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A good deal of writing on h2g2 falls outside the existing Edited Guide's Guidelines. The UnderGuide is home to the very best of it. Poetry and prose, personal accounts and flights of fancy, essays and fiction, writing serious, humorous, beautiful, haunting, traditional, experimental and just plain daft - if it's excellent, this is where it belongs.
Readers Once a piece of writing has been chosen for the Underguide, it gets its day on h2g2's Front Page, where our very latest Entries can be found. Afterwards, it's included in the UnderGuide section of h2g2's category system and all the writing can also be seen by way of our own Archives.
Writers If you've written something that's not suitable for the Edited Guide, but you'd like others to see it, submit it to the Alternative Writing Workshop. Here you'll get feedback and advice on your own writing and can do the same for other writers too. The UnderGuide selects the very best from the AWW and works hand-in-hand with other outlets for creative writing on-site, The Post and Fiction Central.
Helpers We're always on the lookout for people who'd like to help out with the UnderGuide. The place to start is reading and reviewing in the Alternative Writing Workshop - if we spot someone being enthusiastic and constructive in there, you won't go unpestered for long!
Recent Front-Page UnderGuide Entries
Alternative Writing on h2g2
While writing destined for the Edited Guide will always remain the lifeblood of h2g2, all the creative, imaginative and guideline-busting work that doesn't fit the bill is still very welcome and the first place for it is the Alternative Writing Workshop. If you've written something you think others will enjoy, if you want a larger readership than a Journal Entry will get you, if you're a budding poet, essayist, short-story writer, dramatist or talented creator of... well, you're not quite sure what it is, then please do submit your work to the AWW.
As the name suggests, the Alternative Writing Workshop is not a simple showcase - as with the Edited Guide's Peer Review, so here you'll find people ready to offer criticism and advice (if that's what you want). Some of those people will be UnderGuide Miners, but the AWW is open to all. Browse through, read some of the Entries, offer some feedback of your own - you can get involved as a writer, as a reviewer and, obviously, as both.
There's excellent advice on commenting on the AWW page itself. Its guidelines are similar to the guidelines of Peer Review commenting, but less strict. You are encouraged to be creative in your responses. Spelling and grammar corrections are all well and fine, but mechanics should always be second to experimentation in the Alternative Writing Workshop.
The point of the AWW, then, is to help writers produce the very best work they can, to encourage writers to produce more of the good stuff, to allow reviewers to learn a little something along the way - and if the outcome of all that is a very good piece of writing indeed...
Run by volunteers from the h2g2 community, under the watchful eye of h2g2 staff, the UnderGuide scours the Alternative Writing Workshop - and roams further afield as well - in search of the very best Alternative Writing on the site. Working out what the very best actually is involves subjective judgement, to be sure, but also a rigorous selection process - the standards are high and the guidelines are few:.
- It mustn't be suitable for the Edited Guide.
- It must adhere to the House Rules.
- It must be original.
How Does It Work?
The intricate processes are not important here, but where the Edited Guide has Scouts and Sub-editors, the UnderGuide has Miners and Gem Polishers. Miners vote for entries which are approved by the UG Editors, undergo Quality Assurance, are run past the h2g2 in-house Editors and then allocated to a Gem Polisher. The Gem Polisher contacts the author, whenever possible, and works with him or her to make the Gem in question shine. The UG Editors set the date for its appearance on the Front Page, after which it goes into h2g2's category system and also into the UnderGuide's own Archives.
If you've been active in the Alternative Writing Workshop for a while and you'd like to get involved with the UnderGuide, then you'll want to consider becoming a Miner or a Gem Polisher. Or both. To sign up to these schemes simply go to the relevant Home Pages listed below. Any UnderGuide Volunteer receives a nifty little badge on their Personal Space too.
Miners are like the Scouts for the UnderGuide. They read and comment on entries in the AWW, they clean it out and place votes for exceptional entries. They also influence policy, process and procedure decisions made by the UG Editors.
Like the Miners, Gem Polishers also participate in the AWW and influence policy, process and procedure. Their specific task is that of polishing mined entries, in conjunction with the authors whenever possible, a little like Sub-editors.
The UnderGuide Editors do quite a lot really, including being massaged after a hard day's work, reluctantly paying certain tabs at poorly-named pubs, being treated for a bad case of whip-arm, bossing Miners and Gem Polishers around and occasionally going on well-deserved vacations and very long lunches.
There's also an Archivist. Otherwise there would be no Archives.
The UnderGuide Archives record all the wonderful entries and authors to pass through the UnderGuide.
There's an account of the lead-up to and the start of the UnderGuide in 'An Epic History of the UnderGuide' with some links to early UnderGuide pages.