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It has been my pleasure to be one of the Gatekeepers for therealljidol competition, Season 8, Week 20.

For those of you on my list who don't know, the competition is a reality lj-writing competition, with many twists and turns. The public votes for the people they want to see move on to the next round. Approximately once a season, there is a vote where a small number of people who are not currently involved in the competition, are the only votes that count for that round. Those people are called Gatekeepers, and this week I was asked to be one of them. There were 17 in total.

(ETA: The reveal of the identity of the Gatekeepers is here and the results can be found here.)

People involved in the game are usually at least a little bit curious about any particular person's voting criteria, and they are typically a little more interested in the voting criteria of a Gatekeeper, so that's what I'm going to try to explain here.

First, my process:
All of the entries can be found here: http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/547602.html

I read each entry and assigned it a gut-feel, "yes," "no," or "meh" vote, based on my own personal reaction to the piece. After I recorded my original gut feeling, I assigned a score to the entry based on some criteria that was maybe slightly more objective than my gut feeling. I gave them each a score of 1-5, with 5 = Totally Awesome, 4 = Really Good, 3 = Good etc. I found I had to break out the 0.5's. No one scored lower than a 3. Fourteen people scored a 5, and their entries blew me away with their awesomeness.

After I finished all of them, I noted the ones for which I had indicated either "no" or "meh" and re-read them the next day. Since the instinct on whether or not to vote for an entry was part of a gut feeling, I wanted to be sure I hadn't just been in a pissy mood when I read those entries. Originally there had been 13 entries which received a "no" or "meh", but after re-reading them, I revised my scoring/votes. When I submitted my votes, there were only five entries for which I did not feel comfortable voting.

My criteria and other points of note
  1. Your entry has to grab my attention. I don't have a set place at where I have to be "grabbed", but it should be near the beginning, and I shouldn't get to the point of wondering when I was going to "get it". If my mind starts wandering in an entry, it's not a good sign. I try to give the entries the benefit of the doubt - I try to assume it's me being unfocused rather than the entry being poorly written, and so I try reading it through again a few times to assess whether or not the problem is me, or the entry. Often it's the entry, and it's a problem that some editing could fix.

  2. This is THE major criteria (but it happens after I've been "grabbed" so I'm listing it second) - I have to connect with it. It doesn't have to be brilliantly written, it really just has to keep me reading and make me feel something. If that's because I'm curious as to how it will end, or because you're making me laugh, or because you're expressing an opinion that I strongly agree or strongly disagree with, I just have to connect with it - I have to feel something. In a slice-of-life piece, I have to find myself being interested in YOU as a person. Since I'm naturally curious about people, that's usually not a problem. Usually.

  3. Length is not an issue for me, unless you've managed to avoid capturing my attention. Then I was irritated with longer entries. That's not a good sign either. If I'm captivated by an entry, I'll happily read it forever, and I'll be sad when it's done.

  4. Spelling and punctuation are not so much of an issue for me, unless I'm distracted by their egregious nature. If I'm reading your entry out loud, and I can't figure out when I'm supposed to take breaths/pauses, etc. then it's a problem. I read out loud a lot. It helps me to place myself in the scene, or give your narrative a voice. It helps block out the sound of my children destroying my house playing. It also gives me an indication of a weaker entry, without having to over-think it.

  5. I have no preference of fiction versus non-fiction. I used to prefer non-fiction lj entries years ago, but that was before I started to read really good fiction entries ;) Right now, my preference is to read really good entries. :)

  6. I don't necessarily subscribe to the opinion that a poem entry is committing idol suicide. It just has to be a well-done poem to get my vote.

  7. My vote was not in any way based on my opinions of your abilities or previous entries. It was based entirely on this week's entry only.

I hope that gives you an idea of my criteria. I wanted to comment on the entries, but because this season I've not been a frequent commenter, it seemed more prudent to be silent since I was supposed to be a secret.

For those of you who were wanting some kind of more personal feedback, please let me know. I can provide it either in a comment, or reply to an lj-message in private if you prefer. Please link your entry though, so I can click right to it and refresh myself on what you wrote.

Thank you all for providing me with such wonderful entertainment this season, but particularly over the last few evenings!

Many thanks to clauderainsrm for extending the invitation - I'm honoured to have been asked, and proud to have been able to help out.

A shout out to the entries I felt were this week's best:

(For those of you who were not on this list, I still liked your entries - I just really, REALLY liked these ones)


( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 30th, 2012 03:35 am (UTC)
Thanks for writing this up, I love to see how a decision like this is made. It'd kill me to try to pick and choose at this point in the game. Also thanks for doing gatekeepers!
Mar. 30th, 2012 04:41 am (UTC)
I know that as I followed the game in the last couple of seasons, I found myself seriously irritated if I could not see how the Gatekeepers voted, so I wrote this up as soon as I was done LoL.

