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Review Submission Checklist

Please review this checklist before submitting articles until you've familiarized yourself with the process. Leaving certain fields blank is not acceptable. If you have any questions, ask prior to submission. All of this info can be found in the pages listed in Information for Members (Required) below.

 

What's Shakin' at the Bacon

The WatchmanThe Watchman Owner
COO

Don't forget - This Sunday is the NerdBacon Game of the Year Awards Spectacular! - 8pm EST on Twitch.tv/nerdbacon
 

nerdberryNerdberry Owner
CEO

Hope everyone is safe during these hurricanes and wildfires! Irma and Harvey are total b-holes.
 

elder grapeVariand Owner
CIO

Framework and several plugins updated. Several issues fixed. Let me or other admins know if you find goofy stuff
 

InfiniteKnifeInfiniteKnife Twitch
Director

Thinking of doing a stream series soon. The theme: Retro games I never beat as a kid and want to try again. Thoughts?
 

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Common Mistakes

Be Careful!

There are any number of mistakes one can make while writing a review – all of us make them sometimes!  Part of an editor’s job is to catch typos and other minor mistakes, however, it is not the editor’s job to clean up an otherwise bad article.  Also, the less time it takes us to edit an article, the quicker your work will be published and the sooner all of us can get back to gaming and writing.  Often times, we find ourselves correcting the same issues over and over, and we’d like to reiterate some real “doss” and “don’ts” that should save all of us some time.

What follows is a list of errors we see all the time, be they stylistic, grammatical, punctuation, or other technical flaws.  Please try your best to keep these issues to a minimum!

  1. Official Capitalization
  2. Punctuation – Inside or Outside?
    1. Quotation Marks
    2. Parentheses
  3. Singe Quotes vs. Double Quotes
  4. Stylizing “Nerd Bacon”
  5. Sentence Fragments
  6. Its vs. It’s
  7. Sitewide Style Guidelines
  8. Serial Comma (or Oxford Comma)
  9. Other Common Errors
    1. Redundancy
    2. Past Tense vs. Present Tense
    3. “Addicting” vs. “Addictive”
    4. “In Lieu” vs. “In Light”
    5. Passive Voice vs. Active Voice
    6. Fluff and Filler

1)  Official Capitalization

Whenever we talk about brand names and product names, we want to be as official as possible.  Most of the time this isn’t a problem, but there are a few names that people seem to have problems with.  Below are some common errors on the left, with the correct version on the right.  If you’re ever in doubt about a name, consult an official source or just ask an administrator.

No

  • Playstation
  • Gamecube
  • Gameboy/GameBoy
Yes

  • PlayStation (notice the capital “S”)
  • GameCube (notice the capital “C”)
  • Game Boy (two words)

2)  Punctuation – Inside or Outside?

Punctuation almost always goes inside of quotation marks and outside of parentheses.  We see problems with this constantly, and rest assured, this is not some made-up rule on Nerd Bacon.  This is actual applied English, and with the prevailing use of British quotation/punctuation standards on Wikipedia, it’s starting to get really confusing.  So let’s set the record straight.

a)  Quotation Marks

Most of the time, punctuation will go inside of quotation marks.  If a comma would come after the quoted word, it goes inside.  If the sentence ends with a period the period goes inside.

  • If I quote the word “sentence,” the comma goes inside.
  • Likewise, the period goes inside if I conclude my sentence with “sentence.”

Occasionally, punctuation falls outside of quotes, particularly when the quote includes punctuation such as an exclamation point or question mark.  If any punctuation would come afterwards, it will then go outside while the original punctuation stays inside.  Also, if your sentence ends with a question mark or exclamation point that is not included in the quote, it falls outside.

  • If I need a comma after quoting “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”, the comma falls outside.
  • I just played an amazing game called “Who Shot Johnny Rock?”!
  • Have you ever played “Rayman 2”?

b)  Parentheses

When dealing with parentheses, punctuation is much easier.  If your parenthetical statement falls within your sentence, punctuation falls outside, unless part of the parenthetical phrase requires punctuation.  If you were to remove the parenthetical phrase entirely, all punctuation outside of the parentheses should be correct.  If an entire sentence is contained within parentheses and properly situated outside of any existing sentences, punctuation stays inside.

