Posting Tips for Co-Writers

Jay here. This is a resource for co-writers and those interested in writing articles for our site. To ensure that your posts are clean and won’t take long for an approval, just follow these basic guidelines and tips and you’ll be golden whenever you post news.

After all, if you post enough without having much, if anything, for us to edit, you will likely be granted permission to post without waiting for an approval! I organized everything Tosh had written, as well as a few tips I will give you, into tabs to make finding what you’re looking for a lot easier.

[tab:Rules you MUST follow]

Language

For posts, try to keep the language no higher than PG rated. That means refrain from using anything worse than “damn” or “ass”, and when using those words, make sure it’s content-appropriate. If you’re posting about a kids’ game with a rating of EC or PEGI 3, there isn’t a reason to use them :P. We want our posts to be professional and respectable.

There is a chance that comments in your posts might get out of hand, though. If someone is purposefully acting inappropriately and using excessive foul language or verbally abusing other members, report to either me (Jay) or Tosh and that person will be dealt with. Don’t bother dealing with trolls yourself. You could, potentially, get into just as much trouble as they.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is NOT allowed. Any article for review that is found to be a direct copy of another article, or is a direct copy of parts of articles, will cost you your posting privileges. ONLY exception would be if the author of the post is also the author of the original article, and follows the other site’s rules as well (as in making sure that the article isn’t property of said site, etc according to their terms).

Piracy

We do NOT condone piracy. If it is found that your article doesn’t have a proper disclaimer about us not supporting piracy, we will usually add it for you, but try to put one in there in all cases dealing with piracy, homebrew, etc.

In the case that you either reviewed or previewed a game and posted an article by way of playing illegally obtained copies of games, your posting rights will be revoked and you will be banned from using certain parts of the site, such as the points system.

[tab:Grammar & Spelling]

SPELL CHECK your post before you submit it for approval. Normally, the web browser you use already has spell check enabled. If you are unsure about the spelling of a word, you can also try word processors to look for mistakes. Disregard any HTML that’s counted as misspellings, though. If there’s an issue with that, we can fix it

As far as grammar goes, the most common issues I’ve seen are those with commas. Be sure you place commas in their proper place. They’re used to break up sentences in a way that won’t cause context problems. An example?

Let’s eat Grandma!
Let’s eat, Grandma!

If multiple items are being listed (3 or more), be sure to break those with commas as well. Another usage would occasionally be before words such as but, and, or, yet, etc. Here’s an example:

I was yelling at my dog to stop barking, but he continued anyway.

Other common grammar problems are the misuse of similar sounding words (homophones). Be sure when you’re using these words, you use them in the correct context. These include, for instance: they’re, there, and their.

“They’re” is a contraction of “They” and “are”. Use it to describe whatever it is “they” are doing. “Their” is used to describe possession of something. If neither fit the description of what you’re writing, you’ll likely use “there,” which describes a location.

Other problem words are: your and you’re. Again, “you’re” is a contraction of “you” and “are” and is a way of saying something you are doing or should be doing, etc. Example:

Good: You’re scheduled to work today.
Not: Your scheduled to work today

Like “their”, “your” is used to express ownership of something.

These are the most common occurrences of spelling and grammar mistakes that we often come across, but they do, sometimes, get by. We usually fix them when we find them in posts that are already live, though.

[tab:Posting Photos]

If you have trouble uploading photos, use the http method instead. It’s more reliable. If it throws an error, your photo is probably over 1MB, which is the file size limit. Find a smaller version, or upload it to Smush-it and it will compress the file for you. Save the ‘smushed’ image after compression, and then upload it to your post.

If you have screenshots that you want to set up as a gallery, upload all of the photos, and on the upload screen, it will have a button near the bottom that allows you to insert the gallery to the bottom of your post. Here are some other options for the gallery.

If you have an image you don’t want to count in the gallery, the easiest way to go about that is to add exclude=”imageID to the gallery code. You can also do the same to images you want to include that might be in another gallery/post, or if you’d like to have multiple galleries in a post.

