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Contribution guidelines

This guide contains technical and stylistic advice for those who have read what Flayrah is about and decided to contribute. It is also for those editing their contributions. The goal is to promote a consistent style and level of quality in the work we publish.

It assumes you have a basic knowledge of HTML, and that you are technically able to upload images, apply attributes to tags, etc. If not, you should still review it so that you can provide the material editors need (for example, links to sources, and image captions).

If it's too much to take in at once, focus on the top of each section. Your work will not be refused just because you miss a few guidelines.

Use your best judgement to cover exceptions. For more comprehensive guidance, try Reuters, NYU, The Guardian, and Wikipedia.

Jump to: Text - Titles - Opinion - Links - Images - Video - Quotes - Revisions - Updates - Comments - Tags - Twitter - Newsbytes

Sourcing and credit

Flayrah cites the sources it uses, by linking to them on the first text using facts or information from that source. You don't have to cite each detail, but be sure about what you are saying. Attribute opinions and unconfirmed facts, and use 'scare quotes' within the title, or a newsbyte.

It's only necessary to identify large news publishers when relevant - for example, if it's a piece of analysis (which will have elements of opinion). Avoid using individuals or small groups as sources without attribution.

If your news came as a tip from another person, or from another website, credit them at the end of a paragraph relating to the information as [tip: Name] or [Website]. The name should link to the place you got the news from, or a page about them on WikiFur or another website if it was a personal or friends-only communication. Avoid duplicating a link already in a story or newsbyte.

If a single person was largely but not wholly responsible for sourcing, consider crediting a website as well, e.g. [SomeFur/furry reddit].

Providing credit is a courtesy to the source, and an aid to the reader, but it is not a requirement. Be careful about naming a source if you think they may get in trouble as a result of the story.

You are not required to name or link your sources publicly, but you must be able to provide them to an editor.

If an entire story is syndicated or republished from another source (e.g. due to its closure), place the following at the top:
<div id="wfn"><i><a href="LINK">from Source Name</a></i></div>The link should go to the original story, if online, or to a WikiFur article about the publication. Set the original author as the story author.

Text, style and copyediting

Be concise. Use fewer, shorter words, and readers will understand more of them.

The appropriate style depends on the type of coverage. Inverted pyramid style with the five Ws is appropriate for straight news stories, while features, analysis or opinion pieces tend to read more like essays, with an introduction, developing paragraphs, and a conclusion.

It is worth your time to develop a strong title and lead paragraphs. These may be all that is read, and determine whether the body is read.
In news stories, don't "bury the lede" by hiding important information in the body. Our goal is to inform readers, not to get page views.

Avoid leaving a short word hanging at the end of a line. Replace the space between it and the next word with a non-breaking space (&nbsp;). Browsers may flow text differently for each person, but you can at least avoid it looking bad to you.

Contributors may use whatever version of English they feel comfortable with. Editors should attempt to follow it. In some cases, substantive editing may be required, but try not to edit out the character of individual writers, especially in features and opinion pieces.

Flayrah's house style for headers is lowercase after the first word, except for proper nouns.

Paragraphs are good – but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Most stories should aim for two to four full-width lines of text per paragraph, though many will occupy more lines due to inline images and videos.

In interviews or lists of newsbytes, use the format Name: to attribute paragraphs.
For interviews, consider leaving it out for consecutive paragraphs by the same person.

Numbers should normally be spelt out up to about twenty. Currency and dates should use numeric figures.

Get the spacing and capitalization of names right. "Fur Affinity". "WikiFur". If it is unclear which to use, then at least be consistent.
However, be careful; a search and replace may cause URLs to be modified as well. Consider replacing each found item manually.

Prefer the use of full names over acronyms unless they are universally known or spelt out. Even then, the first use should be in full.

Flayrah doesn't mandate a particular date format, but those using en-dashes (&ndash;) rather than "from/to" tend to be more compact.

Avoid saying the same thing twice. If a word says something that is clearly implied by other parts of the story, leave it out. Some phrases include redundancies, e.g. "first ever" just means "first" without qualification.

