it more of a teaching/learning thing: encouraging others to copy the project for themselves. Bonus points for every time your project gets built by another member.

               

              Perhaps we do more workshops around existing projects.   Do you think members would be interested in conducting workshops based on existing builds?  

               

              >> I wouldn't mind seeing more weekend- or afternoon-sized quick projects happening. Maybe there can be an in-between kind of contest with that kind of criteria?

              I love seeing what people are building, of all kinds of sizes and budgets, so I wouldn't want to discourage that, but shorter quick-builds would allow for more try-this-at-home participation.

              It's great to see all those amazing projects people have built, but I wonder if that might discourage novice makers from participating when shadowed by such greatness.

               

              We have design challenges which are longer and more complex so wouldn't want to turn it into that.   What I would consider is doing some sort of activity whether its a meet-up, a workshop, or project proposals.  The workshop with Enrico generated a lot of great project ideas and produced some really cool projects after it was done.

               

               

              >>This runs the risk of encouraging users to sign up just for the free stuff, never to be seen again. I'd be more interested in seeing element14 offer parts for builds, which would require participants to outline their project and provide a parts list - something that maybe shows a bit more commitment.

               

              Giveaway might not be the right word, in the past when we've done these its always been around project proposals.

               

              > Another contest style that would be interesting would be along the theme of "build something with this specific set of $10 worth of parts".  Or even "build something that uses an old power toothbrush".

               

              This sounds like an interesting idea.  Especially,  with people being locked down and forced to be frugal.  

               

               

              9 of 9 people found this helpful
              • 4. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
                dougw

                Great work tariq.ahmad. Project14 is a great program that enjoys sufficient participation to keep the monthly project pace lively. If you calculate the time between when the new topic poll looks conclusive and the project deadline, there is what - about 14 weeks, which is enough time to complete a decent project.

                I had fun with Project14 in 2020 and did submit some projects, but I also had a terrible struggle with supply chain issues and medical problems due to Covid, which combined to make me miss at least 3 Project14 deadlines. Hopefully those projects and others I worked on in 2020 will get published at some point even though 2021 is starting out worse that 2020. Despite the missed deadlines (one project was just missing a single component that came in a few days too late), I would not want the deadlines extended. Project14 was perfectly successful without my projects.

                I really like the fact that Project14 does not require one to commit to submitting, as is the case with road tests and design challenges, so the 3 projects I did not submit do not end up as failures to honor a commitment.

                In the case of the Recycle & Retrofit project which did involve a kind of proposal, I had to submit a different project from what I was planning because the original parts arrived too late. It was distinctly uncomfortable for me because it wasn't what I proposed or what people were expecting, and this detracted from the experience. The bottom line is I wouldn't want to inject more commitment into Project14.

                One area that might be improved is keeping track of topic suggestions. Currently it is difficult to know if a topic has already been suggested. The main posting that solicits suggestions has so many pages, it is tough to even scroll to the end and consequently members are not using it much anymore.

                On the topic of increasing participation, The motivation to participate needs to increase without significantly increasing demotivation.  Many incentives cause both effects, because the competition for desirable incentives can discourage members who have not won anything.

                One incentive might be to reward simple participation with some swag - for example if a member submits 2 or 3 Prjoject14 entries in a year, they might get some swag or a special badge, even if their projects did not win any prizes.

                10 of 10 people found this helpful
                • 5. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
                  dougw

                  I like the idea of projects that multiple members end up building.

                  Perhaps if participating members buy the BoM kit from Newark and elemen14 paid the shipping, it would be enough to encourage participation - assuming the project had fairly wide appeal to start with.

                  For example several members expressed interest in converting a PC power supply into a bench power supply.

                  You could start with a contest to design the best conversion.

                  The winner gets a gift certificate to order PCBs - delivered to element14 - to be included in the order when someone buys the BoM parts.

                  10 of 10 people found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
                    fmilburn

                    Hi Tariq,

                     

                    I'm glad you are having a look at how to improve the program but I have to say it is already very good.

