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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 27th day of Awakening, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 92 > Articles > The Fate of the Top 40 List

The Fate of the Top 40 List

by tdyans

GAMES ROOM - Anyone who regularly reads the articles section of the Neopian Times, or really any citizen of Neopia for that matter, probably knows that the Beauty Contest has become one of the most controversial subjects in the world of Neopets. Rising incidents of art theft, buying and trading votes, and the fact that popularity seems to often take precedence over skill or creativity are just some of the issues that plague the Beauty Contest’s reputation. The point of this article, however, is not to discuss the Beauty Contest, but to examine whether a newer competition to the site is fated to go down the same path of controversy and infamy. That competition is the Adventure Generator’s Top 40 list.

The Adventure Generator is one of the newest (and most enjoyable) interactive parts of the site. Players can make up their own adventures—stories that branch off with different choices and can either lead to dead ends or happy endings—or they can try to beat the adventures that other players have created. Players can also rate each others’ adventures on a scale of one to five… and therein lies the problem.

The highest-rated adventures with 50 or more ratings get put onto a Top 40 list, the Adventure Generator equivalent of a high score list, and this has become a well-sought-after honor among many adventure creators. The problem is, it’s become so sought after that some are willing to resort to bribery, trading ratings, and rating other people’s adventures poorly in order to get ahead. Because of this, the Top 40 is not necessarily the fair judge of quality that it should be. Don’t misunderstand: there are undoubtedly many adventures on the list that absolutely deserve to be there—just as there are many winning Beauty Contest entries who actually deserve to win. But, unfortunately, there are still a few players who ruin things for everyone by trying to get onto the list and stay on it by unfair means.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be on the Top 40 List, (although, as you may learn in the course of this article, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.) There’s not anything wrong with advertising your adventure, either, whether it be to friends or to strangers. That’s the whole reason that the Adventure Generator chat board was created, after all. But there are right and wrong ways to advertise. There are many people who advertise fairly and work hard to earn their way up to the Top 40 list.

On the other hand, there are some people try to use bribery to get good ratings for their adventures, promising items, NP, or other services to anyone who will rate their adventure highly. Whereas you should choose an adventure’s rating based on how much you enjoy the writing, storyline, and subject matter, these people ask you to judge simply on the basis of their promised bribe. If they make it to the Top 40 list, it is not because of their adventure, but because of their dishonest methods for getting good ratings.

A variation on the method of bribery is the method of offering to trade ratings—similar to the vote trading that often goes on in the Beauty Contest. There’s no problem with saying that you will play and rate someone else’s adventure if they will play and rate yours. The problem is if you promise a high rating, rather than simply whatever rating you think the adventure deserves, in exchange for a high rating for your own adventure. Once again, this essentially amounts to bribery—asking someone to rate your adventure based not on the quality of the adventure itself but on something outside of the adventure that you promise them. It’s a dishonest way to get into the Top 40 and simply makes the distinction meaningless both for those who use this unfair method and for those don’t and who therefore actually deserve to make the list.

Finally, there is the issue of people rating other adventures poorly in order to knock them off of the Top 40 list. One major difference between the Beauty Contest and the Top 40 is that while in the Beauty Contest you can only vote for someone, when it comes to adventures, you can essentially vote against someone by giving their adventure a low rating. Often when an adventure first makes it onto the Top 40, it will have a very high average rating and be somewhere near the top of the list. Afterwards, however, these newcomers to the list find their ratings quickly falling and they descend down the list and sometimes even get pushed off of it altogether.

When you make it onto the Top 40 list, some drop in your average rating is to be expected, of course. Whereas the people playing and rating your adventure before were mainly friends and fans, getting your adventure on the Top 40 means that it will be exposed to many more people, and it may not necessarily appeal to all of those people as much. However, the rate at which adventures’ ratings drop seems to suggest that the natural decrease that comes with an increased audience is not the only cause. Many have speculated that there are some players who give ratings of “one” to all of the adventures on the list in order to help their own adventures, or the adventures of friends, to make it onto the list and up to the top.

