The Grading Group & Grading Guide
credit to ragnarok0422
-Councilors- (aka 'The Peeps')
-Graders who were given a bloody and glorious death-
Dog of Hellsing
GALLEON. WITH AN AXE. AND THE SPINAL CORD OF A FISH.
Jack of Clovers
Not Safe For Adults
Phantom Kat ;_;
Scourge of Nemo. MAY YOUR ASHES SCATTER OVER THE OCEAN AT SUNSET ON A VALIANT BREEZE. </3
The Jr Trainer
Princess Crow: Active
Re: The Grading Group & Grader Information
Welcome would be Writers and future Graders. Thank you for taking the time to stop by this thread. I hope you’re here to become a Grader. Even if you aren’t, there are some tips on what Graders look for in a story that you may find handy. But first, here are the steps you need to take to become a Grader.
- Before you can become a Grader, you need to write stories for the URPG so you can get a feel of what we look for and how to write.
- Experience is different from one person to the next. I suggest writing three to four stories; try to catch Pokemon of different difficulties. Some people may write 3 stories, some may write 5 stories before they feel ready.
- Help give Feedback to other stories. Not only is this great practice, but it helps the community.
- Read the guides in the How to Write Freaking Stories thread, and be certain you have the writing knowledge and experience to grade another's story.
If you have these qualities, and a little patience to read stories, we may ask you if you want to become a Grader. If you think have these qualities and we haven't asked you yet, you may send either the Head or Lead Grader a PM. After which, there are three ways they will deal with it:
Look at how hard you've worked and give you the job.
Deny you for reasons stated (need improvement writing stories, better grammar, etc.)
3- Make you take the Grader Test, listed below.
The Grader Test consists of grading fake stories, completing a grammar multiple choice test, and correcting a paragraph, all of which can be found here.
When you have all three grades, the grammar test, and the paragraph completed: PM an active Grader Tester. Please do not PM all of us or continually PM us, be patient. If you’re wondering how exactly you are supposed to grade for your test, then read the next post for helpful tips. If you didn't pass your test, please wait two weeks to gain more experience before reapplying.
Re: The Grading Group & Grader Information
The 'How To' of URPG Grading (and Writing)
Let’s get right to it: The nitty-gritty of grading a story. Read on to find out which specific areas you might want to devote more effort to when you write grades. Remember that the subsections you include in a grade are both a matter of personal style and also dependent on the absolute necessities the writer needs to improve. Those necessities are here!
Remember that you should not at all include all, or even really 60%, of the below analysis in the average grade. A word of advice from EmBreon, our favorite ex-Head Grader: "Short stories should get simple grades. New stories should get even simpler grades. Moderate stories should get moderate grades. And to be honest, Complex grades shouldn't even be happening unless they've peaked about 100k. There is simply not enough text to even make it practical. Extensive grades should be practically non-existent, unless someone specifically asks for it, the size is tremendous, and the grader knows what they are doing."
This is very much intended to guide writers, too. If you take a peek at what graders are supposed teach you, you'll have a head start. It should be easier to catch Pokémon the first time around. :o
[Revised by Scourge of Nemo, then uber-edited by Taras Bulba. Now more or less written entirely by Taras Bulba. I have no idea who originally wrote this. Jack? DUNNO.]
BY THE WAY. IF YOUR GRADES ARE THIS LONG, YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. AND NEVER FORGET THE RULES IN "HOW NOT TO GRADE LIKE A JERK."
First, read the How to Write Stories thread.
How a story is begun is one of its most important aspects, especially here on the Internet where words are legion and attention spans are short. A good writer grabs the attention of his or her readers in the introduction; a good grader is able to critique his or her attention-grabbing techniques. Are the characters introduced? Do they have personalities and a background? Are there details about the surroundings and such that allow us to visualize the opening scene in our heads? At the start of the story, we need to know who Johnny is, what Johnny is, where Johnny is, and what he is doing. Why he is doing it may well be the subject of the rest of the story, so don't go looking too hard for that just yet.
