One Judge's Perspective on Articles
What makes a good article? The Essentials
Make them want to read your workPlease, ensure the topic isn't the same as fifty others. When I judged the materials category, I saw so many mithril articles I thought my eyes might bleed. If you choose to pick something that many others will do, give it a super unique spin.
Short and simple!Article length is probably one of the most controversial topics and people have widely ranging opinions. I feel the ideal length is 500-1000 words. Some categories, like characters, may lend themselves to longer lengths. But you can often wrap up something like a material in less than 1000 words. People can lose interest when it's much longer, but this length gives you room to fill in details. I like to see longer articles broken into multiple pages and link them via mentions, article blocks, and/or navigation links. I've seen people say things like "It's a shame people don't like to read." That's not the case. There's just a ton of articles to wade through and my time is limited. Make your words count. Give them punch and grab your reader's attention. Keep your articles to about an 8th grade reading level. These are not scientific papers for PhD. students. They should be enjoyable. Using a big word occasionally is fine. The same goes for paragraphs. A wall of text is a big turnoff to a reader. Use headers, boxes (quotes and alert boxes), images (with credits), white space, extra line breaks, and the sidebar to break up the text for easy consumption. When you have stats and numbers that disrupt the reading flow, place them in the sidebar.
Grammar, Spelling and ProofingCheck your grammar and spelling and use TTS (text to speech) to read your article aloud. These two things are essential! Make it easy for your reader. If they have to stop reading to figure out what the heck you are trying to say, you'll likely lose the reader. If you repeat information several times, we'll figure that maybe you're just trying to fill space or didn't edit well.
Creative ApproachRemember when I mentioned an attention grabber at the beginning of an article? Quotes are a common way to do this. But MANY people use them. Is there a zany or emotionally gripping way or perspective to make your reader say "Hey, this is cool!" Do either of these articles draw you in?
Big Hints from FoxI've heard it said that you have to have a fancy article with lots of images and CSS. Not all judges, myself included, look for popular articles or require use of images or special effects. Likes can be a sign that the article is great, but not always. I love to find the hidden diamonds—the articles with few likes but are excellent. I don't expect perfection. Just put in the effort to edit and do your best!
Summing It UpWA judges will look at many articles. For the best chance in a competition, make your articles stand out!
Table of Contents
Further ReadingIf you'd like to see some great examples, here are my faves from some of the times I've judged. See the comments for what grabbed my attention.
Fox's Picks of the Summer Camp 2021 Materials Articles
Articles that Fox feels are outstanding from Summer Camp 2021 for the prompt "A vital trade resource that supports a settlement or region".
Fox's Picks of the World Ember 2021 Spell Articles
Articles that Fox feels are outstanding from WE 2021 for Spell Category.