SCAtoday.net is a news portal website offering news, information, and discussions free of charge to members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), and to others interested in the history of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
This is a totally not-for-profit web site, a true "labor of love" run by an all-volunteer staff and funded out of pocket by its Publisher and Editor. We welcome participation by members of the Medieval Living History community, and we are always looking for news reporters, editors, and correspondents from around the world.
While our title, SCAtoday.net, may suggest that we are exclusively oriented toward the Society for Creative Anachronism, that is not the case. We welcome news stories, event announcements, and other contributions from any Living History group within the loosely-bounded time period of 600 CE to 1650 CE, and from historical organizations that do not necessarily include "living history" (for example, museums, historical art galleries, university history departments, etc.). As with the SCA itself, we tend to blur the early-end time boundary, because events in pre-medieval history (such as the Roman Empire) had a formative effect on the Middle Ages.
SCAtoday.net is an independent publication not affiliated with nor endorsed by the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. While most of our staff are members (and even officers) of the SCA or its branches, we do not presume to speak for the SCA or its Board of Directors. We are an independent news source.
SCAtoday.net welcomes contributed articles, links, and other content from our readers. This page explains how to contribute items so that they fit into our editorial format and policy, making it more likely that we will be able to publish what you have written.
To keep spammers from clogging our system with garbage, we required that contributors be logged in with an SCAtoday.net user account. If you do not have an account yet, you can visit http://scatoday.net/user/register to create one. It takes only a few minutes, and you also will be able to customize the appearance of the SCAtoday.net home page.
Requiring contributors to be logged in also allows our editors to obtain your email address from the database, so we can contact you with questions about articles you contribute. (The email addresses are not visible to the public, only our senior staff.) This can make all the difference in the world if we are unsure about copyright permissions, for example.
There are several different types of content you can contribute, depending on how the article will be used on the site. Here is a guide to the most common types, so that you can select the appropriate type for your article:
In general, if you are contributing a news item (that is, something that is temporal in nature), then it should be a story. If you are contributing a link to a web site, rather than a link to an individual article on a web site, then you probably should make a weblink. Events are self-explanatory.
If you are still not sure, even after reading these instructions, don't worry. We can convert from one type to another, although it's a bit of extra work that might cause a delay in publishing your item. You are also welcome to contact us for advice.
For legal reasons, no article, forum post, or comment is ever published on SCAtoday.net without being reviewed by one of our staff editors. This is for our protection, to prevent our site from being used in ways that might subject us to litigation, and it is for your protection, to keep the site from becoming a dumping ground for spam, pornography, political and religious solicitations, chain letters, and similar junk.
When you contribute an article, it goes into our "editorial queue" to await approval. This queue is stored in a relational database that is extremely reliable and backed up at frequent intervals; even if our server should crash, it is very unlikely that your article will be lost.
If you contribute something that is time-sensitive, such as a notice about an event that is coming up in just a day or two, please feel free to put "[TIME SENSITIVE]" in the title. We will attend to such items as quickly as our modern-world schedule allows, and we will remove that "flag" text from the title before we publish.
Likewise, if you need to tell us something about your article for editorial purposes, feel free to include this in the body of the article. Just clearly indicate that it's an editorial note and should not be published with the rest of the text, and we will remove it before approving the article.
If you look at the posting dates and times on our newswire, you will probably get the impression that we have a team of people working around the clock to bring you the latest news. It's a nice illusion, but the fact is that we use an automated scheduling feature in our software to have articles appear on the newswire at nicely-spaced intervals rather than clumping all together when our editors happen to have time to work on the site. Remember, this is our hobby, not our job. Like you, we have our real modern-world responsibilities, and like you, we spend a lot of our spare time at events and demos.
Our editorial calendar is typically scheduled three to seven days ahead. We review and edit contributions and schedule them to appear at appropriated times, based on our experience with what seems to be popular with our readers. Believe it or not, certain types of articles tend to get more reads if we publish them at certain times of the day or on certain days of the week. (Who says web publication is all science and no art?)
The point of mentioning all of this is so that you will understand why your article may not be published for several days after you contribute it. We intentionally "bank" articles in the queue a few days ahead, so that we do not run out if we happen to have a couple of slow news days in a row.
