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© 2010 Ugur Akinci
I love to be a judge at STC’s annual technical documentation competitions. This year is the fourth time I’m serving as a judge in my local chapter’s (Wash DC) annual technical document competition.
Twice I had the honor to serve my local chapter as a Lead Judge. In other two times I was again honored to contribute as a Judge.
Some people ask me: “why do it?”
One implication is: “They don’t pay you. This is a volunteer position. As an experienced professional technical writer you can put your time to better uses.”
I hear what such critics are saying but I respectfully disagree.
First off, these competitions are a good opportunity for me to get in touch with fellow communicators who keep our local chapters going. They are truly the quiet heroes of our community. There are many such community leaders in my Washington D.C. chapter but for fear of forgetting to mention even one of them I’ll refrain from giving any names. But you can go to the chapter’s website and check it out for yourself.
Secondly, these competitions are one of the best ways for me to see what’s the latest out there. As a judge, I have the privilege to review some of the best technical communication products created during the previous year. For a technical communication geek like me that’s like letting a kid loose in a candy store. I just love it. I marvel at the different ways in which technical ideas are gathered, designed, and presented. That’s pure and free education for me.
And thirdly, judging helps me review my own standards and approach to technical communication. It forces me to escalate my sense of justice and understanding of perfection and beauty to a totally new level. Why? Because there’s accountability at the end. When we as judges submit our evaluations, we are also asked to explain our decision and stand behind it. That responsibility forces me to sharpen my pen and try to both honor and help improve all that work that goes into these marvelous masterpieces of information design.
If you haven’t tried judging before, I heartily recommend you go to your local STC chapter and express your interest. You’d be amazed at the experience and come back for more the next year. It can be habit forming 🙂
What has been your experience as an STC competition judge? Please feel free to share.