Content and Style Guide

Here you will find Neatorama's general philosophy and guidelines for selecting and posting content. For specific help with the mechanics of the site or directions for using the editor, see the Author's Guide.

1. SELECTING CONTENT

Neatorama covers a wide variety of subjects: humor, science, art, crafts, do-it-yourself projects, history, language, pop culture (but few celebrity stories), literature, comics, food, current events, odd news, cute animals and kids, architecture, travel, engineering, and the list goes on. Our readers expect a variety of topics, but they come to Neatorama to find the best the internet provides today.

If an item is interesting to you, it will be interesting to at least some of our readers. You will also learn to spot items outside your interests that are enjoyable to readers, by checking out the comments or by noticing how many sites have linked it. With practice, you'll spot good content even without those clues.

Just because an item is good enough to post at so-and-so's blog does not mean it is good enough for Neatorama. Too many mediocre posts will drive readers away. However, there is a tension between coming up with enough content to fill Neatorama's schedule while still limiting our material to the very "best of the web." To learn how to judge the sweet spot of quality, read through Neatorama's archives to see what has been posted before. To grab a random archive, browse through the post list pages, or go to this link and change the page number 2 in the URL to any number up to 1800. Note the number of views a post gets compared to those listed near it -the posts with thousands of views have them for a reason (views have only been counted since summer 2012, but some posts from years back have gained thousands of views in only the past few months). You can also click tags or use the search box with random terms. Yes, some posts are mediocre, so read more.  

Cultivating Sources

New bloggers can find searching for fresh material intimidating, especially once you see how competitive we are about getting fresh internet material (compared to what grandma emails her friends). You can start with the big aggregator sites like reddit and Digg, but you'll also need to find a variety of link blogs and sites that generate original material to check on a daily basis.  

While we try to catch anything viral to post for our readers, be aware that by the time something is posted on the most popular link blogs, it's no longer "new." We need to look for material on smaller but trendier sites. Whenever you find a new site that posts or links new and interesting material, bookmark it, and then also explore the sites that it links to, whether in their "vias" (or hat tips, or sources) or in their blogrolls. Following links just for the sake of exploring new sites can build you a roster of sources, if you take the time to look. And if you already have a roster of sources, there's still a world of new ones worth your attention.

Look past general-interest blogs. Mommyblogs may seem like a maze of insularity, but if you get into the loop, they will be a wealth of material for NeatoBambino. You don't have to be a handicrafter to read craft blogs and recognize linkable projects. The same goes for science, history, or sports blogs -a good blogger doesn't have to understand everything in order to find and share something interesting. Our job is to recognize and share interesting things that our readers will enjoy -whatever it may be.  
 
What NOT to Post

Don't post items for sale that will compete with the NeatoShop. That's our bread and butter. No gadgets or novelty items or t-shirts (the shop is transitioning to all t-shirts, so gift items are gradually becoming more okay). That includes items that the NeatoShop might sell in the future! At least twice, we've posted something viral that Alex was waiting for a shipment of. If you can't decide whether an item fits in that category, ask Alex before you post. Some items for sale are okay, like handcrafted items from Etsy, original artworks, famous vehicles and real estate, or strange eBay auctions. If in doubt, just ask.

We try to keep Neatorama family-friendly, so watch the NSFW items. A little bad language is okay, but give a warning -some folks actually do surf at work- and consider whether that video is really funny enough to justify it. No nudity! Well, you might get away with linking to an art gallery that has a classical nude or two. Give a warning even in that case.

Use common sense, or at least consider what can go wrong. Don't post humor that pokes fun at the helpless, or could be considered abuse. Don't post "funny" news stories in which someone died. Don't post gory photographs. Use the proper terms for race, religion, nationality, sexuality, and disability. If in doubt, ask.

