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Author Topic:   Style Guides for EvC
Sylas
Member (Idle past 3400 days)
Posts: 766
From: Newcastle, Australia
Joined: 11-17-2002


Message 1 of 77 (101706)
04-21-2004 9:48 PM


Proposed Style Guide for EvC
This thread is intended to be a gentle introduction to the art of writing a readable post for this on-line forum. The suggestions here are intended to be helpful for anyone, regardless of their views on the topics we discuss.

A well presented post will help you communicate your views better. Skill in good writing for an international on-line forum takes time to learn, and the way to learn is to dive in and try things out. The following steps are given in order of importance. You don't need to get everything perfect the first time. Start with the basics, and build up from there.

Step 1. Check the Forum Rules.

This speaks for itself. There are some basic standards in this forum, and all users are expected to follow them. There is some active enforcement of these guidelines, and this is described in the rules document.

Step 2. Preview the post.

If you have a look at your posts before submission, then you are likely to pick up various errors. Check your basic use of language, like spelling and grammar. Most people are relaxed about a few slips up now and again; but a post that is filled with errors is not giving the message you want.

There is a preview button in the window where you enter new articles. Click on this button, and you get to see what your post will look like. You may then make any corrections, and try again. When you are happy with the result, you can submit.

Step 3. Use paragraphs.

A readable post is broken up into paragraphs. Each paragraph is a chunk of text about 3 to 10 lines long, and separated from the next paragraph by a blank line. A browser will fit text naturally to the width of a reader's page, as long as you let the browser decide where to break the lines.

This means that all the words and the sentences in a paragraph should be separated by spaces, not by pressing the "Enter" key. As you enter text into the little box provided, it will automatically fit what you enter to the width of the box. You should just keep typing each paragraph as one long continuous line of text, and let the browser "wrap" that line up to fit the available width.

To see the difference,
consider this paragraph.
Here I have pressed the "Enter" key at natural breaking points in the text,
but the result looks quite ugly.
Compare with the next paragraph,
where each line is broken at just the right distance to fit on the page.

To see the difference, consider this paragraph. Here I have not pressed the "Enter" key at all, and the result looks very professional. Compare with the previous paragraph, where each line is a different length.

Press the "Enter" key twice to get a blank line between your paragraphs. A continuous block of text, with no white space to help the eye break it into manageable chunks, is much harder for someone to read and follow.

Step 4. Use UBB Codes.

Now we are getting a bit more advanced. You can use special tags to give some additional formatting to your text. Do not use these too heavily. Too much special formatting can be distracting, but a little bit of formatting can help enhance the presentation of your post.

There is a link to a description of available UBB codes just to the left of the box where you enter text.

The simplest formatting codes allow italic and boldface text. The first sentence of this paragraph was actually entered as follows:

The simplest formatting codes allow [i]italic[/i] and [b]boldface[/b] text.

Step 5. Quoting.

When you quote from other posts, or from other sources, you should let the quoted text stand out from your own original text. My favourite way to quote from another user is with the [qs=user] and [/qs] tags. For example, suppose you type

[qs=Sylas]Quoting in little blue boxes is cool![/qs]

The result will come out like this:

Sylas writes:

Quoting in little blue boxes is cool!

This feature can also be used to present quotes from other sources. However, I often simply indent material from other sources. For example, suppose I type

[indent]Indented quotations are hot!
[indent]-- Sylas, in [i]Style Guides for EvC[/i][/indent][/indent]

The result will come out like this:

Indented quotations are hot!
-- Sylas, in Style Guides for EvC

There is a lot more that could be said on how to present your material effectively. These five steps are just the beginning, but they are a very useful beginning. You can try out ideas for formatting posts in the Practice Makes Perfect forum.

As one more little hint, I personally don't much like the little box in which we enter text for new articles. I will write up an article in some other program, like a word processor or text editor, and then cut and paste it into the article entry box. This also gives some protection from losing your entire article if something happens with the browser.

Cheers -- Sylas

Added in edit. You can also edit a post after submission, but this feature should be used sparingly. Fixing a few typographic errors is fine, but changes to content are very irritating to other uses who may have read the original version. You should indicate any significant changes made in edit. If you really need to add a new point, indicate it clearly, as I have done with this additional paragraph.

