I have been looking forward to this ever since I registered on the wiki back in February 2010. What I could not have foreseen at that time, though, was that this would be my third Featured Story win. (All three of my finished standalone stories have now been Featured, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Unlike anything the wiki has ever seen
As I have noted before, the reason I became a registered user in the first place was to promote my mammoth crossover, Total Drama Island, by Gilbert and Sullivan (TDI-G&S, pronounced, “Tiddigus”). Written mainly to introduce TDI fans to the Gilbert & Sullivan series of comic operas, with the secondary purpose of introducing people familiar with G&S to TDI, TDI-G&S is directly or indirectly responsible for everything else I’ve done here. That’s how much you guys owe to it.
The 18 months I spent compiling TDI-G&S obliged me to think about TDI far more than I otherwise would have, and to do so for an extended period. This work led directly to the idea that became the premise for my breakout short story, Legacy, and indirectly led to all my other stories as well; because thinking about TDI so much gave me ideas for original stories, which make me think that much more about TDI, which gave me more ideas, and so on. (This is called a “virtuous circle”, the benevolent counterpart to the better-known “vicious circle”.)
Given that TDI-G&S is mostly written at a high school/young reading level, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the younger users here seem to understand it. (Of course, fanfic writers might be expected to be a precocious lot.) Indeed, the main barrier seems to be the potentially confusing system for jumping back and forth between the episode synopses and the verse references. I realized from the beginning that this was a potential problem, but the formatting alternatives had their own problems.
In addition to its entertainment value, TDI-G&S gives an added benefit that is especially useful to young writers, or to people who simply like to do a lot of reading. Because W.S. Gilbert refused to pander to the lowest common denominator and used the entire range of the English language vocabulary (and more than a few foreign-language terms), his lyrics make wonderful vocabulary builders.
A long road
When I first nominated TDI-G&S for Featured Story back in August (i.e. the September ballot), it nearly won on the first try. For most of the month, it ran neck-and-neck with a couple of other stories, with Violet Hill eventually winning. (As I told Sprink at the time, I would have respected story seniority in the event of a tie.) TDI-G&S would finish second, with six supporting votes and two opposed.
That first month, it looked regrettably like TDI-G&S’ being on the Featured Story ballot might be as polarizing as, say, TAU’s Featured Author/User candidacy was for a time. At one point in that first month, TDI-G&S had four Support votes and three Oppose votes, the latter because certain voters couldn’t get past the fact that TDI-G&S doesn’t have an original plot. Fortunately, one of these opponents later reconsidered, and supported; and the other two opponents decided that voting against it once was enough to make their point, and so did not Oppose in later months.
TDI-G&S settled into a “perpetual bridesmaid” status, with five second-place ties in the next eight months, usually getting 3-5 votes per month. It might have won a little sooner, but for the surprise win for Courtney and the Violin of Despair on the March ballot. That might have depressed TDI-G&S’ support for the next month or two, as there were probably potential supporters who wanted to “spread the wealth” and not have the same author win twice in quick succession.
On the June ballot, the stars finally aligned, and TDI-G&S gained a decisive win with 11 supporting votes—an excellent total, and more than either of my previous winners received. (Violin of Despair won with 8 votes in March, and Legacy won with 10 in June 2010.)
More than with most Featured Story winners to date, TDI-G&S’ win demonstrates the value of patience. Although, most stories get their best support at around the time they are completed, this is not universally the case. TDI-G&S won on its 10th try, second only to the 14 tries that Violet Hill needed to win, and was never nominated far in advance of its completion date. Life After Lies needed 8 tries (in 10 months) to win, despite a huge following, although stage of completion probably worked against LAL in the early months of its candidacy.
A total of 18 voters supported TDI-G&S at least once, with 11 of those supporting it on the June ballot to make its victory possible. Although nobody supported it every single time—curiously, nobody at all supported it on the November ballot—several wikians supported it more or less regularly, and were the main reason that TDI-G&S finished in a second-place tie or better in 7 of the 10 months it was on the ballot.
Unquestionably, the staunchest supporters were Ult and Toad. Ult supported TDI-G&S 7 times in the 10 months it was on the ballot, including 6 of the last 7 months (missing only May). Toad supported it 6 times in the last 7 months, missing only February.
Reddy and Shane each supported TDI-G&S for the fourth time. Reddy was a reliable supporter in the early months. As for Shane—poor Shane. On the June 2010 ballot, his first story placed second to my first story on a 10-6 vote, and never again seriously challenged for Featured Story honors. Exactly one year later, Total Drama: The Production placed second to TDI-G&S by a similar margin, despite TD:TP’s strongest support to date. Will this finally be Shane’s month? I certainly hope so, but I digress.
Radicalm supported TDI-G&S for the third time, including twice in the last three months.
Jkl9817, Mrdaimion and Sprink each supported TDI-G&S for the second time. Jkl, a relative newcomer to the wiki, supported TDI-G&S each of the last two months. Sprink was the “bookend” supporter, endorsing TDI-G&S in its first and last appearances on the ballot.
Last, but certainly not least, are the first-timers. Jake, Alfan, and O-ette (along with virtual newbie Jkl) played a pivotal role by staking TDI-G&S out to an early lead, which undoubtedly helped persuade certain irregular supporters to help make this the month. Indeed, were it not for some last-minute bandwagon jumping (not that there’s anything wrong with that—I’ve done it myself) by a couple of wiki friends whom I have already recognized, these four would have provided the entire margin of victory.
A couple of past supporters are also worth mentioning. Kevin supported TDI-G&S thrice, including the first two months, but he hasn’t been on the wiki much since February, which is when he last gave his support. It’s easy to forget to vote under such circumstances, and he didn’t vote for anything else during that time, so I’m prepared to believe that he would have been willing to lend his support again.
TDIwriter voted for TDI-G&S only twice, most recently on the March ballot (he, like Kevin, seems to have fallen out of the habit of voting in the Feature elections) but had been extremely supportive in other ways. Not only was he one of the very few people to make substantial comments on the TDI-G&S talk page after its official launch, but he also blogged about it once in an unsuccessful attempt to get more people to comment on it.
And so, here I am, with proper recognition for what is surely the wiki’s most unusual work. My purpose fulfilled, now I can die content. (But not before I finish LTDI. How’s that for “moving the goalposts”?)