If you’re unsure of how to post an image using simple html, this is the basic code you will use:

<img src=”image url” />

Keep in mind, the maximum width of an image posted in an article is 620 pixels. If the image you used is larger than that, your best bet, in the uploading screen, is to select the “medium” size of the image and insert it into the post.

The medium setting automatically goes up to the maximum post width of 620 pixels, but the size option immediately smaller than that is 300px, which is too small for most images. If you need to use a different size for layout purposes, to make it easier for you, remove both height=”xxx” and replace the width measurements in the image code with:

width=”620″
or, if posting in a QuickNews, width=”100%”

…and disregard the height, as that will automatically adjust based on the width of the available space and will automatically re-size when you open the topic to comment.

As far as centering images go (in the case your image’s width is smaller than 620px), put <center> in front of the image code and </center> afterward.

As for what size to use for an image? For the most part, banner-type images (which are more rectangular than they are square) are usually good with a 620/full width. If the image you’re using is more square than it is rectangular, use the 300 width option (remember, in the ‘gallery’ section of the image upload screen, when looking at the size attributes, the sizes are width x height), and give it a left or right align so the text runs alongside the image.

Be sure there is more content to the post than image size, regardless of banner-type or portrait-type. If you have a smaller article with a 300px image, it looks really nice if you can get there to be enough content to run evenly with the bottom of the image, or the beginning of a new paragraph immediately underneath it.

IMAGE LINKING
After a recent WordPress update, the default for link URLs changed from the file location to the attachment page. To change this, first of all, upload a photo by clicking on this icon, as you should already know, and this window should pop up, where you will be able to upload images by drag/drop or browsing for images.

Once you start uploading images, you should see the list begin to build. The next step is for you to click on the “Show” link, where image information is available, and where you can edit attributes, etc. This is where the setting you need to change will be located (if you haven’t changed this setting already, and your post has multiple images, you will need to do this to the other photos as well). Look below for an image of where that setting is located:

From here, click on the “File URL” button, and the area circled should show a direct link that the a href tags will be filled with. If your settings are not correct, you will have that field populated with the “attachment ID” and its number. This is what we don’t want. After you complete all of your settings, go ahead and press the “Insert Into Post” button, and it will be inserted into your post like so. Also, I suggest clicking on the blank target page for images as well, so it doesn’t interrupt post reading by loading into the same window.

If you feel you don’t need to have the file linked to a larger version, just do the “img” tag without the “a href” around it, and just use the image URL alone. Banners, small images, etc. do not need to be linked.

[tab:Posting Videos]

Most of our videos are from either Viddler or YouTube. For the most part, you’re just going to press the “embed” button on the video’s page and select “custom size” in Viddler, change the width to 620px, copy the html code, and paste it into your post. If you’re embedding from a video posted on another site, you might want to click on the video again so it will bring you to the video’s page, remove the time stamp in the URL, press “Enter” and then press the embed code button and follow the previous steps.

For YouTube embeds I created a simple shortcode to use. You can use this in all posts, including quicknews. The ID of a youtube video for example this one:

youtube.com/watch?v=coOHjF4_apI&feature=player_embedded

The YouTube ID would be “coOHjF4_apI” (as seen in the URL, immediately after the “v=” and before the “&”).

Just remove the space after the first [ to make it work properly.

[ youtube id="coOHjF4_apI"]

If you need an age gate (as some content providers require it), I created a shortcode for that as well.

[ youtube id="coOHjF4_apI" agegate="on"]

[tab:Adding Tabs]

For one, don’t put the source of a press release, it isn’t needed. If you want to give a source for a press release, please quote the name of the company instead. I would leave an image/video at the top of the post if you have one. Then start the rest of the post like so:

NOTE: Do NOT put an iframe video embed inside of a tab (for example the new youtube embed). It causes issues in some browsers.

[ tab:Post]

Regular post content as usual.

[ tab:Press Release]

Press release text/image etc.

