Guidelines for Contributors

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.

Prerequisites

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.

What Kind of Article?

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.

Our Editorial Queue

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.

Editorial Schedule

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.

Copyright Issues

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.

story
A story is, very simply, a news item that will appear in our main newswire on the home page, where readers can see the "teaser" (or lead) and can click on the headline to see the full article. Stories start at the top of our newswire and are "pushed down the page" as newer items are published. Eventually, they scroll off the bottom of the newswire page, but they remain in our archives indefinitely.
weblink
A weblink is not a pointer to a news item, but rather is a pointer to a permanent web site or a major section of a web site. Unlike stories, weblinks do not ever show up on our newswire. Instead, they are immediately filed by category into the links directory for permanent reference.
event
An event is an item that goes on our event calendar rather than on the newswire. If your group wants to promote its event, please feel free to contribute a notice. We recommend, in general, that you put only basic information about the event into SCAtoday.net, and provide a URL to the official event web site. This way, changes and additions to your event will not make the SCAtoday.net notice outdated.

Links to Non-Public Content

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.

Format

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.

Editing

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.