The date of publication is included on each work. "In X, a year ago" can be shortened to "a year ago".

Don't say that something "should be noted" or "is worth mentioning". If it shouldn't or wasn't, you wouldn't mention it.

Try to avoid using the same adjective or adverb in the same paragraph. But be careful using your thesaurus; not all "equivalent" words are, e.g. people are held in jail before they are convicted and sentenced to prison.

If you're short on space in a line, consider enclosing the paragraph with a div and playing with margins, or using "thin space" (&thinsp;).

Single words or short phrases in a foreign language should be italicised.

Avoid needless vagueness. If you know there's "a number" of things, why not say the number? Give a rough range if possible.

Prefer "the USA/U.S." over "America". Flayrah has a worldwide audience, including residents of other locations in North and South America. "American" is acceptable for people.

Adjectives should not be used to unduly weaken a statement. Saying something is "pretty X" is rarely better than "X".

Avoid using ™, ® and the like, except in an ironic fashion in certain feature stories; it implies we're writing on behalf of the mark-holder.

Emoticons are rarely suitable, even in opinion pieces. Your use of language should communicate your emotion.

The rich text editor is convenient, but not recommended, as the output tends to be messy. The paragraph tags it inserts should be removed.

Normally, paragraph breaks should be used; but sometimes single linebreaks work well, especially for not-quite-long-enough lines.

Sentences should be single-spaced. Double spacing does not show up and just makes the story take slightly longer to download.

Titles

A well-written title is informative, enticing, and concise. Spend some time on it; it may be the only thing people read.

News stories should summarize the most important information in the title, usually the five Ws. Features should indicate why a reader should bother to read the story. Titles may take the form of questions, especially for opinion pieces.

Titles colour readers' impressions and attract extra scrutiny. They must represent the truth, and avoid unwarranted implications.
Avoid sensational titles; but don't shy away from strong assertions if they are important and supported by the facts.

Titles of creative works should be enclosed with single quotes within the title. Titles of websites, events, should not.

Use 'scare quotes' for unverified third-party factual assertions.

Use square brackets (and quotes) to mention a creative work if it is not in the title, e.g. "Animation: Is Kimi too cute? ['The Legend of Sarila']"
Use parentheses to note secondary information relevant to the reader's decision to read, e.g. "ARP survey results (with con video)"

Like headers, titles should be lowercase after the first word, except for proper nouns.
Exception: A word or two to indicate the type of story may be appropriate, such as 'Opinion:' or 'Trailer:'. The word after this is capitalized.

Review titles often take the form: "Review: 'Title', by Author". However, they don't have to. They should probably mention the title.

If two stories could reasonably have the same title, consider distinguishing them by author, e.g. "Review: 'Title', by Author [SomeFurry]"

Titles should not exceed 115 characters. Where possible, they should fit onto one line (~60 characters).

Acronyms and abbreviations are acceptable if reasonably likely to be known by most readers. Ideally, they would be explained in the story.

If there is insufficient space to include both a work's number in a series and its distinctive title (e.g 'The Scythian Armada, Book Two: Tails Across Heavy Waters'), you should normally use the title. Consider following whatever is emphasized on the work's cover.

Opinion

Flayrah permits the submission of opinion, but requires a strict division between factual content and opinion. The type of story should be clear - opinion should be tagged as such (this is passed on to Google News), and in many cases should be written in a first-person perspective.

While you may write a factual story about a topic you consider important, you must avoid making overt or covert statements of your own opinion while doing so. You can tell people what you think in the comments. Exception: If your opinion is truly notable in the context of the story, it should be included along with those of other notable people. If you're that close to the story, you may not be the best one to write it.

Newsletters and announcements are considered a form of opinion, albeit that of a third-party. If published, they should use the appropriate tags. They may be edited to tone down overly promotional language, or to provide an informative summary atop a themed introduction. If a new summary is required, use italics and third-person tense ("This newsletter covers . . .") to indicate that an editor wrote it.