                     

                    • I think monthly is about right.   It is probably more work for you but I find all of the Project14 contests interesting, even the ones I don't enter and I always look for Project14 first when I log on.
                    • I think contest length is about right also.  I am fortunate to probably have more time than most due to retirement but I am still pretty busy :-)  and last year was unable to participate in several I was interested in due to various circumstances.  So shorter might be nice at times if things are already on hand to do the project.
                    • I like Nico's idea for quick projects.  Several Element14 members like John Wiltrout, Jan Cumps and Jon Clift have published quick projects that are educational and interesting.  Example projects might be make something with a 555 timer, build a useful circuit with no more than x components, demonstrate how a certain active component works, those sorts of things.  I'm not sure how much general interest there would be though.
                    • How to get more people entering - the quality of the winning entries is frequently quite high in my opinion.  Maybe that is discouraging but high quality isn't bad.  Maybe do an analysis of what projects have generated the most entries.  I was surprised there weren't more entries in the holiday contest this last year as there were great prizes and the theme was not restrictive.
                    • I don't know about prize size.  For me at least the prizes are recognition and the real reward is learning and applying new skills.  Giveaways beforehand might work for some.  What about the grand prize winner being able to award some amount to one of the entries that didn't win like is done for the holiday winners?

                     

                    How to make it more fun?  How about a badge for the best title, most educational, or the project that brings the most joy that month regardless of the theme.  Maybe it could change from month to month and be announced beforehand and have a prize.

                     

                    But again, I have to say the program is already very good.

                    7 of 7 people found this helpful
                    • 7. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
                      Milos Rasic

                      Hi Tariq,

                       

                      I love the Project14 program, it's a much more relaxed environment than the Design Challenges as already pointed out by dougw. I didn't finish a couple of projects this year for the Project14 but I'll publish those at some point, while you have to publish your progress for the Design Challenge. As for the topics you've put out:

                       

                      • I like the monthly new theme format, but I like when there is a special Project14 theme like the Month of Robots Project14 or something like that. I think those are great and push all of the people participating to make bigger and more complex projects.
                      • On the other side, I would like to see more relaxed themes as well. As ntewinkel mentioned, putting a cap on building a project for a given theme with a max budget of 10$, a lot more people would be confident to participate I think and the creativity would go higher when you have to make it work for only 10$.
                      • Something similar to do that could also be to maybe have some of those shorter projects which would be aimed more towards hand tools. By that, I mean projects that don't use 3D printers, CNC machines and laser cutters for example, since these are machines that can really help with projects, but not everyone has access to them.
                      • Another idea for shorter contest would maybe be to have a weekend style contest, since most people are off work then, where the theme can be presented on a livestream on Friday, where people could ask questions about that theme and people would have until Sunday to post a blog on the given theme.
                      • I think the prizes are a great size for Project14 and the value shouldn't change, but I think to get more people involved, specially who aren't a lot on the site, an addition of a gadget or something like that to the grand prize would draw more members to participate.
                      • Another thing on the prize side would be something that fmilburn mentioned. Besides the normal winner having a special category winner, which would come with a special prize and badge. To add onto this, if there was a rotation of those special prizes, for example, most educational, most polished, best presented, and if someone managed to get all 3 during a year, there would be a special badge. That would pose a unique challenge.
                      • Giveaways before the monthly theme could maybe work, but with shipping delays everywhere, I don't know if it would work right now with the monthly schedule.
                      • I like your idea about workshops around existing projects done by members. I think it would be fun to see what would people make based on someone's project, to see their take and unique perspective while still following a rough guideline.

                       

                      Thanks for all of the hard work around Project14, it's an amazing program!

                       

                      Milos

                      6 of 6 people found this helpful
                      • 8. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
                        ntewinkel

                        >>Douglas wrote:

                        >>The bottom line is I wouldn't want to inject more commitment into Project14.

                         

                        That's a really good point. I've had so many cases along the lines of "the contractor can only be here this weekend" or "the water line is broken, it must be fixed immediately", that I just don't need the stress of another commitment.

                         

                        >>One incentive might be to reward simple participation with some swag - for example if a member submits 2 or 3 Prjoject14 entries in a year, they might get some swag or a special badge, even if their projects did not win any prizes.

                         

                        Ooh! that's really good. I will second that motion!  I would rather see more smaller prizes than a few bigger prizes.

                         

                        >>One area that might be improved is keeping track of topic suggestions. Currently it is difficult to know if a topic has already been suggested.

                         

                        That's a good idea - this could be in the form of a bug tracker. I recall a while ago some companies having public bug lists and users could vote to increase priorities. In our case such a list could simplify tracking ideas, submitting new ideas, and voting on the whole ideas list can help identify which project theme is next.

