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Over at Livejournal, Who's Da Boss -- not to be confused with Who's The Boss?, the TV show -- is an annual (so far four rounds of Who's Da Boss have been completed, another is set to begin January, 2009) deathmatch knockout tournament to determine who amongst a field of 128 contestants is most boss, and thus deserves the title of Boss. The idea in Who's Da Boss, is to each day have one match decided by letting contributors write up an answer to the simple prompt: who, of the two contestants in that day's match, would win in a fight to the death? Each answer by a contributor is a vote, and the contestant who most voters argued would win wins. The loser, for all Who's Da Boss is concerned, is dead. Anyone can contribute. Contributors are encouraged to be as eloquent as possible in analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each contestant, in describing how, in their opinions, the fight would go down, and in venting at other contributors, whose votes they find misinformed, misguided, or plain not-to-their-liking. The more creative, passionate, fastidiously analytical, or depraved, the better. This results in some soundly entertaining write-ups/votes. For each match, one or more votes are chosen as "featured commentary", boosting the ego of the contributor who penned it (the contributors with most featured commentaries each year also get to choose the following year's below-mentioned Elite Four).

A meager selection of contestants (seeds, by Who's Da Boss jargon) from the past are Captain Kirk, the Ur-Quan, Belgium, Dracula, oral sex, The Doctor, Optimus Prime, David Bowie, pie, Natalie Portman, Commander Keen, the Wild Things, the Vikings, Powerpuff Girls' Him, Jack Bauer, Willow Rosenberg, Yoshi, Alien, the Oompa Loompas, Batman, and Alan Alda. Truly, a celebration of pop culture. Inevitably, this leads to some pretty weird fights, and surprisingly, to a lot of high-quality writing in votes

The format of the tournament is as follows: the first round is a rapid fire of seeds and matches -- 128 seeds, 64 matches, 64 days -- no time to get attatched to any particular seed. Each day a new match-up is unveiled, usually set up to pit such natural enemies as the Death Star and a Borg Cube or Garfield and Hobbes (the Who's Da Boss moderator selects the seeds and the first round matches, but takes suggestions). Seeds that make it through the first round are then grouped into four divisions (brackets) -- cultural icons and current events, sci-fi and fantasy, Hollywood, and the much-celebrated "Rando" -- and seeded according to first-round performance. This is when votes start getting a lot more emotionally charged. Each voter has his favorites and disfavorites, and voters tend to get upset when a seed they didn't care much for triumphs over a seed they thought, on the merits, should have gone through. Accusations of bad-faith voting (not voting for who one thinks would win in a fight, but for one's favorite), spite votes, faction rivalries, and blood feuds ensue.

When the champion of each bracket is crowned, by having defeated all other seeds in their bracket, a contraversial phase of the tournament begins -- the Elite Four round. The Elite Four are a group of four combatant, belonging to an rarefied circuit of trained killers, tasked with protecting the title of Boss from undeserving claimants. Each bracket champion fights the Elite Four member assigned before the tournament to that bracket. The loser, be they Elite Four or bracket champion, is knocked out. The reason this round has been controversial is that some voters feel that Elite Four seeds have the unfair advantages of novelty and fresh excitement from the voting crowd. Also, they feel, Elite Four seeds do not deserve to be Boss, not having fought their way all the way through the tourney. The four remaining seeds fight in the semifinals and finals for the ultimate recognition. With few exceptions, defeated seeds remain dead and do not return to contest future titles. Bosses also go into retirement and do not return to contest next year's title. Those lucky enough to have been named Boss in previous years are:

At the end of the 2007 tournament, Who's Da Boss's long-time moderator retired from the role, and Who's Da Boss was thrown into disarray with a mid-way aborted 2008 tournament. But a new moderator took the mantle and restarted the 2008 tournament with great success. Most of the four year's worth of votes are of a very high quality and make for incredibly entertaining reading.

Who's Da Boss may be found on Livejournal, at the URL http://whosdaboss.livejournal.com/.

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