These are the fundamentals, the backbone, of an introduction. However, you can look for more than that. The story doesn't just begin--it opens, and the writer wants you to walk through the door. Is there a special something about the story that draws you in from the first sentence? Can you tell what sort of story it is shaping up to be? Is it particularly vivid? Is there an exciting yet mysterious action scene that begs to be explained? Is there some sort of stereotype or expectation of yours that is abruptly overturned? These sort of things make an introduction delicious. Showing the writer that they're delicious is your job.
There should be some kind of introduction at the start of every capture attempt.
Pay particular attention to the writing style. If the story is unreadable due to grammatical problems, no amount of awesome-tastic plotting is going to get people to read it. Provide some gentle pointers here if you see some problems.
A particular challenge for URPG-form writing is multiple-installment stories. Many stories are posted and graded in chapters. In this case, you need to examine how the author balances the "last-time-on-the-adventures-of-Johnny" part of it with the need to start with a bang. A good in-the-middle intro mixes information for new readers with the beginning of the actual rest of the story without sounding like an infodump.
Experienced writers know the score when it comes to introductions. Instead of talking about whether they have done the things we've just discussed, because they certainly have done them, you should talk about just how they were done. Was this technique appropriate or well-executed? Was that technique particularly excellent? Is there a better alternative that would give the intro that extra spark? This takes a lot of thought and some detailed consideration of the story as a whole, but our better writers deserve it.
Plot is, literally, the story itself. Does Johnny make friends with a Pokemon? Does he fight battles? Is he himself a Pokemon trying to make his way in a human world?
The most important aspect of plot is kind of intangible: is it a good story? Good stories are creative, gripping, and get you invested in the action. Your enjoyment of the plot will be easy for you to assess but possibly difficult for you to describe in your grade. Try to find the tangibles.
A more definable aspect of a good plot is flow. As Johnny progresses from place to place or event to event, doing whatever things he needs to do to move the action forward, you should be able to follow him. If you suddenly get a feeling of disorientation, there's some flow confusion. However, sometimes the writer may create this effect on purpose. If it happens at the same time that Johnny gets confused over something, it can be an awesome way to get the reader to identify with him. If that's the case, bravo. But if the flow disruption's not deliberate, make sure the writer knows it's happening. Don't be all, HEY YOUR FLOW IS MESSED UP. Explain "The story feels weird here; it moves so quickly that the reader doesn't know what's going on." Or, "I have no idea where your character is now. Maybe you could stop to describe the daisies."
A specific issue in URPG writing is stereotyping. The archetypal Pokemon story goes as follows: Johnny goes on wilderness adventure, Johnny meets Pokemon, Johnny fights Pokemon, POKEMON GET. We graders are automatically biased against this- admit it! These stories are old, hackneyed, and reflect badly on their writers' creativity: this is what we think.
Don't be so quick to judge; context is everything. It may so happen that a particular story of this format has many merits. Is the protagonist original, even if the plot is not? Is this a debut story with impeccable grammar from a new author? Was the (oh-so-predictable) battle genuinely exciting and scintillatingly choreographed? Pat the author on the back! That story was actually pretty awesome!
One of the most important parts of a Plot grading section is the suggestions for improvement. Especially for stories of 100k+ written by experienced writers, you'll have to really get into the plot, see what makes it tick, and look for gaps or areas that could be polished. If it's a plot so awesome that you're having trouble finding any issues, don't be afraid to the writer just what makes it so great. That's good writing and good grading. An invaluable but dangerous resource for understanding plot structure is the TV Tropes Wiki. Seek it out on Google if you have several hours of free time. Perhaps make sure you get some sleep first. Food, too; TVTropes has at least twice the addictive power of the regular Wikipedia. I did say "dangerous."
A relatively easy thing to do is plot-hole patching. Look for logical or causal inconsistencies (i.e. "That couldn't happen! That makes no sense! And you didn't convince me that it could make sense!") and bring them to attention. If the situation is particularly complex, provide a potential fix.