                        5 of 5 people found this helpful
                        • 9. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
                          neilk

                          I'm following this thread with interest, but I have to confess that I have my head down so deeply into my own project(s) that I have never managed to find time to participate in project 14

                           

                          Neil

                          3 of 3 people found this helpful
                          • 10. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
                            tariq.ahmad

                            Thanks dougw ,

                             

                            The high quality of your work has been amazing so this is especially high praise.  On a side note: I will always have a fond place in my heart for Sparky the Power Chick as that Sparky the Power Chick that sort of helped establish the mood of the program at the very beginning of the program.

                             

                             

                            >> Project14 is a great program that enjoys sufficient participation to keep the monthly project pace lively. If you calculate the time between when the new topic poll looks conclusive and the project deadline, there is what - about 14 weeks, which is enough time to complete a decent project.

                             

                            This program is set up to be timely and relevant to the community for every theme we launched and the two months has been established as a fair enough time to submit something decent for members who wish to participate and it also allows enough time for people who want to submit more than one project to do so.

                             

                            >> I had fun with Project14 in 2020 and did submit some projects, but I also had a terrible struggle with supply chain issues and medical problems due to Covid, which combined to make me miss at least 3 Project14 deadlines. Hopefully those projects and others I worked on in 2020 will get published at some point even though 2021 is starting out worse that 2020. Despite the missed deadlines (one project was just missing a single component that came in a few days too late), I would not want the deadlines extended. Project14 was perfectly successful without my projects.

                             

                            No doubt, these proposed changes can't be separated from everything that has happened in 2020.   We weren't able to do things like Makevember, and while we were able to maintain this program, one of the things that became an issue would be some shipping issues due to the nature of what was going on.  It sort of created a domino effect on things.   No longer having access to the mailroom and a reluctance to travel to the downtown office (recently received communication discouraging unnecessary visits) means that some things (such as shipping to certain regions) or items shipped to the Chicago office were necessarily delayed.   Most importantly, there's nothing more important than health. 

                             

                            Most importantly:  The health of our members and the health of the members of our team. We found a way to keep things going but it wasn't easy for anyone that had to do shipping which was for the most part Dan and myself.   To hear what you went through, and these stories from other members, brought what was occurring with the Pandemic, down to earth in a very chilling way. 

                             

                            Almost immediately after the lockdowns happened we got together as a team and wanted to do something rather than just sit there and passively take in what was happening.   Because of the rapid nature of Project14, this program made the most sense, especially as it was likely going to be the theme in April anyway. 

                             

                            >>Despite the missed deadlines (one project was just missing a single component that came in a few days too late), I would not want the deadlines extended. Project14 was perfectly successful without my projects.

                             

                            Having deadlines extended, although in some cases made sense, runs the risk of making the program something different and don't want to do that.   I was slow to come around to this but shifting rather than altering may be the best way to keep things intact as they were.    There's not a theme I didn't love or see something amazing in.  Even the ones early on with 3 or 4 projects. I don't think this program would have survived, or at least in the way it is today (if that makes sense), if we did things differently.   However,  maybe we can keep what we love and keep the pace alive at the same time.   This in itself is a design challenge.

                             

                            >>One area that might be improved is keeping track of topic suggestions. Currently it is difficult to know if a topic has already been suggested. The main posting that solicits suggestions has so many pages, it is tough to even scroll to the end and consequently members are not using it much anymore.

                             

                            I remember you brought this up before.   This is something that definitely does need to be addressed.   It use to be a really great discussion and it has gotten a bit too long.   You started a thread but maybe a form is suggested.   Keeping the fountain of ideas running is essential for keeping this going.   This will definitely be an action item which will need to be addressed.    How do you encourage more ideas, which in my opinion makes these polls more exciting and again, its one of what I would consider the things I personally wouldn't want to be touched.   Turning ideas into a reality.

                             

                            >> On the topic of increasing participation, The motivation to participate needs to increase without significantly increasing demotivation.  Many incentives cause both effects, because the competition for desirable incentives can discourage members who have not won anything.

                            One incentive might be to reward simple participation with some swag - for example if a member submits 2 or 3 Project14 entries in a year, they might get some swag or a special badge, even if their projects did not win any prizes.