People complain about anything political. It's not forbidden, but it's not what we're about, so try to limit the number of political posts. If you do post a political item, remember this is not your site, so don't preach. However, an occasional debate among commenters can be good (or awful), so asking the reader's opinion is fine. See the section on commenters for more on this.

Infographics. They are useless, often spam-linked, and very often inaccurate. If you really have information, why not type it up and give links? The exceptions are some that we've posted from real artists that are funny or make fun of infographics. And sometimes a nice "graphic" gets promoted as an "infographic" which is a mistake, because we might not take a second look. If you decide to post something like that, call it something besides an "infographic:" chart, graph, timeline, poster, etc.

IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. We avoid these because if we post one, we'll end up posting a million of them. People want donations, and who's to decide which is more deserving?

Apps. Why should we sell apps? Half our readers don't use them at all, and everyone and their brother has one for sale.

Be wary about sending readers to any site that they cannot access without being a member. The New York Times and some other places limit access, but then they put referral codes in the URLs for viral articles that blogs are linking, which should be OK. There's one big knitting forum, Ravelry, that is totally inaccessible to non-members and drives us crazy because members will post someone else's project on their personal blogs and we can't link to the original artist. If you are a member, keep in mind that most of our readers are not. (Update: I think you can now see a Ravelry post as a guest.) Another example is Instructables. If you are a member, you can see the "all steps" view, but non-members cannot use that URL, so only use the accessible "first step" URL.

Slideshows are annoying to the reader. If you can find a "show all" button (Flavorwire, Uproxx, and Wired have them) click it and use the URL that will take a reader there. If you send someone to a pahinated slideshow, make sure it is worth their extra effort.

Other sites to avoid: lists of unattributed pictures. That's clickbait. If a picture is that good, we should look for the real source. Corporate sites are okay in small doses, IF there's a really interesting article, but beware of self-promotional articles. We've also had a few reports of sites that transmit malware, but that's hard to detect ahead of time. If that happens, we will pull the post. Sites that do that don't last long.

Videos: Alex wants fewer videos on the main page. I try to separate them, and he asked us to limit the number of them posted. Make videos a minority of your output. However, the sub-blogs are fine for videos if the subject is right; Cute and Cuddly and Mad Skills are mostly videos. Post videos on the main page only if they smell viral or knock your socks off.

We've never had a list of forbidden sites; it's useless as they change so fast. Once upon a time we had a section where anyone could write a post, and I had to sift through them to see what was worth going on the front page. Tons of people were promoting their own sites, and most were awful. So many of them were plagiarizing -I even found more than one that had copied our exclusive features, stripped of all credit, and submitted them back! They had probably forgotten where they stole them from. Anyway, I developed a sense of distrust over such sites, and started Googling whole sentences from any that didn't pass the smell test. That's a great way to find the original writer, if something's been lifted. If you ever find out that an article you linked to was plagiarized, don't use that site again.

2. AVOIDING DUPLICATE POSTS

With over 70,000 posts and dozens of authors over time, there are bound to be duplicate posts. Try to avoid this, because readers will call you out, and if it's pulled, you've wasted your time and effort writing it. There are several places to look before you start writing about something, in case someone else already did. Try to at least skim the main page often to see what others are posting today.

Search: First, check the site search box in the upper right corner. You'll need to search more than once, using different search terms. Use the artist's name. Use the topic, which may be worded in more than one way. When you check the results, be aware that only a limited number of results are shown. If there are more, you'll see a link that says "show more results."

If the same item has been posted before, but is several years old, you can post a new version, especially if the item is going viral again. If it is less than a year old, you probably shouldn't. If we've posted about the same artist before, but you want to focus on a new work, go ahead and post it -and remind people of the artist's previous posts as well.

Post List: Look at the post list. Posts that in bold print are scheduled or queued, and will publish in turn. You may find someone else has just beat you to an item.

