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Word Count Validator

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The Word Count Validator is where you confirm that your novel has 50,000 words or more.

History of Validation

In the first years of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty validated winners manually; however, this proved to be impossible by the third year of Nano, when almost 5,000 people signed up. When official validation was cancelled that year, participants verified each others' novels.

In subsequent years, an automated validator was built into the site. The validator was not activated until November 25th and would remain open until 11:59:59 PM Local Time on November 30th. This often created problems with users attempting to validate and finding their novels were under count; to make matters worse, the validator did not produce a count, leaving users to guess how far they were under. As the site became more robust, the validator was integrated into the site so that it was available throughout the entire month, producing a wordcount number so that users would have an idea of any discrepancies in their wordcount before the final hours. Although it is available through the month, official validation with the availability of winner's goodies does not become enabled until November 25. The validator's count is the only way to automatically gain access to the winner's page; however, the staff often assist those who could not validate before November 30 due to technical or accessibility issues and can enable the winner's page manually.

The Validator

The validator is available from the user's profile (under 'Edit Novel Info'). Whereas previously the file had to be uploaded as a .txt file (which often caused issues with users who did not save in this format and were not aware of how to convert it), the current validator allows a simple copy and paste into a text box. The entire process is done by computers, so the words are never seen by human eyes and are deleted off the site once counted. The validator cannot handle exceptionally large volumes of text and tends to time out around 120,000 words; those above that mark must submit only a portion and then correct their wordcount manually. Users are encouraged to check the validator regularly to avoid surprises as some programs (such as a known glitch in Open Office involving smart (curly) quotes) produce higher wordcounts than the validator due to bugs or different algorithms. On the other hand, the Validator can also show higher word counts than some programs, such as Microsoft Word, due to bugs or different alogrithms. Whether the Validator adds, subtracts, or maintains the word count of one's word processor is decided instantly at the beginning of the month when the user opens their program of choice for the month for the first time of the month.

Although it is unknown exactly what algorithm the validator uses, it is believed to function by counting the number of blank areas between words or other non-space characters, similar to the 'wordcount' (wc) function of Unix. Because it is completely iliterate, it cannot recognize anything but spaces,so the phrase "Well...no" will be counted as one word, whereas "Well - no" will be three. It also does not distinguish characters used to place a break between scenes - the characters "***" will be read as one word, whereas "* * * * * * * *" will be read as eight. Some Wrimos use this as a form of padding.

Each blank area, whether it consists of 1 press of the space key, or more than that, is counted as one word. One final word is added to the total after the final non-space character in the document. If a user indents the first line of his or her novel, one word is added to the total before counting of any further blank spaces begins.