One the big features a member of In Lou We Trust or any other SBNation blog has is the ability to post their own opinions and analyses in a FanPost all on their own. Of course, membership is entirely free for SBN and ILWT.
What is a FanPost?
A FanPost is a post made by you, instead of me, Matt, Tom, Kevin, and/or Tibbs. Yes, you, the fan.
What powers do I have in making a FanPost?
Short of some writer-specific features, you have the same platform that we have. The same formatting tools (save for a shortcut to use a justified alignment) as well as the Auto-Tagger and ability to Tweet you FanPost. Likewise, your FanPost can be searched for as well as featured if it's superb.
What can I make a FanPost about?
Anything Devils-related and/or hockey-related that is not already discussed on the front page (e.g. don't just post up news since Tibbs does it, previews/recaps because Steve and I do it, etc.). Here are some examples:
A different opinion about a recent event with the Devils, such as a recent run of games or some breaking news.
Devils management and/or business-practices.
The Rock itself
Devils fans (e.g. rituals, communication, chants, etc.)
The Devils' minor league teams in Lowell and Trenton
The Devils' prospects
Opinion/analysis about the Devils (or the league including a focus on the Devils)
I'm being a bit vague if only because the range of ideas is wide. I want to know what other opinions and thoughts are out there by the Devils, In Lou We Trust isn't meant to be an echo-chamber for just what I write. I'd like to develop a smart community.
What does the FanPost platform look like?
The blank platform will have a field for the headline, a big space for the body in Visual View (What You See Is What You Get, the tab switches it to raw HTML), and some additional icons. I made this short diagram explaining what all the buttons on the platform. Apologies if it isn't particularly clear:
You don't need to add a "jump," which just creates a break for the FanPost that forces readers to select "Click here to continue" to read the post, incidentally.
Below this window is a section for quick help, the Auto-Tag button (must use before publishing), a Preview button for previewing your post before publishing (highly recommended for new users), and a Publish button.
What rules apply for FanPosts?
First and foremost, the general rules and guidelines apply to FanPosts as they do to FanShots and regular comments. So keep those in mind as you write a FanPost; especially, the rules regarding plagiarism and linking sources.
I must emphasize that FANPOSTS BY USERS ARE NOT TO BE USED TO ADVERTISE/SELL A PRODUCT.
There are some additional special rules & guidelines regarding FanPosts.
Matt, Kevin, Tom, Tibbs, and I reserve the right to delete and/or edit FanPosts as necessary. More likely than not, we'll request a change or publicly state what it is out of laziness (we're not going to clean up your FanPosts) and openness more than anything else. Deletion without notice, however, is our right.
Do not make a FanPost about something that is regularly posted like Tibbs' news links, a preview/recap from either Steve or myself. Don't make a FanPost if what you have to say can go into a comment into a GameThread or some other post unless you have something substantial to say.
FanPosts from here on out will not only have a 75 word minimum but there must be some actual content from you, the user. No more will I allow FanPosts that just quote an article or link to an article and ask "What do you think." You have to provide some kind of original opinion or analysis. If you don't have any, then those should be FanShots anyway, not FanPosts. (Go here for FanShot Guidelines)
Likewise, do not re-post something you posted somewhere else as a FanPost without some kind of alteration. No, I don't mean changing a word here and there. Put a Devils-centric spin on it; give it a different headline; etc. - do something substantially different.
If you make a FanPost, be prepared for disagreements and criticism. If I made a bad post on the front page or if I give a poor opinion or if someone just doesn't agree with what I wrote, I would be called out on it. If you make a FanPost, be prepared for relevant criticism. I won't let things get out of hand, but I'm including this to note that no one is above criticism regardless of who wrote it and what it is about. (Related note: If you just registered and the first thing you do is make a FanPost, then expect closer scrutiny)
Using the formatting tools on the platform isn't just a suggestion, it's required. I'm going to pay special attention to how links and quotes are used given that the platform makes it easy to include them in a post. There are easy-to-use buttons to insert links and quote text on the platform; they should be used.
How do I write a good FanPost? What are some recommended guidelines?
Here are some key points to writing a good post based on my own experience and inspired by Japers' Rink's guide and the FanPost/FanShot guide at Bleed Cubbie Blue. I suggest reading those just for additional perspective.