Sub-blogs: The main post list page will not show recent sub-blog posts -at least not at the top. The chronological list shows only main page posts and cross-posts. To find the sub-blog only posts, you will need to sort by blog. Please check these before posting. For example, if you find something neat about food, pull up the post list for Neatolicious under the menu that usually says "all blogs" to see if someone has already posted that link. Alex wants to limit the number of videos on the front page, so there's a very good chance that a video will already be on a sub-blog. Please check before posting.

Banked: Please also checked the "banked" list as well. That holds ready-to-go posts that will be scheduled when we need them, and someone may have already written that idea up.

Draft: The "draft" file should only be used for posts that aren't finished. And there's no reason to have a one-link post lying around unfinished, so the draft file is mostly for features we are working on (and even finished feature-length articles, as I don't like cluttering up the main list with features that are scheduled far out). Not much worry about duplicate features, but your one-item link may already be included in a feature sitting there.

3. MAKING A POST

Titles

Post titles should give some indication of what the post is about. Giving your post the same title as the target article or video is fine, if it's a good, clear title. Some are too long, too confusing, or can be improved on some way. Clever wording in a post title can draw attention when someone opens their RSS feed or scans the front page, but consider the "long tail" effect: when someone is Googling for this particular subject six months or six years from now, will your post show up? Will the other authors find it when searching of dupes? If the subject is interesting enough, a simple announcement of what it is will do fine. A cleverly-worded title that also gives basic information on the subject is great!

Capitalize title words, except for little words like a, an, the, with, just like a book or movie title would work. Words like iPad should use the same capitalization all the time, as that's part of the branding.

The Amount of Information

We are a link blog, and it behooves us to send traffic to the original sites, instead of taking all their thunder. Give the reader enough information to make sense of what the linked post is about, but also give them a reason to click the link and find out more.  

I noticed a picture post that had less than half the views of posts around it. I took a look and realized my post appeared to be a single picture item to the reader. So I added "See more pictures" before the link, and the view count shot up dramatically.

Clearly state what the item is about. If the link goes to a recipe, let them know it's a recipe. If it goes to a picture gallery, tell them that. If it goes to Etsy, let them know that this is something they can purchase.

There's nothing wrong with flowery, emotional, promotional language -up to a point. If you overdo it, some will stop reading. Make a joke or a witty sentence if you like, and then give them facts. When you think you've finished writing a post, stand back and read it from the perspective of someone who has no previous knowledge of this thing you are writing about. Does it clearly give the reader what they need to know before they click the link?

Basic Linkage

Don't make the reader guess where the main link is. We are no longer using the word "link" for this, but we should link the name of the website, name of the article, or a phrase that makes it clear that you are linking the main idea. If you have supporting links in the post, you should put the main target link in bold type to make it easier for the reader to know this is the main thing you're linking to.  

When posting a video, please give a link to the video page where you got the embed code (YouTube, vimeo, or other video hosting site). This is separate from the target "Link," which may or may not be necessary for a video embed (more on this in the attribution section). Please look through the published posts to see how other authors place these links.

Proper Attribution

Always trace material back to the source if at all possible. The artist who drew it, the journalist who researched it, or the author who originally wrote it should get the target "Link," the traffic, and the credit. Read to the bottom to see if there's a source link. If you are linking to a list and using one thing as an example, try to give credit for the one thing as well as the list, maybe in a photo credit or a linked word in the description if it is available and appropriate.

Exceptions: If the artist has an unnavigable or really confusing site, but some other website has a coherent gallery of their latest series, the website can get the "Link" but always include the artist's site somewhere, like embedded in their name, the image credit, or an extra link specifying "Artist's site" or something.

OR if you trace back and find an original source that is not in English, you'll have to "Link" to the earliest English translation. You can also credit a foreign language site as an extra link, but label it as such for the reader.

A "via" is just an acknowledgement for a different site that you found something on. If it's the same site as the "Link," you don't need it. No need to give Buzzfeed two links in one post.