Some people understandably complain about this problem. Others have claimed that they report the culprits. There are two problems with this. The first is that it’s impossible for any of us to know who the culprits are and throwing around false accusations is just as bad as what these people are doing, if not worse. The second problem is that the Neopets team has essentially given us the freedom to vote through the adventure rating system. And when you offer someone the freedom to vote, you are offering just that—freedom to vote however they like, no matter how anyone else thinks they should vote. If they want to rate their friends’ adventures highly and yours low, that may not seem fair to you, but there’s no rule against it. While offering bribes may indeed get people into trouble, simply rating adventures—whether or not the ratings seem fair—will not get them into trouble, because, as I have said, it’s their choice.

So, what’s the solution to this problem? Is the Top 40 fated to have the same tainted reputation as the Beauty Contest? And if so, what can be done about it? Some have suggested that the Beauty Contest has brought about so much trouble and controversy that perhaps it should be removed from the site altogether. Can the same be said for the Top 40 list? Perhaps. As much as some people strive to make it to the Top 40, it’s not absolutely essential to the Adventure Generator; the game would probably survive just fine without it. Then again, just as with the Beauty Contest, there would of course be people who would miss it and want it back in spite of all of the problems that go along with it. And, unlike the Beauty Contest, the Top 40 list is still new to the site. There may still be some way to save it from ending up with the same questionable reputation as the Beauty Contest.

There are a few possibilities for changes that the staff could make to the rating system in an attempt to keep people from abusing it. One possibility is to limit the number of adventures that a person can rate per day, so that they would neither be able to give low ratings to a large group of people or give high ratings to many people who use bribery. Misuse of the rating system is already kept somewhat in check by the fact that each person is only allowed to rate each adventure once per day. A rule could also be instated with an even tighter restriction—allowing each person to rate each adventure only once ever, (unless or until the adventure is edited again). Or maybe a new system could be added requiring that someone actually finish an adventure, or at least read a certain number of pages of it, before getting to rate it. All of these ideas, however, are flawed in one way or another, and would probably only lead to new problems even as they try to solve the old ones.

Once again, what it comes down to is the fact that we players have been given the freedom to vote within the system that the Neopets team has given us… and therefore, making and keeping this competition fair is our responsibility as much, or perhaps even more than, it is theirs. If you want the Top 40 list to be decided fairly and to be a true index of quality—a real honor to be a part of—then put away the dishonest methods that I’ve named in this article and discourage others from using them. Above all, be fair. Rate adventures as you really feel they deserve to be rated—not as someone bribed or begged you to rate them—and ask that others do the same for you. If a friend or someone on the chat boards asks you to rate their adventure, don’t rate it perfectly just because they’re your friend or because they’re rating your own adventure. If it’s not perfect, give them a three or a four—still a nice rating—and offer them constructive advice on what you did and didn’t like and how they could improve.

In the end, they will benefit much more from your helpfulness than from just being handed a rating they don’t deserve. If you see or suspect someone using unfair methods, don’t stoop to their level in return. Simply keep playing and rating and advertising as honestly and fairly as you can on your own and if enough people do this, perhaps there is a chance of making the Top 40 as fair and honest as it should be.

Or perhaps I’m being overly optimistic imagining that some steadfast, honest players can make a difference overall. Perhaps you feel that there will always be dishonest players no matter what and that playing fairly will only mean that you’ll be left in the dust with no way to make it to the top. If so, you may be right. But if you feel that way, you still shouldn’t resort to unfair tactics that will simply make the Top 40 worse instead of better. Instead, forget about the Top 40; it’s not your only option for Adventure Generator fame. Set your sights on the Adventure Spotlight instead. You will have a lot of competition and it may be daunting having to enter week after week. But if you win (or even if you don’t, really) it will mean much more to you and to others knowing that your adventure was judged based not on bribery, popularity, or sabotage, but on quality and creativity—just as, in an ideal Neopia, all adventures would be.

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