You can scan our Hall of Fame page's statistical summary to get an idea of how far out the editorial schedule goes; the "items approved for automatic publication in the future" statistic provides this information. Since we typically run 3 or 4 stories per day, divide this statistic by about 3.5 to get an idea of how many days into the future the schedule currently goes. This isn't an absolute indicator of how soon any given story will run, however, since we do not run stories in sequential order, and we will often "bump up" the priority of a story that is very timely versus others that are less time-sensitive. For example, a story naming the new Royal Heirs right after a Crown Tournament will run very quickly, whereas one describing an archaeological find may be in the queue for a week or more.
SCAtoday.net is a non-commercial, nonprofit web site, but we are still required to strictly comply with all applicable copyright laws and treaties. Beyond that, as members of an organization founded on the principles of courtesy and honor, we will not knowingly use someone else's work without their permission. Articles contributed to SCAtoday.net must therefore meet one of the following criteria:
What does this mean to you as a contributor? The short answer is, "Don't past entire articles from other web sites or email into our contrib form unless you wrote the article." People often do exactly that with entire articles from CNN, Yahoo! News, and other published sources — and we absolutely can't use these. If the article is of great interest to our readers, we may assign one of our reporters or editors to write an abstract of it so we can link to the original, but this takes a lot of time. If we don't have a staff member available, we simply have to reject the contribution.
If you see an interesting article online, and you want to contribute it to SCAtoday.net, don't cut and paste the entire text. Instead, write up a brief summary (even just a couple of sentences is perfectly fine) in your own words, and contribute that, with a link back to the original.
If your item links to a web site that requires login to a specific commercial provider, such as Facebook, we may not accept the item, because we do not wish to influence our reader toward or away from any specific commercial site. We have no objection to these sites, but we do not feel obligated to help increase their influence and profits. Links to publicly accessible (that is, without logging in) pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and similar social sites are quite welcome. We also make exceptions for official sites (such as the SCA's electronic newsletter downloads, or online governmental resources) and for non-commercial sites such as those for museums and universities offering online courses.
Please note that when we say "login required" in this context, we refer to the requirement to view the content, not to create it.
When pasting content into our site, please paste from a plain-text source, not a word processor, whenever possible. Stray HTML markup can cause all kinds of technical problems for us, and it is very tedious for us to remove it once it's embedded in your document. Many word processors (notably MS Word, but they all do it to some degree) and also "rich" email clients insert invisible tags like <span> and <div> that cause formatting problems, particularly for our readers who use assistive access technology.
A very easy way to clean HTML out of your document is to paste it into a plain-text editor (such as Notepad on Microsoft Windows), then copy from there back to your clipboard. On Macintosh, the system text editor will also work if you change the document format to plain text from the menu. On Linux, programs such as gedit or even the ubiquitous vim will work well.
We of course edit content before publication, but as a general rule we do not substantively change content in documents that we are directly quoting, particularly official missives from officers or event staff. We will edit any content for formatting and other technical issues, but if you are sending us an official announcement, please take the time to proofread it carefully before you send it.
By sending your email directly to the correct staff member, you will help us to respond more quickly.
A cookie is not a program and therefore cannot contain malicious software such as viruses. Cookies are always associated with the domain of the server that sends them.
Some banner advertising companies use their cookies to track your surfing across multiple sites among their affiliates. This is accomplished by having the banner graphic actually be fetched from their server, not from the web site you intended to visit. You can (with most browsers) configure your computer to automatically reject such cookies. In any case, SCAtoday.net emphatically does not use this kind of cookie anywhere on the site.
It is the policy of SCAtoday.net to make the site work as much as possible without cookies enabled, but for some features, this is not practical. Users may choose to configure their browsers to disable cookies, but may not be able to take advantage of the personalized features of the site.
If you are really concerned about the privacy features of the SCAtoday.net web site, and you are technically inclined, you are welcome to download the source code and examine it for yourself. The source code for most of this web site is released under an Open Source license.
We appreciate such links, and we invite webmasters who link to our site to submit their own main URL as a potential "partner site." We will reciprocate the link if we consider the web site to be related to our topics and therefore of interest to our visitors. We will not acquire "partners" that are unrelated to our topics simply as a way to increase our traffic, and we do not accept paid reciprocal links or banners.
SCAtoday.net has no control over the content of these sites, and while we try to keep track of our links we cannot promise you won't occasionally find something out there that offends you. We consider removal of offensive links on a case-by-case basis, weighing the sensibilities of any one individual against the mission of our site and our perception of the sensibilities of the majority of our visitors.