The higher-level captures require some pretty cool plotting. Don't just ask yourself if it was a good story; look for things like themes, surprise, and lack of extra dangly bits. Point out any problems and areas to build upon. And for goodness' sake commend them for particularly nice bits of writing! Pointing out what you like can be a really good tool to a writer. Maybe you've picked up on an underlying theme or technique in the story that the author used unconsciously. By letting him or her know what he or she's been doing, he or she can really progress as a writer and form an unique personal voice.
If you can't find any problems or room for improvement, then GOOD. JOB WELL DONE. TELL THE WRITER THAT. And make sure to not be all "This was so wonderful and excellent and wonderful" without some level of "It was awesome when you did this, and that explosion was really well timed, and your discussion of the main character's death almost made me cry" and et cetera.
Even if you can find holes... ALSO TELL THEM GOOD JOB. THEY'VE WRITTEN AN ENTIRE STORY. THEY SHOULD BE PROUD.
First off, remember that dialogue is optional. Some writers can toss pretty much any aspect of storytelling he or she wants to, up to and including dialogue, an antagonist, a central conflict, or even conventional sentence structure. Your job as a grader is not to tell them to include these things, but to let them know if what they've done works. Be generous; few of us are adults!
Okay, dialogue. Most stories will have it. It is generally a cornerstone of good storytelling. Most stories will have mediocre dialogue at best; advanced usage can be tricky. That said, poor dialogue is easy to see: it serves no purpose or breaks the suspension of disbelief. Dialogue should push the plot forward, assist in defining a character's personality, or (subtly!) give background information to the reader. If it stands out from the flow of the story and makes you think, WAIT, WHAT'S THAT DOING THERE, there's a bit of an issue. Script-fics are not well-received here; you should warn writers who only have line after line of dialogue without anything actually happening! Also, keep your eyes open for character names; if you lose track of who's saying what line, let the writer know.
An basic grammatical rule is that each line of dialogue must be in its own paragraph, for the sake of readability. Make sure your writer has either done this or is reminded to do it next time.
There is also the matter of nested quotes. Regular dialogue goes inside double quotes. " " However, quotation marks inside a line of dialogue go in single quotes, or apostrophes. ' ' Examples follow.
"I watched 'Mewtwo Strikes Back!' yesterday," she said.
"Confucius say: 'Man who run before bus get tired.'"
Now, what makes dialogue advanced? A well-written character should be able to define him- or herself by the way he or she speaks without hitting you over the head with it. Writers often use dialects, different vocabularies, speech tics such as stuttering and "like," and distinctive sentence structures. Also pay attention to the age of the characters: do children talk like children or like adults? Well-written children sound childlike without necessarily sounding stupid. There is also another factor: most people don't write like they talk. Really effective dialogue should sound more like something someone would say than something someone would write. If you ever look at an accurate transcript of a speech, you may find that it's difficult to read because of all the pauses, "um"s, and "like"s. As a general rule for budding young URPG writers, you should encourage them to avoid the extremes of "unreadable realism" and "unrealistic conversations."
When suggesting improvements, focus on little things that can set individual characters apart or make them more human. Remember that straightforward dialogue is great for a low-level capture. You shouldn't discuss a lot of the crazy advanced stuff mentioned here for anything less than a Hard+ capture--and even then, that's pushing it.
Three words: never demand perfection.
If there's only a very few noticeable, unrepeated errors in the story, you can highlight them without much comment and assume the author already knows how to fix them. If they seem to be a regular occurrence, however, especially if it's a particular type of error that keeps popping up, then it's time to whip out the explanations. Good general advice is to use a word processor such as MS Word or a browser that at least has spell check. Recommend editing to all: a short bug-catching expedition is necessary after writing before it's ready for publication.
If you feel you can't explain a particularly arcane point of grammar (and English grammar is arcane indeed) there is no lack of grammar-focused websites that you can draw from. Don't be afraid to link out to explain that which you can't explain yourself, or at least copy and past the relevant part and include it in your grade. It is polite to credit the original source.
