The Approved part of h2g2 consists of some of the best factual Entries on the site. In order to become Approved, Entries pass through Peer Review, where others can comment on it and suggest improvements. But what makes a good Approved Entry, and what can you do to increase your chances of us finding your prose irresistible enough to be promoted on the h2g2 homepage?
- What Should I Write About?
- Write about reality
- Write about subjects that can be verified
- Be original
- Fill in the gaps
- Write about what you're interested in
- How Should I Write It?
- Plan your Entry
- Research your Entry thoroughly
- Be instructive, informative and factual
- Write Entries of appropriate length
- What Sort of Style Should I Use?
- Write in your own style
- Don't try too hard to be funny
- Try to make your entry balanced
- Avoid writing in the first person
- Anything Else?
- Try to use good spelling and grammar
- Linking to h2g2 Entries
- Do not copy wholesale from other sources
What Should I Write About?
Write About Reality
Approved Entries should be about real events and things, not works of fiction, so please don't submit fiction to Peer Review. While we encourage colourful, interesting entries, dramatising past events can make entries less accessible to those looking for a straightforward factual account, and should usually be avoided. If you would like to write fiction, you'll find like-minded people in the Alternative Writing Workshop and at Another Galaxy Guide.Write About Subjects that Can Be Verified
Some subjects are of immense interest to individuals but aren't necessarily relevant to a wider audience, such as inside jokes and phrases, or the acrobatic abilities of a pet dog. There are plenty of places on h2g2 that would love to hear about them - The Post, for example - but they're not what we're looking for in Approved Entries. The same goes for home-grown theories and contemporary poetry. Even if the subject of your entry isn't that well-known, the historical, scientific or cultural relevance should be fairly established if you're aiming for Approved Entry status.Be Original
Unlike other sites, h2g2 tries hard to avoid overlap between Approved Entries. You should check to see whether an Approved Entry on the subject already exists using the search engine before starting to write your own contribution.
Approved Entries are marked as 'Approved'. Entries on their way to becoming Approved are marked as 'Picked by Scout'.
If there's already an Approved or Picked Entry that covers the subject then there's no point in covering it again - try a different angle instead. Also, try to avoid putting an Entry into Peer Review that's similar to one that's in there already, as it upsets fellow Researchers.
If you find out that, entirely coincidentally, you've been researching a topic that someone else is working on, why not collaborate on the Entry together?Fill in the Gaps
We often receive helpful suggestions for new Approved Entries. If you discover any gaps, please do get writing and help us to fill them. Other ways to help include:
Write About What You're Interested in
Browsing suggestions made by the H2G2 Community at the Challenge h2g2 forum. Picking up an entry that needs finishing off at the Flea Market. Browsing Categories for an obvious gap.
It's important to write about what you're interested in, even if you don't know much about it. Don't be put off - researching new things is all part of the fun.
You'll see canny observation and personal perspective among the following entries:
How Should I Write It?
Plan Your Entry
Plan your entry, and think carefully about its structure. If your entry is planned with care, it is more likely to flow well and will fall naturally into sections, as with the following Entries...
The starting point for many Entries is often passion or curiosity for a subject. Entries shouldn't be short on facts or detail and you should do your research. It's often clear when Researchers' entries are true labours of love:
- The Other Coronation Stone
- Distortion – The Physics of Heavy Metal
- The Fairey Rotodyne - an Opportunity Missed
- Dracula's Ancestors - Vampires Without the Dinner Jackets
A potential Approved Entry should be instructive, informative and factual - if these three factors form the basis of your entry then you are heading in the right direction. We are often astounded by the quality and detail of some of the entries. Hats off to the Researchers of these great Entries:
- Bodyline - When Cricket Divided Nations
- The Full Moons - What's in a Name?
- The Decipherment of Linear B
- Envy-Free Cake Division
We are not necessarily looking for long Entries, just well-researched, well-balanced, well-written ones. Researchers are much more likely to read Entries and comment on them if it's possible to read them in one sitting. As a general guide:
It's usually difficult to adequately cover a topic in less than 250 words. If your Entry is getting a bit lengthy (1,200 words or more), you might consider splitting it into smaller sub-topics or a series of Entries.
Entries can be both factual and succinct, like these:
What Sort of Style Should I Use?
Write in Your Own Style
Write in your own words, in a style that you're comfortable with. Each of the following entries has a completely different style, making h2g2 a varied and fascinating place to be.
- The Ashtabula Horror - An Ideal Tragedy
- The Love Story of Abelard and Heloise
- The Cox Plate, 1986 - Australia's Greatest Horse Race
- What To Do in the Face of Certain and Imminent Death
Lots of our early Researchers thought that because the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books were funny, they should make sure all their Approved Entries were packed with side-splitting jokes. If you happen to be funny, that's great. Just don't try to force it.Try to Make your Entry Balanced
h2g2 is a great place to get things off your chest, but for Approved Entries we're looking for balanced writing rather than subjective rants. We're looking for Entries that show both sides of the argument, especially on potentially contentious topics. (However, if you do have an Entry of strongly expressed opinion, please submit it to the Speaker's Corner.) Here are some examples of balanced Entries:
h2g2 is a collaborative guide, and we may add in comments, updates and other material from other Researchers and we'll credit them. Having an Entry in the first person wouldn't make sense with a number of authors credited, so third-person approaches are often preferred.
There are exceptions: certain topics can benefit from being told in the first person, and it might well be that your Entry is one of them. Examples of this would be Entries written from personal experience. Avoid using phrases like 'I think...' or 'in my opinion...' because they're signs that your Entry is almost certainly going in the wrong direction.
Spelling and Grammar
Please always try to use correct British English spelling and grammar, and make sure your GuideML works if you're using it1. You can find a bunch of useful tips in our entry on English Usage in Approved Entries. If you're not sure about a spelling, it's worth checking on our Spell Checker, and if you'd like help with English as a second language you should try the h2g2 Language Thing.Linking to h2g2 Entries
When linking from an Entry you are approving to other h2g2 Entries, there are a couple of points to bear in mind:
Do Not Copy Wholesale From Other Sources
The Entries linked to should also be Approved. Links should be direct and relevant. For example, the word 'poetry' should link to Poetry, rather than Poetry Events and Gigs in Glasgow, which, though a laudable entry, does not define the word 'poetry'.
When you sign up to h2g2 you agree to the Terms and Conditions which includeS a section on not infringing other people's copyright.
In other words, please do not copy chunks of text from other Internet sites or from anywhere else. Not only does plagiarising other people's work break our terms and conditions, it is also illegal in most countries. It also goes against the ethos of h2g2 where originality and personal research are respected and admired. While it's fine to quote from or reference other sources you should do so only with an accompanying credit; stealing wholesale from someone else's work is not appreciated. If it is discovered that you have been copying, the entry will be removed from the site and you could find your account at risk, so please don't do it.
Other Useful Information
The following entries might also be of interest:
- And finally...
Thanks again for all your hard work - and remember, even if your Entry is not Approved, it will still be a part of h2g2 and will show up in the search engine. One of our guiding principles is that we never throw anything away - you never know when it might come in handy!