A Transparent Look into How Vocal Curates Top Stories

The art and science behind Vocal's Top Story selection process

By Justin @ VocalPublished 4 months ago 4 min read

Thousands of stories are submitted to Vocal daily. This continuous flow of creativity is truly inspiring. As we navigate through millions of words everyday, our primary mission is to elevate and champion great storytelling.

Over the years, our team has hand-selected nearly 10,000 Top Stories on Vocal, uplifting and reaching millions of people. But like with all art, quality can be subjective, especially on a platform as expansive as Vocal. The most common question we hear from our community is, "How are Top Stories selected?"

In an effort to be as transparent as possible, we’re lifting the veil on what our team looks for in selecting Top Stories on Vocal.

Quality over Quantity

We value quality over quantity. Here's what we look for:

  • Originality and Authenticity: We champion stories that bring fresh perspectives to the table. Authentic voices and unique narratives are not just encouraged; they're celebrated.
  • Rigorous Research and Insight: Depth matters. We champion stories that not only inform but enlighten, offering readers a deeper dive into topics.
  • Mastery of Craft: Beyond just correct grammar and punctuation, we look for storytelling finesse. Cohesive structure, compelling narrative arcs, and a clear voice are hallmarks of standout pieces.
  • Relevance and Timeliness: Stories that resonate with current dialogues or trends showcase a writer's pulse on the world's heartbeat.
  • Diversity of Topic: Vocal is a vast ecosystem of ideas, subjects, and experiences, and we aim to reflect this diversity in our Top Stories. We intentionally showcase the best stories from each community. Writing across the communities gives your stories an edge.
  • Engaging Presentation: Visuals and layout matter. Relevant multimedia, crisp images, and a reader-friendly layout amplify a story's impact.
  • By adhering to these standards, we aim to curate a collection of stories that inform, inspire, entertain, and elevate the art of storytelling on our platform.


    While our primary emphasis is on the quality of the content, consistency in publishing does play a role in visibility on our platform. Authors who produce content regularly are naturally more present in our feed and, as a result, have an increased opportunity to catch our curatorial eye.

    This consistent engagement with our community, combined with high-quality storytelling, increases the likelihood of being recognized. Therefore, while quality remains paramount, a steady rhythm of publishing can augment an author's chances of having their work selected as a Top Story.

    Engagement Metrics

    We closely observe how the community engages with stories. High engagement is a strong indicator that a story strikes a chord with our audience.

    Here are some of the metrics that contribute to being selected for a Top Story:

    • Read Engagement: It's not just about how long someone spends on your story, but whether they complete it. A high completion rate signifies captivating content.
    • Shares: The number of times your story is shared reflects its broader appeal.
    • Comments: Active discussions, feedback, and interactions from the community. An active comment section often means your story has sparked interest or debate.
    • Likes / Reader Insights: The number of positive reactions or upvotes your story receives. This is a direct measure of how much readers appreciate your content.

    By optimizing for these metrics, you can increase your chances of being selected as a Top Story on Vocal.

    NOTE: It's important to note that while these metrics are influential, they're not the sole criteria. They help bring your story to our attention, but our team considers a broader spectrum of factors during the curation process.

    Visual Appeal

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s what we look for:

    • High-Quality Images: Clear, relevant, and copyright-compliant images.
    • Formatting: Proper use of headers, bullet points, and paragraphs for easy readability.
    • Embeds: The use of multimedia (videos, podcasts, article links, etc) can bring a story to life.

    Relevance to Current Events and Trends

    We keep an eye on trending topics and current events. Stories that offer timely insights or fresh takes on popular subjects often catch our attention.

    Diversity and Inclusion

    We're committed to showcasing a diverse range of voices and perspectives. Stories that highlight underrepresented voices or shed light on lesser-known topics have a special place on our platform.

    Community Recommendations

    We value your feedback. If multiple members recommend a particular story or if a piece gains traction in Vocal's Discord, we take notice.


    Your profile is your calling card on Vocal, and it serves as the first impression for many readers diving into your stories. We give a special nod to profiles that are complete with avatars and informative bios. Complete profiles not only lend credibility and authenticity to their stories, but also signify an author's commitment to the platform and their audience. We have found that creators with full profiles are more likely to connect with the community and build a loyal base of subscribers.


    Being a Vocal+ subscriber strengthens an author's likelihood of being selected for a Top Story. Vocal+ subscribers often contribute to our platform more extensively, by participating in Challenges and consistently crafting engaging narratives. Their dedication to both their craft and our community results in a more robust body of work that naturally gains visibility.

    Choosing Top Stories is both an art and a science. While metrics and guidelines play a role, we're also moved by passion, emotion, and the power of storytelling. We encourage all our writers to continue sharing their voices, honing their craft, and engaging with the community.

