One Judge's Perspective on Articles

I've helped judge categories for World Anvil competitions for several years and have waded through thousands of articles to do so. Here is what I feel makes an article stand out.   This is my opinion. Your milage may vary with other judges.

What makes a good article? The Essentials

Make them want to read your work

Put an attention grabber at the beginning to draw in your reader. Give them a reason to want to digest the facts you're about to throw in their faces. If you just spew fact after fact, it gets hard to read even if I like your world and the article's ideas.   Please, 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.   Most sentences shouldn't be long. Break your thoughts into manageable chunks to help the reader process the information. Think of someone trying to read this aloud. If they'd run out of breath, it's too long.   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 Proofing

Check 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.


Bonus Points

Creative Approach

Remember 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 Fox

I'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!


Freebie Tips

Look through the article template prompts below the main content window of the article editor. Make a note of which ones are useful for your article. Then put those titles and info into your main content window or your sidebar. Having just a few places to spell check is much easier than trying to hunt down twenty.


Summing It Up

WA judges will look at many articles. For the best chance in a competition, make your articles stand out!

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24 Dec, 2021 07:22

Thank you! I really appreciate this... not just for world ember, but for my article writing in general. I am constantly fighting with myself about what to leave in and what to leave out. Multiple times, I have combined 2 articles, just to reverse that decision a bit later. I've also combined, reduced words, and then made another article to get more information out... Anyway, the advice is noted.

What comes after 0?
24 Dec, 2021 20:36

Thank you Shy, this is super useful!