Feature Spotlight: Wowhead Guides
We've recently started
a section featuring user-submitted guides
at Wowhead, building upon our popular series of weekend and holiday guides. With a section solely devoted to guides, we hope that the users--you--will use it to learn more about specific angles of WoW, as well as to create a new community of writers that provides constructive criticism and feedback. It's also a great way to get some extra publicity for your blog and additional hits by cross-posting some of your popular guide-themed posts to Wowhead.
Below, I'm going to highlight some of our great user-submitted guides and go over tips that help me with my weekly guides. I hope that this "guide to writing guides" inspires you to submit your own!
An Enchanted Glow Chart
Ever wonder what enchant looks best on a vanity weapon but don't know where to start? Cordana has created an in-depth guide to all glows from weapon enchants--it's organized beautifully and presents this topic in an easily-accessible fashion. For each enchant, the required item level, rod needed, enchanting materials, and general glow color are given--but then he takes it one step further and includes videos of each enchant. It's clearly taken dozens of hours to compile, yet the information never appears overwhelming to the reader.
In Cordana's own words: "As a web developer by trade, I coined the term "glow chart" and created
in February 2006 dedicated to the topic (you'll notice other sites such as wowwiki and wowpedia have also adopted the term "glow chart").
has been featured on WOW Insider (
), Digg, worldofwarcraft.com and numerous other mainstream sites since its conception. I converted the site to a guide on wowhead nearly six years later in August 2011. A big thank you to the developer(s) of
which made the videos possible and much nicer (and less time/resource consuming) than had I done them in-game. The original site took well over 100 hours to complete for each version (there were two versions) and because of the videos, I could easily say the same for this guide."
We are thrilled that Cordana has moved his chart onto Wowhead and hope you enjoy the many hours of work that went into his guide. It may not be min-maxing, but the lighter side of Azeroth deserves to be in the spotlight too.
Druid Leveling Guide
Lissanna, one of the most prominent druid bloggers in the WoW community, was kind enough to update and submit her Druid Leveling Guide to Wowhead recently. I'm glad she did--it's an extensive guide with numerous tips on how to level as a tank, dps, and healer from 1-85. She provides useful information on itemization, glyphs, starting rotations, and sample talent builds, organized in easy-to-follow-sections.
You can check out her own personal druid blog at
for even more articles on druids.
Iron Chef: A Guide to Collecting 200 Cooking Recipes
is one of those achievements that seems easy if you've been playing since Vanilla, and frustrating if you've started later or slacked on Cooking dailies. There are only 202 recipes in the game--with 200 currently obtainable by all classes--so being a completionist is mandatory.
It may seem difficult to sort through, but Patrick3876 has created nested tables that organize all recipes by Vendor, Drops, Trainer, and Quests--further breaking it down into categories such as Alliance, Horde, Neutral, Guild, and World Events. It's much easier to track this achievement by looking at a subset of 10 recipes instead of a long list of 200! Patrick also gives some good general advice on how to obtain cross-faction recipes and ties it all together with a really cute screenshot capturing the spirit of his guide.
SimulationCraft--How to Sim Your Character
Asakawa, one of our talented moderators, has submitted several guides that manage to both convey large amounts of complex information and appear visually striking. His guide to SimulationCraft breaks down a theorycrafting tool that can appear intimidating to newer players. With numerous screencaps and explanations from how to install it to how to analyze the resulting charts, this is a valuable guide for anyone looking to better their character's performance.
(Plus, I personally love all of the fun little formatting details he uses to liven the guide up.)
Over the past few months, people have asked me what makes a good guide. While the scope of my guides tends to be larger than what user-submitted guides tend to be, there's some basic tips (even outside of formatting) that can serve you well.
Sometimes I'll pick a topic based on what's in the news, such as
. Other times, I'll write about what I see my friends talking about a lot--creating
Free to Play
soloing old instances
. And if it's truly a dull week, I can always turn to what I find fun in the game--quirky
, etc. The key is to find an engaging topic and identify an information gap that your guide can fill. For example, I had found some articles on a few look-alike Tier sets, but not one that covered all look-alike tier from Tier 1 to 12. Thus, my second Transmogrification guide was created.
If you're not sure if a topic is redundant, identify your experiences as a player and your potential audience. See a guide up on 25s player boss fights? Well, what about hardmodes or the 10-player version? Maybe there's a guide to Best-in-Slot armor, but nothing out there for a new character that will primarily gear up in 5-player dungeons. And don't worry if you feel a guide would only fill a niche--look at Cordana's excellent Glow Chart, that covers a very specific topic well.
Once you have a topic, identify your parameters and write them down. For my very
, it was tempting to cover all sorts of fun vanity items that bank alts of any level could use. However, I was firm in sticking to items that levels 1-10 could equip, which gave the guide a sharper focus. This sort of organization came in helpful when deciding how to split up the four transmogrification guides instead of staring at the screen, unsure where to start with thousands of items. (Plus, if you cover everything in one guide, you won't have anything to talk about in your next one!)