There is no absolute consensus on the spelling or capitalization of Pokemon-world terms. Some capitalize them, treating them as proper nouns: Potion, Growlithe, Hyper Beam. Some say they would be ordinary words in the Pokemon world and wouldn't be capitalized: ether, poke ball, zubat. Some put the little accent on the e. Others can't be bothered. So long as the writer is consistent in his or her usage, you don't have to worry about it. One thing to remember, though, is that Poke Ball and Poke Mart are traditionally two-word terms.
If they do good, always remember to say so.
If you're going to grade an advanced story on an advanced level (as in, like, 60k or longer, at least), you can deal less with the surface conventions.
We all know that sensory details are like the spice rack in the kitchen of writing. (And that simile was like ketchup: not so sophisticated but gets the job done.) Details liven up the story. This is part of the reason why script-fics are of limited use: they don't have any narration, and that's where you find some of the best details!
As with all other things, moderation here is important. The two extremes as defined by the distinguished individuals of the TV Tropes Wiki are beige prose and purple prose. Beige prose is dry, fairly technical writing that basically says "It was A in the B with the C." We now know how Mr. Boddy died, but where was the spark? The romance? On the other hand, purple prose is where the writer unscrewed the tops of the adverb and adjective shakers and dumped the entire contents over the plate with some thesaurus to garnish. You can smell it from a mile away: an adverb after every instance of "said," sentences longer than some ordinary paragraphs, words nobody's used since Shakespeare's time (and, if you think about it, there has got to be some reason nobody uses them anymore), and paragraph after paragraph spent describing the setting or the color of the protagonist's hair.
The take-home message here is never to advocate an extreme. Really, really amazing description says a lot with a little--not a little with a little or a little with a lot. (Yes, that's right, chew on that.) If they did something well, point it out. If there's an endless, awkward description that kills your soul, quote it and say, "You're doing a bit too much here. Try to draw some of this out into other places/tone down the adjectives and adverbs/this doesn't actually tell us something that's super important to the story, so maybe shorten it." If there's not enough description, ask questions that draw them out. "What are his feelings here? How's his face look?" Make sure not to make them think you're asking for ridiculous, extreme prose.
A good rule of thumb is to make detail a second priority when compared to concision. If the prose is tight and punchy, one should be able to figure out which details are needed along the course of the story, both to progress the plot and to allow the reader to understand the characters. Remind the ambitious writer: which words are necessary? A useful hierarchy put forth by Scourge of Nemo is verb > noun > adjective > adverb. (">" is the greater-than symbol as used in mathematics) We see here that the most important thing is action! Verbs! With a sufficiently skilled writer, all rules can be thrown out the window, but for our purposes pretty much every story should have things happen in them: verbs.
One last word of note: connotation. The richer and longer the description in the story is, the more important it becomes that that description set a consistent mood throughout. Unless the author is making a conscious and conspicuous exception, but that's always a concern anyway. So back to connotation: a sad story probably shouldn't have words like "mirthfully" or "bright." A tale of manly men and the manly things they do should steer clear of "sparkly" and "delicate." It should be easy to notice if there are tonal contradictions, because as a reader, your reaction will probably be, "WAIT WHAT." If this happens, point it out. Don't be all, "YOUR CONNOTATION IS STUPID." Explain that "these words in this situation feel really really weird because they contradict each other."
The Pokémon Battle
In many stories, the plot climaxes with a battle of some sort. Some stories make do without a battle, which requires a bit of daring from the writer. A story which makes do without a climax, though, requires near-suicidal bravery. You may have learned about the rising and falling action of the plot: introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, denouément. (Please don't use that last word in a grade.) This is the classical form of drama as defined by the scholar Gustav Freytag as defined by Wikipedia. Many modern stories don't follow this form, and that's fine. It's even recommended. But. If there isn't some kind of peak at all, or multiple peaks, or a half-peak that mocks the fact that there is no peak... the story's often not going to work. The final climax is where everything comes together and the story's existence is legitimized. So it's important. If there are climax issues, point 'em out.
Now, in multi-part stories, things get interesting. There should be a story arc in any competently-written serial, such that it only gets really exciting a few installments in. However, if each part doesn't have its own little climax, then there are some problems.
