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My InfoBarrel Article Has Been Denied for Using English Awkwardly

By Edited Jan 11, 2016 16 15

For writers new to InfoBarrel, it can be very discouraging to have an article denied. When you are a novice writer, the writing standards of InfoBarrel may seem impossibly high, especially when you find an article repeatedly rejected for excessive grammar problems or using English awkwardly. However, rather than grumbling at the editors for rejecting your article, you will spend your time more profitably by learning what you can from the experience! (Remember, people pay editors to spot mistakes, and having a manuscript proofread can be quite costly. InfoBarrel reviewers are catching those mistakes for free.) So, take a moment, and follow these guidelines to figure out what the problem is, and how you can improve your acceptance rate.

First of all, don't panic. You are not in trouble, and almost everyone at InfoBarrel has a learning curve. Start by doing a thorough spell-check of the article. However, this is only the first step, as your spell checker will not tell you when you are misusing a word. Also, if you have added misspellings to your spell-checker's dictionary, you will find that many misspelled words pass the spell check. It may be best to remove all the words you have added, and check again. Next, understanding the role of apostrophes, and the difference between homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently) [1] will go a long way towards fixing most grammatical problems. If you can't understand why your article on "How Too Loose Weight" was rejected, you need to begin by looking up words in the dictionary!

Chief Photographer's Mate Wayne Edwards proofreads a rough draft of pages from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) cruise book.
Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Christopher B. Stoltz.Chief Photographer's Mate Wayne Edwards proofreads a rough draft of pages from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) cruise book.

Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Christopher B. Stoltz.Chief Photographer's Mate Wayne Edwards proofreads a rough draft of pages from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) cruise book

Next, check your use of punctuation. Are you using capital letters properly? Do you have unnecessary commas, or too few of them? Does every sentence end with the proper punctuation? Are you italicizing (or better, using the HTML tag "cite" for) the titles of movies and books? Are you using quotation marks properly? (Trust me, no-one wants to drink "special" milk!) Are your adverbs properly placed? And finally, are you using hyphens where needed? Are you missing spaces, or do you have too many spaces?

Finally, read aloud through the article, one sentence at a time, starting from the end and working backwards. (The reason for doing this is to avoid thinking you know what comes next and missing an error.) Does each sentence have a complete subject and verb, and does it make sense? If that fails, take a piece of construction paper and cut out just enough space to read one word at a time. Go over your article word by word, until you find the mistake.

If all else fails, find that person you made fun of in school for being so picky with English grammar. Repair that relationship, and humbly ask them to teach you where you are going wrong. You will probably be amazed at how much you are capable of learning!

And remember, it's not the end of the world if an article gets denied. Simply correct your errors, and resubmit the article. If it is denied again, keep working on correcting those grammar mistakes until your article is of high enough quality to pass review. Search engines are beginning to penalize articles with poor grammar and spelling, (called LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing), and it's quite possible that the search engines will analyze the grammar of your article, and decide not to direct traffic to your articles for a year or more. Additionally, too many grammar errors could have the entire InfoBarrel site de-indexed from search. The search engines are much more picky than any human editor will ever be, because they are computers! The human InfoBarrel editors who reject your article are saving you from such a fate, by alerting you to errors that will drop your article in the rankings. So take heart, and be thankful that the InfoBarrel editors are smart enough to catch the mistakes you didn't catch yourself.

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This tiny and inexpensive book should be the starting point for all writers. While some of the advice may seem dated for modern readers, The Elements of Style is practical and useful for everyone who wishes to write well.

What Not to Do

Don't post your article in its entirety in the forums and ask people to tell you what is wrong with it. This will work against you because Google and other search engines will see your article (if it is published later) as duplicate content and will penalize your article.

In addition, the people reading the InfoBarrel forum (and forums on other sites) are people who make money writing. By asking them to work for you for free, in order for you to make money, you are depriving them of their income. Further, there are people whose job it is to find and correct grammatical mistakes and spelling errors. These people are called editors, and you are depriving them of work as well. After all, if you had a taxi cab, you would not demand that your auto mechanic diagnose the car's problems and fix your taxi for free!