If you run a web site that is related to living history, the SCA, or historical research, and you think it would be of interest to our visitors, you are welcome to submit it for consideration. We do not, in general, link to unrelated sites, so if you are promoting diet pills, investments, or multilevel marketing we are not interested.
Other web sites are welcome to link directly to single articles or sections of SCAtoday.net, but we do not guarantee that the URLs for such content will not change in the future, nor do we guarantee a redirection link if they do.
In general, we don't object to these so-called "deep links," as long as you understand that they may not be indefinitely valid. The proper way to link to one of our articles is with a URL like this:
SCAtoday.net does not, however, welcome deep links to individual graphic files on our site. The modern-world legal status of such links is currently the subject of much debate, but at the very least we consider such links to be unethical because they allow our graphics to be used out-of-context without our permission.
In the spirit of treating others as we would wish to be treated, SCAtoday.net will not deep-link to individual graphics on other web sites unless we have the permission of the site owner to do so. Our normal policy is to link from our newswire directly to the full text of the referenced article or story, but we will make reasonable efforts to construct such links in such a way that they render the article in the full, normal, context of the destination site, with advertising intact. Sites that wish to have us link only to their main "home page" should contact our Editor-In-Chief to request this; we will make reasonable efforts to accommodate such requests.
SCAtoday.net provides banners which you may freely copy and display on your site provided that they are clickable hyperlinks that point to our main page, http://scatoday.net/.
Merchant listings are free to any merchant that is, in our editorial opinion, of interest to SCA folk or other medieval recreationists or reenactors. Note that our merchant listings, unlike news articles, are in a permanent, non-scrolling directory page. Note: As with all content on this site, your submission will be reviewed and may be edited before publication. It is normal for this process to take a few days, depending on our volunteer team's modern-world commitments.
Finally, remember that all submissions get "queued" for editorial review before they are visible on the site. This is how we keep spammers from posting their garbage onto our pages (and yes, they try, several times a week). So don't be alarmed when you submit your link and don't see it right away. If the webform says "your weblink was created," then it is stored in our database queue.
These are general stylistic guidelines, and we reserve the right to edit all content posted on our site. But if you follow these guidelines, we will try to preserve your content as much as possible within reason.
We don't charge for merchant links, not a dime. SCAtoday.net is funded out-of-pocket by the Publisher and Editor because we like doing this for our friends in the SCA. We don't accept paid ads, and we are pleased to help our readers find merchants of interest to this hobby. Your link stays up as long as you want it to, and as long as we continue to publish, though we will withdraw a link upon request. We also reserve the right to drop a link if the URL to which it points becomes unsuitable to our audience (that is, for example, if your domain is purchased by a company unrelated to our editorial mission).
With the above in mind, here are some examples of good and not-so-good descriptive text.
Honest Alan's Armoury provides high-quality chain mail, helmets, gorgets, shield blanks, rattan, and basket hilts for SCA fighters. They have been in business for 25 years, and each item is guaranteed to pass Marshal inspection for SCA combat. Custom orders are welcome to create armour specialized to your fighting style or persona.
Honest Alan's Armoury also offers combat-related items other than armour. They have SCA Marshal gages made from precision-milled aluminum and from high-grade epoxy resin. Durable metal-covering paints (spray and brush-on) are available in all the standard heraldic colors for decorating your shield. Honest Alan's Armoury has an extensive selection of rubberized axe heads and polearm tips, and combat archery projectile kits.
Need the best armour available anywhere at the best price? Come to Honest Alan's Armoury! We've got a better selection and better prices than any other armourer you can find, and our quality is museum-grade. This month we are having our annual pre-Pennsic special, with 10% off on all helmets and shield blanks. That means you can pick up an SCA-legal STAINLESS STEEL spun-top helm for as little as $129.99!
If you need a Marshal gage, shield paint, or combat archery gear, we're the place to go because we've got it all! Forget the other guys, make us your ONE STOP SHOP!
You can call me on my cell phone at 555-555-1234 to order products! Order your armour today!
The "not good" example breaks almost all of our style guidelines! Notice how the "good" example conveys the quality and selection without sounding quite as...well, not sounding like a TV commercial. The "not good" example has time-sensitive pricing, first-person viewpoint, and an extremely promotional tone.