Ask yourself, is what I'm writing suitable for a FanPost or a FanShot? If all you want to do is bring people's attention to an article, a picture, a quote, or a video, then make a FanShot. If you have much more to say about something you found, then make a FanPost.
Comments are not FanPosts. Remember that you shouldn't be making a FanPost for a quick, emotional response after something that happened in a game or shortly thereafter. They are meant for comments in GameThreads and recap posts and such. FanPosts need to be more substantial.
Headlines: FanPosts will appear on the right side of the mainpage and only the headline will appear. So an appropriate yet eye-catching headline is important if you want people to read your opinion.
The Subject should be Relevant: As noted, FanPosts should be Devils-related or hockey-related. At the same time, I wouldn't make a FanPost today about something that has been discussed recently unless you have something new to bring to the discussion.
Remember that (usually) a FanPost is Your Opinion: The best way to encourage discussion is to give your take on an issue. Make your opinion as strong as possible with data, examples, other information, and whatever else that can back up your opinion. Don't just say, for example, "Colin White sucks" - tell us why you think he does and provide evidence for it. That will make for a better FanPost and drive more discussion beyond your main point.
Remember that you're writing for other people: This means you should check for any spelling mistakes, utilize proper punctuation, include any links to what you're referring to (Use the Link tool! Don't just copy and paste the URL!), add relevant information (e.g. if you're discussing trades, you may want to include the players' cap hit, their stats, etc.), and check to see if the post itself isn't just walls of text. I'm not looking for pristine writing, I'm definitely not perfect. But readers will take you far more seriously if you avoid really dumb errors.
Lastly, a FanPost is Your Time to Shine: This is your time to shine, for other people to read what you think or what you found out about something Devils related. You'd be very surprised as to who reads the blog. Far, far many more people just look instead of commenting, so it is to your benefit that you do the best you can on the post. This doesn't mean you have to spend an entire day/week/month, but it does mean you should spend more than 5 minutes on a post. So take that extra effort to check up on salaries, stats, and anything else important.
Why all of these rules and guidelines for FanPosts?
Again, far more people read In Lou We Trust than you may think and I want to cultivate a smart community of varying opinions. I want to know what's on your mind, your angle on events, and bring up some issue or viewpoint on areas that has not been covered recently on the front page. I want to say, "Here, this is a good FanPost, people should read it." To do that, though, there need to be rules and guidelines to establish some base level of quality.
What are some good examples of a good FanPost?
Here are some good examples of FanPosts by ILWT users in recent months. Read these to get an idea of what is involved in a good FanPost:
- Back in June 2009, user thejerseydevil put together this short draft guide. Informative and organized. The poll was a nice touch and it generated a good discussion.
- User richer44 put together a breakdown of the Devils' strength of schedule shortly into the new year for this season.
- Devilssection21fan included enough content to register a complaint about Devils' management and provided his own opinion about the Devils' attendance issues. It led to a rather substantial set of comments about the team's marketing and advertising as well.
- Special circumstances can lead to some particular experiences. User pepe22 went to the Devils-Flyers game on February 10, in the midst of a snowstorm in New Jersey. He had some complaints about his experience. I'm highlighting this because there's actual insight and opinion in there from his own experience; this isn't just a knee-jerk reaction and that what makes it a decent read.
- While there was already front page discussion about it, Tyler Bleszinski put his thoughts on the Ilya Kovalchuk trade. It was well-written, the opinion and reasoning behind it were sound, and so it turned out to be a good FanPost.
- They all don't have to be serious. Sean Zandberg of Nucks Misconduct shared this little spoof of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" after Ilya Kovalchuk was traded to New Jersey.
- Can a FanPost be used to list some problems or complaints about the Devils' performance? Sure. But do it like user Wingfan122 about the Devils' pre-Olympic slide. The user put a lot of thought into it and it made for an interesting read - a lot better than something short like "This team is bad."
- You can use a FanPost for historical purposes. For example, here is user NJmetal15's countdown of the 10 worst Devils of the last 10 years. Want another example? OK, here's user Devilssection21fan playoff record breakdown of the previous decade from August 2009.
- Any FanPost I haven't linked here but promoted to the front page is of high enough quality. Read them not because they are worth your time but also to learn how the user wrote it, presented their points, and so forth.
OK, what if I have any questions? What if I have an idea for a FanPost or have a draft, can you look at it?
Sure. E-mail me with any questions you have about FanPosts, I'll try to be as helpful as possible.