You've decided to post an article to Newsvine, only to be confronted with a text editor and a lot of confusing buttons.
This is the Microsoft Word of Newsvine, the interface you'll need to use to publish the brilliant idea that is brewing in your head.
Fortunately, you don't need to understand exactly how everything works -- breathe a sigh of relief -- but I'm going to start at the top and explain everything anyway. Consider it a public service announcement covering things like: What's the difference between published and unpublished? What happens when I save an article? What's XHTML? What are all these options?
All those questions and more will be answered so that by the time you're finished reading this, you'll be ready to publish like a pro.
This is what you'll be facing, as you get started:
From the top:
Until you're satisfied that your article is finalized, leave the Unpublished box checked. Clicking the Save button will then create a backup of your article so that you can close your browser, shut down your computer -- whatever -- and come back to finish editing later. The article is saved, but is not published to the general Newsvine audience. Once you've proofread your article (you do plan on proofreading, right?) you can change the check box to Published and click the "Save" button once again. At this point, the article is published and can be read by the Newsvine community.
It's generally a good idea to save often -- even if you're not going to leave your computer -- because, as always, things happen, and content gets lost. It's an even better idea to copy and paste everything into your favorite text editor as a fail safe.
Clicking the Preview button will render your article as it will appear once it is published, but DOES NOT publish OR save your article. This is merely a way to view your article as though it were published, as you write it. Consider this a dress rehearsal prior to publishing an article.
The Cancel button will work in one of two ways:
- If you have not saved your article, the article will be deleted.
- If you have saved your article, all edits since the last save will be deleted.
The Delete This Post button does exactly that: Whether you've saved it or not, whether it's published or unpublished, the post will be deleted. If it's published, the post will no longer be available for others to read on Newsvine. You will have to confirm that you actually want to delete the post if you click the button.
Even if you don't save your posts, Newsvine automatically backs up content, once a minute. I find it's best to pretend this feature doesn't exist. Glitches happen, and you don't want your content to be lost because you trusted an automatic backup. "What has two thumbs and lost 6 hours of "Fallout: New Vegas" progress because of a corrupted auto-save? This guy." Don't be like me.
This is the link that people will visit to read your article, once it's published. This is also the link you'll use if you want to post a link to your article on another blog, or Facebook, or wherever.
Pretty self explanatory, but I will say this: Type something reasonable there. Don't type something inflammatory to juice your page views. Your headline should be supported by the content of your article.
Using Easy Mode is a little like editing in Microsoft Word: You type in your article, highlight whatever text you want to style, and choose from various options (bold, Italic,
Strikethrough, etc.) in order to apply the style. This is referred to as What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editing because the styles are applied dynamically, obviating the need to use the Preview button. (In truth, what you see may not be exactly what you'll get, so it's still a good idea to Preview content before publishing.)
XHTML Mode offers a bit more control over text styling and formatting, but that added control requires a basic understanding of HTML/XHTML. You will not see the styles applied to your text until you Preview your article or until the article is Published.
There aren't many limits on what you can type, but it's a good idea to follow the rules of the Code of Honor if you want your article to stay published. Don't be a jerk. Try to contribute something substantive. Be creative.
- News Event: Use this if you're reporting an event or relaying factual information.
- News Opinion: Use this if you're providing your opinion about an event.
- Other: This is pretty much a catch-all for anything that doesn't fall into the above two categories. Chatty and/or silly articles, etc.
UNDER THE "OPTIONAL" HEADING
These are your options:
Think about your article. Review the list and choose the category that BEST fits your content. Choosing a category simply because it may provide more exposure, even though it isn't represented by your content, is a violation of Newsvine's Code of Honor.
So, you've chosen a category. What does that mean? Well, most importantly, it means that if enough people read your content, it will be featured on the category page that you've chosen. Like a Newspaper, each category gets its own section which is independent of the front page. Something can be featured on a category page, but not on the front page. If you don't choose a category -- if you choose None of the Above -- you lose the ability to be featured on a category page. You may still be featured on the front page, though. And, of course, it's possible to be featured on both, if your article is popular enough.
A new category -- Not News -- has just been added to the list which has unique properties which warrant special mention. Read the announcement here.
Not News is for content that is about the Newsvine community. (This is often referred to as "meta" content.) Site suggestions, complaints, questions for the staff -- anything at all about Newsvine in any way -- these are all acceptable and no one should fault you for publishing meta articles. However, the Newsvine staff has decided that this content should not be featured on the front page.