Climaxes can take several forms. In all cases, there is some kind of conflict taking place in the story, and the climax is where it is resolved. However! The conflict isn't necessarily physical, and so the climax may not be physical. Not all stories feature action scenes. Could you imagine a gun battle in March of the Penguins, for instance? Non-physical climaxes include arguments, major decisions, changes in attitude, and various family interactions.
As for battles themselves, they should feature the best of all the other sections we've covered. Tight plotting. Efficient but rich description. Character traits. Creativity; a boring, predictable, or stereotypical is no fun. Just writing out what would happen in the actual games is a no-no unless the author has a really good reason to. We're talking plot point here. A straight-up transcript ("And thne pikachu used thunder bolt i twas supper efective!") is going to need some sound advice-giving.
Another factor to consider is the placement of the climax. It should be in a good position relative to the rest of the story. Is it too early? Is the ending too abrupt because it was too late? Does it lead to a satisfying conclusion?
SO BASICALLY. The battle is usually the climax, and the climax is usually important. Don't ignore it! It's definitely more important than the introduction in most stories. Be sure to, as usual, encourage the writer by showing them what they did awesomely; equally as usual, do not swamp them with criticism or advice, but do give helpful pointers for including what they've got.
You know how the length requirements work. The How to Write Stories thread has the full explanation. However, the length requirement is more like a strong recommendation. By all means, pass an exceptional story even if it is underlength. If a story doesn't meet its division requirements, you shouldn't pass it just because it managed to hit the limit. Call the writer out if they clearly inserted, like, completely irrelevant scenes just to get to the full length.
Is this really a Pokemon story? Does it abide by the unwritten rules of Pokemon?
Style is certainly the writer's choice. However, if they stray too far from the original spirit and universe of Pokemon, it's pretty easy to notice. We're not saying they have to fit absolutely accurately with the games or show. But. If they lose the spirit of Pokemon, sometimes, the story doesn't fit together.
For instance, talking Pokemon. So far as we know in the game/anime canon, only legendary, very telepathic, parrot-ey, or Team-Rocket-main-character Pokemon can talk. Talking Pokemon are popular in stories. This is fine. However, there should usually be a reasonable explanation. Lab-induced mutations? Strong psychic powers? An alternate universe where all Pokemon can talk?
It's not even necessary, given that Pokemon and humans generally make themselves understood to each other anyway.
There's also the deeper issue of general plausibility. This stuff is easy to understand. Plot holes, people acting out of character, descriptions of the same object changing between paragraphs, egregious violations of the laws of physics or narrative. Does the protagonist suddenly transform into Mr. T? Does a Poke Ball alternate between being a Great Ball and a Net Ball? Did the writer leave a character dangling off the cliff then completely forget about him or her? Point out any niggles like this.
The purpose of a URPG story is the capture of Pokemon. Most stories feature an actual capture attempt in the plot itself, even if this is not necessary. However, the Pokemon listed for capture must show up in the story somewhere. The harder the Pokemon is to capture, the more important to the story it must be. A Porygon-Z story had better have that Porygon-Z do something interesting. Cameos aren't enough.
If the story puts the capture before the end and continues on after the Pokemon is captured, this is still fine. It is necessary, in fact, for multiple-capture stories. Don't worry about that.
Again, the common practice of ending the story on a "will the Poke Ball work?" situation is not necessary. If you see a promising writer using this mechanism over and over again, let them know that other endings are possible. A lot of competition entries end stories in creative ways.
The Personal Opinion
You, the grader, are human. Take advantage of that. If you have some sort of gut feeling about the story, listen to your gut. Don't base your entire grade around it, but it may influence your decision when the story quality is on the borderline. However, remember to grade based on the story, not the writer. Who wrote it is irrelevant. If you dislike someone, do not touch their stories!
Most borderline stories can be bumped up to "capture" on principle. I would recommend doing so, generally. However, if a writer has been posting a lot of borderline captures lately, let them know. It'd be bad if they decided to do a Stupefying next, 'r something, and were horribly surprised when they didn't capture it the first time.
