News: Tips on Writing News Posts, Reviews, Cartoons for TSS
I'd like to take a short bit to address writing news posts, articles, reviews, and cartoons. (I know: we haven't published a cartoon in a while, mostly because Your Humble Editor is an aural thinker, not a visual one, which means I can appreciate visual media, but can't contribute it. There's a long discussion possible here, but the first paragraph isn't the right place for that discussion, much less a parenthetical as long as this one.) Writing content for TSS more effectively helps everyone – the readers and writers alike – and TSS is meant to be a community site. Your Humble Editor far prefers submitted content to content he scrums up, because he's only one person, and what's relevant to you – as a community – may be different than what's relevant to him (well, me, but I'm using third person here, bear with me.) Let's talk about news posts first, since they're the easiest. Writing a news post is as simple as going to the home page of TSS, after logging in, and finding the link with the text "Post a News Item." (It's in disguise...) There are a few wise rules to consider in a news post, though. There are three parts to the news post: title, summary, and content. (I'd like to end this paragraph with a parenthetical, since I ended all of the other ones with parentheticals too, but I didn't have one... oh, wait...) Your title should be immediate and clear. It should refer to the news and what it means, for those few users who don't know. Thus, "XYZ released" is a terrible title – what's XYZ? Why do I care about it? Is this a major release, or a minor one? However, "XYZ 2.0, metaword library, released" makes more sense. (Provided, of course, "metaword" makes sense to you, and it doesn't to me.) The summary is limited to 300 characters, and should be an expansion on the title. What's a metaword library for? The summary should tell me. It should tell me what changed in the release that makes the release relevant – so you might mention that XYZ now supports looking words up via RDF (which is, of course, the resource description framework, and you should provide handy links to things if summaries aren't good enough), so readers get quickly informed of what they need to know... leading to the newspost content. (Finally my useless parentheticals go... away... crud.) The news post content follows the trend of more and more information. This is functionally unlimited, so go for broke: tell your readers where to find everything, what it is – really! - including code if you desire. Feel free to go into details. (Consider the body of this post, compared to the front page summary.) The key here is to remember that you're writing for the web. Short sentences, short paragraphs rock. Long paragraphs... do not. They don't rock. Neither do long sentences. Engage your readers. They don't really want to read this: your job is to keep them reading. Don't be dumb. Your readers aren't; they don't need to read that your product is the whiz-bangiest doomaflatchie the world's ever seen. They just need to know what a doomaflatchie is, and what it's used for. Tell them. (One of Your Humble Editor's most common editing hackjobs is to strip out useless superlatives, which means "nearly all of them." I wish I could give out a prize to anyone who figures out what the rules are, but they're not that hard to figure out.) Reviews are nearly the same as news posts, and are submitted the same way. In a review, I want to see what you really thought of the product; tell us your issues with it, how they were resolved (if at all), how the community responded, how much you paid for it (if you did), where you got it, what you used it for, what you really thought of it. I – Your Humble Editor - really, really like reviews. Most of them aren't very good, though, because the authors try to make them sound all review-y. Don't do that. Write for yourself. It'll come through – and I'll fix everything I can. The next type of submission is the cartoon. I wish I could do these; I enjoy them, but I'm afraid my sense of humor doesn't come through very well in the visual medium. (Meanwhile, the entire reading public said "We read visually, too...") That said, any cartoon ideas that come through, I'll consider strongly – and I really will try to make things happen. Incidentally, the rules for preserving superlatives are: if they're deserved (i.e., I know the project is awesome) and if they're expressed as specifically personal opinion ("We think project X is a good implementation of...") Something that would get trimmed out is something that contributes nothing except fervor: "Product X is whoopsie-cow!" What do you think?
- Posted by: Joseph Ottinger
- Posted on: September 12 2007 14:54 EDT
- Addition by Roy Russo on September 12 2007 15:55 EDT
- Tips on Writing News Posts, Reviews, Cartoons for TSS by alex kenny on June 24 2011 23:39 EDT
Joe, permit me to add a few tips: 1. Frame your topic around something controversial for MEGA-interest and MEGA-traffic. e.g. "Java is dying!", "RoR is better than your mom's apple pie!", "Gavin King bought a new pair of shoes!" 2. Prepare yourself to be flamed endlessly touting your new-fangled web-too-dot-ohh ayjacks eejaybee "framework" that you want to charge $2000 /CPU for. 3. Be nice to Joe. He will bury your future posts if you annoy him. ;-) Hugs and kisses, Roy Russo http://www.loopfuse.com
Joe, permit me to add a few tips:Haha! Actually, I'm really glad you posted this - one thing I focused on was framing content, and I didn't focus much on the content to frame. Actually, I tend to ignore flamebait without merit. Post "Java is dying" without anything for me to learn from it, and it gets buried. If there's something there to learn from, I will consider it. I don't care about commercial v. noncommercial stuff. That's not my bag, honestly. I use open source (and write it) as well as commercial software (and I write that, too!) I don't have an ethical problem with someone trying to see what the market will bear. At the same time, I'm happy to point out things that I think are successful, so others can be successful as well. Being nice to me... bah, like I'm small-minded enough to care! Sheesh, Ted Neward suggested in a Tech Talk that I work in fast food... and I thought that talk was great. :) OTOH, I do have to admit, posts by anyone whose last name is "Russo..." they get tanked. :)
1. Frame your topic around something controversial for MEGA-interest and MEGA-traffic.
e.g. "Java is dying!", "RoR is better than your mom's apple pie!", "Gavin King bought a new pair of shoes!"
2. Prepare yourself to be flamed endlessly touting your new-fangled web-too-dot-ohh ayjacks eejaybee "framework" that you want to charge $2000 /CPU for.
3. Be nice to Joe. He will bury your future posts if you annoy him. ;-)
Hugs and kisses,
Frame your topic around something controversial for MEGA-interest and MEGA-traffic.Nope, not me. I've *never* done that before :D :D :D -John Mark Hyperic Community Manager http://www.hyperic.com/
e.g. "Java is dying!", "RoR is better than your mom's apple pie!"
Thanks for the tips Joe! I'll consider them for a post soon... Martin G
Found it usefull