Summary: Announcing the Windows PowerShell 2013 Scripting Games, which begin April 22, 2013.

Microsoft Scripting Guy, Ed Wilson, is here. Don Jones is with us today from the offices of PowerShell.org. Tell us what you know about the 2013 Windows PowerShell Scripting Games, Don…

The Games are coming! With an all new software platform (kindly provided by Start-Automating.com, an organization that actually uses Windows PowerShell to power our website), we’re ready to roll. You’ll find Beginner and Advanced tracks, with some new twists.

Events and tracks

Events are open only for a limited period of time. Each event will go through four phases. Dates refer to midnight GMT of the indicated day (meaning, Feb. 2 would be “Feb. 2 at midnight GMT”). The four phases are:

  • Pending: The event is not yet open.
  • Open: You can download the event scenario (as a PDF for offline use) and submit entries. You usually get about five days to do this.
  • Review: No new entries are accepted, but everyone can vote on all events.
  • Public: No entries or votes are accepted, but anyone (logged on or not) can see the entries.

Remember, the Scripting Games are now managed by PowerShell.org, a community-owned corporation that runs the PowerShell.org website. The Games are still supported by Microsoft and The Scripting Guys, but we’re an independent organization and our actions and words do not represent Microsoft.

Here’s a bit about the tracks…

Beginner track   Consists of events where the answer is usually a one-liner, or at most, a couple of lines of code. We do not usually expect to see error handling or error suppression, extensive use of variables, and so on. We recognize that entries in the Beginner track may sometimes produce errors (like if the command can’t connect to a computer), and that’s fine. Judges will typically be less impressed with overcomplicated solutions, so keep it simple.

Advanced track   Consists of events where the answer is usually an advanced function with parameters. If you don’t know what an advanced function is, the Advanced track is not for you. We expect to see more attention to detail, and more use of built-in Windows PowerShell features.

Caution   We ask that you not include any personally identifiable information in your entries. This includes your name, email address, or other contact information.

There are several ways to win this year:

  • Every time you vote on someone’s entry (giving it a score of 1 to 5, with 1 as “bad” and 5 as “good”—whatever those terms mean to you personally), you earn one pointlet. Each pointlet serves as a prize raffle ticket.
  • You can win by being the crowd favorite! That simply means more people have given you high-scoring votes as part of your Crowd Score. These aren’t professional judges, but their opinion still matters.
  • Our professional judging panel will select their Best and Worst list for each event, and they will blog about what they liked and didn’t like. If you’re in the Best list for one or more judges, your entry will be reviewed by our mighty panel of celebrity judges, who will award First, Second, and Third places.
  • We’ll recognize the winners in each event and track, in addition to the overall winners for each track.

What does it take to impress the public and earn a high crowd score? We have no idea—it’s the public. Be creative and do the right thing.

What does it take to wind up on a judge’s Best list? Have a creative approach to the problem you’re given, and consider some of the guidelines in the next section of this guide.

Important note   “Win” does not mean “prize.” Not every recognized winner will receive a tangible prize (although we’re going to try). Every winner will have the right to use a badge on their PowerShell People profile, and we’ll announce those badges after the Games complete. (Oh, you don’t have a profile? Well, if you want to compete in the Games, there’s no better rehearsal than to write the script needed to set up your Powershell People profile!)

Prizes

We’d like to offer thanks in advance to our presenting sponsors, who are providing the majority of the prizes.

First prizes are awarded by our panel of celebrity judges. These judges will review the events that received the top community vote scores, but will use their own discretion for awarding the prizes. There are no fixed criteria for these prizes.

Note   We’ve got more prizes in the works…stay tuned to the Scripting Games site for news and announcements!

Overall winners across all events

First prize: Complimentary pass (admission only; no expenses are covered) to your choice of Microsoft TechEd North America 2013, TechEd Europe 2013, or TechEd NA 2014.

Second prize: SAPIEN Software Suite 2012 ($699 value) provided by SAPIEN Technologies

Third prize: Five ebooks (average value $200) provided by Manning Press

Event 6

First prize: PrimalScript 2012 ($349 value) provided by SAPIEN Technologies

Third prize: eBook (average value $40) provided by Manning Press

Event 5

First prize: PowerShell Studio 2012 ($349 value) provided by SAPIEN Technologies

Third prize: eBook (average value $40) provided by Manning Press

Event 4

Third prize: eBook (average value $40) provided by Manning Press

Event 3

Third prize: eBook (average value $40) provided by Manning Press

Event 2

Third prize: eBook (average value $40) provided by Manning Press

Event 1

Third prize: eBook (average value $40) provided by Manning Press

Crowd Favorite prizes

These prizes are awarded to the events with the top community vote score. We will award one prize for each event in each track.

Third prize (all events): ebook (average value $40) provided by Manning

Prizes for community voting

The top two community voters will receive a complimentary pass (admission only; no expenses are covered) to the PowerShell Summit North America 2014. “Top voters” will be identified by the quantity of votes (in either track) and by the quality (consistency, fairness) of their votes.

In addition, the following prizes will be raffled, with each vote that is cast acting as a raffle ticket:

  • Four $50.00 gift certificates to the SAPIEN Technologies online store, provided by SAPIEN Technologies
  • Twenty ebooks (average value $40) provided by Manning Press

Why you should vote

If you think you’re not qualified to vote on the entries…well actually, you are qualified. Just ask yourself, “Is this a script or command I’d want running in my production environment? Is this the work of a person I’d hire, if I had the opportunity? Did I learn something from this entry?”

Then vote with your heart. Everyone is qualified. And if you can leave a brief comment about why you voted the way you did, even better. The votes are anonymous, as are entries during the voting period, so be polite and professional, and treat others as you’d want to be treated yourself.

And remember, every vote equates to a prize raffle ticket!

Oh…this should go without saying, but we’re gonna say it anyway: don’t be mean. We do have systems in place to watch for odd voting patterns, like handing out all 1s or all 5s, just to rack up pointlets. We also watch for sequence patterns and other signs of abuse. All of those things trip alarms. We also look into things manually. If we find wrong doing, you’ll be banned from the Games for life. Seriously. Oh, we’ll talk to you about it first, we’re not mean. But we absolutely won’t stand for this system being abused.

The future of the Games is in peer review and voting. Your opinion—the opinion of someone working in a production environment—is what’s important in the real world, not the opinion of some fancy-pants judge.  Part of the Games (the expert judge commentary, for example) will make you a better voter and judge in the future, and that’s how we’re going to help build a better overall Windows PowerShell community. So respect the vote.

We sure hope you’ll play along. Be sure to watch the feed on Scripting Games site for the latest news and announcements!

~Don

Thank you, Don, for this information. Stay tuned. Tomorrow we have the 2013 Scripting Games Competitors Guide.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. If you have any questions, send email to me at scripter@microsoft.com, or post your questions on the Official Scripting Guys Forum. See you tomorrow. Until then, peace.

Ed Wilson, Microsoft Scripting Guy