You had a great entry this week - really enjoyable :)
Mar. 30th, 2012 03:39 am (UTC)
Thanks for explaining how you voted!
Mar. 30th, 2012 04:42 am (UTC)
My pleasure! Your entry broke my heart, but was extremely well done.
Mar. 30th, 2012 03:46 am (UTC)
I'd love to get more feedback, because I always value your opinion! I'm honored to have made your favorites list for this week!
Mar. 30th, 2012 04:54 am (UTC)
Commented on the story - I really loved it :)
Mar. 30th, 2012 03:46 am (UTC)
Thank you for taking the time to explain how you voted.
Mar. 30th, 2012 04:57 am (UTC)
My pleasure! Thank you for writing - I enjoyed your entry :)
Mar. 30th, 2012 03:47 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing this up for us. It's interesting to see the process the Gatekeepers went through to get to where they ended up! And thank you for the shout out! That means a lot to me. Thanks for all of your time and effort into this!!!
Mar. 30th, 2012 04:58 am (UTC)
I was honoured to be asked, and delighted to have such excellent material to read!

Your entry had me chuckling - talk about a proposal gone wrong!
Mar. 30th, 2012 03:48 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this! I love hearing about how other people decide on who to vote for, and you've got a great system.

Also, I'm very honored to be on your list. ^_^
Mar. 30th, 2012 05:01 am (UTC)
I know what you mean - it's absolutely fascinating to read about people's voting process! I stalked all the Gatekeeper entries last year trying to get some insight, so I wanted to make sure I made mine available to whomever was interested!

Your entry grabbed me right in the first paragraph - really well done!

Edited at 2012-03-30 05:01 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 30th, 2012 05:24 am (UTC)
Mar. 30th, 2012 03:51 am (UTC)
Thanks for the insight into your process.
Mar. 30th, 2012 05:26 am (UTC)
It was a lot of fun, that's for sure!

Really enjoyed your entry! Kind of spooky that's for sure - those streaks in the photos? Wow!

(no subject) - alycewilson - Mar. 30th, 2012 05:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 30th, 2012 03:53 am (UTC)
You vote much like how I do it in a normal week :)

And your criteria is much like mine too.

Thanks for sharing this!
Mar. 30th, 2012 05:29 am (UTC)
In a normal week, I wouldn't also assign numbers unless I was super torn - I'd go straight on gut feeling :P

I felt like I needed to be much more responsible about my voting though, and be able to justify it to myself.

I really enjoyed your entry this week - a little bitter-sweet, but it made me smile at the end. Getting back a piece of yourself is always so important.
Mar. 30th, 2012 04:02 am (UTC)
Thank you! Both for sharing your thought process and for putting my name up there! I saw it and scarcely dared believe it was so! Thank you very much. :)
Mar. 30th, 2012 05:32 am (UTC)
My pleasure! I really connected with your piece, and I thought the ending was exceptionally strong. Very well-written :)
Mar. 30th, 2012 04:07 am (UTC)
Thankyou for sharing the process.
Mar. 30th, 2012 05:37 am (UTC)
You're very welcome!

I was sorry your sock idea didn't work out as planned - it was such a sweet sweet idea - I was really rooting for it!
(no subject) - unmowngrass - Mar. 30th, 2012 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 30th, 2012 04:21 am (UTC)
I'd definitely appreciate feedback; my entry is here. Thanks for all your hard work!
Mar. 30th, 2012 05:45 am (UTC)
Your entry was excellent - comment left!
Mar. 30th, 2012 05:00 am (UTC)
Thanks for all your hard work reading our entries this week. I enjoyed reading about your voting process, as a lot of it mirrored how I've tried to judge entries myself in the past.

"I wanted to be sure I hadn't just been in a pissy mood when I read those entries."

Made me smile.

Finally, thanks for writing this explanation.

Mar. 30th, 2012 05:50 am (UTC)
Thank you! I really felt the weight of my votes during this process, and while on a week-to-week basis I wouldn't likely have re-read, I felt like I needed to make absolutely sure of my feelings on the entries.

I enjoyed your entry - I definitely connected with it. Books have pulled me out of many a sorry state.
Mar. 30th, 2012 05:20 am (UTC)
Thank you for the post! :)

I would love any feedback, if you have any for me. You can leave it in whatever way is most convenient for you -- reply to the entry, reply to this, PM, whatever. :)

Mine is here:


Thank you! :D
Mar. 30th, 2012 05:58 am (UTC)
Commented! Love your icon by the way!
(no subject) - jem0000000 - Mar. 30th, 2012 07:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 30th, 2012 06:23 am (UTC)
I was just pointed to this-- so very much thanks for the inclusion, and a healthy "holy crap" for being included. I read through these entries, and there are some really compellingly written pieces here.

Thanks for making me feel included. I know that's not your goal, but it feels really good.
Apr. 1st, 2012 01:12 am (UTC)
Re: Oy.
My pleasure, and thank you!
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