Free Webinar for Competition Judges: Writing Quality Comments for Your Entries

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As a volunteer judge for your local publications competition, you’ve been looking forward to seeing what your peers consider their best work. When you begin looking through the entries that have streamed into your email box and landed with a thud on your doorstep, you realize that the quality of the entries varies immensely. How do you suggest improvements in an entry that seems near perfect? How do you manage suggestions for an entry that seems, frankly, a mess? And how do you remain positive about the vast number of entries that lie somewhere in between?

Aside from receiving an award, entrants consider the comments from judges to be most valuable in improving their entries and their competence as technical communicators. Judge comments make our competition unique from other communication competitions.

The International Summit Awards (ISA) Competition committee can help you write compassionate, meaningful comments as you evaluate competition entries. ISA judge training manager, Dorothy McDuffie, will:

  • discuss how to write positive assessments for your entries
  • explain how to manage the assessment process so that each entry receives adequate attention
  • give examples to illustrate useful entry assessments
  • respond to questions and comments (with other members of the ISA committee)

Do not miss this opportunity to address issues you may have as you prepare to write helpful, worthwhile entry assessments in your local competition.

Dorothy McDuffie is an STC Associate Fellow with over 25 year of experience as a technical communicator. She has judged in the ISA competition, but most of her experience comes from local judging for the New Mexico Kachina and East Tennessee chapters. She has also entered regional and international competitions and is aware of the pitfalls of judging from the viewpoint of the judge and the judged.

Note: This webinar focuses on writing comments regardless of the assessment form used. Thus, questions pertinent to your local competition, such as deadlines, rules, and procedures, should be directed to your competition manager.

Who: All local competition judges, experienced or new
What: Writing Quality Comments for Your Entries Webinar by Dorothy McDuffie
: Saturday, 5 October
: Noon-1:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)
: Via Adobe Connect

No registration is required for this webinar. Simply log in at on the day of the webinar to participate.

The Joy of Judging in the 2013-2014 Summit Competition for Technical Communication

We are Looking for Competition Judges!

Landsat image of the Chesapeake Bay region
Photo Credit:
NASA/USGS/Landsat 5

Judge Applications are now being accepted. We will accept judge applications through 3 December 2013.

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

  • Call for Judges
  • Judge Application form
  • Schedule for Judges
  • Competition Categories

Entries are arriving for the Washington, DC – Baltimore (WDCB) chapter's 2013-2014 Summit Competition for Technical Communication. 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 15 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

Between 30 November and 3 December, entries are logged and team judging assignments are made for each competition category. The entries are sorted into packages for each team on 4 December for the Entries Pick-Up and Judges’ Training meeting.

On Saturday, 7 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.

Something New From STC

This year, STC is offering a Free Webinar for Competition Judges: “Writing Quality Comments for Your Entries”. The webinar will be held on 5 October 2013 using Adobe Connect. More information will be provided in a separate post.

Judging Teams and Consensus Judging

Over the next five 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, 11 January, the judges meet again 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. By the end of the Consensus Meeting, a consensus is reached on award levels for each entry. The Best of Show judging team then 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.

Thank you!

Call for Judges – STC Washington DC Chapter 2009-2010 Competitions

Do you have a number of years of experience in your line of work? Do you consider yourself pretty darn competent at what you do? If so, please consider sharing your expertise with others by signing up to be a judge for the 2009-2010 STC (Society for Technical Communication) D.C. area competition!

There are actually two separate competitions: Online Communication and Technical Publications. Each competition is split into categories for which entrants submit their work. When you apply to be a judge, you can specify your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices for the categories you’d like to judge.

If you would like to be a judge, there are two major meetings that you need to put on your calendar:

  • Entries Pick-Up and Judges’ Training meeting

    Saturday, Dec. 5, 10:30 am – 12 noon, at Patrick Henry Library in Vienna. Snacks are provided.

  • Consensus Meeting

    Saturday, Jan. 9, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, at 1st Presbyterian Church in Arlington. Lunch is provided.

In the five weeks between these two required meetings, you can expect to spend approximately 10-15 hours total going over the four to six entries you are judging.

See the Competition website for

  • Call for Judges
  • Judge Application form
  • Schedule for Judges
  • Competition Categories

Thanks for volunteering!

Melissa Brown Manager, STC WDC Competitions email hidden; JavaScript is required

P.S. A big thank you to those of you who have already signed up to be judges. You’ll be getting more details soon!