Give people a template.

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Hugh
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:10 pm

Give people a template.

Post by Hugh »

Supply writers with a MS Word Template with the styles already built into the styles palette.
Constant Content obviously doesn't follow MLA or APA formatting.

Here's why my article was rejected by Constant Content...
"Please insert spaces between paragraphs so it is clear where one paragraph ends and other begins. // A full space must appear between paragraphs in the content details so it is clear where one paragraph ends and where one begins."

Here's the APA format...
"Do not add extra lines between paragraphs or sections."
Hugh
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:10 pm

Re: Give people a template.

Post by Hugh »

Here's what I'd be doing.
All submitted articles in RTF format ONLY.
On submission...
All articles would first be processed through a PHP based auto spell check library set for UK or US.
Fail that and the article's auto-rejected with the author getting a boilerplate "you spellz bad" email.
This would eliminate the majority of typos.

Once the articles had made it through the rough spell check, its off to the purely automated "checkformat" php tool, which would ensure that the document was formatted properly. Is it arial or times? Point size correct? Headings in place? There seems to me to be very little point in the highly specific formatting which this site requires other than as an excuse for editors to blow off assignments. With an RTF doc, you can have your PHP or python based-app or whatever rip through the document formatting and very, very quickly discover whether it met the guidelines.
Onc again, if it fails, it's auto rejected and another boilerplate email goes to the author saying "you not/r be format goods."

So after that second hurdle, your editors will be looking at grammar, punctuation and "voice", and not wasting anyone's time (ie: mine) with the smaller, far more algorithmically solvable stuff.

... and I still think you should supply authors with a Word template, or at least make a couple of templates from the most commonly used word processing apps. Getting rejected after nearly a week because my paragraphs weren't spaced properly is frankly pretty annoying and in all honesty, that type of editing error (besides being incorrect) shouldn't be happening.
SJHillman
Posts: 152
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:32 am

Re: Give people a template.

Post by SJHillman »

The problem with a Word template is that different versions of Word render things differently. You can open the same file in Office 2010 and 2003 and it will look very different. Given that you don't need formatting, images, etc, I would rather see them drop support for .doc and only use txt and rtf, which are much more universally supported (particularly txt). txt in particular eliminates the issues of font, line spacing, formatting, etc. I'm also not sure how you would create a template that adds a space for you - the "extra space between paragraphs" option in Word is not the correct way to do it, you need to hit Enter twice for it to give the proper results. CC doesn't follow MLA or APA because neither of those are formatting specifically for web-based articles, which is why CC has its own format. That all said, an example file with a properly formatted article would be helpful for many new authors. Personally, I just keep a template.doc with the correct font and any other settings. When I get a new article idea, I open it up, Save As a new file and start writing.

Automated spellcheck presents a huge problem (regardless of whether you use Perl, Python, PHP, Befunge or LOLCODE) is that CC articles tend to be loaded with uncommon words, jargon and other things that would flag a spellcheck. There's no easy way to implement it without causing a large number of false positives. Spellcheck is so simple to do now that it's not unacceptable for authors to be expected to do it. Repeatedly submitting articles with a lot of spelling errors is also one of the fastest ways to get banned.
Hugh
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:10 pm

Re: Give people a template.

Post by Hugh »

Yeah, we can certainly agree on not ever using Word, but guess what I did? I did exactly as you suggested can't (or shouldn't) be done - I instructed Word to double space the leading under my paragraphs, before I submitted it as RTF. I didn't hit return twice, because in publishing, you just don't do that. In publishing, you keep as many characters as possible out of the mix. No double spaces, etc. I suppose this means I'll have this one tossed back at me now too. Sigh.

You'd look for a symbol like "/r/r" in the document to check the structural issues. That particular one would be a close approximation of two returns.

On the spelling thing, I'm sceptical. Yes, there'd be perhaps a bit of a curve to including specific terms, but many of the pieces I've been reading are probably somewhere on a grade of 8-11 on a readability index. You're absolutely right that the spell check ought to be done by authors before submission.
Constant
Posts: 406
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 10:35 am

Re: Give people a template.

Post by Constant »

Here is a sample of an article that is formatted according to the guidelines

http://www.constant-content.com/about/s ... riters.htm
Hugh
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:10 pm

Re: Give people a template.

Post by Hugh »

That's very helpful.
Thank you. I'm keeping this handy!

But it's not formatted according to the guidelines! Or is it?
Here's what Constant Content says about formatting...

Format
Please professionally format your articles in 12 pt. Times New Roman or Arial black font with single spaced paragraphs and a double space between paragraphs. A full space between paragraphs helps the reader to determine where one paragraph ends and another begins."

If we edit according to the first sentence, this gets rejected, because there's a single space between paragraphs and not two, as per the instructions in the first sentence.
But if we're formatting according to the second sentence, this piece is fine!

I'm not trying to be annoying or pedantic, but either you have rules or you don't. I followed APA (no extra spacing between paragraphs) and was wrong. That's fine. But when I turn to the site for clarification, it's beholding on its owners and editors to have clear and consistent guides. This is neither.
Should there be one line between paragraphs or two?
I've submitted my piece with spacing set to two lines after paragraphs - because that's what it says in the first sentence under formatting.

And anybody who suggests I'm making a big deal out of nothing hasn't had a piece rejected for these reasons.
If nothing else, this has hopefully drawn some attention to the clarity of the guidelines authors are given.
SJHillman
Posts: 152
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:32 am

Re: Give people a template.

Post by SJHillman »

I agree that there is potential for confusion in the rules because it gets difficult to describe the difference between setting Word to doublespace between paragraphs (the wrong way) and actually using two newlines (the right way) without getting too 'wordy'. When submitting in .doc, the entire document should be set to single space. In high school, our typing teachers described it in the same way. They would say double space when they meant to hit Enter twice.

This would be the second paragraph. There is a full line between the paragraphs to clearly delineate them and it's not necessary to use a tab to start the next paragraph.

The other potential source for confusion is with the fonts. "Times New Roman or Arial black font" means it can be in TNR or Arial and the color should be black. However, Arial Black is also the name of a separate font. If I were CC, I would change this to avoid confusion.
TamathaCampbell
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:37 pm

Re: Give people a template.

Post by TamathaCampbell »

Hi there.

I'd also strongly prefer that CC not use an automated spellschecker of any kind. Even a piece written at a middle-school reading level can contain words that spellcheckers don't recognize. All of my single-reed pieces would have been rejected for alleged spelling errors, for example, and there are many writers who cover more technical topics than I do.

Cheers.

Tamatha
Hugh
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:10 pm

Re: Give people a template.

Post by Hugh »

The suggestion of using a spell checker was to make the editors job easier by indicating there may be problems, not eliminate the requirement for a close read entirely. What I was thinking was that the document would simply be run through the app and flagged in some manner if it exceeded a certain number of "basic level" mistakes.
Constant
Posts: 406
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 10:35 am

Re: Give people a template.

Post by Constant »

SJHillman wrote:The other potential source for confusion is with the fonts. "Times New Roman or Arial black font" means it can be in TNR or Arial and the color should be black. However, Arial Black is also the name of a separate font. If I were CC, I would change this to avoid confusion.


Done!
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