Update on judging: It's looking like the judges will be finished scoring the entries during the first week of December. It's possible it will be sooner, but not likely. After the initial score, we'll probably have to do a quick second round to resolve any ties.
Here's how the judging works, if you're curious:
1) Each of the four judges assigns a score between 1 and 10 (whole numbers).
2) Each story's four scores are added together for a total aggregate score.
3) The stories in each category are ranked first to last by total score.
45) If there are stories with tied scores competing for the available prizes, each judge ranks them from first to last. For example, 1st - Story K, 2nd - Story D, 3rd - Story R. 1st place earns 25 points, 2nd earns 18, 3rd earns 15. (This is based on F1 racing's scoring system-- because F1 is cooler than NASCAR or Indy. Heh). The points from each judge are added together and the list is rearranged by score rank.
5) The list is compared to the prizes that are available in that category and prizes are awarded.
So, to win a top prize, a story has to very well with four different judges. Last year the point differences between first and second prize, second and third prize, etc. were very close. In other words, many, many stories were contenders for prizes. This year the contest has more Honorable Mention prizes, in consideration of the high quality of the stories received and the very close score differences between the entries.