The "commercial" email list is another venue that might be of interest to SCA-related merchants. Unlike most SCA lists that discourage merchants from advertising, this list is specifically created for that purpose. Subscribers fall into two categories: merchants, and prospective customers who have deliberately signed up for the list because they want to hear from SCA merchants. Thus, SCA merchants are welcome and encouraged to post any reasonable number of text ads, product announcements, sale notices, etc. Membership on the "commercial" list is free, but you must be a subscriber in order to post, and SCAtoday.net reserves the right to ban any merchant who abuses the list with excessive posts. As a general rule, we recommend no more than one or two posts per week per merchant, but that limit is flexible as long as common sense prevails.
As a policy, we do not participate in quid pro quo link exchanges. We appreciate other sites linking to ours, but it is not a requirement in order to have your merchant link approved. If your business is, in our judgment, on-topic for our site's editorial content, we will link to you. If your site is not on-topic, offering us a link exchange will not induce us to link to it.
As a routine part of running this site, SCAtoday.net collects information about its users and their computers, for technical administration and for gathering statistics. We do not ask specific permission to do this, but we also do not link this information with you as an individual unless you give permission, you request help with a problem, we have reasonable cause to believe that you are attempting to compromise the security of our server, or we are compelled to do so by court order.
The information collected by SCAtoday.net for all visitors is of the following nature:
All of this information is collected in our standard server access logs, which record every HTTP transaction; this is very typical of almost all web sites.
SCAtoday.net may release aggregate statistics, which do not identify any particular individual, as we wish, for any purpose we choose. Aggregate statistics in this context include such data as how many people have visited the site, which features are most used, how many registered users there are and from what geographic areas, etc. Statistical data will never include any information that can reasonably be used to identify specific individuals.
It is certainly possible to use SCAtoday.net anonymously, and anonymous visitors are welcome to browse nearly all of the site's content. For various legal and technical reasons, however some features will not be available except to users who are logged in with a registered user account. Registered accounts are available for free, and can be created by any visitor with a reasonably-modern web browser; no administrator approval is required for new accounts. Visitors are requested not to create multiple accounts, and SCAtoday.net reserves the right to delete multiple accounts created by automated software and in other cases where we feel our hospitality is being abused.
When creating a registered user account, visitors are asked to pick a user name (called a "screen name" by some other web sites) and to provide an e-mail address, persona name, and kingdom of allegiance. This will allow users to login and have access to all features of the site. Any other information collected by SCAtoday.net is strictly voluntary, but may allow registered users to participate in forums, contributing stories, or being listed in a future online directory.
Stories contributed to SCAtoday.net will be attributed to the contributor by user name; visitors to the site can click on the user name byline to see the persona name and kingdom of allegiance but not the email address. Contact information will not be posted unless requested. Some features may offer an option to post anonymously.
SCAtoday.net plans to offer an online directory of registered users, listed by user name, persona name, and kingdom of allegiance. No other personal information will be given unless authorized by the registered user. Users may choose to provide additional information in optional fields, but the default will always be to show the minimum amount of information.
SCAtoday.net promises never to sell or give your personal information to a third party without explicit consent of the user unless we are required to do so by a court of law or unless we have reasonable cause to believe the user is engaged in an illegal activity on our site. Note: Any probable evidence of illegal activity will be reported to appropriate law enforcement agencies.
At any time, users may request that personal information be removed from the database. We will comply within a reasonable time period after establishing the authenticity of the user's request. It may not be practical to remove data from the offline archives, but we promise to remove it from the active web server's database if requested. Login accounts will be disabled and all personal information removed from the database, but the empty user name will remain if it is linked to any contributed content. Exception: SCAtoday.net will not remove data from our database if doing so would violate a court order or subpoena.
The email address provided when registering a new user account is not revealed to the public. Rather, it is used by the web server software to send out the initial random password for the account, and to send out a new password if you request it. SCAtoday.net administrative staff can obtain the email address from the database, and will occasionally use this to contact you for specific purposes, such as to ask a question about a story or forum post that you have contributed or to notify you of problems with your account. We will not publish the address, however, without your permission.
From time to time, SCAtoday.net may send out e-mail notices to all registered users for the purpose of notification of policy or technical issues. SCAtoday.net will not send out unsolicited e-mail for commercial or marketing purposes, nor will it make e-mail addresses available to third-party marketers unless specifically authorized to do so. There will never be an implied or implicit opt-in by default for any unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE, commonly called "spam").
SCAtoday.net may offer e-mail discussion or announcement lists, to which users may subscribe if they wish. Such subscriptions will always be strictly opt-in, with specific action required on the part of the user rather than a default opt-in for all users.
