CSR Welcomes New Readers

With SBN's new partnership with Yahoo! Sports and other efforts to increase our readership I thought I would reprise a post on how to contribute to the site. I've grabbed some boiler plate text from our library and inserted below on how to participate in the discussion at Cat Scratch Reader. I think you will find SBN's unique platform is the most user friendly and comprehensive blogging software on the internet and I welcome your feedback.

FanShots

FanShots are quick posts, links, images or videos from around the internet -- it's not just for photos, as at least one person here mentioned to me; there are several different types of things you can put in a FanShot. Fanshots display on the right-side bar (you may have to scroll down slightly)

When Should You Post a FanShot?

  • Whenever you find a link, a quote, a video, a photo, around the internet that you think your fellow BCB'ers will enjoy.
  • When you don't have any commentary to add other than your link, video, photo or quote.
  • When you can't meet the 75 word minimum for a FanPost

How Do You Post a FanShot?

1. Click "New FanShot" -- Seems simple, right? While logged in, visit any page of BCB and click the handy "New FanShot" button. Enter the link or pic URL in the proper place.

 

2. Use the FanShot Bookmarklet -- Clicking and dragging the "Share on SB*Nation" button (which you can find here at the top of the FanShot section, right underneath the top ad bar; just click "FANSHOTS" on the front page to get there) to your bookmarks bar (the area under your address bar in your browser) will allow you to post to BCB quickly and easily while browsing the internet.

Once you have a "Share on SB*Nation" button in your browser, you have one-click posting of FanShots at your fingertips. Clicking the button will bring up a dialog box that looks like this:

FanShot dialogue box

Just select the type of FanShot you wish to post, apply the proper tags (more later) and hit publish (that "Front Page" check box is for me as the site admin, to put it on the front page if I choose -- you've seen the blue box posts on the front page; those are FanShots that I've posted).

FanPosts

FanPosts are just like front page stories, except they're written by you, the BCB reader. You can help keep the best FanPosts on the list longer by recommending them using the "Rec" link at the bottom of the post. Three recommendations puts a FanPost on the rec list.

What makes a good FanPost?

  • Make It Substantial. When I say "substantial", I don't mean it has to be a dissertation or manifesto. But if you see the dreaded 75 word warning, it's either time to put some more thought into your FanPost or start over. If your post contains something like this:
    words words words words words words words words words words words words words words words words

    ... then it's probably better as a FanShot.

  • Make It Relevant. Your FanPost should relate to the Panthers or football in some way. If you want to talk about the Bucs or the Bears or the Cowboys there are sites on SB*Nation for that. If you want to do nothing more than post a link to your site, you're probably a spammer, and should expect your FanPost to be swiftly removed. If all you want to do is post a link to a news story or other online article or page, try a FanShot.

    I don't want to completely discourage Off-Topic FanPosting, particularly during the offseason when many of us are thinking baseball or hockey. But if you're new and if you haven't made a FanPost before, your FanPost on tennis probably isn't going to be received very well. If you do make an Off-Topic post (meaning, specifically, that it is not related to the Panthers or baseball), please put OT: in front of your post.

    Off-topic conversations happen all the time at CSR. In some threads, half the comments wind up being off-topic. Some other SB*Nation sites have a Daily Link Dump FanPost or some other form of daily off-topic conversation. I'm not against starting something like that on CSR, but nobody has taken the lead. If anyone would like to do that -- it would involve finding 10 or 15 relevant links each morning and making a FanPost -- feel free to do so. I try to post relevant links at least once a week so if anyone lese wants to contribute feel free.

  • Make It Timely. This is something I feel very strongly about. If the link you're posting is a day or two old, chances are it's been posted once or twice before either in the comments or FanShots (more later). Check to see if it's been posted before. Please use the search function (located at the upper right of the front page) to see if your topic has been covered in the last few days. If it has, your thoughts on that topic can and should be posted as a comment on the original post.

    If you do have some breaking news, post away. Even though I try, there's no way I can be the first to hear/read/see every piece of breaking Cubs news. That's where you can help. See above, though; if there's a Cubs trade or signing and you think that you are absolutely, positively the first one to hear about it, please take a look at the post list first; someone else may have beat you to it.