[This message has been edited by Sylas, 04-21-2004]


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by RAZD, posted 04-21-2004 10:36 PM Sylas has not yet responded
 Message 3 by One_Charred_Wing, posted 04-22-2004 12:20 AM Sylas has not yet responded
 Message 17 by Adminnemooseus, posted 05-07-2004 2:47 AM Sylas has not yet responded
 Message 18 by Lammy, posted 11-15-2004 5:00 PM Sylas has not yet responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19845
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 2 of 77 (101714)
04-21-2004 10:36 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Sylas
04-21-2004 9:48 PM


learn from others too
If you see something on another post and wonder "how'd they do that?" you can hit the edit button to see the coding in the reply window.

You will not be allowed to actually edit another persons post but you can see how they did it. like images:



(Analema, information here (click)

Finding the actual source for the images is another problem ...

enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand

RebelAAmerican.Zen[Deist
{{{Buddha walks off laughing with joy}}}


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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One_Charred_Wing
Member (Idle past 4295 days)
Posts: 690
From: USA West Coast
Joined: 11-21-2003


Message 3 of 77 (101731)
04-22-2004 12:20 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Sylas
04-21-2004 9:48 PM


Re: Proposed Style Guide for EvC
This is good stuff. Now I finally know how to do that little blue box thingy, that'd been bugging me for the longest time. Thanks, Sylas!

yo mama writes:

you been a bad boy

I think the administrators should consider having a link to this.


Wanna feel God? Step onto the wrestling mat and you'd be crazy to deny the uplifting spirit.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Sylas, posted 04-21-2004 9:48 PM Sylas has not yet responded

    
berberry
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 77 (101787)
04-22-2004 3:45 AM


bump
  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19845
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 5 of 77 (101852)
04-22-2004 12:52 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by RAZD
04-21-2004 10:36 PM


Re: learn from others too
to post an image from a website:

(1) make sure the image is not subject to copyright restrictions

(2) find the url of the picture by right clicking on the image on the website and selecting "copy image location" -- you may want to check it by pasting the url into the browser slot and "go" to see it.

(3) use [img]http://url/of/picture [/img]

in previous example it is:
[img]http://infoart.udm.ru/tech/astrophisic/pictures/analema.jpg [/img]

Note that I have learned from Sylas on how to render the "[" and "]" properly for the coding ... (thanks)


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand

RebelAAmerican.Zen[Deist
{{{Buddha walks off laughing with joy}}}


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by RAZD, posted 04-21-2004 10:36 PM RAZD has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 6 of 77 (101870)
04-22-2004 2:44 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by RAZD
04-22-2004 12:52 PM


Copyright
If you only post a link to the image is there any copyright issue at all?
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19845
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 7 of 77 (101883)
04-22-2004 3:48 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by NosyNed
04-22-2004 2:44 PM


Re: Copyright
Posting a link to the image alone would be gray area, as it would not have the copyright info associated with it. Better would be to post the page link and some means to find it on the page. I ran into this with the Laetoli footprints on the Wyatt's Museum topic
http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=7&t=138&m=33#33

I thought of showing the footprint seen on this page
http://www.mnh.si.edu/anthro/humanorigins/ha/laetoli.htm

and was all set up when I saw

*** The photograph of the Laetoli footprint has been provided to the Smithsonian Institution by John Reader, and is used here with his consent. Please note that this image is the copyrighted material of Mr. Reader, and cannot be used or reproduced without his consent.

Doing a google on images I found several copies of the picture online but felt it was better not to use it.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand

RebelAAmerican.Zen[Deist
{{{Buddha walks off laughing with joy}}}


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by NosyNed, posted 04-22-2004 2:44 PM NosyNed has responded

Replies to this message:
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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 8 of 77 (101907)
04-22-2004 5:31 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by RAZD
04-22-2004 3:48 PM


Re: Copyright
Better would be to post the page link and some means to find it on the page.

But that is exactly what you had in your img example. The line between the img tags was a link to the picture. In fact, why would we want to put the acual image into our posts here (other than to preserve them in case of a broken link).

Once an image is on the web then isn't liking to it entirely fair and not grey at all? Copying it would clearly be a different story.


