Global Voices Online

Author Guidelines

From Global Voices Wiki

Welcome to the Global Voices author guide. This is a reference document to help the community ensure high editorial standards across the entire GV site.

Related articles: Welcome to New Authors | GV Posting Guide | Style Guide | Commenting Guidelines | Decentralised Publishing | Demotix Image Guidelines

Contents

Who is Who on Global Voices?

A lot of people are involved in making Global Voices tick day to day (including you!). Make sure you have at least one editor who is your primary contact person, and that you are subscribed to the appropriate GV Google Groups.

The easiest way to see who is who, is to visit:

Publishing Process

We have two kinds of posts on Global Voices: long form posts and the shorter updates. The long form posts appear on the left/center of the GV homepage, and the short micro-blog updates appear in the right-hand column (these are mostly written by Editors).

The Managing Editor selects which posts are featured at the top of the homepage every day.

Global Voices Authors cannot publish directly onto the GV website. When you write and save a draft of a post, you should email your editor to let them know it is ready to be reviewed and published.

Editors are never automatically notified that posts are ready for review!


Style Guide

For a comprehensive guide on GV style that all authors need to adhere to when posting, see the 2011 Style Guide.

If you have any queries on GV style and formatting that aren't answered in the style guide, please be sure to contact your editor.

'How To' Tutorials & Screencasts

Screencast: How to create a post on Global Voices

Screencast: How to format text in posts on Global Voices

Screencast: Images and thumbnails in posts on Global Voices

Screencast: Links in images and image captions on Global Voices

Screencast: Copyright and Creative Commons Basics on Global Voices

Screencast: Editing your profile on Global Voices

Screencast: How to translate a post for a Lingua website

Screencast: How to embed an audio file into a Global Voices post

Tutorials homepage

Posting Checklist

Before submitting your Global Voices article for review, have you...

General

  • Run a spellcheck
  • Checked your word count - between 500-1,000 words (if more contact your editor)
  • Made sure your name is selected as the author
  • Have you prepared an enticing summary of your article and pasted it into the “Optional Excerpt” box? (Note: If you don’t paste anything into the “Optional Excerpt” box, an excerpt comprising the first 50 words of your article appears on the GV front page.)
  • Added any notes required in note format at bottom of post
  • Checked the relevant categories: Topics, Country, Region, Languages, Photo/Video, Weblog or Update (See Categories Index for guidance)
  • Please do NOT check the “Feature” box, as this is your editor's role
  • Checked the Style Guide for any queries you have: see 2011 Style Guide

Headline

  • Prepared a concise, compelling and descriptive headline, spelt correctly
  • Fits on one line if possible (maximum 8-10 words)

Post Text

  • All quotes have a hyperlink that goes directly to post or comment (not homepage)
  • All hyperlinks work and you added language codes if necessary. If your post links to or quotes non-English language sources, have you included lower case, two letter language tags (e.g. [zh], [es], [ar]) and formatted both the non-English language block quotes and translations appropriately?
  • Ensured links only encompass a few words, not whole sentences
  • Linked to other GV content if relevant
  • All blockquote/translation formatting is correct
  • Explained any unusual/locally specific concepts or words for a global audience. If your post mentions public figures, past events or other terms that may not be familiar to the average reader, have you explained these in the text, or included an explanatory link (eg Wikipedia)?
  • Date formats are correct: 12 February, 2012, (year at first mention)
  • Added in section headers (recommended - bold font, caps proper nouns)
  • Added special coverage text if relevant (top and bottom)

Images

  • Added at least one image or video to the piece (non-compulsory, but advised)
  • Saved any images used as descriptively named files (for example: Bahrain_protest.jpg) before uploading to WordPress
  • Put image in top part of post, visible when first opened (recommended)
  • Right aligned any small images, centre aligned large ones
  • Descriptive caption including source/credit
  • Clear copyright /permission to use is obtained and detailed
  • Source link url
  • Alternative text
  • Title text (shows with mouse over)
  • Selected a good thumbnail image from one of the options given OR created one for better image (100x100 px) and uploaded it instead
  • Added featured image (recommended). Have you looked on Demotix for your images - GV has an agreement whereby we can use any image (see Demotix Image Guidelines)
  • Checked your featured image is the right size (400x300 px)
  • Ensured composition of featured image works - no faces in top 1/4, no text (bad for translations), optimised colour, image included in post or credited at bottom in a note

Video

  • Used [embed][/embed] code for video urls
  • Centre aligned videos

General multimedia

  • Added [WARNING: Graphic content] if relevent
  • Formatted tweets correctly (as text not screenshots)
  • Linked @... handle at start of tweet quote
  • Include all original tweet text - links, picture links, hashtags
  • Blockquote tweet formatting - not screenshots
  • Separated out individual tweets/translations - not put them all as one block

Finally

  • Saved copy of html post in text editor prior to submitting in case of tech errors
  • Notified your regional or language editor that your post is ready for review

Thank you for your work for Global Voices!