  • Make It Coherent. You are much more likely to get someone to read your post if you follow some very simple rules:

    ● Use proper spelling. You're not sending a text message. There's no need 4 U 2 use "time saving" abbreviations which only lessen the value of your post. It's like writing a position paper in crayon.

    ● Use punctuation. You wouldn't stand up and attempt to give a speech in one breath, and you shouldn't try to make your FanPost one big sentence that never ends.

    ● Use multiple paragraphs. There is something about reading text on the internet that makes reading a large block of text unpleasant and occasionally difficult. The ENTER key can be your friend in comments. In posts, use the "P" button to make paragraphs; highlight the text you want in a paragraph and hit "P"; it will put the proper opening and closing tags there.

    ● Use proper formatting. You'd be amazed how much better your piece will be received if it's formatted properly. If I'm greeted by a wall of text in your FanPost, I'm probably not going to make it all the way through. Break it up. Make it more than one paragraph. Use the 'B' and 'I' buttons for bold and italic text, respectively.

The tech team at SB*Nation has built a powerful WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, which I can't tell you much about because I usually use the HTML editor (which is the default box you get if you're making a FanPost). However, if you know how to format using Microsoft Word, you can make a perfectly formatted FanPost here at CSR.

● Start by opening Word.
● Write your post completely in Word, making all your formatting adjustments there.
● Highlight and Copy your work.
● Click New FanPost
● Click the "Paste From Word" icon (upper right icon in the WYSIWYG editor)
● Paste your content into the dialog box.

Give it a Descriptive Headline -- "Question" may, in fact, be what you are posting, a question you want us to consider; but that doesn't exactly inform us what the topic is about. Your headline should be informative, above all else, with bonus points for creativity.

Examples:

Poor Headline: Julius Peppers
Good Headline: Should The Panthers trade Julius Peppers?

Poor Headline: Ken Lucas
Good Headline: Bringing Ken Lucas Back: Pros & Cons

Poor Headline: What Do You Guys Make of This?
Good Headline: Torry Holt Wants out of St. Louis: I Want 'Em. Do You?

Stylistically, I have chosen to have all my headlines begin each word with a capital letter. You don't have to do that, but if you do, you'll match the site style and -- well, it'd make me happier.

Tagging

Tagging dialogue box

To the right of the text area in both FanPosts and FanShots you'll find the area for tagging your posts, as shown in the illustration above. Tagging is important because it helps your content show up in searches and in dynamically-rendered content areas, such as on a player page or in the new "More from Cat Scratch Reader" box at the bottom of each post. It helps increase your post's exposure.

Tagging is simple. Just type the topics of your post into the area cleverly labeled "tags." Use commas to separate tags, as shown above. If you type a tag that's already been used at CSR, it'll begin to autocomplete.

Players and Teams have their own dedicated area, which will help link your posts to the proper Player and Team Pages. These fields also auto complete, just begin typing the player's name and it should fill in, as shown above; I typed "julius p" and Julius Pepper's name appeared. When this happens, just click on the name and it'll stick with the post.

If you want to have a poll with your post -- click "Attach Poll". The options that come up are self-explanatory; just remember to save your poll when you're done. The "Attach Event" option allows you to tie your post to a specific game. Clicking the "Attach Event" button will bring up a box that lists the Cubs' past and future games -- click the drop-down box to select "completed", "upcoming" or "in progress". Clicking the Add button will make sure you post appears on the page for that specific game.

Commenting

The basic layout of CSR is pretty simple: three colums, with links to various items on the left and and right sides and the primary site content down the middle. In the middle will be news items, Game Threads, game recaps, and other fun stuff like, well, this post.

One thing you may find in an article on the front page is a link that says "Continue reading this post" at the end. Be sure to click that to get to the remainder of the post (as you did with this one). If that link is not there, just click the "Comments" link to start reading the comments.

Navigating Comments

Right before the actual comments, you'll see this:

Comment options

Display lets you change the view of the comments from Expanded (subjects and text) to Collapsed (just subjects are visible).

Checking the Auto-refresh box will toggle on and off the auto-refresh feature in the comments section. When checked on, new comments added to the thread will magically appear with a little note popping up in the corner with the name of the poster who made the latest comment.

