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Meeting Recap: 2015 Competitions
2016, Q1 (November 09, 2015)
By Sheila Loring, STC Associate Fellow

Sheila Loring
Sheila Loring
Each year, the STC holds a documentation competition – the chance for writers to get feedback on their work and recognition from their peers. Judges volunteer to provide that feedback, working against a checklist of questions and deciding, with teams, which entries deserve awards. Entries that win one of the top two awards locally get to compete at the international level.

The STC Carolina competition training was held November 12th at SAS Institute. We spent the morning learning how to give constructive criticism. For example, give specific examples of what the writer did well, down to the page number. Explain how the manual can be improved. Avoid just saying you don’t like the font. Be sure to include positive feedback. You can apply many of the concepts during peer reviews at work.

Toward the end of the morning, we divided into small teams and judged the first entry together. Lead judges provided guidance to new judges and engaged their team in a discussion of the entry. Some of us finished writing our comments before the end of the session. We took the rest of the entries home to finish in a few weeks.

For the past few years, training and judging occurred on the same day. This meant we had roughly four hours to judge three to four entries. I enjoyed having more time this year and think that everyone will provide more feedback to the applicants. Lead judges will also have more time to review their teams’ feedback and make sure the comments are constructive and complete.

Why do I volunteer to judge each year? I get to review some of the best documentation in the field. I see what works well in a manual or help system and where there’s room for improvement. And I catch up with familiar faces such as Terry Smith. I haven’t seen her in years, and I so enjoyed chatting with her. Terry, you haven’t changed a bit.

Do you want to see some of the best work in the area? Come to the Best of Show judging on December 10th. You’ll help decide which entry shines above the others.

Sheila Loring can be reached at sheila dot loring at gmail dot com. Read more articles by Sheila. End of article.

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