CSR Author Guidelines

Last updated June 2014

The following are guidelines for CSR members given 'Author' rights on Cat Scratch Reader. This document has become necessary as CSR continues to expand and probably in the future rotate its authors to keep fresh 'blood' and perspective on the site. This is intended to be a robust guideline that is periodically updated at the site and SBN platform matures and continues to be on the cutting edge of social media. Some of these guidelines are simply good etiquette while others are related to SBN policy. I'll try to be clear about why a particular item is included.

So here are the guidelines for authors, not in any particular order:

  1. Rule #1: Traffic pays the bills. SBN provides a great platform that they are always constantly improving but it isn't free. SBN and its investors measure four things: (1) visits (2) page views (3) average length of time per visit and (4) unique visitors. CSR has two tools for tracking these stats, the built in 'Stats' dashboard linked in your top right menu and the Sitemeter at the bottom of the home page Google Analytics (blog Manager access only). Check them both out as they each have some unique features. Let me know if you would like any particular data.
  2. CSR Managers are looking for authors that not only love the Panthers, have good writing skills and make good points but also routinely post stories (Why? see rule #1).
  3. Always provide a 'Link Back' - When quoting or referencing something posted on the internet by someone else always provide a hyperlink back to the original source as we expect others to do the same for us.
  4. Here's some obvious ones: we never talk religion or politics. Just talk about football and you are good. We never cuss in our stories outside of maybe 'damn' if it adds to the point of the post.
  5. Never re-post an entire article that some other source posted. We can clip portions or pieces but its bad etiquette to simply re-post an entire piece.
  6. Never link to posts by The Bleacher Report - They are our biggest competition for the investment money for sports blogs so we need to help them as little as possible. I'm not saying to deride them either, just ignore them, or maybe lambaste them when warranted ;) We actually partner with BR now but don't go out of your way to give them props. Links to their pieces are okay though.
  7. Get to know all of the short cut icons in the story editor tool, both those along the top of the Body section and those in the right side bar under the Inserts tab.
  8. The Clippings tab in the right side bar is a great tool for clipping pieces from posts you read on the internet that you may want to use in a future post. I use it all the time in particular for my Paw Prints links post. After clicking the Clippings tab drag the clippings tool button to your browser bar for quick use.
  9. The icon tools you should be using in every post are the text hyperlink (chain link icon) for creating hyperlinks and block quotes (quote icon) for separating quotes from your own work. NEVER put urls in your stories, use the hyper link tool.
  10. The editor body has two tabs, the Visual View which is the view you should be using to write your posts and the HTML View. Unless you are an HTML expert you should only be using the HTML View for two things, or shall I say there are only two things I use it for: (1) Orienting with text wrap pictures inserted manually using the Image icon on the Inserts tab and (2) adjusting fonts. (See next two items for explanation)
  11. To orient a manually inserted picture with either left or right text wrap click the HTML View tab and locate in the picture url which is then followed somewhere by class='photo'. Replace the 'photo' part with 'right' or 'left' to align the picture left or right with text wrap.
  12. No doubt getting fonts to align remains the most frustrating part of the editor tool, especially when cutting and pasting into the editor. The best way to avoid this is to write the post in Word and then paste it into the editor using the Word paste tool (icon at top of editor with a W in it). Otherwise click into the HTML View and look for the code before the text starts "font-size: 12px; "
  13. Unless you have breaking news to post we try to space our posts out by at least 2 hours using the Set Publish Date check box at the bottom of the editor page. New authors should always schedule their completed posts out a few days to give editors a chance to review and edit as needed. When done we will typically move the post up.
  14. We ALWAYS want to post breaking Panther news as fast as possible (Why? See rule #1). Yet before posting on it check the fan posts and fan shots sections for other members who may have already posted on it. Editors can simply promote that post (if its well written) but authors instead should simply give a hat tip or other acknowledgement to the person that took the time to share it with us. I think it helps promote the community.
  15. Always promote your stories using the Promote Your Post section by clicking the 'Promote Beyond Community' and 'Tweet on @Catscratchreadr' check boxes. Please put more than just the title of the post in the promote box. Try to give a good description of the post to entice the reader to click over to the full post.
  16. Always use the auto-tag feature. If you forget the editor will actually pop up and ask if you are sure you don't want to auto tag. If your post is about specific player(s) and their name does not pop up automatically you can search and select the name. Note: Because the Panthers used to have a safety named 'Cam Newton' Newton's name never comes up in the auto tag. You have to search for him. I've bitched to SBN about it and even asked for Cam to be auto tagged in every CSR post but they say its a service they have no control over. So we live with it for now.
  17. When adding a fan poll to your post you have a choice via check box in the poll editor to show the poll after the jump versus on the homepage. If someone needs to read your whole post to understand your poll options then obviously the poll should be placed after the jump. I don't mind polls on the front page but please be sensitive to how much space it is taking up. If you put the poll after the jump you should probably mention in your front page text that you have a poll after the jump.
  18. Don't Feed the Trolls: Someone is bound to not like your story or disagree with you to such a point as to disparage you in a comment. Feel free to defend yourself if you really feel necessary but don't lower yourself either. It's not good to ban someone when an author is trading shots too.

    Using AP Writing Styles
    Associated Press style often varies completely from standard English, often in very strange ways. It doesn't always make sense -- but consistency in style will elevate how CSR is perceived.
    - Height/weight: Always spell out dimensions. "Cam Newton is 6-foot-5, 260-pounds." this is the only acceptable way to list size, and it's something I really had to get used to.
    - Numbers: One through ten are spelt out, 11 onwards are typed.
    - Times: Always 2 p.m. ET. No capitals, no minutes if it's on the hour. 1:30 p.m. ET is what you write if it's not on the hour.
    - Dates: This one is tricky, but small months are not abbreviated, and days are only written as numbers. June 11, not June 11th. Longer-named months are abbreviated Sept. 9.
    - Team names: God how I hate this one. Hands down the hardest thing I've been trying to get used to, but that's largely because of growing up on Australian english.
    If you are using the full name of the team itself then use the plural verb "The Carolina Panthers ARE a very good team", if just using the team name you still use the plural "The Panthers ARE taking THEIR quarterback situation seriously".
    Everything flips when using the city name. "Carolina's offense is ITS weakest phase in 2013" or "Carolina IS hoping IT can lean on ITS defense in 2013". I try to avoid this when I can only because it sounds clunky.
    - Yardage: Just learned this one last night, and I know it's going to be my Achilles heel. Always use a number for yardage, and yes -- this breaches the rule on numbers listed above. "Jonathan Stewart was tackled for a 2-yard gain" not "two-yard gain". It looks weird to me, but thems the rules.
Beyond all the above I want to emphasize that being an author on CSR should be fun for you. Don't fret about what to write, just about what interests you at the moment. Usually someone else is thinking the same thing.

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