Republishing Process

If you have published a post on Global Voices Advocacy or Rising Voices and would you like to have it published on Global Voices Online too, please consult the relevant regional or language editor first, and should they agree, please follow the process below.

Fetching post content in Posts > Add New

The first step is grabbing the URL (link) of the source post that you want to import and entering it in the Lingua Translator box in the New Post screen of the site you are translating for (although it is called 'Lingua' it does not matter if it is from Advocacy or Rising Voices).

  • Go to the source post you want to import, on Global Voices Advocacy or Rising Voices.
  • Copy the url.
  • Go to the Global Voices in English dashboard
  • Go to Posts > Add New
  • Paste the URL of source post into the GV Lingua Translation box.
  • Click the Fetch Post Data button.

This will check that the url is valid, save the translation record and return the content from the source post to your new post. The following information should automatically be populated in your new post based on returned data:

  • Post title
  • Post content
  • Post excerpt (if it exists at the source)
  • All post categories that exist in Global Voices in English. You will need to update the categories under 'Topics'
  • Post thumbnail image (if it exists at the source)
  • Other post metadata (featured images, etc.)
Box after content import

After you fetch content the GV Lingua Translation box will also show you information about the source post to confirm that the source record is working properly. Please ensure that the information is correct and that it links to the post you are importing.

Note: The system is set up to show you errors if there is a problem with your url. Please read any errors carefully and follow their instructions. An error that you need not to worry is the reminder about the categories – just choose the ones that you find equivalent/necessary. If you have continued problems please contact your Editor.

Get Your Post Translated!

Everyone loves seeing their posts translated and featured on the Today on GV Lingua daily newsletter, which showcases the various posts made available into many languages and published on the Lingua Project sites.

But what makes your writing appealing to translators?

In this section, you will see a few tips on how to write posts that are easier to translate – and therefore more attractive to the Lingua volunteers. The starting point is to bear in mind that clear writing is what makes good translations. By writing well, not only do you help to reduce the potential amount of translation errors, but you also make your original posts more understandable for the global community of GV readers whose mother tongue is not necessarily English.

All of these tips are easier said than done, but the most important tip of all, however, is also the easiest to achieve: let yourself be reachable and make yourself available to promptly answer queries that a translator may have when working on your post.

To see the amazing work the Lingua translators do, please check the latest translations page.


Be succint

This is not just about the length of your article – arguably the main source of motivation or discouragement when a translator chooses a post – but also about the way you organize your piece. Avoid long and complex sentences and adopt a uncluttered style. Use short, punchy, well punctuated phrases to make your text much easier to be understood.

According to the Plain English Campaign, "clear writing should have an average sentence length of 15 to 20 words".

In order to write shorter articles, it is a good idea to pick the most relevant part of a blog post to quote, instead of quoting the whole paragraph, especially if it repeats information already provided by you in the introduction or mentioned by other bloggers you quoted.

On the other hand, don't confuse being succinct with being extremely economic with the language. The best way of writing in "telegraphic English" – and therefore making yourself misunderstood – is to omit words that help to clarify the meaning of a sentence: articles, prepositions and verbs used with gerunds. Don't [do it]!

In other words, KISS -> Keep It Short and Simple (also "translated" as Keep It Short and Sweet or Keep It Simple Stupid!, it all depends on context!)


Background info and context

Talking about context, never forget that when it comes to translation context is everything! The word table in Portuguese can be translated into two different words, if it is related to the piece of furniture (mesa) or the graphic with rows and columns, how would the translator know which one to choose? The answer is: trough context.

When writing, have this cultural diversity in mind. Never assume that every translator – in fact every reader – will know the context or background of the issue you are reporting. This doesn't mean that you need to write long, extensive posts: linking to further sources of information is an easy way to provide extra info for those who need it.

