Getting your submission onto The Shaft Podcast

Since I began working on The Shaft Podcast’s show notes (along with Kristal in an unofficial capacity), there have been lots of questions from listeners as to the selection process for contributions. So this post is really long overdue…

This may seem like an obvious point, but: ultimately, we’re looking for submissions that will get Brent, Eric and Wes talking. It’s an audio podcast, after all – albeit one which they happen to record video for. So, if we think a submission is interesting, or funny – or both – then it’s definitely in the running.

Here’s what the categories are intended to contain:

Excavation Station: Ideas for features you’d like to see added into Minecraft.
Sightings: Cool things you’ve seen in the Minecraft community: videos, blog posts, mods, artwork, etc.
News: Actual Minecraft/Mojang-related news (with links to the source, please)
Listener Contributions: Anything Minecraft-related that you have come up with yourself, or questions you’d like to ask the hosts.
Other: Any other Minecraft-related submissions – or if you’re still not sure which category to use, then use this one.

If it turns out that a submission was made under the wrong section title, no worries – we’ll just shift it where it belongs. So if you’re not sure what section to submit something under, use “Other” as a catch-all.

Things That Are Inappropriate for the Submission Form:

  • Shaftlands, Block Party, or any other server-related issues or questions
  • Website issues
  • Invitations to play on private servers
  • Questions relating to other DWP podcasts (Core Elements, Smite, etc.)

Thing is, these types of questions aren’t really suitable for the show, and we have no way to respond to you outside of the show. So, for these types of queries, please join the website at http://deadworkers.enjin.com, and ask your question in a forum post there until a resource page is set up for this purpose.

As much as possible, we’ve got to weed out stuff that’s been talked about before in previous shows. That’s not easy, considering The Shaft is now at more than 130 episodes. I’ve occasionally flirted with the idea of going back through every single one, and compiling a huge spreadsheet of every idea ever used on the show, but that’s a heck of a lot of work!

Kristal and I do read every single submission, between us – and we use each other as a sounding-board for submissions that we’re not quite sure about.

But if you submit any of the following, they’re going to be deleted without discussion (and this isn’t an exhaustive list, either):

  • Poop blocks
  • Food ideas (I’ve lost count of the number of times one of the hosts has said something along the lines of, “We have too many food types already!”)
  • Obsidian tools
  • Boats that can be used in lava
  • Pipes
  • Anything lifted from a mod (Knowingly or unknowingly – there have been many suggestions plucked whole from FTB lately due to its popularity).
  • Items that are rude, inflammatory, exclusionary, or deliberately negative without being constructive.
  • Minecraft Server promotions. If you wish your server to be promoted, please sponsor the show!
  • Items that ask, “Why didn’t you use my submission?”
  • Equipment, gear and settings inquiries (We are trying to get the guys to create a FAQ/info page for this.)
  • Asking “Give me ideas for my LP/Podcast”. Besides, if they get any good ideas, there’s a bloody good chance they’ll want to keep them for themselves!

Kristal and I have to use our own judgement as to where to draw the line in terms of potentially (or definitely) controversial topics. We have included submissions which talk about religion versus atheism; cyber-bullying; and racism.

But conversely, one submission we had recently was something Kristal wanted to include because it would make a great talking point, but the language in the submission was too inflammatory and negative. Luckily, I managed to come up with a version which Kristal and I thought was more acceptable for the show – and Kristal was completely correct: The submission did make for a great talking point amongst the guys, and their guest.

Speaking of inflammatory language: If you send a submission which out-and-out insults the hosts, or the guests, it’s getting binned. We don’t want to have to censor submissions, either by editing or complete removal – but the fact of the matter is that, as much as possible, we’re aiming for a positive feel to the shows. Legitimate criticism is carefully considered – and if it’s something which we think the guys should see, but isn’t really suitable for broadcast, it gets emailed to them directly.

Actually, that last topic leads me nicely into something else: We will edit submissions. Part of that comes about from me not wanting to have a listener embarrassed – at the risk of offending the guys, I do end up cringing a little when they play a call, and the guys laugh about how it was said. So if your spelling or grammar isn’t quite up to scratch, don’t worry – it usually gets a spit-shine from myself or Kristal. As far as the hosts are concerned, all their listeners write with near-perfect English. I won’t tell if you won’t 😉

And we’ll edit for length, too – though I won’t make any claims of infallibility in this regard; I’ve messed up on a few occasions, when the guys (seems to be mostly Brent, actually) get bored with a long submission. So, as much as possible, we’ll try to boil it down to the bare essentials and still keep the meaning. I will say, though, that if we can’t figure out a way to suitably shorten a submission, we’ll ditch it, even if we really liked it (I know I’ve done that at least once before).

[Side note, related to Excavation Station: Don’t bother putting in the crafting recipes for new items. Brent’s said on a few occasions that they don’t need to know the recipes – so now we’ll edit out the recipes themselves, if they’re still being included.]

OK, so explaining the selection process has ended up rather more complicated than I intended, so I’m going to finish with one last point: favouritism. Even if you’re a close, personal friend of Kristal or I, it doesn’t guarantee your idea’s going to get into the show. As I’ve mentioned before, I usually don’t know who’s submitted an idea until we’ve decided that we like it.

Conversely, if we ever end up in a situation where we’ve fallen out with someone, it won’t mean that we’ll automatically reject all their submissions without consideration. Despite the impression I might sometimes give off (or jokingly cultivate, on occasion ;)), The Shaft is not about me (or Kristal), so if we like an idea from someone that we don’t like, it’ll still have a damn good chance of going in. Every submission is judged on its own merit.

I hope that the tangled mess above at least gives you some idea of what Kristal and I are looking for, when you submit ideas to The Shaft. Ultimately, it does mean that we have to be pretty ruthless with submissions, but it really is nothing personal against any of the listeners. We’re just working towards bringing you an enjoyable show!

On that note: This is going to sound kinda whiny, but we end up getting a lot of people asking us, in chat, via the submissions form, Twitter, etc. why we didn’t use their submission. To be honest, we don’t keep track of why we rejected something, but there’s always a good reason why we did so. But if your submission doesn’t make it, please don’t be disheartened – try submitting something else instead! Bugging the heck out us, though, isn’t the way to get your submissions on the show 😛

P.S. Yes, we do sometimes put in our own stuff, but it happens much less often than you might think! 😉

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