How Challenges Are Judged
Be sure you know what our judges are looking for before you submit your entry.
There’s no one right way to tell a story. Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes, and we want to see what yours looks like. Challenges are meant to inspire this creativity, and we want to see you tell a story that’s unique and authentic to you—but there are just a few things we look for across the board to be sure we’re judging every entry consistently and fairly.
When you’re creating your story, it’ll be important to keep these few factors in mind to ensure your entry has the best chance of doing well. You’ll be up against a lot of stiff competition and talented creators, so knowing exactly what our judges will be looking for can give you a big leg up.
The judging criteria
There are four main categories that our judges will be looking out for when they read your entry. Your story will be judged based on the following:
Your creativity and originality. Is your story memorable, original, relatable, or does it otherwise stand out for any reason?
Is it funny? Is it moving? Is it inspiring? Whatever we asked you for in the initial prompt, be sure you’re invoking the right emotional response.
Writing and storytelling skill. Is the story well written and engaging? Is it aesthetically pleasing, and have you made good use of videos, music, or other media?
Does it fit the brief? How well does your submission address what we asked you for?
The scoring process
Our moderation team will review every single story that’s submitted to every Challenge. Of all the eligible stories submitted, the Vocal moderation team will pick their favorites—they’ll collaborate to choose all of the submissions that they determine as a team to be high quality, engaging, original, or noteworthy for any reason.
Once the moderators have surfaced all of these amazing stories, they’ll move along to the Curation team, who works hard to highlight the best of the best stories published on Vocal. They’ll carefully read each submission, and score each story individually based on the above criteria. Each story will receive a score of 1 to 4 in each of the unique categories: Originality, emotion, storytelling ability, and how applicable the story is to the subject matter of the Challenge. These scores will be added up for a maximum total of 16 points, and the ten or fifteen submissions with the highest scores will become the shortlist that’s provided to our special guest judges.
Our judges are all experts in their field, and in the subject matter of the Challenges they’re judging. That’s why they’re perfect to make the final decisions. They’ll use the exact same scoring system on all of our shortlisted stories in order to select their three absolute favorites, which will be our grand prize, second place, and third place winners.
If there are any ties after our team and our judges have scored the entries, they’ll be broken by your audience! This is where engagement on your story can really help you out. We’ll take the number of reads on your story and the likes it’s received into account in order to break a tie; so, if two stories have received perfect scores from our judges and are vying for the grand prize, the one with the higher engagement or number of likes may win.
This means that you should do two things: You should encourage your friends, family, and followers to give your story a like or a read if you’ve entered it into a Challenge. Let them know that it could be the small effort that puts your entry over the edge!
It also means that if you’re exploring through submissions to a Challenge and come across one that you particularly enjoy, you should show it the same support. It can make a big difference for a story that you loved!