Jul 30 2008

Game: Circumtranslation

Category: Uncategorized @ 9:34 pm

Let me first say that this post isn’t for a contest or a prize. This is just a fun diversion that a few of us at Mental Magma came up with. We’ve dubbed the game Circumtranslation. It involves using online translators. As you can see from the picture, online translators are sometimes less than perfect. The Circumtranslation game capitalizes on these linguistic blunders by making the online translator go in a loop. The results are often funny.

Here’s how it works:

1. Come up with a sentence in English. This should be easy as you probably know dozens of them. Any sentence will do, but I find that sentences with lots of nouns are the most fun.

2. Go to an online translation site; I recommend Babel Fish, but any free service will do.

3. Enter your English sentence and choose the option to translate from English into some other language.

4. Copy the resulting translation into the original box and translate from the second language back into English.

5. Laugh out loud at the resulting sentence so your friends will come over ask you what you’re doing. Tell them that you are Circumtranslating, and they wouldn’t understand.

Some examples:

(English starting sentence) I enjoy eating hot dogs with lots of relish when I go to ball games.

—> (Translated into Spanish) Gozo el comer de los perritos calientes con las porciones de condimento cuando voy a los juegos de bola.

—> (Translated back into English) Joy eating of the hot small dogs with the portions of condiment when I go to the sets of ball bearings.

AND

(English starting sentence) Do not fake the funk on a nasty dunk.

—> (Translated into Dutch) Vervals niet de lafbek op smerig onderdompelen.

—> (Translated back into English) Do not falsify the coward on sordid immerse.

A couple of tips

Avoid contractions, they don’t translate.

The round trip from English into Asian languages and back usually just produces gibberish.

If you’re bold enough, you can try 2 or more intermediary languages, but be careful. One of my friends translated from English -> Dutch -> French -> German ->English and was never the same again.

If you get any good Circumtranslations you can leave them as comments on this post.


Jul 27 2008

Contest #5: I’m Not Not Batman

Category: Uncategorized @ 10:52 pm

With Christian Bale’s newest Batman flick rocking the box office, it got one MM user thinking about who might or might not really be Batman. That user is Brendan, winner of last week’s contest and this week’s guest judge. He pitched an idea for this week’s contest, and we loved it. That means he’ll get to nominate his favorite entry to be in the finals.

This week’s contest is: Name the celebrity least likely to be Batman in real life. You must give a short (no more than a few sentences) argument for your answer. You can interpret the word celebrity loosely here; anyone who is well known qualifies, but we are limiting the answers to males celebrities. Also, unlike most weeks, you can only enter this week’s contest 3 times, so make them count.

You can enter the contest by clicking on Contest Entries (also located below) and leaving your answer there. By leaving an entry you are agreeing to the contest rules and terms. This week's prize is a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com.

Like usual, our users will determine the winner. You can show your approval for the unBatman candidates in the Contest Entries section by clicking on the thumbs-up icon. Friday evening we'll put up a poll with 5 finalists. You'll have until 5pm EST on Sunday to vote. Good luck!

Contest Summary:

What you have to do: Name the celebrity least likely to be Batman in real life. (And tell us why.)
How to enter: Write your entry in the Contest Entries section.
Deadline: Friday, August 1st at 5pm EST
Prize: A $25 Amazon.com gift certificate

Announcement: This contest is closed. Feel free to continue to leave your answers here, but you'll be doing so strictly for our edification. Why don't you check out the latest update or contest?



Jul 27 2008

Contest #4: Winner

Category: Uncategorized @ 5:00 pm

So MM user Brendan finally gets recognition for his unfathomably immense creativity. Brendan has been in the finals for every contest thus far and has, at last, received the most votes for his entry.

The entry that finally did it was this caption for the picture of the statue with the lad fending off the babies:

Tenacity: Because even an army of flying babies can’t stop you today.

Brendan receives a very nice $50 gift certificate to Amazon.com for his troubles and his caption will be used for several products in our soon-to-launch online store. He will be joined in the store by the work of several other MM users. Keep an eye out midweek for the Mental Magma store announcement along with the names of the users who are having their entries turned into merch.



Jul 25 2008

Contest #4: Finalists

Category: Uncategorized @ 5:50 pm

This week MM had its largest contest yet; over 100 captions were submitted. I’m not sure if it was the $50 Amazon gift certificate, the chance at eternal fame in the form of MM merch, or if the contest idea just hooked directly into your neural pleasure center.

There were an enormous number of REALLY GOOD ENTRIES. This made it very difficult to select the finalists. Actually, it’s always hard, I should just stop mentioning it.