For example: I found a nice cartoon at the Presurfer, but he didn't draw it; the Presurfer is a link blog. I'd trace it back and see it was from the webcomic Doghouse Diaries. I'll post the cartoon, and the "Link" would be the Doghouse Diaries comic page (at the original artist's site), and the "via" would be to the Presurfer. The "via" is just a little acknowledgement to the place you found it. It creates good feelings among bloggers who may then link to us sometime. If you are linking a site you went to directly, you don't need a "via."

If you use "via reddit," link to the comment thread. In fact, you should link to the individual "via" post anytime the reader can find more information there. If your "via" is a site that republishes stories verbatim, has no extra information or interesting comments, or just posts videos, you don't have to isolate the exact post; the blog URL will do. "Via YouTube" means nothing, since we already link to the video page.  

If you found something at the Presurfer and then had to trace back through four sites to find the original source, the Presurfer would still get the "via" because that's where YOU found it.

Here's an example of several of these attribution guidelines: Star Wars Trilogy Map Illustrations. Metafilter pointed me to the three maps at Nerd Approved. They had all three images, and a link to the artist's site. I went there, hoping to link the series directly. But the Star Wars maps were not at the artist's site! Why? Nerd Approved gave no explanation, but they had a via, which took me to Geek Tyrant. GT also had all three images, and text explaining that these new works were for an art show opening tomorrow in L.A. Bingo! It became clear that the artist or gallery gave these brand new images to GT for the express purpose of promoting the art show. Nerd Approved just took all the images without mentioning the art show. So I made Geek Tyrant the target link, mentioned the show, posted only one image, and told reader to go GT for the others. That helps the artist and preserves GT's exclusive somewhat. I also linked the artist's site in his name and Metafilter still got the via. This extra effort isn't always noticed, but when it is, it makes us look good.  

Proper attribution is the right thing to do. It also make for good relationships with content creators and other websites, and builds on Neatorama's reputation for quality and integrity.

Photo Use

Proper attribution goes for photographs and images as well, but there are special limitations on photographs.

Don't hotlink images. Using copy/paste to grab an image from someone else's site is hotlinking. So is pasting in an image URL from a target site. Some image hosting sites like Flickr and Photobucket offer image URLs, and those are okay because that's what they are for. However, if you hotlink images from a small website, they will be paying for bandwidth when our readers see the image. We don't want to cause trouble for the sites we link. There's also the danger that they could remove the image, or worse, replace it with an image accusing us of hotlinking. It's better to download an image, then upload it to Neatorama's servers, because that way we have a permanent copy.

Do not use images licensed through Getty or Corbis. They want to be paid. Other photo agencies can be problematic, too. Ask if in doubt. Reuters is usually okay for full-size images with credit. NatGeo is okay, but always give credit to National Geographic and the photographer. This does not mean we can post an entire gallery without permission. Check a photographer's credit link to see if they have a copyright notice requiring payment or permission to use photos. Images from most news sources (newspapers or TV news) should be reduced to thumbnail size, but still list a photo credit if you can.

Use of Flickr photos depends on how the photo is licensed. We cannot post a picture from Flickr that says "all rights reserved" unless we get email permission from the photographer. I ask people for permission all the time, and they usually grant it when we are promoting their art or website and give proper credit, but it may take some time. If the license says "some rights reserved," that is a Creative Commons license, and we can use it as long as we give proper credit to the photographer and link back to the Flickr photo page. In some instances, the Flickr photo page will have extra instructions on how the photographer wants to be credited. If you want to crop the picture or add a caption on the photo itself, check the license first, because some specify that no alterations or derivations are allowed.

From Flickr (or other photo site), download the 640 size for a large picture or a smaller one for a thumbnail, and resize it when you upload to Neatorama. If you just grab the embed code, you can't resize it. The search engine Compfight is good to help you find CC licensed Flickr images. If the license is labeled "no known restrictions," that means it is public domain.  

