The Joy of Judging in the 2018-2019 WDCB Technical Communication Competition

We are Looking for Competition Judges!

medium image of Chesapeake Bay and Mid Atlantic states
Chesapeake Bay and Mid-Atlantic States
Photo credit: NASA/USGS/Landsat

Judge Applications are now being accepted. We will accept judge applications through 26 November 2018.

If you are ready to experience the joy of judging, we need your help.

Entries are arriving for the Washington, DC – Baltimore (WDCB) chapter's 2018-2019 Technical Communication Competition. Would you like to see them? Are you ready to help evaluate them? If you think you may be, here's a brief summary of what's in store.

The Call for Entries in our technical communication competition was announced on 10 September. More announcements about the competition will appear in websites, blogs, tweets, and lists. The competition is coming together but we can not hold it successfully without the commitment of a group of qualified and enthusiastic judges. We recruit judges from among professional communicators in the Washington, DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas, and beyond. Membership in STC is not a requirement.

Judges Training

The deadline for entries is 10 November 2018. Between 11 November and 26 November, entries are logged and team judging assignments are made for each competition category. on 27 November, the entries are sorted into packages for each team for the Entries Pick-Up and Judges' Training meeting.

On Saturday, 1 December, the judges assemble to receive their judging materials, entries, and instructions. They meet the other members of their judging team, get training from experienced judges on how to evaluate an entry, and have their questions answered.

Judging Teams and Consensus Judging

Over the next six weeks, judges read and examine their assigned entries. They discover—or rediscover—the joy of encountering excellence in published manuals, reports, training materials, journals, brochures, marketing and PR materials, magazines, help systems, websites, user support materials, and more. As they begin to form opinions and record their evaluations in the judging forms, the judges apply all the knowledge and experience at their disposal. They prepare their comments for the entrants and a defense of their decisions for the consensus meeting.

On Saturday, 12 January 2019, the judges meet for consensus to discuss the entries and decide which ones deserve an award based on specified criteria. Entries are not judged against each other. Some entries stand out as award winners; others elicit debate. The judges relish the opportunity to compare notes on design, presentation of information, layout, and overall quality of an entry. You will review how each judge evaluated an entry in their team's categories and concur on the award to be given to each entry. After discussing an entry with the other judges on your team, you may decide to change your evaluation scores or comments to come to a consensus for the award your team will give an entry. After each award is determined, the judging team will select one or two from your team's entries to nominate for Best of Show. The Best of Show judging team then assesses the nominees and selects the Best of Show and the Best Student Entry. Veteran and new judges leave the Consensus Meeting with a sense of a job well done. They have judged the work of their peers and shared their passion for excellence in communication. Many are eager to do it all over again in future years.

For questions, contact the competition manager, Tavia Record, at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

The Joy of Entering the 2018-2019 WDCB Technical Communication Competition

medium image of Chesapeake Bay and Mid Atlantic states
Chesapeake Bay and Mid-Atlantic States
Photo credit: NASA/USGS/Landsat

Entry deadline: 7 p.m. Eastern Time,
Saturday, 10 November 2018

You are invited to submit your best work to the scrutiny of your fellow professionals in the chapter's 2018-2019 Technical Communication Competition. Now is the time to consider what you want to enter and get it prepared.

The STC Washington, DC – Baltimore (WDCB) chapter continues to hold a local technical communication competition. This post continues our tradition of presenting some reasons why you might enjoy entering the STC WDCB Technical Communication Competition.

Are You an Award-Winning Technical Communicator?

For those of you who haven't entered before, let me explain the basics. STC competitions recognize and encourage excellence in technical publications, both online and print. Our chapter competition receives entries from DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as from other states and from other countries. Washington, DC and Baltimore metropolitan area experts and some remote online judges gather to evaluate the entries in the competition. The judges provide written feedback on the strengths or weaknesses of each entry with reference to a standard in each category. The judges make recommendations that you may apply to future endeavors. Many entrants regard this feedback as a valuable part of their participation.

Some of the joys of entering are the pride you have in putting forth your best work, the validation you feel by being measured against the highest standards in our profession, and the opportunity to receive a knowledgeable and thoughtful critique of your entry. As an entrant, you are proud of your accomplishments. You and the judges realize that the final entry represents months of planning, writing, editing, and publishing.

Submitting a publication or online entry is a great way to keep growing in a fast-paced industry. Having your decisions and standards recognized by industry experts is real insider validation! Awards can bring recognition from professional peers and increased visibility with employers and clients.

As an entrant, you'll be invited to our Awards Celebration, where all winning entries are on display. You will be able to see what others in our field are producing. The Awards Celebration is also a place to network with the technical communication community.

Who is Eligible to Enter?

Anyone is eligible to submit entries. You do not have to be a member of STC. You can be a full-time student or a professional. You may enter work as an individual or for a colleague or member of your department.

What Can You Enter?

Technical, scientific, medical, or research content for external or internal audiences produced or revised within 24 months preceding 1 September 2018. These include websites, blogs, journals, teaching material, computer software and hardware manuals, books, magazines, periodicals, research papers, posters, scholarly or trade news articles, online help for software applications, and user support materials. Entries may also include marketing and PR material from a technical organization such as brochures, catalogs, flyers, technical advertisements, promotional websites, corporate identity, newsletters, annual reports, policies and procedures, and employee guides. For more information, see the Chapter Competition Entry Rules and the descriptions of the Competition Categories.