You should take into account the writer's previous works only for figuring out if you can do a more complex grade on a longer (60k+) story. If the same issues always come up in previous grades and they've shown up yet again, point 'em out again and shake your e-fist gently. First-time or sophomore efforts, though, should be graded really nicely. They should rarely fail. However, if it's a good story, it's a good story... so pass it!
The First Story
First stories are usually sketchy. The writer is still learning the rules and how to tell a good story. Helpful feed back is useful. Encouragement is most important. Don't drown them in complex theory, or even simple theory. Help them float, even moreso than you would an experienced writer. Your goal here, as always, is not just to evaluate the story but to guide the writer into understanding what a storyteller can be, and that they can be one.
First stories should generally be passes under pretty much any situation.
You should have both positive and negative aspects in your grade. Don't roast the writer under any circumstances; do include suggestions for how to improve their writing. Don't gush without content; do praise what they did well. Constructive criticism is the best kind; remember to leave the writer with the feeling that they can, will, and want to improve their writing (either for their next story, or the regrade).
Pick whichever of the above sections you feel would be the most helpful in evaluating this story. The plot is the most important part, though; is it a good story? Is it fun? Is it a rousing tale? Does it measure up to the level of the Pokemon the author wants? Your true objective is to help your author become a confident writer who is always seeking self-improvement. More than that, don't just try to turn them into a carbon copy of your favorite type of writing. Show them how to improve what they're already doing; recommend techniques or ideas that mesh well with their style and voice. Don't tell them they're doing something wrong (unless it's grammar)... show them how they can do it better. (If he or she writes much better than you do, you might want to call for help from a more experienced grader, if such a person exists.) Don't discourage them; show them that they've got the right skills and they know how to use them.
Re: The Grading Group & Grader Information
HOW TO NOT GRADE LIKE A JERK
A guide on how to not grade like a jerk, by George and Emma
This concerns all present Graders, and Graders-to-Be.
We didn’t think a post of this caliber was necessary, but it has become apparent that there are still several misconceptions about the Grading standard in general. So here we are to clear them up for you in one MEGA GIANT, kinda big but not really, post.
Let us start from the beginning.
Every Grader has their own criteria and layout they use when formulating a grade.
Introduction-Story-Plot: Firstly, summarizing the story does not affect how strong the grade is. Seriously. It is unnecessary to tell the author all about the story they just wrote. It's not like recaps are bad, though. They're just not good, either. Our guess is that the folks who tend to do this are assuming that it will make their grade look longer, therefore granting them more payout. We’ll call this misconception number 1 - a long grade does not necessarily mean you will receive more pay.
The main purpose of this section is to simply discuss your likes, dislikes, opinions, and any other criteria you feel is necessary to mention here. Give them feedback; tell them what they could improve on in your eyes, and most importantly: remain encouraging. We’ve seen too many derogatory grades taking place here. What constitutes a good story, what constitutes a bad story. These are not things for us to decide. Our job, as Graders, is to help. We aren't here to tear people apart for making mistakes.
Grammar-Spelling: As straightforward as this area may be, there are a couple things every Grader should know and realize. The first, being the fact that nit-picking a story of every typo and minor error is, again, unnecessary. The writer will never remember what you’ve told them if you pack them with piles of boring (that's right: boring) information.
So now you might be thinking, What’s the point of this section then?
Well, the point is to assist them with repetitive grammar errors. If they are constantly mistaking ‘it’s’ for ‘its’ or continuously misspelling a word, then have at it. Point it out. Just don’t go overboard. If you have to scroll through this section for more than two seconds, then a red flag should go up telling you that it is too much.
Some comments have come back to me that people make multiple grammar-correcting quotes thinking it will make their grade appear longer, therefore granting more pay. Well, think again. We’ll call this misconception number 2- a long grade does not necessarily mean you will receive more pay.
Detail-Description: Be specific. Please, don't just tell people to "add more description." What kind of description? Where should they add more? Is it adjectives they’re lacking or should things be spiced up with figures of speech?