As a standard policy, if someone other than SCAtoday.net's editorial staff seeks to contact one of our registered users, we do not provide the email address of the user to that person. Rather, we ask for an email address from the person seeking the contact, and then one of our staff will send that address to the person being sought, allowing them to decide for themselves if they wish to converse with the person seeking them. Once the person being sought decides to respond to the person seeking them, the conversation is directly between the two individuals and does not involve SCAtoday.net staff members.
Email addresses embedded within a contributed article may or may not be redacted by our editorial staff, based on our judgment in good faith as to whether the person whose email address is indicated intended for that information to be published. For example, if we receive a press release or event announcement containing a contact email address from the person whose email address is in the announcement or someone we may reasonably believe speaks on their behalf (such as a colleague on the event staff), we will usually include the address in the published article. We will remove email addresses from published articles upon request from the owner of the address, however.
SCAtoday.net takes reasonable precautions to safeguard the privacy of personal information in the database, but there is no way to make the system 100% impenetrable while still offering public access by way of the Internet. There is, therefore, no warranty of security for information in the SCAtoday.net database, and SCAtoday.net advises visitors not to share SCAtoday.net passwords with anyone, nor to use the same password for SCAtoday.net as is used elsewhere.
SCAtoday.net's newswire can be syndicated freely on other sites, provided only the headlines and/or "teaser" information is copied and not the stories' main page. The syndicated headlines must link back to the story page on SCAtoday.net; you may not cut and paste our entire story onto your site without specific permission.
Currently our newsfeed supports RSS 2.0 format. RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, is an XML (extensible markup language) format standard that is compatible with a variety of news reader and web site content management programs.
Typically, programs that display news feeds will "poll" our site at regular intervals to see if there are new stories on the wire. We recommend that you set the polling interval to not less than one hour, though we do not specifically enforce that guideline unless someone abuses our site by polling at ridiculously-frequent intervals. You should also set your polling time to something other than "on the hour", to avoid having everyone pile on requests at the same minute.
The URL from which our RSS feed can be accessed is http://scatoday.net/node/feed . You can look for the little icon on pages where syndication is supported. This icon links to the appropriate RSS feed.
If you begin running our newswire on your web site, please let us know so that we can add a link to your site from our Partner Sites directory.
This web site runs on a content management system (CMS) called Drupal (http://www.drupal.org/). Drupal is an Open Source, free software application that stores all of the text and HTML content for the pages themselves, user accounts, security settings, search engine data, and so on. Drupal, like other CMS programs, allows people to concentrate on creating content while it handles the details of page formatting, navigation links, and other administrivia.
Large files, such as images, are stored on the server's filesystem, but all other content is stored in a relational database called MySQL (http://www.mysql.com/). MySQL is another free Open Source application, and it is powerful and reliable enough to be used in many commercial and industrial applications.
The web pages are delivered to your browser using the Apache Web Server (http://httpd.apache.org/), yet another free Open Source application, which happens to be the most popular web server on the Internet by a wide margin.
Finally, all of this software runs on the GNU/Linux (http://www.linux.org/) operating system, created by Linus Torvalds and improved upon by hundreds of thousands of other programmers. Linux is an Open Source, free operating system akin to UNIX™ but available from the Internet at no cost.
SCAtoday.net doesn't have a lot of graphics, and that is intentional. We want the site to be heavy on content and light on pretty fluff, so that it will download fast even over dialup links. The graphics that we do have, however, were mostly created by Mistress Heirusalem Crystoma in their original form, then modified and composited by Justin to fit the page layout of the site.
SCAtoday.net gratefully acknowledges the contribution of our hosting provider, NewTide Group. Byron Albert and Jason Dutt run this business together, with Byron providing the technical work and Jason taking care of the back-office business functions. SCAtoday.net's Publisher, Justin, first met Byron at a Linux User Group meeting and is proud to call him a friend.
Byron has gone out of his way to offer great flexibility, reliable service, and prompt resolution of problems to this and Justin and Milica's other web sites, and has worked closely with us to accommodate the special configuration requirements of these web sites even if we asked for things not offered to his other customers. We have hosted with Byron's company since about 1996, and the reliability and service have been superlative.
We don't, as a rule, do commercial endorsements here at SCAtoday.net, but in this case we will make an exception—we highly recommend NewTide Group for web hosting of small-to-medium-scale web sites.