Reviews are a form of opinion. Flayrah doesn't assign editors except on request, and it is perfectly possible for several people to submit reviews for one work. Most reviewers don't give a star rating, although some indication as to who, if anyone should buy the work is appropriate.

Editors should take care to preserve the intent of the contributor. The objective is to polish, not to insert your own opinion.

Link terms which a casual reader (who is not necessarily a furry fan) might not understand, including events, places, people, etc.

Links should end before full stops, commas, semicolons or dashes which are not followed by more linked text, but may extend to exclamation marks or question marks if they are part of the linked phrase.

The most suitable link depends on the context. For general information, sites such as Wikipedia, a topic-specific wiki (e.g. WikiFur, Bulbapedia), or the IMDB may be suitable. Links from these reference sites appear in a faded tone. This lets experienced readers focus on the sources. In other cases, an official or personal page may be suitable.

Don't assume that names must link to official websites - it may be more suitable to link to such a site as a source on relevant text.

If Flayrah has a review, interview, or feature relating to a subject, it is usually appropriate to link to it; but it may not be the most important link. Consider something like "(review by X)" after the main link.

Links to Flayrah, WikiFur, Wikipedia, YouTube, Vimeo and any other site which allows both secure and insecure HTTP should have the scheme (the "http:" or "https:") removed, so that those visiting Flayrah securely visit the secure version of these sites. Links to a site which is only secure (such as Inkbunny) or which is not secure should not have the scheme removed.

Links to Flayrah in stories should not have the sever name removed; syndicators may not set the base URL correctly. You may remove everything after the first number in the URL, including the slash (e.g. "//www.flayrah.com/1234"). This is a story's permanent URL and should always work.

Links to certain websites should include specific parameters to ensure that Flayrah gets affiliate revenue from them:

Linking to the original publisher should be preferred over a link to Amazon; consider an "on Amazon" link as well if they're offering a better price.

A link to a creative work's purchase page should go on the text indicating its price (and optionally the format of the book). Link and price e-books, hardbacks and paperbacks separately. It may be appropriate to duplicate the link earlier in the lede if there is no other suitable page to link to.

Many links have "query cruft" at the end. Try to use the shortest link possible. This may involve cuting the ? and everything after it. For Amazon, the /descriptive-text/ portion can also be removed (leave one of the slashes). In all cases, load the modified link first to check that it works.

Images

Images may be uploaded via the "insert image" dialog opened by clicking the link beneath the story box. Upload images to your directory and then double-click them to get an image tag.

Image tags are inserted into the body, not the lede, even if the lede is selected. Inserting an image moves the selection point to the end, so if you insert multiple images at once, some will end up there.

Images often need to be reduced in size for display purposes. If so, a thumbnail should be created and uploaded to the user's directory, replacing the image src, which should be moved to a link surrounding the image. If a thumbnail of acceptable quality is larger than the source, resize the original with width/height attributes and link it. This rare case can occur if the reduction is small and the source is heavily compressed.

You can create thumbnails from uploaded images via the resize button. You don't have control over the output quality, but it may be easier than downloading the images and editing them manually. Don't use the auto-thumbnail options on upload; you need to determine the right size first.

Use a dummy src (such as src=/favicon.ico) to test the flow of various thumbnail sizes. This makes it obvious which thumbnails are missing.

Obtaining high-quality images can be tricky - it's not always as simple ss right-click, save as. One way of getting covers is to open Amazon's Kindle preview (or failing that, "look inside") and use an image downloader extension/add-on for your browser to grab the cover once it's loaded. (You can also inspect the page and open the URL directly, but this URL must not be linked, as it is only temporary - save the file and upload it.)

A display size of 280x150 or more is recommended for at least one image or thumbnail. Twitter users will see a Large Image Card using the largest image (width x height) that meets this criteria. This should be avoided where it would give undue prominence to the image.

