Here's a tiny little wants-to-be Pounding the Rock FAQ for the new guys that just joined this tiny corner of the interwebs. It's based on an old post I wrote some time ago, but it's been updated to account for recent changes in SB Nation's interface.
This is merely a simplified version of SB Nation's tutorial (which I intend to plagiarize unapologetically) that would deal with the basics of writing a FanPost or adding a FanShot. Not too long ago new user turnitin wrote a pretty interesting post that was difficult to read because it lacked any formatting whatsoever, and there are people who refrain from pasting images in the game threads because they're not familiar with the icons used. SB Nation offers help in all these cases, but it might be daunting for new users to incorporate so much information.
If anyone reading has suggestions for questions to add to my this FAQ, please don't hesitate to drop me a line at my e-mail (listed in the "masthead", as our fearless leader refers to the widget at the bottom of the page - creepy, eh?). Extra JTU points if you also write the text that accompanies the question.
Let's get right to it:
- So... Pounding the Rock. Why that name?
You're probably not a Spurs fan, but I guess this question belongs in a FAQ. Instead of explaining properly, I'll just link you to one of the many articles that love to talk about this picturesque aspect of Spurs' philosophy. When asked about how he felt about the blog's name, Popovich said it was bullshit, that we'd stolen his thing. And then he started laughing.
- Who's in charge here? Are there any rules?
This blog was originally created by one Matthew Powell, blogger extraordinaire. He has recently retired, though, so the infamous Wayne Vore has stepped in as The Man. He goes by the nick AusTechSpur when he trolls around brown-nosing Tony Parker, and he claims he has plans for the site. Scary.
We have plenty of rules. In fact, there's nothing we love more in this blog than rules - okay, maybe Manu comes first, but rules are third to nothing. You might want to take a look at the community guidelines, which everybody loves and fears. Hipuks and Aaronstampler for instance are strong advocates of the rules, so you might not want to be caught breaking them in their posts. Yeah... we're a strict bunch.
- I love lurking in here/participating just in the game threads. Why bother writing FanPosts?
I know the sentiment. Writing in a blog takes time and it's not for everyone - only those willing to destroy their social lives. However, many times I've seen people write long, well though-out comments that are lost amongst the multitude of silly one-liners and semi-relevant photos posters like me favor. That's the type of thing that I feel would be perfect for FanPosts, and it's a pity when people who didn't delve into the unfathomable depths of a game thread miss it.
AusTechSpur has recently invited people to write for the front page, like many other SB Nation blogs do. Thanks to that we've enjoyed regular contributions by rikkido, BlasE, and silverandblack_davis that have made this a richer place. If you enjoy writing about the Spurs, frequent contributions to the FanPosts section might very well lead to an invitation to write for the site, and that's good for all of us.
That's another great thing about FanPosts - they can be easily moved to the front page, thus giving insightful regulars like Big50, rick2g (where are you, man?), scrappy, tomasito, SiMA et al the attention they deserve. I know that I've seen some great FanPosts through the years, and when they merited the spotlight they were swiftly moved to the front page.
So if you ever feel like writing about the Spurs, please don't hesitate and do so. Many of us will appreciate your hard work, and comment on your post. That's how communities are created.
- What's the difference between FanShots and FanPosts?
SB Nation says FanPosts are for "publishing substantial ideas, opinions and inquiries". There's therefore a minimum number of words, set to 70 in PTR if I remember correctly (hardcore facts, that's what this FAQ offers). In practice, FanPosts can and should be used for anything you want to share, regardless of its length. Just a few paragraphs where you share your thoughts on the Spurs' latest disaster can jumpstart a nice back-and-forth between the regulars that might lead us to discover a solution to cold fusion. Hey, you never know.
For relevant links, photos, quotes or videos FanShots do come in handy.
- I like Manu just fine, but my favorite Spur is actually Tony Parker. Should I say so?
Sure... if you want to be a pariah.
- I just want to share a link to a good article I just read, but if I put it in a FanShot no one will read it. Can I use a FanPost instead?