Below those two boxes you'll see keyboard commands for navigating a thread. They work as follows:

  • c - using the c key will take you to the first unread comment in the thread. This key does not mark a comment as read. Unread comments show up highlighted in light yellow.
  • x - using the x key will mark the current comment with focus as read. This is how I typically navigate the comments, using c and x in tandem.
  • z - the z key will combine the actions of c and x. One note of caution: often, if a new comment is added above the comment currently with focus (the one you're on), using z or x will actually mark that comment as read before you've read it. I suggest that whenever you see a new comment box pop up in the corner, pushing the c-button before hitting z or x to make sure you don't mark comments above your current point as read.
  • r - to reply to the current comment with focus, simply press the r key and a reply box will appear. Please try to use the r key (or click "reply") when you are responding to a specific comment; this helps keep a conversation properly threaded.

Reading Comments

When you get into the comments section, you'll see:

The subject line - the bolded area is the subject line. Clicking the subject will collapse the text below it down; click a second time to bring the text back.

Username/avatar - you can click the commenter's username or their avatar on the far right of the screen and it will take you to that person's SB*Nation profile page.

Date/time - after the username is the date/time of the comment. This is also where you will find a link for that specific comment. If you want to refer to a comment in another place, copy the link from the date of the comment and use that URL for your reference.

up - the up link only appears for comments that are a reply to another comment. Clicking up will take you to the "parent" comment to which the current comment is a reply. This is particularly useful in a long thread with many replies to a single comment.

reply - use this link to reply to that comment. Your response will be indented one level and put below the comment you reply to in order based on when responses happened.

actions - this is a special link that allows you to recommend or flag a post. When you click actions, two more links should become visible, labeled Flag and Rec:

The Flag link should be used if you find something offensive or if the commenter is being a troll or posting spam. I hope it won't be necessary to use this button too much. If you Flag a comment, nothing will be visible to you or others, but I will see it in red.

The Rec link allows you to recognize a post that you find particularly informative, useful or that you think others would like to see. At the end of the commenter's line, you'll see a rec count (e.g. 2 Recs). If a comment gets three recommendations, it will turn green and get a big asterisk (not steroid-induced) in front of it.

Posting Comments

When it comes time for you to finally say something within a thread, you can do so via the comment box. This box is the bottom of every thread, or if you'd like to respond to a specific comment, it will magically appear when you click the reply link. As noted above, it would really help if you'd click the "reply" link if you are replying to a specific comment; this will help organize the comments in each post by thread and show each "conversation" as it develops.

Posting Images, Videos And Links In Threads

If you want to post a link in a thread, don't just copy/paste the link into the posting box. Instead, first highlight the text you want to be linkable, and then click the icon at the top of the box that looks like a link. Doing that will call up a dialogue box that looks like this:

Put links here!

Then, copy/paste the URL into the box. If, say, you have highlighted text that says "Click here to go to Panthers.com", and then enter "http://www.panthers.com" into the dialogue box, you will get a clickable link that looks like this (don't put the quote marks in the box or your highlighted text):

Click here to go to Panthers.com

NOTE! Please check the "Open in new window" check box, so that your links don't navigate away from your post.

For videos, if you find a YouTube video that you want to post in a thread or post (as opposed to a FanShot, where you can post it directly, using the Video tab), find the EMBED code on the YouTube page. It should look something like this:

Paste the above code into your post and you'll get the following video:

About posting images, I know that many of you already post images in posts and game threads. Some of these are baseball-related, of players, and some aren't. Images can greatly enhance your post and add to the information and/or enjoyment that others get. I ask only that you follow a few simple rules:

Keep images small. When I say "small" I don't necessarily mean the physical size of the image (although smaller is generally better); I mean the file size of the image you are posting. Large file size images can slow down threads, especially game threads. I ask for people to keep images in game threads to a minimum.

Keep images clean. They need to be SFW. Just as I don't want profanity on CSR, I don't want images that you wouldn't want to be seen viewing at work, or around your kids.

Thanks for reading this long and detailed post. If you can put some of these suggestions into your own posts and comments, they'll look better and you're more likely to get many more people reading them.

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