Keep in mind that winning the contest is not the same thing as the merch ideas. We may make entries that weren’t finalists into real items and may choose to not even use the winner of the contest. We may use the winner, I’m just saying they’re two separate things. We’ll have an announcement sometime next week with the captions we’re using for merch.

A few users have earned honorable-mentions in our little creative science fair. Users Tiago, Jay B, Ellen K., Bunny Slippers, Anahita, R. Davidson, Lisa, and Nolie all had popular and/or good entries (sometimes both!). Also R.E.D. has some really clever last minute entries that are worth checking out. Like last week, there was a lot of fluctuation in ratings. That should be diminished next week as we do plan on utilizing a thumbs-up only system.

So, on to the finalists. There were three repeat finalists (Brendan, Vlad, and Greg Hunter) and two first timers (Louis Coxe and Padma Rubiales). One more time, here are the pics for which they’re writing captions:


[poll id="6"]


Jul 23 2008

Strategic negative ratings

Category: Uncategorized @ 11:26 pm

ThumbsLast week I asked that everyone go and rate the contest entries. People responded; however, there were a few too many Tonya Hardings and not enough Nancy Kerrigans. The whole affair raises the question of whether we should even have a thumbs down rating option.

We want Mental Magma to be a positive site, but it doesn’t have to be Fraggle Rock. Our initial thinking was that most sites that attempt to harness wisdom of crowds allow both positive and negative ratings. However, our little experiment might differ for one important reason…in our system there are potential incentives for rating others poorly.

So, we put it to you, the MM communtity, should we abolish the thumbs down rating? Or is the little squirt of dopamine you get after rating a really lousy answer worth the possibility of strategic negative use? Let us know in your comments on this post.


Jul 21 2008

Contest #4: Improbable Hotdog

Category: Uncategorized @ 2:46 am

Improbable Hotdog

This week is MM's very first merch contest, where we turn your ideas into real-world items at our online store. In recognition of the momentousness of this week’s contest in MM history, first place will receive a $50 Amazon.com gift certificate.

Also, any entry that is sold in our online store will earn its creator $1 for each item bought during the first month it’s available. We’re projecting somewhere between zero and positive infinity units to sell.

This week's contest was inspired by the folks over at Despair.com. They make parodies of those inspirational posters you see in locker rooms and teachers' offices. For this contest, you’ll be writing captions for one of the following photos: (click on thumbnail to see larger version):

Write the photo's name (Statue, Hot dog, Bugs, or Urinal) with your own caption in the contest entries section; you can write unlimited captions (but one per entry, so each can be rated individually). The MM gurus want your help in choosing five finalists to be voted on at the end of the week, so be sure to click the "thumbs-up" button for your favorite entries.

I need to say one word about adult content. I know we have photos depicting a row of urinals and a nude man, but we want captions that wouldn’t make us too embarrassed to have around when Grandma comes over (not dirty grandma, the other one).

By leaving an entry you are agreeing to the contest rules and terms.

Contest Summary:

What you have to do: Write a caption for one of the photos shown on this post.
How to enter: Write your entry in the Contest Entries section.
Deadline: Friday, July 25th at 5pm EST
Prize: A $50 Amazon.com gift certificate

Photos (from left to right) by Flickr users: streetoftrees johnfeinstein loafaesofa dark_mephi
Photos used under creative commons license.

Announcement: This contest is closed. Feel free to continue to leave your answers here, but you'll be doing so strictly for our edification. Why don't you check out the latest update or contest?


Jul 20 2008

Contest #3: Winner

Category: Uncategorized @ 5:25 pm

Winner!

Congratulations to Tiago, winner of Contest #3: The Roommate from Mattel (scroll down or click here to see full voting results). He has given us a valuable piece of information; when shopping for roommates in the board game aisle, try to evade Arkham Horror because:

It would bring in his ghastly friends which would move randomly in defined intervals through the room without any logic, the stink from the drugs he brought would often carry you to "other dimensions" even though you didn't want it, and in the end of the day he would bring his grandmother to talk about stuff you didn't really understand and just generally driving you mad.

A $25 Amazon.com gift certificate (and possibly a junky Pictionary) is headed your way.

We’re very excited about Contest #4. It will involve another first in Mental Magma history. I’d love to tell you now, but you’ll just have to wait. Monday can't come fast enough.


Jul 18 2008

Contest #3: Finalists

Category: Uncategorized @ 5:37 pm

Finalist piecesWe asked in the last post for you to help us out by rating this week’s entries. You heard the call and started rated. It’s just a shame that everyone seemed to vote so negatively (most of the previously popular answers were voted down to zero or one). But, like an evil monkey paw, you granted my wish. I guess it’s also possible that you weren’t all sippin on haterade, but legitimately disliked those once popular entries.