Image tags should have the following attributes:

  • border=0 if linked to anything
  • align=right or left, if not centered or contained in a floated div or a table
  • style=margin-[left:5px/right:6px] depending on alignment
  • width=X, height=Y
  • src=//www.flayrah.com/sites/default/files/u/[username]/[filename]
  • alt="Description of image"
  • title="Mouseover caption" (if necessary; should include any credit)

Images alignment should normally alternate between left and right, unless a single alignment appears suitable for a set of images. You can align images to both the right and left if they are small enough, or if the vertical overlap is minimal. Keep images close to the text they relate to.

Thumbnails of covers should be a straight resize of the cover. For other images, consider the use of cropping as well. You should usually link to an uncropped, full-size version.

Leave a single space between the image tag (or the closing tag of its link, if present) and the following content, so that if the image tag is translated to text (by, say, Google News), the text will not run up against the content.

In some cases, a desirable layout may be achieved by placing an image directly beside a heading. To do this, place the aligned image tag next to the text, within the header tag. Use a space to separate it from the text, as above.

The src of an img tag should not be hosted on another site. This is bandwidth theft; it slows page load, and exposes the story to modification.

It is reasonable to make a thumbnail of a copyrighted image without explicit permission for the purpose of news reporting, as long as the image relates directly to the news. For example, a recent image of a particular fursuiter might be used on a story about that fursuiter, but not on a story about fursuiting in general. Credit should be given in alt and title tags. "Press pack" images and covers may be uploaded in full.

Prefer the use of freely-licensed images. Follow all credit and license notification requirements.

If you want to add a visible caption to an image, don't use align or a margin on the image tag; instead, place it inside a div and use float:left/right and width style attributes on that. Add a newline after the image tag and type the caption inside italic tags before closing the div:
<div style=float:left;width:300px;margin-right:5px><img src=/file.png width=280 height=357 alt="A file">
<i>This is a good image</i></div>
If the image is to be thumbnailed, do that first, then enclose it all in the div, starting with the link.

The scheme (the "http:" or "https:") should be removed from the src tag of every image, and from the href of any link to a larger image hosted on Flayrah or WikiFur, so that those viewing on a secure connection get securely-delivered images.

When multiple images are to be displayed in a row or a column, consider enclosing them in a div with style=float:[left/right];margin-[left/right]:5px, or surrounded by <center> tags. Use margins on the second and subsequent img tags to separate them. (A new row in a column also requires a newline). Follow all thumbnail guidelines.

Image quality is important, but so is the speed of delivery. A 15-30kb size is about right for a thumbnail in the lede, depending on size and complexity. File size is less important for images within the body. Typically this corresponds to a quality ~82-88 JPEG. PNG may be suitable for digital art/logos, especially if it looks good in 8-bit (indexed) mode.

When it comes to JPEG compression, it's often better to use 444 chroma subsampling over 422 and a higher quality level. Check text and other areas of complexity. If your software doesn't let you control or preview chroma and quality levels, consider using the GIMP.

Lede considerations

Images in the lede should normally be aligned right, but may be aligned left if considered aesthetically suitable - for example, so that a person is looking toward the text. Margins may not be preserved in syndication, so left-aligned images can run up against the start of each line in the lede.

Images within the lede must be 590px or less. Those wider than about 360px should normally be centre-aligned to avoid narrow columns of text.

In some cases it may be appropriate to copy the lede (uncheck "show summary in full view") and use a different thumbnail, or none at all.

Video

Video should generally be embedded if the content is directly related to the reason people chose to read the story, and linked otherwise. Don't&mbsp;overload a page with embedded videos; they can be a distraction.

YouTube and Vimeo are integrated into our Twitter support; their cover images will be used to create a Large Image card if no other images are sufficiently large (280x150). If this is not desired, provide a larger image, or link a different video first. (A raw link in a HTML comment will work.)

Embedding may require full HTML input. If you cannot select this, provide the embed code and a note to the editor at the top.

As with an image, you can and usually should use align=[right/left] and style=margin-[left/right]:5px on the tags used to display video.
Often embedded videos are designed to stretch to whatever height and width is specified. Try to keep it proportional.

Video websites often overestimate height. Preview several heights to see how short it can be without reducing the width or causing distortion.

