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Boosting traffic with photo contest - how?

I have a website which I have created with Microsoft Frontpage (www.tmbstudios.com).

I was toying with the idea of driving traffic to my site by setting up a monthly "photo contest" (something like the one at http://www.somemoorecats.com/photopoll/)

Can anyone tell me how complicated it would be to do this? I don't even have a clue where to begin on something like this! Can I do it with software I already have, or would I need special software? Is it likely that my webhost (netfirms - free hosting service) would be able to support something of this nature?
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TequilaMockingbird
Asked:
TequilaMockingbird
1 Solution
 
KenAdneyCommented:
I don't think it would be too difficult, assuming you don't try to get too elegant with it.  You could do have folks email their photos to you and post them on the web site (that's pretty easy).  All you need is an explanation and a mailto: tag.  

There's cheap software that will build a thumbnail gallery for you (do a search on thumbnails at Tucows or one of the other shareware distributors).  I wouldn't try to set up your website so they could upload them, you'd have to deal with security so you didn't get viruses.

Then you just need to do a voting poll.  You could probably find a script you like at:

http://www.hotscripts.com/ASP/Scripts_and_Components/Polls_and_Voting/ 

that wouldn't need much, if any, tweaking.

What kind of application runs the poll may depend on your server.  If you have a Microsoft server running IIS, then I'd recommend the ASP link above.  If it's something else you may want to consider a different kind of program.
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aarontwcCommented:
Hi,

First thing first.. you can't attract much visitors to place their photos there for a contest.. so it really defeats the purpose. Secondly, you can't attract much returning visitors this way :)

Anyways..

Ok.. umm the problem now is that netfirms do not some kind of provide server side language.. I don't think they support ASP.. as to what kanadney suggested.. You can do this with CGI instead.. because as far as I know netfirms provide CGI-BIN access.

http://www.hotscripts.com/Perl/Scripts_and_Programs/Polls_and_Voting/more3.html

Some CGI/PERL scripts there.. so check it out. And download the script that sounds right to you..

Basically.. after you get the scripts, just have to upload it to the CGI-BIN directory of your server and you will be done.

Or

alternatively you can hire someone to do it for you. Should not cost you more than $50 :)

Thanks
aaron
http://www.eshock.org
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AzmeenCommented:
To best suit your needs, the best choice is to go for paid hosting. Of course it costs money, but it adds value to your site...

- No banners/popups (common in free hosting)
- Better speed/uptime
- Cool tools to play with (PHP, ASP, Databases)
- Better support

Sure your current host supports CGI, but how complex are the scripts that you can design for it? Can it accept uploads from the browser? Can it generate thumbnails automatically? How do you give credit to the person who uploaded the pictures? You can still do all that, but manually. On the other hand, with PHP (I think ASP can do a lot of these things too) and a MySQL database you can automate a lot of these processes. The easier this is for the user, the more likely your site will be popular.

And I speak from experience, I have designed such a system enabling users of my site to upload their desktop screenshots. I will then review the pictures, and authorized the ones that are suitable for public-viewing.

Check it out here: http://www.heritage-tech.net/modules.php?name=SSMagick

(Powered by PHP, MySQL, and ImageMagick)
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aarontwcCommented:
Indeed you can use PHP and mySQL.

If you are to go with paid hosting.. I will suggest PHP as well. A very light but powerful language! Also with mySQL that is good as well.

Or you can use other server side language.. perhaps ASP.NET or ASP.

Other than these.. if you are remaining in netfirms Free hosting.. then the ONLY choice is practically with CGI and textfile database. Actually I think frontpage might be able to do this as well.. perhaps you should post this qns on the frontpage experts area.

Essentially, althought CGI is less efficient than PHP it is considered MORE THAN ENOUGH for a new site that is starting out.. till you are getting heaps of visitors I see no need to change the language.


Thanks
Aaron
http://www.eshock.org
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scrigglyCommented:
I have netfirms, and I've done a ton of stuff with my webpage...one helpful hint...if you go to the webpage that you want to base yours on, you can right-click on that page and click on "view source".  this shows you all of the programming that they did to make this page.  If you take this and modify it, it will get you started.

Using other people's scripts is a great way to learn as you can make changes and then see how it affects your page.

I disagree with aarontwc's comment above.  Since your webpage deals with photos and editing and the like, a photo contest WOULD work, provided that is something you monitor and you are careful not to let the promotion go stale.  Why not do it once a year and award something that your customers would value...some peice of equipment or publicity that would motivate them to submit their photos.  The website you were looking at with the cats is a specialized website, so naturally, people with cats would want to post there.

I can't help much with the technical aspect, I work with Dreamweaver, and specialize in custom work on webpages, marketing and adapting webpages to suit people with disabilities.  One more hint, Dreamweaver is a LOT easier to use than Front Page and is more visual in my experience.

Hope this helps.
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TequilaMockingbirdAuthor Commented:
Thanks, Scriggly for the comment - this may be a matter of my waiting til I heard what I wanted to hear, but thanks for the encouragement.

I wrote the owner of that cat site, and she is writing a new PHP/MySQL script for photo contests. Since I'd rather stay with free hosting for the time being I am simplifying, limiting my entrants to ten per month, and using a remotely hosted polling service for the actual voting. I will have no trouble making thumbnails with FrontPage.

I've often wondered about Dreamweaver - FrontPage can be hard to use, and frustrating to look for free hosts that accept it. Although now I'm used to it, I'd have to start a whole new learning curve to learn Dreamweaver - not to mention another outlay of cash for software! I'll keep it in mind, though!

Thanks again. You can check in with my actual photo-contest-in-the-making at www.tmbstudios.com/photo_contest.htm
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scrigglyCommented:
You are very welcome...I'm glad this helped you.  Dreamweaver is very easy...I taught myself the basics in one day and have expanded ever since.  Not to mention the fact that it has an online tutorial that walks you through every single step of the way, from adding Java scripts to Flash.

Good luck.
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