  • If I want to make a tangential statement (like this one), any required punctuation goes outside.
  • Sentences ending with a parenthetical statement have punctuation outside as well (as in this example).
  • Sometimes you’ll want to include an entire sentence in parentheses.  (Much like this one, in which case your entire sentence, punctuation and all, stays inside.)

3)  Single Quotes vs. Double Quotes

Many people reserve double quotes for actual quotation and will use single quotes when discussing the “odd word” out.  To an extent this is a stylistic issue, but technically, single quotes should only be used within double quotes.  To maintain our uniformity, we will only use single quotes inside of quotations here at The Bacon.

4)  Stylizing “Nerd Bacon”

We love for you guys to mention Nerd Bacon as often as possible, and since we want to build up recognition and brand identity, we want to make sure it looks the same wherever it’s found, at least when written by our members.  For this reason, we choose to stylize the site as simply “Nerd Bacon.”  Two words, with the first letter of each capitalized.  If wishing to add the “dot com,” it should look like “Nerd Bacon . com” as in Nerd (space) Bacon (space) dot (space) com (lowercase).   If you’re crunched for space, you can also use “nerdbacon.com” in a pinch.

Incorrect:

    • nerdbacon
    • Nerdbacon
    • nerdBacon
    • NerdBacon
    • nerd bacon
    • Nerd bacon
    • nerd Bacon

5)  Sentence Fragments

We see a lot of sentence fragments.  What is a sentence fragment?  It’s a phrase treated like a sentence that doesn’t contain both a subject (or implied “you”) and a verb.  Sometimes it’s ok to let grammar and syntax fall by the wayside for the sake of creativity or impact, but 99.999% of the time, sentence fragments are not your friend.  They make writing look amateur and unclear.  Make sure you’re using complete sentences and that you’re correctly joining any dependent clauses with independent clauses.  Remember that a complete sentence has a subject (or an implied subject in the case of imperatives or exclamations) and a verb.  If you can’t pick out a subject and a verb, it’s not a complete sentence.

6)  Its vs. It’s

Another common problem; this one is easy.  The word “it’s,” wit an apostrophe, is a contraction of “it is” or possibly “it has.”  If either of these would make sense without changing the meaning of the it, then use “it’s.”

  • “It’s a good game” = “It is a good game.”
  • “It’s got some of the greatest graphics ever” = “It has some of the greatest graphics ever.”

When using “its,” we’re talking about possession, just like if we said “his game,” or “her idea.”  Obviously, replacing “its” with “it is/has wouldn’t make any sense.

  • Its difficulty is soul crushing.
  • Its charm lies in the delicate artwork used throughout.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 stands on its own as a great game, even without a prior understanding of Mario.

7)  Sitewide Style Guidelines

We don’t have a whole lot of stylistic preferences, be we do ask that when mentioning the game you’re reviewing within the article (which you should be doing for SEO purposes)you both bold and italicize it; when mentioning a different game simply italicize it.  That’s it.  Let’s pretend that the examples below are coming from a review of “Sonic Adventure:”

  • Sonic Adventure was one of the Dreamcast’s flagship titles.
  • This was Sonic’s first proper release since Sonic & Knuckles on the Genesis 4 years prior.

8) Serial Comma (or Oxford Comma)

There are a lot of comma rules out there, and I’m actually getting pretty familiar with them.  For the time being, I don’t want to launch into every single comma rule out there, but the serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma, is one of the most important.  The serial comma comes into play when listing several items, or a series of items when writing.  Quite simply, the rule states that a comma should be placed after every item in a series, even the item before “and.”  Commas offset each item as a discrete entity, whereas if the comma preceding “and” is left out, it suggests that the items directly before and after “and” are grouped together as a single entity.  The image below explains it better than any example I can think of, dug up by our very own Variand many months ago.

Oxford Comma Explanation

Notice that the amazing illustration points out not the inherent incorrectness of not using the serial comma.  Instead it illustrates how the serial comma can drastically change the meaning of a sentence.  The first sentence, with the serial comma in place, separates 3 distinct objects: strippers, JFK, and Stalin.  In the second example, without a comma before “and,” the phrase “JFK and Stalin” is interpreted as its own entity, and in this case a descriptor of the previous terms, “strippers.”  So, be careful, and be sure that your usage (or lack thereof) of the serial comma accurately reflects the meaning of your words.