YouTube videos can be set to start at a particular number of seconds in with the parameter &start=123

Lede considerations

Videos can be large and distracting from the facts of a story. If the video is the story, it should be in the lede; otherwise, it may be appropriate to just link it and optionally embed it in the full story.

Embedded video tags within the lede normally have a width of 590px. There should be linebreaks above and below (not a paragraph gap), and style=margin-top:5px should be used to ensure adequate spacing. (This requires the use of Full HTML format.)

Quotes

Paragraphs of quoted text should be in a blockquote. Short quotes may also be blockquoted to separate them from the text; otherwise, they should be enclosed in double quotes.

It's best to leave most quotes unedited, even if they contain spelling or grammar mistakes. Simple mistakes in interviews may be corrected; readers expect minor editing on our part. Consider the potential meaning of formatting before reformatting a quote.

Page numbers should be enclosed in <small> tags, e.g (p. 2), (pgs. 1–5). If using a blockquote, place them them inside, at the end.

If a blockquote runs next to an image, it should have a margin-[left/right] attribute that ensures appropriate spacing of the blockquote background from the image. Normally, a margin of the image size plus 15px is suitable, but this may be adjusted for flow purposes.

If the blockquote extends above or below the image, it is generally better to let it flow around the image without a margin or max-width. Use margins on the image instead to ensure text spacing. Exception: If the blockquote is in the lede, consider using max-width to allow the quote to flow around the image in the lede, but float next to it in the full story. Subtract the image width from 900 for an appropriate width.

Polls

A poll title should take the form of a question or incomplete sentence - ideally on a topical subject, though some are not even specific to furry.

The ideal poll question is one for which everyone has an answer. If people disagree on the right answer, so much the better.

Try to cover all reasonable options, including contentious ones. If this is impossible, include something like "Other (comment)".

Options appear on the front page in 150px wide format. Keep them short; just one or two short words if possible.

It's unnecessary to close a poll unless it relates to a resolved question. The most-recently published poll will be displayed on the front page.

Revisions

Flayrah has an optional revisions feature may be used to clearly document the changes made by an editor. If making a substantive edit, it's a good idea to tick the "Make a new revision" checkbox and provide a revision summary with highlights of the changes.

All logged-in users see past revisions, and the list of revisions. If information must not be published, remove it before creating a new revision. Avoid using sensitive information or inappropriate language in revision summaries.

Changes made to a story (including tag modifications) do not automatically make a new revision; they will be placed within the latest revision. The author will not be updated, but the date of the revision will be.

Updates

When updating a story, add a new line in the lede (usually at the end) starting with Update (Jan 1): (or "Update 2/3", etc.). If the update will not fit in the lede, summarize it. You can also write it as a comment and/or a newsbyte link to the source or the story, as you feel appropriate.

Stories should make sense at the time of publication. If it doesn't due to a publishing delay, rewrite it so that it does.

Comments

Comments support the same HTML as stories, but should normally consist of text and simple formatting. Images are typically inadvisable.

Editors should avoid editing others' comments, except for technical reasons. Editing an anonymous comments removes the commenter's name.

The "mark as spam" link is there for spam, not for comments which you disagree with. Use the voting stars.

Non-spam comments should only be deleted in the most extreme cases. Let the moderation system work.

Tags

Flayrah uses plural tags for objects and species; so, novels and raccoons, not novel and raccoon. Abstracts concepts are singular: fantasy and animation, not fantasies and animations. If in doubt, look at existing stories.

Tags are separated by commas. If you need a tag with a comma, enclose it in double quotes.

Try to get the capitalization of a tag right the first time. It can be modified by administrators, or by removing the tag from all stories, waiting a day or so until it's removed from the system, and re-applying it.

On occasion, the system might incorrectly recognize a series of tags entered through the tagging box as a single tag. This appears in the story editing dialog as a tag with double quotes around it. Removing the quotes should fix this.

A previously non-existent tag should be added if you can think of several stories that might benefit from that tag.
It should probably not be used if you cannot think of a reason why people might care to find stories grouped by that detail.
If you do create a tag, search for relevant stories and add it to them as well.

