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Tip #2: What Articles Are Worth Mentoring?

, 26 May 2009 CPOL
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How to decide if you should spend time helping an author.

Editorial Note

Having trouble writing or posting articles? These articles aim to gather together tips and tricks from authors and mentors to help you write great articles.

Introduction

Sometimes it is easy to decide if you want to help an author improve his article. Or not. When you see an article with most of the boilerplate intact, or with only a few sentences and a download, then you know the author really didn't care, and so why should you? But when you see an article with a lot of details, with some attempt at explanation, with screenshots, then you want to take a closer look; this could be a great article, if only the author would do a few things...

Rules of Engagement

What do I look for? Here are some of the things:
  1. Could this article be useful to someone? If the article just repeats what anyone could find on MSDN with a google search, then the answer is probably no. But if the article talks about how to apply some API or framework feature, or explains it in a way that MSDN does not make clear, then the answer is probably yes.
  2. Do you remember having to look for this information yourself? Sometimes there are things that just take a while to find, and after that you just "know" them. Finding them is the tough bit. If the article can help save time for someone, then it's got a go from me, even if it's about something trivial.
  3. Does the article state a problem and then show how to solve it? No matter what the problem is, if the author demonstrates how he worked through it and came up with an answer, by definition that is what an article should do. Easily a go.
  4. Does the article explain some non-trivial technology? Unless there are other and better articles on CodeProject that discuss the same technology, I would be inclined to take the article seriously. Even if the same technology is described in other articles, the author might have a different take on it, or show how it can be used in different ways. (Have you seen how many color pickers we have?)

In Conclusion

If you feel the article falls just short of what would make a good article, tell the author so, and tell him why. With a different approach, or by including more details, would the article be acceptable? Tell the author about the way you see things, and give suggestions if you think the article is salvageable. In a positive way, of course.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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CodeProject Mentors
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Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionLength? Pin
Mark Nischalke20-Jun-09 5:41
memberMark Nischalke20-Jun-09 5:41 
GeneralGood points Pin
Donsw14-Jun-09 8:56
memberDonsw14-Jun-09 8:56 

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