Anyway, I’d like recognize a small selection of the many answers that just missed the cut. The bad but not worst roommate list includes Ingshoe’s Clue, Dlawhon’s Candyland, Chad Bergeron’s Hungry Hungry Hippoes, Scott Myer’s Are you a werewolf, Lisa’s Life, Emily’s Battleship, Marlene’s Parcheesi, TD’s Fireball Island (one of my favorite games as a kid), Elizabeth’s Perfection, Debbie’s Labyrinth, David H’s Flux, Kathie’s Simon Says, Anahita’s Don’t Wake Hulk, Snoconegirl’s Sorry, and one personal favorite, Nolie’s Taboo. There were really many clever answers this week, also thanks to everyone not mentioned.

I’d like to introduce you to the five finalists: Emily N, Ravindra PrasadSara, Tiago, & Bren (3rd week in the finals). The poll will be up until Sunday at 5pm EST.

The winner will be announced shortly after that. Which answer is worth a $25 Amazon gift certificate? Let us know.

Today’s photo by Trina Alexander (Flickr ID: )

[poll id="5"]


Jul 17 2008

Contest #3: Update

Category: Uncategorized @ 10:57 pm

GamesIf you want to influence which game board answers make the list of finalists tomorrow, you need to get in there and rate the entries (just click on the thumbs-up & thumbs-down next to the answers).

Currently we have many answers that are tied in rating points. Ties are about as exciting as Googling your cat (although, now that I think about it, Catbook and Catster are pretty popular).

The finalists will be up tomorrow evening. Will your answer make the top 5? It’s up to the MM mob now.


Jul 17 2008

Will there be a contest #4?

Category: Uncategorized @ 12:40 am

MM Comic 1Yes. But, despite having only held 3 contests, people often ask us if we’re worried that we’ll run out of ideas. The answer is – sort of. This isn’t a one man show, but it’s not a big think tank either. Mental Magma is really just 3 guys: Gabriel (that’s me, hi, how are you doing?), Clayton, and David. We have a lot of ideas, enough to last for a while, but an indefinite supply? I don’t know.

That’s where you come in. Yeah, you, the guy/gal with the mouse, trackball, or maybe foot pedals. We want you to submit your ideas for contests. MM is all about community-driven ideas. Sure, we think of swell contests, but think about how good they’ll be when we get the entire MM village involved. What’s in it for you? Well, you get to be recognized publicly for the genius you’ve always been. And if we use the contest, you’ll get to be a guest judge in the competition.

So, you can send the contest ideas to us through the Contact Us form, or better yet, by leaving a comment on this post; that way, everyone can see it. Keep in mind a few principles for our contests. Ideally they’ll be a little quirky. People might enjoy a cutest dog competition, but that’s a little vanilla for us. Many of our best ideas are a mix of two, mostly unrelated, things. See our previous contests for examples. The contest can involve user submitted text, pictures, audio, and video. Remember, the focus is on creativity.


Jul 14 2008

Contest #3: The Roommate from Mattel Ã‚¢

Category: Uncategorized @ 12:08 am

Board game roommateLast week’s contest was great (see full voting results here), but this week we’re cranking up the ridonculousness with our eyes set firmly on ludicrous speed.

This week’s contest is to answer a question we feel strongly you have not been asked yet today: What board game, if it were personified, would be the worst roommate?

Now, to answer this question and win, you’re going to have to do more than just name a board game. You have to tell us why the personified board game would be so bad. Detail for us, in a few sentences, what would irk you so terribly. Oh, and no saying the board game version of Hangman…that’s just too easy.

You can enter the contest by clicking on Contest Entries (also located below) and leaving your answer there. By leaving an entry you are agreeing to the contest rules and terms. This week's prize is a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com and a heavily used (I won’t kid you, it’s rubbish) Pictionary game (optional for the winner).

Like usual, our users will determine the winner. You can rate roommate selections in the Contest Entries section by clicking on the thumbs-up or thumbs-down icons. Friday evening we'll put up a poll with 5 finalists. You'll have until 5pm EST on Sunday to vote. Good luck!

Pictionary

Contest Summary:

What you have to do: Answer the question: What board game, if it were a real person, would be the worst roommate? (And tell us why)
How to enter: Write your entry in the Contest Entries section.
Deadline: Friday, July 18th at 5pm EST
Prize: A $25 Amazon.com gift certificate and a very used Pictionary game (game optional for winner, you’re going to REALLY have to love Pictionary to want the game)

Announcement: This contest is closed. Feel free to continue to leave your answers here, but you'll be doing so strictly for our edification. Why don’t you check out the latest update or contest?


