General Blog Writing Rules
– Focus on the topic of Next Nature. Read the Philosophy Page, get the Next Nature Appzine for iPad or watch the video lecture.
– Use the word “nature” thoughtfully. Keep in mind the Next Nature is not about nature as most people understand it.
– Write for a general internet audience (that is, assume that they are both curious and easily distracted). Assume a high-school level of education.
– When writing, keep in mind that thousands of people will read your words (average 3000+ visitors a day).
– Think before you blog: What makes the subject of your post fascinating, weird, inspiring, or revolutionary?
– Blog qualitative, not quantitative. There are enough posts. We need more good ones.
– Unless you are a philosopher, avoid philosophizing, vague assertions, and generalizations. Stick to reporting concrete observations.
– It is often best to write a rough draft, and then return to it after a few hours or a day or so. You’ll have a fresher perspective, and can better judge if the post is suitable for Next Nature.
– Back up what you say with facts or examples.
Top Seven Reasons Your Post Will NOT Be Published
Many problems can be corrected, but editors will not publish a post if it contains any of the following:
1. No image.
2. Do not plagiarize! Cut-and-pasted articles, verbatim sentences, or Wikipedia summaries will all earn a rejection.
3. The source of stories and images do not receive proper credit.
4. Not written in English.
5. The same story, or a very similar one, has previously appeared on the blog.
6. Unrelated to the theme of next nature. If it does not fit in with the concepts of “nature becomes culture” or “culture becomes nature”, it likely does not belong on the blog.
7. It’s clear that you have not used the “preview post” button. Using this function will help you spot many problems that are not apparent in the WordPress back-end.
How to Select a Topic for a Post
MOST IMPORTANT: Search our website for your story before you even start writing. We have thousands of posts, so it’s likely that your story has been covered before. Some topics, such as lab animals with GFP genes, algae farming, or cell phone towers disguised as trees, have been written about extensively. Make sure you have something new to say if you are going to cover a topic that the blog has discussed either frequently or recently. The website editors would be happy to provide guidance about your topic.
– Only cover one topic per post.
– Posts that summarize several related technologies, concepts or research projects are often very weak.
– Essays are by invite only.
– Check the Themes Page to see if your idea fits in a certain theme. If there is no theme that fits with your story, it probably doesn’t belong on the blog. Every post has to be strongly related to a Theme (Featured Theme).
– Search weird places for topics. Everyone tends to read the same few news sources. Drawing unique observations from your daily life is one way to produce original content.
– Do not talk about yourself unless you have a compelling reason to do so. This is suitable for personal reflection but not for reporting news.
– Avoid posting your art project, thesis, or the work of friends. Notify a site editor if you think you work is suitable for the site.
– NextNature.net is primarily a research blog. Consider if your post will still be relevant after a year.
– Avoid vague, winding philosophical observations, especially if you are an inexperienced writer. Rather, share an observation on a scientific breakthrough or an interesting design piece.
Examples of good blog posts:
Norwegian Boy saves Sister using World of Warcraft Skills (Virtual for real)
Cough in your Cellphone, not your sleeve (Intimate Technology)
Will Bioluminescent Trees replace Streetlights? (Hypernature)
Cavemen used ‘Facebook’ already (Back to the Tribe)
Designing Bugs the Eat Plastic (Designed by Evolution)
Bacteria that turn waste into petrol (Microbial Factories)
Living Root Bridges (Gardening Complexity)
Wifi Dowsing Rod (Calm technology)
Who Needs Real Humans? Not H&M (People as Products)
Hurricane Control causes a Storm of Lawsuits (Wild Systems)
Wallpaper Blooms when the Heat is on (Information in the Environment)
Cellphone Minutes are the Next Currency (Virtual for Real)
Writing a Post Title
– Choose a catchy title that clearly relates to the post. Try to include a verb in the title. It’s better to be specific and slightly dull than vague but cute: say “Surprising Evidence that Our Lifespans Could Double” rather than “Let’s Live Forever!”
– Capitalize every word in the title except for articles such as “the, an, a” etc.
– The title must fit on one or two lines. Make sure there is not a single orphan word on the second line, as this looks visually unappealing.
Choosing and Formatting Images
– Every post must start with a strong image. Nature Nature is a highly visual blog. Images must be full-bleed. That is, not white borders around the image.
– All images must be 650 x 400 pixels, or 1280 x 450 pixels for full width images. Do NOT upload an image smaller than 530 pixels wide.
– To put an image at the top of the post: use the ‘featured image’ box on the bottom right side of the post editing page. Simply inserting an image at the top of your blog post will not work!
– Additional images should be placed in the body of the text using the “upload/insert” function.
– If you see a strange dotted line beneath an image in the “preview” function: Click on the image in the back-end, and select “none” for “link URL”.
– Rename images with descriptive words (2 or 3 connected by -) and add Alt Text when you upload it in Media (short sentence, 4-6 words, describing what you see in the image).
For writers: Do not add tags. Editors will determine which tags apply to your article.
For editors: Tags are like book chapters or philosophical concepts. They should apply to whole groups of posts and be connected to the next nature theme. If a post doesn’t have at least three relevant tags, it probably shouldn’t be on the site.
– ALWAYS credit sources for stories, quotes and images. Do not use images if the author has specifically prohibited sharing.
– At the bottom of the post, use this format: Story via Boing Boing. Image via The New York Times. Embed sources as hyperlinks.
– Do NOT simply cut-and-paste URLs into a post. This looks ugly and lazy.
– Books, artworks, films, newspapers, journals, magazine poems and plays are italicized
– Articles, gallery or museum exhibitions, and songs have “double quotes”
– Academic-style references are only necessary for essays. Otherwise use hyperlinks to credit your sources.
– For quotes shorter than two lines: Use double quotation marks “like this”.
– For quotes longer than two lines: Start a new paragraph and use italics.
Basic Style Tips
It’s better to use short words and short sentences. Strive to be as clear and concise as possible. Do not use convoluted sentences or unwieldy words just for their own sake. This is especially important if English is not your first language.
Spelling and Capitalization
– Use American spelling.
– They’re = they are. Their = possessive.
– It’s = it is. Its = possessive.
– Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube are capitalized.
– “Internet” is not capitalized in the body of a sentence.
– Spell numbers one through nine, after that, use numerals.
– Spell out a number if it begins the sentence.
– Use “18th century” not “eighteenth century”
– Italicize any word from a foreign language that is nonstandard in English. For instance, avant-garde doesn’t need to be italicized, but avant la lettre should be.
– Only italicize a foreign word the first time it is used.
– Use all “special” punctuation sparingly.
– Using excessive dashes – like this – can be annoying – and intrusive.
– If you use dashes, use an en dash to separate thoughts – hyphens are only used to connect words like “co-option” or “un-American.”
– Avoid parenthesis. Use commas instead to offset a thought.
– Scare quotes are “fine” to indicate irony, but don’t “overuse” them.
– Use semicolons correctly.
– Use colons correctly. Capitalize the next word after a colon.
– Apostrophe + s indicates possession, not a plural. “The animal’s animals were very animalistic.”
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