In January of this year, I organized a 10,000 point challenge for ServerFault (or whatever your StackExchange preference is). The general idea is to commit to adding 10,000 points to your ServerFault account. (Note: that doesn’t mean that you need to reach 10,000 points. You need to add 10,000 points to your Jan 1, 2011 total.)
After a few tweets from Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky twenty-eight people have already signed up! That’s twenty-seven more than I expected. The current leader of the challenge appears to be Phil Hollenback who has already garnered just over 5,000 points at the time of this writing. It only appears that Phil is the current leader because I have no easy way of tracking the progress of each user. Some very generous individuals, including Ben Pilbrow, Jonathon Angliss and Scott Pack, have individually whipped up some quick scripts in various languages to cull the information and display it. However, it was up to me to actually implement the scripts and… well… I suck, so that didn’t happen. I am very appreciative that they thought the cause was worthy enough to spend their time making something for it and ashamed at myself for letting their efforts lay by the wayside.
I’ll be a bit more open about what has been keeping me away from being more active in this challenge as well as my blog. There are three things that have hammered me lately.
- Health. For the last four years I have struggled with what I can most simply call vertigo that was the result of a singularly nasty flu. Two months ago I had a relapse. It’s getting better, but not getting enough sleep causes me to relapse. Being dizzy consumes a surprising amount of the body’s energy and also brings productivity to a screeching halt. Relapses take weeks to recover from and only repair with sleep.
- Work. In the two blog posts on my failure as a SysAdmin “A Tale of Laziness, Good Fortune and Self Loathing” and “Continued Self Loathing and Why You Should RTFineM” I chronicled how I have come to the conclusion that I am spread too thin and the risking catastrophic failures of several projects. I’ve stopped taking on new responsibilities and am working out a plan to remove myself from several things so that I can more responsibly focus on more profitable tasks. That’s doesn’t mean I’ll stop blogging or even curating the ServerFault challenge. I think those things are rewarding and help my professional life. However, in the time between when I saw the error of my ways and the time when I can step back from my over-commitment, I’m still working from morning until nighttime. I haven’t been able to justify departing from putting out fires and preventing other conflagrations long enough to look into the ServerFault Challenge.
- Friends. I’ve had a number of friends who have had some troubled or confusing times in life and I’ve had to stop and succor them. I have no problem doing that at all and I’m not complaining. In fact, the time that it’s taken up is probably inconsequential compared to the above two bullet points. I’d much rather talk all night to a troubled friend than eat, sleep or restore a web server. It is what it is and it’s at least part of why I haven’t been able to give time to side projects like the ServerFault challenge.
What I’m Asking For
Phil’s milestone of reaching the halfway mark hilighted to me that I need to reach out for some help and ask “do you haz teh codes?” I’m not in a position to do much of anything on this project, so I’m asking for pure grace here: Would anyone like to create and own a simple web application to keep track of each of the challenges, its participants and their individual goals?
I’m not asking for a total freebie. I will gladly provide link juice to you if you’re a freelancer or employed at a development house of some kind. My blog isn’t exactly the next Daring Fireball as far as traffic is concerned, but I have a reach of about 600 to 2000 viewers (depending on how you do the math) in the SysAdmin world as of this post. We can work out the specifics in more detail if you contact me. Here are some of my thoughts on what I’d like to see:
- I’d prefer the application to be hosted on my domain. Ideally I thought it would be cool to have a “ServerFault Challenge” link at the top of my blog, next to the Blog List and perhaps the web app be a WordPress plugin. That’s just a fancy of mine though.
- It has to have at least a teeny bit of visual attractiveness. We’re not talking a Webby Award candidate, but more than just an HTML table with thick borders.
- A pretty line graph showing the progress of all participants participant over time
- Same way of showing who is close to their relative challenge goals and who has already achieved them.
- Perhaps make it easy for people to sign up for the contest? currently people simply drop links in the comments section of the original blog post and I manually find their StackExchange flair graphic and figure out their approximate Jan 1 reputation score.
- Reusable would be nice. The likelihood is high that the challenge will become an annual thing. Perhaps with different challenges and rules, but the same general concept of reputation goals.
- Anything else cool that you’d like to see. Really, I’d love for someone to be as creative as they want to be.
You must keep in mind, though, that I am in no way affiliated with ServerFault or StackExchange and cannot necessarily use their logos or trademarks in anything. While I doubt my calling this little challenge “The 10K ServerFault Challenge!” will result in a cease and desist order, placing their logos all over the challenge page might test the boundaries.
How I’ll Choose the “Winner”
I imagine that there will be at least a few people interested in getting involved, so I’ll have to make a tough decision between candidates. It would be helpful if I had some samples of your work to look at. Also, if you wanted to integrate the application into my WordPress blog, it would be helpful to see that you’ve worked with WordPress development before. I’m sure you’re the hottest Django developer on the planet, but I’d be a bit nervous if you decided to learn PHP and WordPress development on my blog. If you wanted to make a Django based app, no problem! That’s what subdirectories are for. =)
Finally, it would be good if you knew a bit about the ServerFault API and what the rules are concerning it’s usage. Existing StackExchange enthusiasts will be favored, although not necessarily a shoe-in.
How to Apply
Simply email me at [email protected] or use the contact form linked at the top of my blog and tell me who you are and what you’d like to do. We’ll talk from there and, depending on the number of people interested, I’ll make a decision in a few days to a few weeks.
To all of those who have already signed up, thanks and keep plugging away! To anyone else interested in the challenge, it’s not too late to sign up.