Tags are generally used for countries and for the states and of the U.S. and Canada, where a story has a particular geographical relevance.

Certain tags lead Flayrah to indicate things to Google News, and must be applied where appropriate:

  • Both 'newsletters' and 'announcements' are labelled as press releases.
  • Both 'reviews' and 'interviews' are labelled as opinion.
  • All other 'opinion' is labelled as op-ed.
  • 'April Fools' stories are labelled as satire.
  • It's not a tag, but feed items (e.g. In-Fur-Nation) are labelled as blogs.

The 'newsletters' and 'announcements' tags are to be used for stories written primarily by third-parties (e.g. convention representatives) that Flayrah chooses to publish. Covering an announcement doesn't require use of the tag unless the story primarily consists of their quotes.

"Related stories" lists all stories and feed items sharing the most recently-created tag on the current story, ordered by reverse publication date; it then proceeds to the next tag. In theory, more recently-created tags are likely to be a) more specific, and b) used on the fewest articles. Avoid using tags which are only of passing relevance to a story, as it may break this feature.

Tags from syndication sources such as In-Fur-Nation are not brought in automatically. Feel free to add suitable tags.

Twitter

Linking or embedding YouTube or Vimeo video will cause the cover image of the video to be displayed as a large image on expansion of a tweet, if there is no other image 280x150px or larger. Be careful about where you include unrelated videos as they may give Twitter users the impression that the is about the video.

Syndication feed items from In-Fur-Nation have special logic to use the images they include as a large image without modification. (They also need to be manually tweeted.)

Consider embedding tweets as sources - Twitter will link back to us if we use their embed code. Place the blockquote inside <div style=float:right;margin-left:5px;width:220px>…</div> (or similar). Select Full HTML input format, otherwise they will remain as blockquotes. Use the provided script tag only once per article.

Editorial considerations

When first publishing a story, you should check the box that says "Announce this post on Twitter" and select FlayrahNews as the account.

The default text (!title !url) will be replaced by the story title and a short URL pointing to it (e.g. flayrah.com/1234). You may replace the default title if you wish and use any suitable #hashtags or @usernames, perhaps embedding them within the title, but leave the !url.

A tweet should not start with a @username; this restricts its default viewership to those following that user. Reword, or add a . before the @.

Newsbytes

Newsbytes are generally used to link to a story elsewhere, rather than (re-)write a story. Only Newsbytes containing a link are syndicated.

Use HTML link syntax (<a href="http://whatever.com/">text</a>), following our rules for links; or put a bare URL at the end, after a space.

Newsbytes should fit in a tweet: 111 characters, plus link. Put important, compelling material first; avoid digressions or personal observations.

Newsbytes by recognized contributors are automatically tweeted and syndicated, without editorial review. It is vital that you get the facts right.

While Newsbytes are identified as being by a particular contributor, and signed with initials in syndication, the word "I" doesn't really belong - they may be about opinion, but should not be opinionated. Use "quoted remarks" where appropriate.

The first link used in the newsbyte will be the link used on other sites. If you also want to link to another site (say, WikiFur, or a user page), reword your newsbyte to link it later. As in stories, full stops should normally not be included within a link; other punctuation may be.

In general, all text relating to the linked story should be part of the link. In many cases this is the entire newsbyte, except any credit section.

Use italics (<i>) for titles; they'll be converted to _underscores_ in syndication. Bold (<b>) should be used sparingly; it is syndicated as *stars*.

It can be neat to refer to a Twitter @Username within a newsbyte (as it will be tweeted), but check it first, and don't use it as the first word. Provide a link on the name for readers on Flayrah – unless the name is contained within or precedes the main link.

Newsbytes should not imply that Flayrah endorses a product, cause, or organization, even if you think our readers would approve of it.

While individual product releases may be newsworthy depending on the work, regular blog posts summarizing such releases generally are not.

As with all links, try to use the shortest version possible. If there's a ? in the link, try cutting it and everything after it. Check the modified link.