                             

                            Badges are another thing that needs to be revisited. Early on,  this was easier to maintain manually but as the program has grown, there's no automated way to do the kind of badges we award.   It got put on the back burner, as order fulfillment takes a front seat, as does maintaining competitions month after month does as well.    Like the poll ideas, this is another action item for maintaining more fluidly for 2021.   I also think enough time has passed that adjustments can be made.   I will be looking to send out some long overdue swag in the near future, especially as February 15th is random acts of kindness day.   Also,  want to create some breathing room so we can do something like Makevember again this year, or what we did to celebrate the community's birthday by having that big Arduino giveaway.

                            7 of 7 people found this helpful
                            • 11. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
                              tariq.ahmad

                              Thanks fmilburn , this is great feedback.  Your projects are so classic and I look forward to them eagerly each month.   Your recent entry,  Cat Commander iot Clock and Kibble Dispenser put a smile on my face.   I was thinking if I ever did a project and posted it on the community, an automated cat feeder would be a good place to start.   Unfortunately,  my cat adamantly refuses to eat anything but wet food!

                               

                              >> I think monthly is about right.   It is probably more work for you but I find all of the Project14 contests interesting, even the ones I don't enter and I always look for Project14 first when I log on.

                               

                              This is something I absolutely would not want to lose.  Back to topic of shifting.  Could we launch a theme every month and have a project competition launch a month later?   Maybe we can encourage people to post a part of what they are working on,  so others can learn from them, and then post a full blown project when the theme launches?  Wouldn't change the format and you could simply just post whatever you want,  in your own personal blogs or anywhere in the community.

                               

                              >> Something similar to do that could also be to maybe have some of those shorter projects which would be aimed more towards hand tools. By that, I mean projects that don't use 3D printers, CNC machines and laser cutters for example, since these are machines that can really help with projects, but not everyone has access to them.

                              >> Another idea for shorter contest would maybe be to have a weekend style contest, since most people are off work then, where the theme can be presented on a livestream on Friday, where people could ask questions about that theme and people would have until Sunday to post a blog on the given theme.

                              >> I like Nico's idea for quick projects.  Several Element14 members like John Wiltrout, Jan Cumps and Jon Clift have published quick projects that are educational and interesting.  Example projects might be make something with a 555 timer, build a useful circuit with no more than x components, demonstrate how a certain active component works, those sorts of things.  I'm not sure how much general interest there would be though.

                               

                              These are excellent suggestions!  I am adding these to the list as well.  I love those style of projects and if we keep this even more open,  maybe that can be tied into a workshop and the workshop can include an exercise that is simple in nature.

                               

                              >> I think the prizes are a great size for Project14 and the value shouldn't change, but I think to get more people involved, specially who aren't a lot on the site, an addition of a gadget or something like that to the grand prize would draw more members to participate.

                               

                              I was definitely wondering about that.   My impression was that $100 shopping cart pays for your next project and that $200 allows can be applied to something nice such as test equipment.   The only head scratcher I have is that there wasn't more participation with the Holiday Special this year, even with those bigger prizes.

                               

                              >> How to get more people entering - the quality of the winning entries is frequently quite high in my opinion.  Maybe that is discouraging but high quality isn't bad.  Maybe do an analysis of what projects have generated the most entries.  I was surprised there weren't more entries in the holiday contest this last year as there were great prizes and the theme was not restrictive.

                               

                              As a content person I am with you on wanting to see high quality content.   However,  maybe there are activities that we can do to encourage entries that encourage people to do something simpler.  Maybe post things they are doing as a comment or a blog post anywhere in the community.   Definitely want to keep things inclusive by nature at the same time,  want it to be a place where people learn by doing.

                               

                              >> I don't know about prize size.  For me at least the prizes are recognition and the real reward is learning and applying new skills.  Giveaways beforehand might work for some.  What about the grand prize winner being able to award some amount to one of the entries that didn't win like is done for the holiday winners?

                               

                              This has occurred outside the Holiday competition and something we want to encourage.   This is interesting and something I will add to the list as well.

                               

                              >> How to make it more fun?  How about a badge for the best title, most educational, or the project that brings the most joy that month regardless of the theme.  Maybe it could change from month to month and be announced beforehand and have a prize.

                               

                              This is great.  I think the badges need to be revisited and I'll work with our community manager on this in the near future.  It might be time to upgrade the way these are handled. :-)

                              7 of 7 people found this helpful
                              • 12. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
                                tariq.ahmad

                                Thanks  milosrasic98 ,

                                 

                                 

                                >>I have always been impressed by the consistent quality of your projects and the videos you submit are great!     It would be great to see your projects.  Maybe we do something like Makevember again this year where we encourage people to revisit past themes.   This was one of the reasons we did it a couple of years ago.   Giving members an opportunity to revisit past themes they did not get a chance to participate in before.

