How Challenges Are Judged

by Justin @ Vocal 3 years ago in Challenges
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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!


About the author

Justin @ Vocal

Founder and President of Creatd (Nasdaq: CRTD), the parent company of the Vocal platform.

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Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (18)

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  • Jessi3 months ago

    This was incredibly helpful and easy to understand! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  • Andreea Oprea3 months ago

    I really needed to know this, thank you for the information and I do hope my poems will make good reviews.

  • Thanks I do hope some of my Short Stories of Poems really touch your heart thanks for the feedback now I know what I can do better.

  • Thavien Yliaster3 months ago

    I would like to know if it's possible to have a compelling story/entry that has little-to-no audience engagement outcompete a story that may not be as well written/original/etc. but has more engagement? I'm curious if some factors that an entry may lack would automatically exclude it from the competition.

  • Shelley Devine4 months ago

    My first time submitting anything on here and to the New Worlds Challenge. I'm very excited about the opportunity to publish and test out my writing. Thank you!!

  • W Flannigan4 months ago

    If every submission is graded on those criteria, is it possible to learn our grades so we can know where to focus efforts to improve?

  • Jonathan Deguire4 months ago

    This will be a big help thanks.

  • Julie Cicco4 months ago

    Thank you!! Very helpful :)

  • Sherry Howry4 months ago

    Thanx for the valuable info!

  • Tom Jardine5 months ago

    Thx for the info. . . my first entry, so hope folks like it! Seems like a good platform from which to get some of my work out there.

  • Richard L Martinez5 months ago

    First time I have entered a challenge and I am thankful for an opportunity to participate.

  • Thank you for this opportunity to share my story. I've entered a Challenge for the Campfire Story theme. I hope the staff enjoys my story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

  • Thank you, for this information. I have followed the criteria.

  • Jori T. Sheppard6 months ago

    I have entered a Challenge and I entered it before the contest closed. However I've noticed that there are individuals who are still submitting to the contest an entire week after the contest closed. Do they still qualify for the challenge?

  • Rose Rossenbach6 months ago

    Good to know. I just entered in my 1st challenge and submitted in 2 stories. So I’m wondering do we get notified or get feedback on our scoring? Like the judges # score up to 16?

  • Keli Woods6 months ago

    Submitted one for review yesterday and it still hasn’t been published.

  • Andrew Bell6 months ago

    I've uploaded a story I've written from Google docs but when I submitted it for review the story is no longer there, what should I do

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