    Thank you for being a vital part of Vocal. Together, we create, inspire, and elevate stories that matter.

    tips and guides

    About the Creator

    Justin @ Vocal

    Founder of Vocal. COO/President of Creatd ($VOCL), the parent company of the Vocal platform.

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    Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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    Comments (55)

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    • Carol Townend2 months ago

      Thank you for this helpful guide Justin. However, a guide on Discord would be helpful as I find it confusing which is why I don't use it.

    • Himangshu Sharma3 months ago

      Amazing Platform to improve your creativity.

    • Raymond G. Taylor3 months ago

      Helpful explanation thanks for sharing

    • Kenneth Lawson4 months ago

      When I look at the top stories for any topic., I don't see stories. (At least not what I'd consider a story.) I see articles or pieces talking about something or disassembling a topic or augmenting that something is either good or bad, or a how-to about doing something. What I see are articles or essays or something along those lines. Rarely do I see straight-up storytelling. Which is what I do. What I do is tell tales in a variety of genres, Other than the new category for stories, I don't see a lot of fiction and stories. (I'm aware that it may only be me, and I could be missing something. Which is possible.) It seems to me that straight-up fiction stories aren't given the same "Press" that other types of articles are.

    • Robby Tal4 months ago


    • Hope Martin4 months ago

      Thank you for this!

    • Alex H Mittelman 4 months ago


    • Alex H Mittelman 4 months ago


    • Sarah Glass4 months ago

      Thank you for sharing this! I'm new to Vocal+ and I just got my first top story last week! 🤩 And I was curious how you guys choose.

    • Naveed Ahmed Syed4 months ago

      Vocal's commitment to quality, authenticity, and diverse storytelling is truly inspiring!

    • Gal Mux4 months ago

      The transparency in this story is gold!

    • Aksaya Bandodker4 months ago

      Nice article! Keep it up! You can check out my work too!

    • Super helpful!

    • Lilly Cooper4 months ago

      Thank you for the clarification. It helps to understand a little of how the team works.

    • Caroline Craven4 months ago

      Thanks so much for explaining this. You guys work so hard and the recent developments on Vocal have been phenomenal.

    • Eh, it's kind of like SEO (where my marketers at?). Sure, you can do certain things to make the algorithm--or the editorial team, in this case--favor your content. But at the end of the day, if you spend all your effort on attempting to "game" the algorithm without having good content to back it up, you achieve nothing. Maybe I'm conflating metaphors too much here. But my point is just focus on writing good content and worry less (/don't worry at all) about how you're positioning it for Top Story. Google/Vocal work in mysterious ways. There is no secret ingredient.

    • Carminum4 months ago

      Millions of words everyday sounds like a lot; I wonder how it’s possible to process them all. Is there an automated pre-selection, based on the metrics, that “brings your story to [Vocal’s] attention”? It would increase transparency to clarify what or who selects stories for Vocal curators to read – especially in case the same process applies to the challenges as well.

    • This was nice to read! In some ways I still don’t feel more informed because of all the things I’ve written, I was not expecting my poem about narwhals to place as a top story, but hey, it did! 😂 (So basically, I read this and think, alright, I’ll just keep writing what I write and see what happens! But it’s still cool that you’re willing to explain the ways of Vocal!)

    • Lynn Fenske4 months ago

      Thank you for sharing your story selection process. It's valuable guidance that helps us be better writers.

    • Harmony Kent4 months ago

      Justin, thank you so much for sharing these insights, which are incredibly helpful. I’m afraid I fail in the high volume of readers side of things … I’m not good at marketing and/ or promoting. However, I’m always looking at ways to hone my writing skills. More than anything, I want my words to have a positive impact, even if only a single person. It helps immensely to know volume isn’t the be all and end all 🙂

    • Mark Gagnon4 months ago

      Thanks on behalf of all of us on Vocal for writing this. My inquiry on Tuesday may not be the reason for this article, but it did arrive in a timely fashion. At least I now have a better understanding of the process. I still haven't figured out how to do embedded pictures. guess I'm just a tech-challenged old guy.

    • Rob Angeli4 months ago

      Thanks a lot for this info, it is an excellent set of criteria. And thanks as well for all you do!

    • Criminal Matters4 months ago

      *Shuffles 'story 'Tips to Get a Top Story on Vocal' to the back of my 'To be published' pile.... Thanks for sharing this information with us!

    • Judey Kalchik 4 months ago

      Thank you for your thoughtful thoroughness.

    • Kristen Balyeat4 months ago

      Wonderful! Thank you so much for this super helpful insight and for your transparency! It’s something I absolutely love and respect about this platform, among many other things! Very grateful to be here! 💞💫

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