Images in the public domain mean we are free to use them. This includes photographs taken for the US government and its military branches. That also includes NASA, but we like to give proper credit to them and their partners as a courtesy. All images taken before 1923 are public domain. Many images from other sources are in the public domain because the photographer/artist said so. You may find some public domain pictures with a modern watermark. Never remove a watermark, but for a public domain image, go find another copy of the picture without a watermark.

Wikipedia images have various licensing. Click the image to bring up its information page. GNU licensing is similar to Creative Commons, meaning you can use them if you give proper credit and a link. If a desired credit link is not specified, link back to the Wikipedia photo page.

Images from blog posts we link to are usually fine, because the artist/writer/creator is the one being promoted. Please link to the original source, or at least the artist's website. DeviantART members are usually okay with a linked credit, but check the artwork's page to see if there is a warning against republishing (then don't use it). Internet artists and creators will usually grant email permission if you're in doubt. When writing for permission, always let the artist/photographer know you're writing for Neatorama and give our URL so they can check us out, and tell them you will link to their site and give proper credit.

When you are linking an article that uses photographs from various sources, follow the links in the image credits to find licensing information. If you are looking at an article with ten images, at least one of them ought to be free to use.

Screenshots from movies and TV shows, publicity stills, and official move posters are usually okay, as they all want as much  publicity as they can get. At least we've not had any complaints yet.

We like to use full-size (600 pixel) photographs whenever possible. However, there are some instances where you should use a 150-pixel image (thumbnail) aligned to the left instead.

1. When the photograph comes from a news source (TV or newspaper sites) and/or was taken by a professional photojournalist. We don't have the rights to use these full size, but a thumbnail is considered "fair use."

2. When available pictures are small, uninteresting, poor quality, or come from a video screenshot. If all you have is a 350-pixel image, it would look better as a thumbnail. Tall pictures look better than wide pictures as a thumbnail. If your available picture is wider than it is tall, creative cropping can make it look better in a thumbnail size.    

3. When the image is unrelated, for decorative purposes only. Some stories don't have an image, so we can get one elsewhere, like a generic object or a logo, but use it thumbnail size. Compfight is good for finding CC images for this purpose. The NeatoShop is also a good source of photos to illustrate a subject. Give a link to the product when you do this. 

Quotes

A good quote can improve your post by adding clarity and/or humor. Often, a short quote will save you a lot of difficult rewriting. Check through your article to find the meatiest, most concise, or funniest paragraph or two to use as a quote.

Do not use a quote that makes up the majority of the linked article. The shorter the quote, the stronger our "fair use" rights are.

If a quote is a person speaking, make sure that person is identified, either in the quote or in your intro sentence. If the quote only refers to a scientist by their last name, you can introduce them with "Notre Dame biologist Susan Parsons explained," or whatever. If it's an unidentified witness, go to the quote by saying "An unidentified witness said," unless that's already made clear in the quote itself. Basically, don't confuse the reader.

Always format the quote as a quote.That means using the " button to format it, or use the <blockquote></blockquote> html tags. You may have to add extra linebreaks before using the button. If you have trouble highlighting the quote with the button, go into the html window and move the html tags to the proper place. This will both indent and italicize the quote, but you won't see it in the editing mode. Preview your finished post to make sure it's right. Just italicizing a quote will not indent it properly.

Obscure References

You may know everything there is to know about Harry Potter, Star Trek, or Doctor Who, but you can't assume the average reader does. That lovely Kal-de-Haniha weapon may be the most accurate ever, but it means nothing to me until you mention that it's from the TV series Firefly or the video game Bioshock. Sure, they can Google it, but we don't want to make more work for our readers. Often, the target post will make these assumptions about their audience, so if YOU don't understand the reference, Google it, so you'll be able to explain it to the reader (and not look like a n00b).

Style Notes

Titles of books, movies, TV shows, and record albums should be italicized. Songs, poems, and individual TV series episodes should have quote marks around the title.