Also, keep in mind that this section is heavily based upon your personal opinion. Two people could read the same sentence and gather an entirely different perspective on how to improve it. Make sure your suggestions in this area are not demanding an author renounce their style to simply fit yours.
Length: The character-limits that have been created for each Pokemon are not set in stone. It is recommended that the author try to reach the suggested amount of characters. You should not base your outcome off of this. Length is not an issue when it comes to the story’s overall quality.
Battle: As seems to be misinterpreted, the battle is not the most important aspect of the story. In truth, the story is actually the most important part of the freaking story. In fact, if the overall story is strong, then an actual "Pokemon battle" per se, isn't even necessary, really.
The author shouldn’t feel so limited when writing here, and to be honest, a lot of story battles seem more like an afterthought than actual plot-driven events. Yes, it is important that they attempt to capture their Pokemon in some fashion, but the actual 'capture' does not have to be a traditional Poke Ball capture. In fact, it can be very abstract, even metaphorical, if the author wishes. Therefore, as the grader, you should consider how that capture affects the rest of the story. For instance, if the story ends with the Pokemon dying, instead of just being captured, then how does that character's death impact everything else? Did it feel like an important element of the story? As both writers and reviewers, these are the kinds of questions that we should ask if we are to help others, as well as ourselves, improve.
However, if you only remember one thing about this, you should remember that stories shouldn’t be failed based solely on the battle.
The most important key points every Grader should take with them are A) to always be as encouraging as possible, and B) longer grades don’t always grant more pay.
In fact, many stories shouldn’t even receive such massive grades at all, especially when it comes to newer writers. Keep your advice simple and to the point, and be as nice as possible. We do want them to come back!
And lastly, you should enjoy grading! You don’t have to write so much people…really. If you feel like you’re forcing yourself to find things to lengthen your grade, just remember misconception number 3- a long grade does not necessarily mean you will receive more pay. A Moderate length grade can receive Extensive pay, and vice versa. It all comes down to the things you say and how you say them. Yes, having some length is preferable, but as long as it is simply a few paragraphs, there is no problem with it. Don’t feel forced to always make your grades so lengthy.
In short, a lot of graders have been making things harder than they really need to be, so everyone just needs to relax and stop grading like freaking Nazis. And yes, Nazis were known for being very harsh graders. Don't look it up.
HOW TO NOT GRADE LIKE A JERK v.2.0
To begin with, the current situation is no one's fault. I think it is a combination of miscommunication and too many people handling the wage process. Grades are subjective. It's not just counting numbers and adding them into a final total. There is analyzing involved, and the requirement of reading every single grade from start to finish. Having said this, unless you are capable of writing a grade at the highest skill level, it isn't possible for you to appropriately handle giving out wages. This resulted in improper pay being given out regularly (Moderate grades being paid Basic, Complex being called Moderate, etc. and vice versa). From here, after being paid less than they should have actually earned, people assumed that each category was in fact more difficult than it actually was. This made them feel like they needed to critique way more than they had to, and ended up severely increasing the story and grading standard.
Issue 1) The Problem With Over-Grading
--The Payout: Everyone should remember that this is, actually, a game. It should be fun; that's why we play it, right? Jobs keep the game going. Out of all the URPG careers, Grading probably requires the most time, effort, and overall work. It is why the payout potential is so high, and why the wage system was created to reflect just how much effort was put in. Problem is, if people are putting in hours of Complex level work and getting paid for Moderate, they'll be seriously underpaid for that amount of effort and more than likely not have a strong desire to continue grading with so little reward.
--The Grader: Straining your grade for content takes the enjoyment out of reading the story. This makes your job even more of a chore. What used to be a decently-written, average story becomes a less appealing one; and, what should have originally been a capture, becomes a fail because of the mistakes you were actually looking to exploit in your grade. -All because you needed more advanced content. Or at least, thought you needed it.