9) Other Common Errors

I could probably go on for pages about “official” rules and my own personal pet peeves, but based on my experience, here are a few more mistakes that people make more often than they should.  By eliminating these types of errors, your writing will be stronger and read more professionally.

Redundancy

When typing, think about what the words really mean.  One great example is the phrase “over exaggerate.”  Exaggerate, by definition, means to represent something as larger, smaller, bigger, better, worse, and so on than it actually is.  In other words, to exaggerate means to overstate or overemphasize.  By saying “over exaggerate,” you’re saying “over overestimate.”  This isn’t technically wrong 100% of the time, for example, something could be exaggerated to an exceedingly large degree, but most of the time the use of “over” is completely unnecessary.  Using redundancies like “over exaggerate” makes the writing appear amaiteurish and as if the writer doesn’t understand what “exaggerate” truly means.

Redundancy can express itself in several ways, and another common mistake is using the abbreviation for “et cetera” more than once.  “Et cetera” (which is “etc.” and not “ect.”) means that further, similar items follow in a given list, and there’s absolutely no reason to use it more than once.  It’s a minor complaint, but it’s another matter of form that can pull your writing down and make it appear sloppy.  Using “etc.” is fine, but it’s only needed once.

Redundancy can be a little obvious to the untrained eye and still profoundly obnoxious to the reader.  Redundancy isn’t always about strict repetition or incorrect word usage, it can also be the same idea reiterated over and over using several different words.  “The graphics in Game X are astounding.  Presented in full HD, they look amazing on my 37″ screen and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a game that looks this good.  Good looking graphics aren’t always easy to find in this genre, but Game X delivers with obscene levels of sharpness and clarity.  Models and textures are extremely realistic.  There must have been an amazing team of artists behind this game because I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”  At a glance, that might not even sound that bad, but what is it really saying?  Just that the graphics are great, over and over again.  Keep in mind that sometimes it’s ok to be repetitive to hammer home a point or inject some humor into the piece, just try to make sure that each and every sentence serves a purpose.  We could trim down those sentences a lot if we tried, “Presented in full HD, the realistic graphics of Game X are as sharp and clear as any others in the genre.  Best experienced on an HDTV, the efforts of the artists behind Game X are among the best I’ve ever seen.”  See how much better that sounds?

Past Tense vs. Present Tense

One way to keep your writing sounding fresh and entertaining is to keep it in the present tense.  Remember to talk about the game as it it exists and not in a way that suggests it “existed.”  This doesn’t mean we can’t ever use past tense.  For instance, your experience with the game happened in the past, so you played the game, you finished the game, etc.  Past tense is also acceptable when talking about actual past events, such as “the game was released in 1998″ or “the game sold 500,000 copies.”  What we want to be careful of is referring to aspects of the game in the past tense.  Let’s say we’re talking about the music in the game.  Saying “the music was great” is much less effective than saying “the music is great.”  Again, “the player journeyed through a dark forest and fought dragons” is much weaker than “the player journeys through a dark forest and fights dragons,” or even “the player must journey through dark forests and fight dragons.”

The game itself exists as a discrete, timeless entity.  The events and qualities of the game are not bound to any singular moment, therefore, it’s not wholly correct to say that the game “had awesome graphics” since the game still has the same graphics as it did when you played it.  The game is unchanging and static, and by saying something like “this game had awesome graphics,” it technically implies that the game no longer has great graphics.  Of course the average reader is smart enough not to take such a statement 100% literally, but saying precisely what you mean will make your writing that much stronger.

“Addicting” vs. “Addictive”

Some people may fight me on this, but there is a distinct difference between the meaning of these two words and all too often, both inside and outside of Nerd Bacon, I see people use the word “addicting” when the proper word should be “addictive.”  Many times someone will say something like, “the gameplay is addicting,” or “the addicting gameplay will keep you playing for hours.”  Whether or not this is truly correct or incorrect depends on who you ask and what part of speech “addicting” is acting as, but put quite simply, “addictive” is a more correct way of expressing the sentiment.  Again, you will find some debate on this, but many dictionaries regard “addicting” as a transitive verb, meaning it needs a direct object, “I am addicting my friend to drugs.”  It sounds weird, and it is, and that’s why I’d go so far as to say “addicting” is just barely on the edge of being a “real word,” or at least on the verge of having any practical usage.

Proponents of “addicting” will say that it’s not a verb but instead an adjective, such as charming or interesting, and that since you can say, “this game is interesting,” you can also safely say, “this game is addicting.”  However, why would we use “addicting” here when we already have a perfectly good word that means the same thing?  That word – addictive.  This is not a debate that we here at Nerd Bacon will attempt to settle; however, we will take a stance on it, which is, use addictive, unless perchance you do find an appropriate occasion to use “addicting” as a transitive verb.

“In Lieu” vs. “In Light”

I see this error relatively frequently, and it can really make a writer look ignorant when used incorrectly.  “In lieu” does not mean “in light.”  What does it mean?  It really means “instead.”  Due to their similarity in sound, some people tend to use “in lieu” in place of “in light,” such as, “In light of Microsoft’s announcement that the Xbox One will now be sold at a lower price point without the Kinect unit, sales have increased considerably.”  That sentence is perfectly find, but what isn’t correct is, “In lieu of Microsoft’s announcement that the Xbox One will now be sold at a lower price point without the Kinect unit, sales have increased considerably.”  What the prior sentence literally says is, “Instead of Microsoft’s announcement that the Xbox One will now be sold at a lower price point without the Kinect unit, sales have increased considerably.”  Does that make any sense?  Of course not.  Don’t be confused by the “L;” “in lieu” is not synonymous with “in light.”  Here’s the correct usage of the term: “Microsoft’s efforts to lower prices may be too little too late; many gamers chose the PlayStation 4 in lieu of the Xbox One months ago.”  In this case, we’re literally saying, “Microsoft’s efforts to lower prices may be too little too late; many gamers chose the PlayStation 4 instead of the Xbox One months ago.”  And that makes perfect sense.

Passive Voice vs. Active Voice

Depending on how long it’s been since you’ve sat behind a desk in an English class, you might be all too familiar with the idea of choosing the active voice over the passive.  Using the passive voice isn’t incorrect or less correct than using the active, and sometimes the passive voice can actually be preferable.  However, most of the time, and especially in an exercise like writing reviews, the active voice can make all the difference.

Sometimes writers will inadvertently slip into the passive voice in attempt to heighten the variety of sentences or sound less “simplistic,” but truthfully, the active voice sounds much better to the reader.  Consider this example in the active voice, “Mario traverses several unique worlds and gains and dazzling variety of abilities throughout the game.”  If we change it to the passive voice, it sounds like this, “Several unique worlds are traversed and a variety of abilities are gained by Mario throughout the game.”  It doesn’t sound horrible, because it isn’t technically incorrect, but it loses its impact.  Let’s take a simpler sentence, “Mario jumps on Goombas” (active) vs. “Goombas are jumped on by Mario” (passive).  The difference is that in the active voice something does something else, whereas in the passive voice, something else is done by something.  Again, using the passive voice isn’t wrong, but if your writing feels lifeless, awkward, or timid, consider taking a look at just what kind of sentences you’ve been writing.

 Fluff and Filler

Small amounts of fluff and filler words can boost an article if used appropriately, but too many of them render the work unreadable, and it leaves the audience having to dredge through far too many meaningless phrases in order to extract useful and relevant information.  We don’t have to cut these words out from our writing completely, but the usage of such words and phrases should be metered.

  • basically
  • due to the fact that
  • in my opinion (and variants thereof)
  • it’s my belief that
  • the reason why is that
  • I might add
  • it’s interesting to note that
  • very
  • in order to

Obviously there are many more; these are some of the more common ones I see.  I’ll admit that I’m often guilty of using these sorts of words and phrases myself, and I do think that they can add more personality and charm to a work.  The problem isn’t simply using these words and phrases, but overusing them.  That’s when the article can become difficult to understand and devoid of meaning.  Watch out!

  Review Structure Tips for Better Reviews

 

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