[ tab:END]

You can have more than 2 tabs if really needed. This walkthrough, for instance, has numerous tabs and is used in the same manner.

When you’re done, you need to put the [ tab:END] at the end of your post to close off the tabs. There could be some issues if you don’t.

Here is an example of what the end result is. You can also view the Weekly Recaps for other examples as well.

If you want, you can also post content after the END tab, but keep it short and limit it to 1 to 2 lines max to keep a clean look. Works great for listing article sources. We have a small disclaimer on the page that has the same text at the end of every tabbed page.

You can also do the same at the beginning of a post, like, say, you have an intro with an image and you want to have the rest tabbed after you use the “more” button at the top of a posting page. We sometimes use this in reviews, etc.

Note: Disregard the space I have in front of the word “tab” on this FAQ. I needed to put that in so this page won’t make them into tabs as well.

[tab:Making Lists]

Lists are used for bullet points, etc. Once you understand how they work, they’re pretty easy to use. Here is an example of a list:

  • Bullet Point 1
  • Bullet Point 2
    • Detail One
    • Detail 2
  • Bullet Point 3

Your HTML, in this case, will look like this:

<ul><li>Bullet Point 1
<li>Bullet Point 2
<ul><li>Detail One
<li>Detail 2</ul>
<li>Bullet Point 3</ul>

As you can see, you only need to close the “ul” tag. The “li” tags will automatically close when you post your article. You can also replace “ul” with “ol” to create ordered, numbered lists.

[tab:Review Copies & Reviewing]

Only writers that are active can get review copies of games/hardware. You must have at least 25 posts in order to qualify, and then write the review within 2 weeks of receiving it.

Review Template

Review

ProsCons
Reason 1
Reason 2
Reason 3
You can use html
here as well
Rating
77%

In text, it can look like this (minus the space before “review”):
[ review pros="Reason 1
Reason 2<br />Reason 3" cons="You can use html<br />here" score=77]

For more than one reason, as you can see, you can either do the <br /> for the break, or just add another line. Either way works. Just make sure the last “pro” is on the same line as the first “con” and the last “con” is on the same line as the “score.” In the WordPress post editor, it will automatically display the items as if they had the br tag after each line anyway (which is also why you don’t need to put a <p> and </p> to denote paragraphs in the editor).

[tab:Giveaways]

If you’re going to be running a giveaway, we have a few lottery accounts to choose from depending on which isn’t being used. Please check with Tosh or Jay before setting up a giveaway using the lottery method because we need to help you finish it/set it up.

Here is a basic template you can use to get this prepped.
Things you will need to check on your post are:

  • The link to the correct lottery account
  • How many entries you want
  • Link to the game developer or product twitter
  • Link to the game developer or product facebook fan page
  • Update the countdown timer with the correct date

We usually do all the background stuff for you anyway. Just be sure to tell us how long to run the contest, etc.

[tab:Picking Winners Randomly]

Here is the code for putting in an “enter contest” button.

Here are some websites I’ve found that could help you pick a random winner if you are giving away something.

Random Name/Line Generators

Random Line Picker [my fav - I also copied this here just in case.]
Random Name or Line
Raffleking [Picks a random name]

Random Number Generators:

Random Unique Numbers
Random.org

Random Twitter Winner

Lucky Twit
tweetaways

Others
http://www.tipsotricks.com/2009/12/5-random-number-generator-sites-for.html

Then, if you are doing the giveaway via the Lottery method, go to this page. Copy and paste all the logs before the Administrative xberserker -6000 or jimmymagnum -6000 (or whatever it is). Sometimes the log will be completely wiped out (which is something we’re going to try to do for now on).

I suggest recording it as well. I recommend using Jing. It’s free and easy to use, and works on Windows and Mac. You’ll need to upload it after creating it, though.

[tab:Creating Countdowns]

Putting in countdowns for game night and contests posts is something we’re going to start doing, or, at least, try to, to avoid confusion with adjusting time zones. This is easily done using the countdown creator here.