This message is a reply to:
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 Message 9 by RAZD, posted 04-22-2004 6:50 PM NosyNed has not yet responded
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19845
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 9 of 77 (101928)
04-22-2004 6:50 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by NosyNed
04-22-2004 5:31 PM


Re: Copyright
in message #5 I was demonstrating how you write the code to make the picture appear as in message #2. In message #2 you do not see any credits for the picture or the url, just the picture.

where the copyright picture is an issue (and I choose to respect such notices regardless of web accessability, and google images usually tells you too), it gets to be an issue if the picture is #20 in a long line

{{what part of BC? I used to live in Victoria}}


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand

RebelAAmerican.Zen[Deist
{{{Buddha walks off laughing with joy}}}


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by NosyNed, posted 04-22-2004 5:31 PM NosyNed has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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JonF
Member
Posts: 4748
Joined: 06-23-2003
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 10 of 77 (102022)
04-22-2004 10:23 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by NosyNed
04-22-2004 5:31 PM


Re: Copyright
Once an image is on the web then isn't liking to it entirely fair and not grey at all?

This is known as "deep-linking" and is prohibited (and prevented) by some sites, not liked by many sites, and may infringe copyright (depending on the situation). Some discussion groups have disabled img codes for this reason (and sometimes because of bandwidth). The basic idea is that deep-linking gets you to their intellectual property without them having a shot at selling you something (or whatever) in return for letting you view their intellectual property.

Taken to extreme, any link to a site other than to the home page can be considered as a deep link. A Danish court ruled that any such link is illegal, almost two years ago (http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2160281) although this decision may have been overruled and certainly has had no noticable international effect. As of last September it was definitely legal in Germany but still uncertain in the U.S. (Deep Linking: Legal Certainty in Germany While Debate Continues in the United States).

{added in edit} The American Library Association has a page of links to articles about deep linking at Deep Linking.

[This message has been edited by JonF, 04-22-2004]


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Percy
Member
Posts: 18429
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 11 of 77 (102157)
04-23-2004 10:39 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by JonF
04-22-2004 10:23 PM


Re: Copyright
A few months ago we got a huge blip in activity level because a very busy site had placed a link to an image here on their home page. I changed the image's name. I could easily add the access directives to prevent other sites from linking to images here, but except when it noticeably affects our bandwidth I actually want them to be able to link to our images.

I take the same free and easy approach to images at other sites, including copying them here so I never lose them. So if at some point no one ever hears from me again, you'll know what happened!

--Percy


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Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 245 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 12 of 77 (102159)
04-23-2004 10:45 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by NosyNed
04-22-2004 2:44 PM


Re: Copyright
If you only post a link to the image is there any copyright issue at all?

Legal precedent would suggest that including anything in-line within your web-page (including linking in frames) can be considered copyright infringement.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by NosyNed, posted 04-22-2004 2:44 PM NosyNed has not yet responded

  
NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 13 of 77 (102172)
04-23-2004 11:58 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by JonF
04-22-2004 10:23 PM


Copyright and Deep Linking
Thank you Jon, that is useful and interesting (well, ok more interesting than useful).

What sort of cake would you like the file baked into Percy? Let us know when visiting hours are and we will try very hard to drop in unannounced (it's not like you're going to be 'out' is it? ). Of course, that assumes we are not going to end up very close neighbors.

Yikes! If everyone here using the deep links gets jailed ....
I shudder to think of who I could end up with as a cell mate. (on second thought there are a couple of cell mates whose company I might enjoy. mmm)


This message is a reply to:
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Asgara
Member (Idle past 442 days)
Posts: 1783
From: Wisconsin, USA
Joined: 05-10-2003


Message 14 of 77 (106156)
05-07-2004 1:26 AM


bump
Bump for the heck of it...

Maybe those who need it will read it.


Asgara
"Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever....but get over it"
Replies to this message:
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Sylas
Member (Idle past 3400 days)
Posts: 766
From: Newcastle, Australia
Joined: 11-17-2002


Message 15 of 77 (106164)
05-07-2004 1:49 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by Asgara
05-07-2004 1:26 AM


Re: bump
The message which people are invited to read, as a help for effectively presenting posts, is Message 1, which is the first post in the thread. I thought the link might help.

Cheers -- Sylas

This message has been edited by Sylas, 05-07-2004 12:49 AM


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