This is by no means a complete, or a well-ordered list, but here’s what’s come up so far:
Any topic is fine, as long as it has an interest for Riggio students. So that’s a very wide and general list, but we’d just ask that you always keep this in mind when you’re writing: “Our aim is to promote literature as an engine of democracy.” If you work best when given a topic, look at our columns page for suggestions. And if you can’t write without a deadline, we’d be happy to give you one. Especially if you want to cover a NY event.
Put links and images in your post. People on blogs have a depressingly short attention span, so if you can get them buzzing around from your post, they’re more likely to stay until the end. If you’re not sure how to add links and photos, read this to get a handle on it. If you’re still having trouble with it, fill out the form on the contact us page, or email Nick to get help. And if still that doesn’t work, email Nick AND Sam with the images/links you’re trying to put in, and explain where they should go.
Strong opinions are fine, but if you’re making a bold statement, try to back it up. Often it’s easiest to do that by linking to another site. For example, if you want to call Palin a maniac defended by Fox, highlight the word “maniac” or “Fox” and link it to this. Of course, the shorter the video or article you link to the better; you don’t want your audience to be gone for too long…
Informal language is fine, but make sure it’s not sloppy. This might sound patronizing, but it’s a danger when using colloquialisms, something a lot of blogs do. Try not to use too many extraneous words; redundancies; mixed metaphors…you get the point. It’s got to be understandable. You might have a butchers at the brass tacks, then go for a mickey, but make sure what you’re writing ain’t a load of ol’ pony, alright china? Fantastic.
Socialize. Remember, everyone would like to know what people think of their posts. It’s very, very good karma to comment. You comment on theirs, they comment on yours, we all become one happy family. The more of a conversation that is out there, the more people will come to see us.
If you can, be timely. This is not always important, but if there is anything you can mention that’s going on at the moment, that will generate an audience to your site. Remember, everything you write will appear on a Google search. Also, the more links you have to other sites, the more people will know about your site. It’s a little Orwellian, but all websites know where you come from. Links make this traffic work for us in the end.
Layout for interview is important. Look at one of our earlier ones to see how this works. A quick introduction, the interview, and then a short bio at the end. If this is an author, find a photo of their book cover. Link that photo to a review of the book, or a website that’s selling it. See if the author has a website. And remember, you can always edit interviews however you like, as long as you’re not changing the meaning of your interviewee. If the interview rambles back and forth between topics, reorder it before posting. If you need to, ask follow-up questions. You will be posting under your own name, but the interview is in the following format. Use 12th Street for your name, their Full Name for their first answer, and every successive answer use their initials.
This is by no means a full list, but here are some things that have been cropping up:
- Italicize the words 12th Street when talking about the print journal. The website is called 12th Street Online (not 12thstreetonline), and needs no italics. Do not superscript the “th” in either case.
- Write out your dates; October 17th (or October 17). Don’t write 10/17, because we don’t know where our audience is. In England, for example, they would write that 17/10. Our audience may not have English as a first language.
- When hyphenating a sentence—like this, for example—use the em dash (on a Mac press shift+option+– to do this). It should look like this: “—” (not this: “-“). Do not add spaces around the em dash.
- Try to avoid large blocks of writing. If you can find a good space where a new paragraph could go, make a new paragraph. It’s just the nature of reading on a screen.
- Do not sign your posts. The posts are under your names anyway, so you already have credit for them.
If you have any comments or suggestions (or arguments or rebuttals), you’re welcome to comment below.