On this page, you’re going to use these settings for a regular post:

  • Use a location/time zone closest to yours
  • Put the date and time you want to end the countdown in the next group of fields
  • In the HTML/Javascript section, select the One-Liner. Ignore the Backgrounds section
  • Keep Background Color at Transparent
  • Make the Counter Size Medium
  • Change Text Rows to Just Counter. Keep the text size at 100%
  • On the “When time has passed” option, have it stop at 0

Don’t touch anything else. Scroll down to the bottom and press the “Show HTML for countdown timer” button. Copy the code and paste it in your post, and surround it by the <center> and </center> tags. Here’s an example in use for January 1st, 2012 Phoenix time:

If the time is cut off on your preview, just add a few pixels to the width and it will be fixed.

If you’re going to be putting a countdown in the QuickNews, change the Counter Size to Small, make the background color #262626 or transparent (preferably transparent; I made it 262626 in the example below so you could see the text), change the countdown clock colors to white, copy the code, and paste it in your post (with the center tags). Change the width up to 250 if needed (in this example, I only had to go up to 226):

I only had to adjust the width on these two examples because of the number of days. Under normal circumstances, you shouldn’t have to worry about it.

[tab:Categories & Post Tags]

Categories

Please select “Media” as a category when your post has a game trailer or more than a couple screenshots.

If a category is under another category just select the “deepest” category. For example:

>>PS3 software
>>> Killzone 3

Just select Killzone 3.

If you have the ability to create categories. don’t put an in it! It will throw an error. Make sure, when creating a category, you select the proper parent category as well.

Post Tags

  • We only use post tags for putting in the developer of the game or maker of a product.
    • When you type in a tag, wait for a couple seconds for it to search for post tags already created.
    • If it’s been used before, it will drop down below your text, then just click that.
    • If nothing pulls up, you probably need to add it.
  • [tab:Press Site]

    Be sure to check the press site often!

    Developers and publishers will occasionally send us press releases and media through this page. If something posted there is newsworthy, feel free to report on it.

    [tab:Shortlinks]

    If you need a shortened link, there is no need to go to tinyurl, etc. Go to edit your post and click the “Get Shortlink” link. This will give you a similarly shortened link of your post to make it easier to share on other websites or, more commonly, twitter.

    [tab:Site Font]

    Here is the font used in the logo and around the site for the most part. It’s called Hoefler Text Black. We use this for images and the like for, as an example, giveaways and such.

    [tab:Other Tips and Tricks]

    Commonly Used Buttons in the Editor

    These buttons will be used the most

    ‘More’ Button

    If your post is long, be sure to click the “more” button above the post field (in the HTML-side of the editor) in a place where you would like people to click to continue reading from the main page. Keep it somewhere near the top, usually after the first 2 or 3 paragraphs.

    Updating Posts

    If you need to update a post, or some details changed, add [UPDATE] to the title, or boldface an UPDATE within the post and notify readers of the changes (usually after the main post).

    What I like to do is go back to the original post, and, instead of erasing what changed, I would put a line through it by selecting the text and hitting the del button above the post field, as to avoid confusing people where the change took place.

    Quicker HTML tagging

    If you have already typed something and forgot some formatting option, you can quickly, and automatically, have the editor put in the HTML for you by selecting the text you want formatted and pressing one of the buttons above.

    This is especially useful if you want to type up an article before formatting, as selecting and pressing a button is a lot quicker than manually typing it all out. The same works for links as well. Select the text, hit the “link” button and paste the URL in the pop up box.

    Blockquoting multiple paragraphs

    An easy trick to make multiple paragraph quotes look good is to separate each paragraph with this:

    <font color=”transparent”>-</font>

    This will put a piece of transparent text on the break line, to make for a cleaner appearance when the post goes live, with clean breaks between paragraphs.

    [tab:END]

    Be sure to preview your posts (you will have to save it first, since automatic saving has been disabled), reread the article, and see if it makes sense. Choose the proper tags and categories, and submit/publish the post when ready!