Before linking all sorts of fun items and writing the descriptive sections, I have to hammer out the format of the guide. Tables or tabs? Maybe both? Do these items lend themselves well to further descriptions? I start by drafting potential headers and then fill in a few key categories under each.
Once I have a basic outline, I try placing a few sample items under each section to see if the flow is natural or if I need to revise the categories. For example, with the
first Transmogrification guide
, I went through a few versions before deciding to create bullet-point tabs for tier acquisition and then tables in tabs for the section covering the actual Tier sets. If you have a good framework, listing the items later on will feel natural. If you start coding the guide without a sense of the full layout, you will find yourself several hours later redoing half of it.
After the basic layout is in place, I move on to compiling lists of the items I want to cover, particularly noting anything that has an interesting story or is removed from the game. It takes some practice at first, but I've learned to simply write the guide in TextEdit and skim over item links, instead of having to write out the full name of an item and later replace it with code. When I get overwhelmed by rows of numbers, I copy the document into Wowhead so I can preview it, fix any coding bugs, and go back to adding content. Previewing as you go along also helps determine if the guide looks visually appealing or if it's too cluttered.
If you do preview your guide and see a coding bug, don't panic. In general, a messy layout can be fixed very easily after isolating a single typo. Always remember to save your work frequently.
Personally, I prefer to present my information in tabs, either with bullet points or in a table that has a column for lore/flavor descriptions. I feel that this format keeps things concise and players can easily skip sections they feel are irrelevant. However, as I've linked above, there are many different ways to write an effective guide. Whatever you do, just avoid large clumps of text.
For an item-based guide, I work on the descriptions after I've listed all the items I want to highlight. For a "how-to" guide such as Free to Play, I integrate my research after I've compiled information about every section, instead of just working on what is familiar. It's easy to get off track by writing a hugely detailed initial section at first, running out of steam later. You want to have a consistent tone and presentation throughout instead of being uneven.
If you're writing about a topic you find interesting but have questions about one section, don't gloss over it. Either leave it out of the scope of your guide (and explain as such), ask a friend for advice, or research it thoroughly and be sure to credit websites and bloggers for the information.
In writing introductory descriptions, think up a few fun facts as a hook to draw the reader in. If it just sounds like the usual facts, the reader will assume they've seen it before. Show why your topic is different from all the other posts out there.
While Blizzard does not reference items that are no longer in-game on their website, I feel that talking about a particular armor set, old memory, or cool item can greatly add to a player's reading experience, even if they can't go out and farm it. For example, many players fondly remember the challenge of completing
during Vanilla--and while that item has been removed, not to mention how solo questing has greatly changed--I thought it was worth sharing that period of WoW-history with newer players. Likewise, in my
, I included mounts that were no longer obtainable, because, let's face it--those are the ones that get the largest amount of "That's so cool--tell me more about it" whispers in game.
The very last thing I do, after I proofread the guide, is to insert the screenshots. Depending on the type of the guide, thumbnails or 400x400 sizes seem to work best. I try to have some whimsy in my screenshots by having them reflect things you don't see every day in Azeroth. However, not all guide topics lend themselves well to screenshots--sometimes just a simple one at the top works.
Avoid the danger of cluttering the guide with too many pictures--it's visually distracting and can make the formatting look really odd.
How to Submit a Guide
There's a new
tab at the top of the page. Clicking on it will take you to a list of all of our guides, with the highly-ranked ones at the top. You'll see three options towards the top of the page:
List of Guides
Write New Guide
In addition, you can search the Guide menu tab to browse uploaded guides by subsection: Achievements, Classes, Economy & Money, New Players & Leveling, Professions, Raid & Boss Fights, Vanity Items, Pets & Mounts, World Events, and Other.
writing a new guide
, you'll have to fill in sections like Title, Category, Description, and Patch in addition to uploading any images. As for the actual text to the guide, I recommend saving it in an outside program like Text Edit, instead of editing in a browser lest it crashes.
There are two buttons at the bottom of the page:
Save as Stub
Submit as Review
Save as Stub
will allow you to save your progress privately.
Submit as Review
sends your guide to the queue for moderation, where a moderator will then decide whether it's fit to be published publicly or needs further edits.
As you enter text, you'll see it show up below in the "Autopreview" section with the correct coding.
The guide section has some further good advice:
Wowhead Guides operate on our unique BBCode.
Here is a compendium
of useful tags to make your guide look better.
Choosing the correct category is important. Guides placed in the wrong category risk being rejected. Don't see your category? Email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Always submit only complete guides; you can save in-progress ones indefinitely as stubs so you won't risk losing them.
Before posting your guide, make sure it's on an unique topic with unique advice. If someone has already covered your topic, make sure that your guide offers something different and/or better advice or else it may be downvoted by our community.
There is no predetermined length for a good guide, however, if it's an extremely short one consider if it's better served as a Wowhead comment rather than a guide.
Lastly, remember that we do not tolerate plagiarism in any form. Make sure to include credits to other sources if you use their images or otherwise as well with a hyperlink.
So in conclusion, I love guides and would love to see more of our users submit their own to our site! In addition, feel free to email me at
or leave a comment here if you have any guide ideas, need help formatting yours, or want any other sort of advice.
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