Ships and spacecraft names should be italicized.

Foreign terms should be italicized if they are not in common use. This usually means they need to be explained a little.

Official species names should be italicized. They're not all Latin, but the genus-species convention calls for italics. Genus is capitalized; species is not (unless it's in a title). 

If you need to italicize a word in the post title, you'll need to type in the html tags in the title field. They are <i> and </i>. If you put them in before your first "save draft," they will show up in the URL. If you don't want them in the URL (it looks messy), save the post once before you add the html tags.

When you write up something a bit unfamiliar to you, remember that some readers will be very familiar. They will call you out on all mistakes, no matter how small. If you are not sure whether the grocery store should be Kroger, Krogers or Kroger's, or whether Tardis should be in all caps, or what year Kennedy was shot, look it up -it will take about 5 seconds to Google it.  

Words like iPad should use the same capitalization all the time, as that's part of their branding. That looks awkward at the beginning of a sentence, so I try to put another word in front of iPad. Names of websites can be tricky, as some use lower-case words as branding. Capitalize them only if they are at the beginning of a sentence. Try to write a website's name the way they want.

Pay attention to common internet conventions: reddit is lowercase, a reddit member is a redditor, and is only capitalized at the beginning of a sentence. A member of Metafilter is a Mefite, a member of Fark is a Farker. Getting those wrong is minor, but a little observation is all it takes to get it right.

When writing up a news story, try to determine where the event occurred. News sites are often ridiculously local, and make it ever-so-difficult to find out what state or country is involved. The story may have a dateline of Trenton, but whether Trenton is in New Jersey, Arizona, or somewhere in Australia is something they won't tell you. You may have to jump to the classified ads or weather page on a newspaper website, or Google the town or newspaper's name to find out where it is.

Tags

Tags are there to 1. help the reader find more posts on an interesting topic, 2. help us search for dupes and related material, and most importantly 3. make our posts easier for search engines to index. If you are reading Neatorama, the tags will show up when you isolate a post. Click on one, and you'll get an archive of all posts with the same tag. You should always use the artist's name as a tag, plus the topic, possibly worded in different ways. Sometimes the artist has both a real name and a well-known internet handle, so use both (Nick Bertke and Pogo, for example). You may think you have discovered someone new, but a tag search can reveal that we've posted a lot of his stuff before, so you may find it useful to add "See more from So-and-So" with the tag URL. Note: we only started using tags a few years ago, so the oldest posts are not tagged. We are adding tags to those posts gradually.

Generic tags, like "cat" are useless. "Flying cat" or "singing cat" will whittle down the huge archive of cat posts. When you make up tags, think about what will be useful to a future search.

Related Posts

We have the option of finding related posts at the bottom of any post, from both the archives and the NeatoShop. Use these! You may have to enter different terms to get what you want, but check what you want to keep before you search again with a different term. If you find yourself using the same related posts over and over, use the "find more posts" link at the bottom to bring up older options. Sometimes you may even run into a duplicate post that way! Checkmark a possible duplicate, save your draft, and preview so you can go to the possible duplicate link and check it out.

For NeatoShop items, the related items button should only bring up items that are in stock. If you see the same title in the NeatoShop list and the related links list, drop the one from the left column, because that's an ad.

Galleries

The gallery feature allows you to embed more than one picture, with one showing up full size and the others as thumbnails which the reader can pull up full size. Please limit this to artworks or photographs. Don't use this as a way to post all the pictures from someone else's feature article. Don't use it for advertising a product. It could be useful for showing a range of items from someone's handcrafted Etsy offerings, but limit the pictures to a reasonable number.   

Polls

The poll feature makes it easy for readers to register their opinion. They don't have to be a registered member to participate a poll, and it's much faster than commenting. If you find an article at another site that has a lively discussion in the comments, our readers may have strong opinions as well. Please state the question clearly, and try to cover all main responses in the multiple-choice options. You can add a funny option if the subject is appropriate. A useful option is "I don't care, but I want to see the results." That's because you can't see the results without voting first!

