America's Top Car Blogger: Why You Didn't Make It

All of the first round contestants are finally up in our "Who Wants to Be America's Next Top Car Blogger." Don't see yours? Here's why.

We received such an overwhelming response for the contest to be America's next top car blogger that we had to make some very tough calls on standards just to keep our heads above water as we waded through the mass of submissions. So if you're one of the hundreds wondering why your entry didn't make it on Jalopnik either of the past two weekends (don't worry, we received it), or if you end up being a semi-finalist for next weekend here's a list of the reasons it likely didn't make the cut (or, if you're a semi-finalist, some things Jalopnik readers would wish you'd avoid).

Spelling and grammar. While I didn't check the spelling on the entire post, if, in the first few sentences, there was a spelling or grammatical error, your entry went right into the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-fish pile. At least that was the metric I used on Saturday of last weekend. But, as I began to succumb from mind-numbing exhaustion by the end of the second weekend, I upped our standards to include things like capitalizing non-proper nouns in sentences. We're sorry, but "chicane" isn't "Chicane" unless it's at the start of a sentence. Yeah, we were being grammar nazis, but whatever, it's our site and we've got high-ish standards, right? Plus, the weekend editor's got to be able to work on their own without supervision. Therefore, they should be anal enough to crap perfect copy. They sorta have to.

Laziness. No, I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about lazy language. Forget for a moment that the word "rice" or "ricer" is a potentially racially-tinted term. That's mostly irrelevant. More important to me is that it's lazy as hell. There's so many more interesting ways to make fun of a type of car than by using easy and therefore, boring, verbiage. Our new weekend editor should be above that type of bland copy.

40 words in the lede. The first few of you who submitted your stories in the four hours after we ran the original post may have had an argument with me if I didn't run your story, but everyone after that? Not a chance. The instructions were clear and in italics — 40 word summary.

Multiple emails. We said "send an email" not "send five emails each editing an error from the previous one." Sorry, no dice. If you screwed up and sent us multiple emails, you didn't make the cut.

Personal Experiences. Look, you know that story of you and your dad taking out that cool car and doing that thing with it that one time when you both shared that emotion? It's interesting, yes, but everyone's got that kind of a story. We were looking for smarter, funnier and more emotionally gripping stories that may not have been about you. And although your personal story's obviously going to be emotional, it's in no way indicative of how you're going to write about stories where you might not be as emotionally invested in the topic.

Polemics. OK, for the record — I love polemics. Especially when they're tightly-written, tightly-defined and tightly-executed. But, what I don't like is what we received from dozens of would-be top bloggers. Many contestants seemed to think that the job of the weekend editor was to write their own William Wallace-like manifesto of awesomeness for the site. The first couple we did actually publish, until it became clear they all were following the same theme — old cars are great, new cars suck, I love Jalopnik, yada yada yada... FREEDOM!

Frankly, it got old real quick. It was boring to us and, more importantly, it was getting boring to the commentariat. Plus, as the editor, that's sort of my job to lay out the site's direction. We're not asking for replacements for me. So, although polemics are good, site-wide polemics, were not. We tossed a bunch of those out. (Interestingly, many of the polemics also tended to break one of the other rules, so the number of times we tossed out polemics for being polemics was rather small.)

So that's it. Those are the main reasons. Still think I was wrong? You're allowed to. It's America and it's why it's great. But I think most commenters and readers would agree we had some excellent stories the past two weekends — and that, in the end, is what it's all about anyway.

But, if you still want to vent about it — head over to the #oppositelock forum and bitch and moan all you want. I'll even come in and respond myself.

Now, for everyone else — make sure your voice is being heard and share those stories from this weekend you loved the most. Thursday night we'll announce the semi-finalists along with the topic for this weekend's semi-finals where you'll be voting for the last two standing. See you all there.