Jul 13 2008

Contest #2: Winner

Category: Uncategorized @ 6:27 pm

Winner!Congratulations to Garrett, winner of the second ever Mental Magma contest (scroll down or click here to see full voting results). He showed great creativity as he gave us seventeen syllables to repeat should we ever need to make conversation with an Japanophile-English professor-futurist:

In the near future,
Prizes will be fifty bucks.
I'll try harder then.

A $25 Amazon.com gift certificate (and 100 yen coin) is headed your way.

So, as we shed a wistful tear for Contest #2, we turn boldly to head for Contest #3. Monday can’t come fast enough.


Jul 11 2008

Contest #2: Finalists

Category: Uncategorized @ 5:20 pm

Haiku haiku

It’s Friday, so that means it’s finalist time.

This week we had an enormous response to the haiku contest with almost 50 entries. We want to give a big thanks to everyone who participated this week.

Picking the finalists was especially difficult this week because so many poems had about the same thumbs-up rating. Nevertheless, the MM selection committee had to pick some, so we did our best.

We do want recognize a few of the users who had highly rated poems that did not make the top 5. Users smodaresi, Debra Devine, Ingshoe, and TD all had poems that were well received by the MM users.

You’ll have until Sunday at 5pm EST to cast your vote for the best haiku and we’ll announce the winner shortly after that.

There’s a slight difference this week in voting. Last week you could see the results before you voted if you clicked on results. This week you can’t see any results prior to voting; after voting you’ll be able to see just the tally concerning the entry for which you voted.

May the true Haiku of the Future win. :)

[poll id="4"]


Jul 09 2008

Contest #2: Update

Category: Uncategorized @ 10:36 pm

Fat manIf this is your first visit here, why don’t you check out this week’s contest.

Contest 2 is chugging along fabulously. The picture here is my unofficial entry into it (no, that’s not really the translation). If you haven’t rated the entries, go now and start clicking on the thumbs-up & thumbs-down buttons. The current leaders are names familiar from the last contest: users Garrett & Bren. But who knows, maybe a late entry will come in and sweep the votes like last week.

After 2 weeks in the website game, I thought it might be interesting for us to share what surprised us about running a website. So…

Continue reading “Contest #2: Update”


Jul 07 2008

Contest #2: Haiku of the Future

Category: Uncategorized @ 12:31 am

Haiku of the futureFor last week’s contest (see the winner here) we looked to the past; this week we look to the future. Contest #2 will require a willingness to play with language, some rudimentary poetry skills, and a dash of creativity.

For this week's contest you have to write a haiku about the future. I know the title says "of the future", but that's just because it's more catchy. We were thinking of calling this contest Futureku or even Haikuture, so I don’t think you have any room to complain. You can write about any aspect of the future. This includes technology, fashion, food, sports, language, Tony Danza, or whatever. Let your mind wander.

Don't worry if you've never written a haiku before; it's easy. If you can count the number of syllables in a word, you can write a haiku. For our purposes you just have to know that a standard haiku has 3 lines, and that the lines have a 5-7-5 syllable breakdown. That means the 1st and 3rd lines have 5 syllables and the 2nd line has 7.

100 Yen CoinYou can enter the contest by clicking on Contest Entries (also located below) and leaving your poem there. By leaving an entry you are agreeing to the contest rules and terms. This week’s prize is a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com and a 100 yen coin. The deadline for entry is Friday July 11th at 5pm EST. Like usual, our users will determine the winner. You can rate haikus in the Contest Entries section by clicking on the thumbs-up or thumbs-down icons. Friday evening we’ll put up a poll with 5 finalists. You’ll have until 5pm on Sunday to vote. Good luck!

Winning this week’s contest might not make you a famous poet, but it’s not a bad way to start. Let me start you out with an example entry that might make me a famous poet:

It makes crisp bagels (5 syllables in this line)
Then it downloads my emails (7 syllables in this line)
Love my iToaster (5 syllables in this line)


Contest Summary

What you have to do: Write a haiku about the future.
How to enter: Write your entry in the Contest Entries section.
Deadline: Friday, July 11th at 5pm EST
Prize: A $25 Amazon.com gift certificate and a 100 Yen coin.

Announcement: This contest is closed. Feel free to continue to leave your haiku here, but you'll be doing so strictly for our edification. Why don’t you check out the latest update or contest?