4. PUBLISHING

Check the "Publish Options" button before you update your post -sometimes the default is "publish immediately" and you probably don't want to do that! "Save as draft" is the safest mode, until you are sure you're finished. That option will save without going back to the post list.

ALWAYS look at your finished post before publishing. After you've saved a draft, you can click the blue URL at the top, right under "Edit Post" to see the finished product (or click the title from the post list). Read through your post for typos, check to see if you've embedded links, try the link out, and generally see if it looks the way you intend. Check the tags, too, because a misspelled tag is useless.

I sometimes go through the posts to check for typos, dropped words, punctuation, or unclear terms, but don't always have the time (I do check all features). It is always easier to spot mistakes in posts someone else wrote. If you catch a typo or something that needs to be fixed in any item, let me know or let the author know by email (not in the comments, please).

Special note: Readers can access any post if they have the post URL, whether it is in draft, queued, banked, or discarded. If you ever have to pull a post because someone objects to photo use or whatever, you'll need to delete the content of the post from the post editor -putting it in the discard file will not keep them from seeing it if they have the URL!

5. OUTPUT

Neatorama has 28 post slots a day, 21 on weekends. That's just on the main page -the subblogs need material as well. The only way to fill them is if every author contributes several posts a day. The exact number we ask varies, as Alex will set goals for different authors.  

We like to have posts scheduled on the main page a few hours ahead of time. If we have enough scheduled for the time being, finished posts can go into the "banked" file (which is labeled "pending" when its empty). Banked posts should be those that will not go stale in the next day or so; they may be used on a weekend. If you write up an item that is time-sensitive or is going viral, put it in the hourly queue. If it is breaking news and should be posted immediately on the main page, you can "publish immediately," or you can ask Alex or Miss C to arrange the queue to make it publish in the next slot.

Time-sensitive posts include an anniversary that is today, a deadline for participation, or an event happening tonight. Don't bank those; put them in the queue. If you put a post in the "banked" file, make sure you don't use words like today, last night, or whatever in the text, because you don't know when it will be posted.   

The "draft" file is for posts that aren't finished, and for features. Contact Miss C to schedule finished features. Please check the draft file occasionally to make sure you haven't left finished short posts there by accident. If it's in the draft file and no one has been notified, we will assume the post is unfinished. Do not leave unfinished items sitting indefinitely; they need to be posted before they are obsolete, and it's not fair to sit on an item when someone else could have posted it.

Subblogs Are Different

The subblogs need material that is not on the main page to give people a reason to go to them. The advantage in writing a subblog-only post is the freedom to speak to a specialized audience. Readers who don't like kitten videos won't go to Cute and Cuddly, and people who dislike children won't go to NeatoBambino. Also, there are no restrictions on the percentage of videos on the subblogs (for now). One reason we have an animal subblog is for a place to put all those cute kitten videos -but still check for dupes.

Each author must be authorized to write for each subblog separately. If you are interested in writing for a particular subblog, we can enable you. If you aren't enabled and you write a post that could fit into a subblog, an admin can cross-post it. However, you cannot cross-post to two subblogs. The options are main page and/or one subblog. If your item can fit into several categories, you must determine the best fit -or maybe put it in the subblog that needs it most.

A subblog-only post has no "hourly queue" option. You can either post it immediately or schedule it for a certain time. For the time being, either is fine. Scheduling subblog posts ahead of time will spread them out if you have a lot of them, or if you want to separate types of posts or something. As the subblogs gain their own audience, scheduling may become more regulated.

We occasionally go into the subblogs and cross-post published items to the main page. When we are short on material for the main page, this can happen to almost every item (which is another reason we need lots of posts). When there are plenty of posts, we will still occasionally cross-post items to the main page in order to draw readers to the subblog, where we hope they will see additional content that's not on the main page.