So, if you choose to write about Newsvine -- as I have with this article -- you MUST categorize your article as Not News. There are no exceptions. Doing so means that your content will be visible on the Not News category page (as well as in any groups you select - more on that below) but it will not appear on the front page. As far as I'm aware, Not News is the only category which will keep content from appearing on the front page.
This is a good development. The front page of every major newspaper is reserved for the most important stories, and Garfield is never going to show up there. Newsvine feels the same way about meta content. I don't know how meta content feels about ferns, or lasagna.
The Category system isn't perfect. It is, in my opinion, a bit over-complicated. Even so, it's what we have to work with and so long as you follow the Not News rule (or comply with it if someone lets you know you haven't) and otherwise use common-sense when choosing a category, you'll be fine. Honest mistakes happen.
Check the box if you want other members of Newsvine to be able to post comments to your article, uncheck it if you don't. Why wouldn't you want that, though? Newsvine is a social-news site. Be social.
Tags are sort of like an index. You've written an article, now think of five (or so) key words that an average person would type into a search engine to find your article. People can also use tags to search your content archive.
For example, my Newsvine URL is:
If someone instead types the following URL...
...a list of every article I've ever written that I tagged with "primer" will be displayed, instead of my main column.
If someone knows that you've written an article about a particular subject, but can't find it, you want them to be able to guess a tag and find that article very easily. For this reason alone, proper tagging is important. Don't go crazy and include hundreds of tags. Just tag sensibly. Not only does it make it easier for people to find your content, it means that people won't find the wrong content when doing a site-wide search.
This same convention can be used to do a search of every article on Newsvine, and you can even do a refined search for multiple tags by tacking tag+tag onto the end of URLs.
Juicing your tags for increased readership is a violation of Newsvine's Code of Honor, so don't do it.
When entering tags, separate them with a comma and join multiple-word tags with a dash, like so: newsvine, meta, write-article
Fun fact: Categories are basically nothing more than glorified tags. For example the "politics" category leads to: http://www.newsvine.com/politics where "politics" is the tag. (It's possible that the Newsvine powers-that-be have imbued the category tags with special powers that regular tags do not share: Consider that the Not News category is the tag "not-news" which prevents content from reaching the front page. Magic! My guess is that there is some way to prevent people from spamming their content to multiple categories by manually adding the category tags. Perhaps only the first category tag counts as a category. I'm speculating, here.)
Not the city you live in, but the city your article is related to, if any. Start typing and a list of cities will show up. If the city you're looking for is listed, you can select it. Those cities have their own pages, which are essentially location-based categories.
The first option in this category is All of Newsvine, which is checked, by default. If you leave it checked, your article will (once published) be eligible for category pages, the front page, groups and your column. If you uncheck it, the article will ONLY be published to your column. This feature was put in place to deal with many of the issues that the Not News category now addresses, so there may not be any situations in which you'll want to uncheck it. If you're an introvert, the option is there.
The appearance of other "PUBLISH TO" options is dependent on whether you've joined any groups. If you have, you can publish your content to as many appropriate groups as you like. (Don't spam your content into inappropriate groups. No one likes that.) If you haven't joined any groups, well, there won't be much to do here.
Groups are essentially custom categories created by members of Newsvine which are restricted to members. Join or create groups here.
Add Media If Desired
- Include your own photo: Selecting "Choose File" will allow you to navigate to an image file on your hard drive, which you can then upload to Newsvine's servers. Large images will be scaled-down to the appropriate size.
- Choose a topic-related photo from Flickr: Selecting "Flickr Photos" opens up a dialog box which then does a search of Flickr photos based on the tags you've chosen to use for your article. You can then select a photo and it will be inserted into your article. All of the appropriate licensing information is inserted. (This option only searches Flickr photos which are designated for public distribution.)
In either case, the photo will be inserted in the upper right of your article, with text flowing around it, to the left. It is also possible to upload multiple photos, which will stack one below the other, in the order they're uploaded. The first photo that is uploaded will be used to create a thumbnail image on your column page.
If using a photo from your hard drive, it is vital that it be a photo that you own the rights to, or have permission to re-publish.
On a related note, it's possible to post inline images (images that appear in specific places within an article) using HTML -- as I have -- but you'll need to understand HTML (and be in XHTML Mode) to do it.
This is a way to create simple polls to include with your articles. (A question and then a few answers that people can choose from.) Sadly, a lot of people are too lazy to write actual articles, so they just publish a bunch of polls. This SHOULD be used as a way to add something extra to a good article, not as a content generating machine. If you feel compelled to post a bunch of silly polls in spite of my protestations, at least have the decency to choose the Not News category.