There are a few of them out there and I thought I'd peruse some and see how they stack up. My reviews aren't using one magazine as a measuring stick though. I base my reviews on what I think a magazine of this type should be.
One of the areas I look at is presentation.
- The text should be clear and easy to read.
- The layout should be easy to follow and should match the Index or ToC.
- Tables, images and special items should be listed somewhere in the ToC or index.
- Content should be spell and grammar checked as much as possible.
- References, citations, and quotes should be accurate and listed when and where possible.
- Fonts, line spacing, etc... should be consistent through the magazine.
In terms of content, I don't mind that some of the work is less "professional" than others. A variety of gamers send in content to magazines like these as well they should. However, it falls back to the editors to make sure that everything all fits together. The greater the organization of the layout, the easier it is to read and find articles later.
Perhaps one of the most important features of any such magazine is that it is archive-able. Readers might go through it once or twice as they obtain an issue, the greatest value is remembering something later and being able to find it without too much hunting through use of ToC and/or indices that are clear and specific.
Another area to consider is how well the document prints out. Most of these, if not all of them, are distributed as digital PDF 's and there is nothing more frustrating than trying to print out an adventure or map that is made available and due to how the pages were implemented into the PDF, it doesn't print out properly or mis-aligned, etc...
Yes, it's true that the application used to open the file can have effect on how things are displayed and printed, but overall, the vast majority of display and printing errors are able to be tracked back to how the content was added and formatted to begin with.
These are the basic criteria I will base my reviews on. I reserve the right to critique specific articles and works of art within a specific issue of a reviewed magazine as a part of the overall review if I believe that specificity is a general reflection of an aspect of the magazine overall.
Don't worry, I don't plan to be too hard on these reviews. I realize that these are "fan" driven and not published by trained professionals.