Welcome, one and all, to the...
The rules are essentially the same as they've been for the past nine years, and they are as follows:
- Every week of the finals, players predict the ultimate placement of all the remaining contestants. (That is, every week, you predict who will go home this week, and who will go home next week, and who will go home the week after that, until you have run out of people and remaining slots.)
- Players are encouraged to post their predictions in comments to this journal, but may also send them to me via e-mail.
- One point will be awarded for every placement that turns out to be correct. No credit will be awarded for near-misses.
- Entries should be submitted no later than the start of the results show on its earliest (East Coast) airing. If you're somebody I know and trust, later entries will be accepted; just make sure you make your choices before you hear anything about the results.
- Entries for a given week can be submitted any time after the preceding week's results are announced. But you'll probably be best off waiting until after that week's performances.
- In the event that you make a prediction one week, but don't get around to doing so in the next, the previous week's guesses will carry over, minus whoever got voted out. They will probably not carry over for a week beyond that unless I hear from you.
- Whoever has the most points at the end of the season is the winner.
- The winner gets a prize (traditionally a mix CD, sent anywhere from several months to several years later) and bragging rights. In the event that I win, I get the bragging rights, and the first runner-up gets the prize.
- In the event of a tie, both first-place finishers will get a prize. In the event that I take first place and there's a tie for second place, anybody who comes in second will get a prize. There will be no tiebreaker.
- Mid-season disqualifications of contestants, Judges' Saves, boys vs. girls, and any other weirdnesses will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, at my sole discretion. (Though I expect to keep last year's Judges' Save rule.)
The upshot is that, every week, you're making x predictions, where x=the number of contestants remaining.
For example, suppose that in the first week of the finals you were to rank the contestants as shown in the box to the left.
Putting aside the fact that this would clearly be taking place in an alternate universe with a different slate of contestants, this would mean that if Jocasta were to leave the show first, thus coming in at #10 overall, you would get a point for having predicted that. Similarly, if Ida-Mae were to leave the show the following week, thus coming in at #9 overall, you would get a point for that. This would similarly apply to the remaining 8 predictions, up to getting a point if Aethelred turned out to be the American Idol at the end of the season.
Next week, you'd get to do the same thing again, that time ranking the nine remaining contestants to make nine more bets. And so on until the final week, with the final two predictions. This allows for a mixture of short-term and long-term planning: you can pick up points either way, and you can have a lot of points riding on the results of the final few weeks. In fact, 18 points could be at stake between the Idol and the first runner-up, with 9 weeks of predictions riding on each (or 20 points, if there's a Judges' Save, followed by only one person eliminated the following week).
People have won this pool in the past in a number of different ways. In some years, people have won by picking the ultimate winner at the start, sticking to their guns, and going for a large payoff at the end; in others, they've won by hedging their bets and spreading their points around, not relying on any one given outcome to win. I deliberately designed this system to allow people to pick their own strategies and degrees of risk, and I think it's worked out pretty well.
Taking a look at last year's spreadsheet may or may not help clarify things further.
2012: Mo Pie
2011: Mo Pie
2008: Mo Pie and Shmuel (tie)
Any questions? Feeling excited? Apprehensive? Indifferent? Leave a comment!
(Note: as of just after I posted this, you can't actually leave a comment. I need to figure out why, and/or redo the entire layout of this place. Stay tuned.)