It's true that some people (maybe just SiMA these days) ignore the FanShots section, but lately many regular actively use the FanShots section. I -like many of you, I imagine- spend a lot of time each day just browsing through the World Wide Web looking for interesting articles, videos and photos related to the Spurs and the NBA in general. By sharing those articles with our fellow PTRers we can make life easier for them, and for us too, once this feature gets going. Particularly interesting FanShots can also be easily moved to the front page, once again ensuring they get the attention they deserve.
FanShots are also used by the site's editors to write the TWSS Basketball posts, so every FanShot you create helps us. And you like us, right?
- Say I want to actually add a FanShot, is there any easy way to add them?
Why, thanks for asking. YES, there is a way. In the FanShots menu there is a button that allows you to add a FanShot with just a single click. Just add it to your favorites section or drag it to your bookmarks bar in Firefox, and click on it when you come across an interesting video/picture/article. Add the tags, teams, players and events (I'll explain this later) and click on "publish" to add it to the PTR lore. It's so simple that I have the button both in my home and work computers. But don't tell my boss.
- Okay, I'm sold: I'm going to write my own FanPost. What's that about formatting?
Yay for me. I'm such a silver-tongued devil.
Formatting is what separates a great-yet-impossible-to-read post from a great-do-you-want-to-write-for-ESPN-we'll-pay-you post. There's no need to get fancy, even if the new SB Nation template gives you the ability to, if ever feel inclined to experimenting. Just the basics will do for your day-to-day postage, though.
There are two modes available for writing your FanPosts: Visual View (formerly called "WYSIWYG", which stands for What You See Is What You Get) and and HTML View. You can flip back and forth between the modes, which is useful when you're writing a post using HTML code and want to check how it looks.
Visual View is the easiest for those of us who haven't learned much HTML. It's basically a watered-down version of a word processor, and the editor allows you to edit your entry as it will look when published. Highlight text and use the buttons to apply formatting. If you make some text bold, it will appear bold. If you blockquote a paragraph, you'll see the blockquote as it will look when published.
HTML coding is more difficult, but it also gives you more freedom to customize your post. I'll go back to this later, but know that SB Nation is now using the "XHTML 1.0 Strict" document type. XHTML is a markup standard very similar to HTML, incorporating some qualities of XML and a few changes to tags and usage. There are some handy tutorials provided by the SB Nation folks to guide you through the wonders of XHTML.
- The Spurs are winning the game easily, but there's still a lot of time left in the game. Should I risk calling the victory?
Eh... if you must. But be aware that if the Spurs lose you'll turn into a big, fat pariah. (Please refer to the "adam" entry in the lexicon jolly will soon write.)
- Why are FanPosts broken into two parts? What's the use of that?
There's no length limit for FanPosts - you can ramble on for pages and pages and no one will mind. Heck, we might encourage it. However, posts can (and should) be broken into two parts: an introduction and the body of the entry itself. Only the former will be displayed in the FanPosts page - or in the front page were your FanPost to be promoted to it. Why? Because otherwise FanPosts with lengthy texts and many images or tables would push down other posts, virtually hiding them from the eyes of eventual visitors.
To help separate your post into sections the good folks at SB Nation created a simple tool accessible through the icon above, called "the jump". It's basically a bar that can be moved like any other word processor object and becomes a limit for your introduction. You can see it below, and its use is certainly not mandatory. If you're planning on writing a short post you might not need it, but consider it a necessity for longer posts. Remember that many people might only check your introduction before they decide whether to go ahead and read the entire post, so make it interesting!
If you do make use of the jump, readers will see a "Continue reading this post" link after your introduction. The full entry page of your FanPost will show both sections, with no break between them. Useful, innit?
- Formatting: what do I absolutely need to know?
The Visual View toolbar should be more or less self-explanatory for people of the Microsoft Office generation. However, there are a few new things that you need to know.
Paragraphs. Anytime you hit the RETURN key, a new paragraph is created (shown as a two line break). If you don't want to create a new paragraph just hold the SHIFT key at the same time you hit RETURN, and a single line break will be shown.