                                 

                                >> I like the monthly new theme format, but I like when there is a special Project14 theme like the Month of Robots Project14 or something like that. I think those are great and push all of the people participating to make bigger and more complex projects.

                                 

                                This is part of the difficult thing we need to solve so this is good feedback.  I like having those special themes but I don't know how they'll fit if a shift is going to occur.    Would like to do some activity around Arduino Day,  really looking past that at this point, but something will need to consider is what to do about the special events.

                                 

                                >>On the other side, I would like to see more relaxed themes as well. As ntewinkel mentioned, putting a cap on building a project for a given theme with a max budget of 10$, a lot more people would be confident to participate I think and the creativity would go higher when you have to make it work for only 10$.Something similar to do that could also be to maybe have some of those shorter projects which would be aimed more towards hand tools. By that, I mean projects that don't use 3D printers, CNC machines and laser cutters for example, since these are machines that can really help with projects, but not everyone has access to them.

                                Another idea for shorter contest would maybe be to have a weekend style contest, since most people are off work then, where the theme can be presented on a livestream on Friday, where people could ask questions about that theme and people would have until Sunday to post a blog on the given theme.

                                 

                                These are all excellent suggestions and will be looking to merge something similar with the feedback we've received.   Seems to be some interest related to that. 

                                 

                                I particularly am intrigued with the idea of a regularly occurring livestream of some sort.   This opens up new possibilities that are worth exploring and could offer something to look forward if we shift things around.  

                                 

                                >> I think the prizes are a great size for Project14 and the value shouldn't change, but I think to get more people involved, specially who aren't a lot on the site, an addition of a gadget or something like that to the grand prize would draw more members to participate.

                                 

                                I was definitely wondering about that.   My impression was that $100 shopping cart pays for your next project and that $200 allows can be applied to something nice such as test equipment.   The only head scratcher I have is that there wasn't more participation with the Holiday Special this year, even with those bigger prizes.

                                 

                                I like to add product if its related to the theme but generally like to keep things to things we sell in our stores.   For example ,  energy harvesting kit for when we did an energy harvesting contest.   Shifting some things would allow us to get a hold of the the product and we could even tie it in with some kind of workshop.   Some of these topics are so big that they lend themselves naturally to other activities.

                                 

                                >>I like your idea about workshops around existing projects done by members. I think it would be fun to see what would people make based on someone's project, to see their take and unique perspective while still following a rough guideline.

                                 

                                I think workshops is definitely something I would like to see moving forward.   We've done workshops around builds as well as show & tells.    It is something we will have more of this year and makes sense with Project14.  

                                 

                                :-)

                                2 of 2 people found this helpful
                                • 13. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
                                  fmilburn

                                  >>Back to topic of shifting.  Could we launch a theme every month and have a project competition launch a month later?   Maybe we can encourage people to post a part of what they are working on,  so others can learn from them, and then post a full blown project when the theme launches?  Wouldn't change the format and you could simply just post whatever you want,  in your own personal blogs or anywhere in the community.

                                   

                                  I have conflicting thoughts on this and have done both partial posts and waited for completion in the past.  I recently have gravitated to completion before posting except for complicated projects.  I can easily go either way though.

                                   

                                  >>Something similar to do that could also be to maybe have some of those shorter projects which would be aimed more towards hand tools. By that, I mean projects that don't use 3D printers, CNC machines and laser cutters for example, since these are machines that can really help with projects, but not everyone has access to them.

                                   

                                  I can definitely see where access to some tools could be an issue.  Placing a restriction on a subset of the contests could encourage participation for some. I am all for some contests that have an abbreviated educational bent.

                                   

                                   

                                  4 of 4 people found this helpful
                                  • 14. Re: What Changes Would You Like to See Made to Project14?
                                    ntewinkel

                                    >>Tariq pondered:

                                    >>The only head scratcher I have is that there wasn't more participation with the Holiday Special this year, even with those bigger prizes.

                                     

                                    I too would have thought the lockdown would be giving people far more hobby time.

                                     

                                    In my case, instead of working on fun tech projects I ended up spending most of my holidays waist-deep in mud fixing perimeter drains around our reno house

                                    1 of 1 people found this helpful
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