Don't complain about the rejection software. Each article (until the time that you reach preapproval) is not scanned by software, but read by a real, live person. It isn't a matter of gaming the system to get your article past some program, but making your writing acceptable to the standards of the InfoBarrel community. 

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If you have one of these lying around from your college English course, count yourself lucky! If not, this is the perfect all-in-one reference book for English grammar.


Aug 9, 2012 6:16pm
Nice article. You are so right. Feelings and pride often interfere with learning. Now that you mentioned it, I see the same kind of thing in the TB forums too.
Aug 10, 2012 1:03am
Really nice. The right attitude and wanting to learn can go a long way. I constantly see people becoming defensive about it in various forums.
Aug 10, 2012 1:42am
Great advice here, a really helpful and encouraging article.
Aug 16, 2012 6:35am
Great article. It should be mandatory reading for newbies!
Aug 17, 2012 12:50pm
A very good article which I think many new writers to this site (like me) should be reading. I can't leave without commenting on the way articles are approved & declined by editors though. I believe they are being FAR too picky and pedantic when it comes to some sentences.
Aug 17, 2012 1:10pm
You are entitled to your belief; however, as search engines get smarter about grammar and spelling, being picky and pedantic will work not only in your article's favor, but in the site's favor, too. Instead of grumbling, why not figure out what is causing your articles to be denied, and learning the grammar rules, and fixing the problem once and for all?

Of course, my day job is classical music, where getting all the notes, rhythms, and expression perfectly is the baseline from which to begin, so my perspective may be a bit different. Fortunately, I have an outlet for my natural perfectionistic tendencies!
Aug 18, 2012 9:13am
I have my share of problems with grammar, those darn homonyms (and I always use too many commas)! But if you enjoy the process of writing, as I do, there are several helpful resources and people, like yourself, where answers can be found. Thanks for giving so freely of your knowledge and experience. (BTW: I wish I had enough money to hire you as my personal editor - you know what you are talking about. . . . Oh, and please don't point out the grammar errors in this comment. :o) ) Thanks again!
Aug 21, 2012 12:44pm
AMEN! It is because of the preapproval process that makes IB stand out from other sites that just permit you to publish anything because you signed up. I have used CG's hints for finding errors since I started writing here. Thumbs up!
Aug 21, 2012 4:42pm
Such a nice article. I was even thinking about writing one myself about this topic (even though my English is far from perfect). Thumbs from me.
Oct 17, 2013 2:45am
Great article, yes I have to agree with everything you say and it is so frustrating trying to find out just what is wrong with the article. Because when they say links. I know thats not the problem because no links. So it must just be my bad writing. grrrrrr. I have done this one 3 times and had heaps of pictures etc and thought I had finally nailed it... WRONG again . Oh well back to the drawing board. thumbs up
Jan 13, 2014 7:41am
Honestly speaking I am very poor in English grammar and after so much hard work I successfully published four, however this article makes me remind of not to give up and try to find a right way.

Jul 6, 2014 8:15pm
Great advice as my article have just been denied. Thank you.
Jan 21, 2015 4:47am
Thanks for the heads up. I signed up here 6 months ago but will submit my very first article tomorrow. I will not give up in case of rejection.
Aug 15, 2015 11:16am
Excellent article. I needed this! Now I can pocket my pride and get to work :)
Dec 20, 2015 5:21pm
I'm in the process of submitting my first article. I re-wrote my entire article, and it was rejected a second time. I found this and other articles helpful because they explain that "excessive grammar problems or using English awkwardly" could be two or more grammar issues. Now I'm reviewing a few grammar rules and dusting off "The Elements of Style". I'm reviewing my first article for a more strict approach to grammar instead of subjective style issues. If this one doesn't get accepted, I can try again with another. Thank you to the reviewers for being patient with first time IB writers.
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  1. "Common Homophone Mistakes and How to Avoid Them." Wizzley. 17/12/2015 <Web >

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