Blockquotes. They are used for visually calling out a quote from another source in your FanPost. Just select the portion of your FanPost that you want to include in the blockquote and click the blockquote (quotation marks) button. This is also available in the comments sections of FanPosts and Game Threads.
Links. To add one to either a FanPost or a comment, first type out and highlight the text that you want to have serve as the linked text. Next, click on the link button. This will pop-up a small window where you can either type or paste the URL to create the link.
Images. Place your cursor in text area where you want to insert an image. Click on the image button on the toolbar and a blue window should open. Type or paste in a URL to an image, click the "Import" button and voila - your image will be displayed in the editor. You can then resize it so that its width will fit in your FanPost by clicking and dragging one of its edges.
Since the image is imported to the SB Nation server the source of the image will be inserted along with the image, including a link back to the originating website. Delete this at your discretion. For images inserted in comments, the process is equivalent, but the image isn't imported so it needs to be hosted elsewhere.
You can also add videos and audio with a similar process. I'll let you figure it out on your own, because that's the kind of FAQ this is.
- So... you don't use HTML at all?
That's not quite true. If you want to add tables, for instance, you're stuck with HTML tags. Personally, I use them mostly to center images and their captions, by going to HTML mode and adding a "<p align="center">" before the image, and a "</p>" tag after the caption. (An HTML wizard, I ain't.)
In any case, remember to keep your tags properly nested and be sure to close every tag you open, even <br /> and <img /> tags. Use lowercase tags, and wrap attributes in quotes. Learn more about this here, and here.
- You suck at explaining this stuff. Where can I find some real help to learn how to format my posts?
- You keep bringing up tags. Why are they important, and why should I bother?
Tags are basically a list the general topics, categories, players, teams and games that help describe the subject matter of your FanPost. What's important is that many of SB Nation's new features are based on them. They not only help your eventual readers find your FanPost or quickly figure out what it's about, they also connect your post to similar ones in Pounding the Rock or other SB Nation blogs. The team, player and event pages explained in this post are all based on the tags system. More on this below.
Common tags can be anything you want them to be, and to add one just type in the field labeled "tags". Each new tag should be separated by a comma, and tags that have been previously used will pop up in the auto-complete menu.
As I mentioned above, SB Nation blogs now have special pages for teams and players. If you fill in the "team" and "player" tags properly your FanPost will show in the appropriate team or player pages - and that's pretty neat, if you ask me.
To attach an event to your FanPost click the green "Attach Event" button. A blue window will open that displays a team or sport schedule. If you don't see the event or game you want to attach to your FanPost, click the big blue "Next" arrow button at the bottom of the window to page through the schedule. Once you've found the event you want, click the 'add' link on the same row.
There's more? Yes, I'm afraid. SB Nation recently launched a tool called "autotagger", which is mandatory. Personally I think it's pretty awful, but it's a necessary evil born on the programmers' need to help lazy people tag their posts. When clicked it'll search your post for the names of teams, players or events it considers worthy or tagging, and will do so automatically. Afterwards you'll be asked to click on a list of possible tags and pick those you consider appropriate, but there will also be new links to player and team pages in the post . In the past posters were forced to remove those manually if you wanted to restore their post, but an automated option has been added since, so it's just another click. Use at your own discretion.
And remember, tags can cure most common diseases. And halitosis.
- Okay, my FanPost didn't come out as I wanted to. Now what?
You can always edit your FanPost, whether you've already published them or not. Just click on the "Edit" button at the bottom of the post, and make whatever changes you deem necessary. Afterwards, if you click "Save", those changes will not be published. The status of the FanPost remains "Published" because it's still visible to everyone, but your latest changes won't be visible until you click the "Publish" button again. This seems obvious, but I hear it stumped a certain Argentine poster for days...
- The Spurs are losing. Should I panic?
That's it, guys. Once again, suggestions are welcomed. Be as serious as you want to - it's all useful, to some degree. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself.