Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reasons for Deletion - Poorly Written Article

eHow expects people to make a few mistakes here and there. However, when the mistakes interfere with reading the article, or there are so many problems it just looks bad, eHow will delete the article for being poorly written.

Of the deleted articles I've seen posted, I see two kinds of problems. One is simply people who are just not good at English. It may be their second language, or it may be people who just never did well in English in school. Poor spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

The other kind of "poor writing" is more a problem with organization and structure. The writer spells things right, and has a good grasp of grammar, but the article wanders off on side points, or the main point is buried. Or perhaps everything is put into one long solid paragraph per step, or it's the opposite and everything is broken up into illogical fragments.

Articles in the second group are sometimes deleted for being "not in how to format," usually because it's hard to find the actionable step, or the layout is odd.

The next post will be about ways to improve your writing skills, but for now here are some tips for those who are just having a little trouble with the format:

  • eHow's form creates a structure for you - use it. Don't try to break up steps into smaller steps or divide a step into sub-sections. A step should be a single unit. It may help to think of the first sentence as like a header - but make sure it's a complete sentence starting with a verb. It's not a title, so use regular capitalization and punctuation.
  • It is okay to break up paragraphs within a step. A paragraph should be two or three sentences. If it is longer than four lines it starts to get hard to read online.
  • If you don't want to break up your really long paragraph, then consider making it shorter. Cut out the extra words and phrases and ideas. Maybe some of them belong down in the Tips and Warnings section below anyway. A shorter, tighter paragraph will not only be more inviting to read, it will also have a better keyword density - and make your article more attractive to search engines!
  • Your title should be perfect! No mistakes. People decide on whether to read your article based on the title. eHow does delete articles just for title problems (which will be the subject of another post).

Next up, How to Improve Your Writing Skills. (Back to Series Index.)

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