Full-time students may submit entries that are prepared for and accepted for publication by a client, employer, or publisher. The entries by student winners of Distinguished Technical Communication and Excellence awards may continue on to the STC international-level competition when it is held.

Students can gain much from professional evaluation of their work Student entries that have not been prepared for and accepted for publication by a client, employer, or publisher will be accepted in the STC WDCB chapter's competition. While such entries will be judged in our local competition, they cannot advance to STC's international competition because they do not meet the publication acceptance requirement.

STC is restructuring the international-level competition and will not be holding the International Summit Awards (ISA) competition for 2018-2019.

By entering the competition, you help educate clients and employers about what technical communicators do. Your entries demonstrate the value technical communicators bring to a product by providing the right information, in the right way, at the right time to make life easier and more productive for product support staff and users.

You are proud of your accomplishments. Enter the competition and enjoy showing us your best work. Good luck!

Notices will be sent in late January 2019 to let all entrants know if they won or didn't win an award.

For questions, contact the competition manager, Tavia Record, at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

2018-2019 Call for Entries in the WDCB Technical Communication Competition

The Washington, DC – Baltimore Chapter's 2018-2019 Technical Communication Competition is OPEN! This call for entries is your invitation to participate in the competition. Enter your best work to receive valuable feedback from professionals in the field and potential awards. Information about the competition is at Entry forms and judge applications are available for downloading from the competition website.

The entry deadline is 10 November 20018 so we're giving you plenty of notice. Prepare now to participate in the competition and send your entries in as soon as they are ready—deadlines have a pesky way of sneaking up on you so please don't leave it to the last week. 🙂

Anyone is eligible to submit entries. You do not have to be a member of STC. You can be a student or a professional. You may enter work as an individual or on behalf of a colleague or member of your department.

If you are interested in providing feedback, volunteer to judge and evaluate entries. See the Call for Judges for more information.

Download the flyer to hand out to friends or post at work: 18-19 WDCB Competition flyer (.pdf).

For questions, contact the competition manager, Tavia Record, at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Photo of the 18-19 Competition flyer

New Chapter Admin Council

As a result of the June 2018 election for chapter leaders on the Administrative Council, the following shows our new Admin Council for 2018-2019.

The new chapter officers for 2018-2019
2018-2019 WDCB chapter officers

The Chapter Officers page has live links to their chapter contact address and to their biographies. Check it out and get to know your admin council.

Volunteer on a Committee or Two

Some of the new officers have taken on managing a chapter committee. We have many openings for serving on the chapter committees and opportunities to become part of the chapter leadership, learn new skills, share your expertise, show your stuff, learn more about STC and how the chapter operates. Bring us your ideas. See the Chapter Committees page.

Please review the committee openings. An important role we are looking to fill is the Events Manager. Click on the position title to find out what is involved for helping with that role. Some are small tasks and may be only be a one-time effort—you may want to volunteer for more than one. That’s great. The more roles we can get filled, the smoother the chapter will operate. We like volunteers. We reward you for your efforts in various ways (such as a certificate of appreciation, a free attendance for working an event, a gift, flowers, we’ll think of something). We’ll let your boss know about you.

Review the list of Current chapter volunteer openings and read the job descriptions. To sign up as a volunteer, fill out the Volunteer form.

Event Review: Chapter Technical Communication Competition Awards Celebration and Chapter Recognitions

The annual Technical Communication Competition Awards Celebration and chapter volunteer recognitions event is the highlight of the STC Washington, DC-Baltimore (WDCB) chapter's events calendar. This year's event was a standout dinner event, combining outstanding food and hospitality, a great speaker, and awards.

On April 18th, the WDCB chapter held its annual awards celebration at Il Positano Ristorante in Bethesda. Il Positano provided impeccable hospitality, delectable Italian food, sumptuous desserts, plenty of wine, and space for competition awardees to display their work. The writing team from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, who won the 2017-18 competition's Best of Show for Defining Innovations: A History of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, discussed their book, the years of effort that went into its creation, and how it was created. The book is an outstanding technical achievement.

Wendy Wagner-Smith from the U.S. Dept. of Treasury wowed with her keynote about how technical communicators are all plain language warriors. Her talk inspired everybody in the room to go forth and use plain language in their professional lives.

The dinner provided a great opportunity for competition awardees to display and discuss their respective works, including challenges faced and overcome. Attendees discussed job opportunities, career paths, new software, caught up with friends, or made new friends. The students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology impressed everyone with their knowledge and poise, and with their journal, Teknos, which won an award in the chapter's technical communication competition.

The evening concluded with the WDCB chapter giving out its chapter awards in recognition of volunteer services, including the President's Award to Ugur Akinci for his meritorious contributions to STC and the WDCB chapter.

It was a great night, and we hope to see you at next year's WDCB Technical Communication Competition Awards Celebration in 2019.

Photo of some winners and attendees at the awards celebration
Winners and attendees at the awards celebration