--The Author: Everything else aside, this is the person that gets the most out of your grade. It should be custom to both their story and them. Just because you want more money, does not mean you should over-analyze a story that does not require it in attempt of a higher level grade. It is incredibly discouraging to the person who wrote the story. Anyone who has written anything and allowed someone else to read it knows that feeling of helplessness and insecurity of putting part of themselves out there. If you want to be paid more money, help the author with encouragement and constructive criticism. This will make them want to write more stories because you've both helped them become better, and made them comfortable enough to write again. More stories = more money.
Issue 2) The Grading Categories and What They Should Actually Be
-- In The Grading Group thread, inside the post about wages, there are linked examples of a grade that falls within each category, as well descriptions of what each rank actually means. These are spot on. Notice that length has little to do with what makes them categorized how they are. You don't need a 40k Grade to be Extensive. The content determines the category, not the length. Bringing up vague suggestions like "this needs more frequent descriptions and a clearer setting" will land you in Basic. Consistent remarks on more specific things such as character development, adjectives, and repetitive grammar errors falls into Moderate. You head into Complex and Extensive when you delve into the raw meat of the story - finding patterns, loopholes, inconsistencies; analyzing the mood, character motives, and flow; spotting technical uses of alliterations and allusions and etc. It requires a heavy knowledge of literature, and these types of grades should be reserved ONLY for the very experienced author.
Complex and Extensive grades were actually designed to be obtainable (shocking, I know), just meant to be reserved for the more lengthy and advanced stories. I did see several of you guys actually give some Complex level grades correctly, but they were paid as Moderate. 3:
As for Weak grades, yes, they are frowned upon. A Weak grade is one or two sentences of unhelpful summarization. A lot of Basic grades in the past were being wrongfully called Weak. This is a Weak grade. However, though it is preferable to always aim for Basic and above, it is understandable for Weak grades to occur in Easiest rank stories for those Magikarp and Caterpie captures - especially if it was written by an experienced author. 3k is not much to analyze if it is void of the typical grammar errors and repetitive plot.
Grades should be to-the-point. Ramblings do nothing but bore the author and make them begin to forget what you are actually talking about. Short length is OK. In fact, short length is GOOD for 80% of stories posted. If the author of a shorter story specifically requests a long and intense grade, then sure, have at it. Just please put that at the beginning or end of the grade, or I will probably bite you any time I do wages. Don't overwork yourselves, guys. Moderate grades should be Moderate. You will be paid appropriately.
How We Fix It
A lot of our members are young kids. Keep this in mind when you are grading. It is a game for all ages, and the standard feels more up to college level. Heck, most of my professors didn't even give such intense critiques of my writing that a lot of these grades are. It's wonderful how much the stories section helps people's writing skills, but over-analyzing every Joe's story is actually more detrimental than it is constructive. Improvement is something that happens over time and practice, with consistent doses of positive reinforcement. One whopping grade smacked onto the end of a short story won't help either of you.
As the ALMIGHTY GRANNY (and Kat too), we're going to try and monitor the grading process a bit more efficiently. If you take anything from this, please let it be that simpler is better. You should notice more money coming your way in the future, and for less work. THANK YOU FOR READING AND HAVE A JOLLY DAY. And some cake.
Re: The Grading Group & Grader Information
A FEW BASIC RULES
- Do not write a whole bunch of Weak grades for any reason.
- If a writer isn't interested in feedback and you know it, give them a good Basic grade that won't take much of your time (or theirs). BUT, don't give them an awful grade.
- Don't fail Magikarp fics. The exceptions: 1) The story is way too short. 2) The story is pretty much unreadable. 3) The Pokémon they're trying to capture isn't in the story. 4) The story is in a unique format, is pretty borderline, and you really feel like the author didn't put much effort into it. [As articulated by Alaskapigeon.]
- Even if the evolved form of a capture dominates the story, if a writer wants to capture the unevolved form, it must be present in some sense.
- Don't pass stuff that shouldn't be passed, sure, but don't overcompensate. More stories should be passed than failed. Our goal is to produce good advice for new writers, not beat everyone into producing literature.
- Don't try to turn a new writer into a mimic of your favorite style. Figure out what they're trying to do, what their style is and their strengths are, and teach them how to do it better.