If you have a great idea for a subblog, Alex would like to hear it. However, if you are the editor of a new subblog, you take on the responsibility of making it work. Don't volunteer unless you have the time and can find the necessary material for daily updates.   

6. FEATURE ARTICLES

We would like to have more long, original, exclusive articles to draw new readers to Neatorama. The most recent features are in the banner thumbnails at the top of the main page, and we will eventually have a full index. Read some of them to get an idea of what our feature articles entail.

Please send potential topics for features to Alex for approval before you write. Copy Miss C on that because she knows what's been done before and how long ago.

The same content and photo use guidelines apply to feature articles, but the form and photo sizing can be adjusted as appropriate for a long post. A feature article needs enough images to break up blocks of text and keep the reader interested. Avoid long paragraphs that look like an intimidating wall of text. Paragraphs should be fairly short, not indented, and please double space between paragraphs. Quotes are good to use, but keep them to a manageable size, like your paragraphs. Too many quotes and your article is no longer "original."

A feature that is mainly a list of things with lots of photos, such as "science fiction gingerbread houses" should have information about each entry, maybe an opinion or witty joke, and links to more information if possible -and of course, image credits. A "list of pictures" is not a feature article (althought it might be good everyday post).    

When you write a feature-length post, please put "Neatorama exclusive" as a tag. Since we no longer have categories, that will be our searchable term.

Notify Miss C when a feature article is ready. She will check it over, add a page break if necessary, and schedule it. We try to space out our features over the week to have at least one every day, and if we have more, to schedule them several hours apart. Feature article are subject to editing.

7. COMMENTS

Commenters come in all stripes, and they can get rough. Our comment policy is available to all readers, linked at the bottom of the main page. The hard and fast rule is no name-calling, attacks, or abuse pointed at other readers or authors.   

If you have one typo, you can bet someone will spot it and let you know in the comments. No need to get upset; it happens to all of us. Just correct the mistake (if it really is a mistake), and if you reply at all, just "Thanks, fixed." is all you need. If you say anything else, keep it lighthearted.

You'll encounter critical comments about your posts or your writing ability or your sanity. These should be mostly ignored, unless they are particularly abusive. Remember, the way you react to a commenter says more about you than about the commenter. Always stay classy. If you can't say something constructive in a civil way, don't respond at all. Instead, report trouble to Alex or Miss C.

Disagreements are not attacks. We welcome a lively discussion, as long as commenters stay civil. However, if a commenter uses obscenities, calls other commenters names, or acts like a jerk, we can edit or delete the comment, put the commenter on moderation (so his comments will have to be approved before publishing), or even ban them from commenting. If a discussion is heating up, you can post a general warning about the tone of the comments. If you have any doubts about how to handle a comment thread, please notify Miss C or Alex. We try to read comments, but can't keep up with all of them. There have been threads in the past in which so many people acted up that we closed comments for the post.

When the comment section gets difficult, tell yourself "It's better than no comments at all." When people click to read comments, that's another page view for us. That's one reason why we encourage all authors to comment on each other's posts, if you can find the time. The other reason is that we can all use encouragement!

Some comments are spam, and our registration requirement prevents most of it. Sometimes a reader will post a link, and most of the time it is relevant to the post and just an interesting addition to the topic. That's fine. But if someone is just shilling their own site, we can delete the link. If a comment is totally off topic, especially if it has a link, it is spam. Delete it or report it. An exception: sometimes a comment is left under the wrong post by accident; you can reply and suggest they go up or down one post and try again.

IN CONCLUSION

Please don't be intimidated by the amount of information here. You don't have to memorize everything, and you can come back here to check certain points as they come up. If you are confused, ask questions. The more you post, the easier these guidelines will become, until you don't even need to think about them anymore.

This page will be updated as new guidelines are needed.


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