Whenever possible and appropriate, if you link to Wikipedia or other multilingual sources such as the BBC or Reuters websites, there is even a chance that the translator will find a same source article on the same subject in the language they are translating your post into, and linking to them, giving the Lingua reader the chance to delve further into the issue your are reporting on.


Standard English word order

While we do want you to be creative when writing for Global Voices, instead of "dumbing" your English down unnecessarily, writing in a standard English word order is a good basic piece of advice: go for the subject + verb + object order.

You may need to use the passive voice, with the object + verb + (subject order), which is perfectly fine to use when the subject is unknown – or there is a need to make a situation sound less hostile.

However, in general and if you don't have a good reason to use the passive voice, it is clearer (and often shorter) to use active verbs, instead of passive ones.


Minimise ambiguity

English is a language already ambiguous enough, but there are ways to make clear what you want to say apart from keeping to everyday English. Please avoid:

  • Homographs: those words that are spelled in the same way but have different meanings; Also, try to use words with their primary dictionary meanings.
  • Slang, technical jargon and neologisms: whenever possible, unless you are sure they are fairly established in English. Local slang is a no-no-please.
  • Metaphors and culturally specific allusions: they might work fantastically in one language but make no sense whatsoever in another.
  • Gibberish: this can be only understood, if at all, in English!

Having said that, if the blogs you quote have a colourful language and you want to reflect this, especially if you are translating them into English, it may suffice if you provide "Translator's/Author's Notes", or just offer a bracketed equivalent or explanation that a non-technical person should reasonably understand. This, in turn, would get translated too and everyone would happily understand.


Spell out acronyms

"Mysterious acronyms are not recommended", twitters Leonard Chien. Truth to be said, it is perfectly fine to use acronyms, but the excess of them make the text less elegant.

However, it is imperative that, when mentioning an acronym in a piece of writing for the first time, you also spell it out, for the benefit of your readers – and translators. Avoid unnecessary abbreviations.


Dates and times

It would be great if instead of stating "tomorrow", "the day before yesterday", "last week" you provide either day of the week or date (in your time zone) of the event you are describing. This would be useful also for late come readers!


Grammatical genders

Unlike English, many languages have grammatical genders. This means that, for example, the adjectives your write to describe bloggers will vary according to their gender. Sometimes, translators can make an informed guess by looking at the blogs and trying to retrieve their name, but that is time consuming and works only in a limited number of cases where the languages are close enough for the translator to make sense of the info available.

You don't need to provide a [f] for female or [m] for male after the blog/blogger's name. An easy way to sort this is using she/he/her/his/him at some point of the sentence. Here is an example:

In a recent post about a deadly chemical leak in a Brazilian river, Paula Góes said:

Lawyer and environmentalist Luiz Felipe Muniz de Souza comments on the consequences of the leak to local communities. [...]

In the above example, the words lawyer and environmentalist would vary according to the blogger's gender. It would have been better if she had written in one of the following ways:

Lawyer and environmentalist Luiz Felipe Muniz de Souza comments on the consequences of the leak to local communities. He says/According to him/In his mind: [...]

Author Resouces

Services and tools to curate content

Twitter

Following Hashtags

Recommended Clients

Facebook

  • Searching specific terms Foupas

Photos

  • Flickr Note: Make use of advanced options.

Rights & Responsibilities

Our broad goals and values are outlined in the Global Voices Manifesto. This document was co-authored by Global Voices contributors and translated to many languages.


Responsibility Guidelines

  • It is the responsibility of both Authors and Editors to communicate with one another in a friendly and respectful manner. We are a community that is built upon trust and friendship across borders.
  • It is the responsibility of Editors to respond to email from Authors expediently, but also for Authors to understand that Editors often travel or may be otherwise unavailable. Editors should communicate when they are offline.
  • Authors submit drafts of their posts for review and editing by Editors. It is the responsibility of the Author to submit accurate and coherent reports that have been spell-checked and prepared to the Author's best ability.
  • Editors are responsible for editing posts so they adhere to Global Voices quality standards for both content and format. Editors should allow Authors to review significant changes before publication, but ultimately Editors have authority to make changes for accuracy and appropriate presentation.
  • Editors answer to Global Voices Managing Editor. If Authors feel wronged or concerned with any aspect of Global Voices work or management, they are welcome to email the Managing Editor directly for advice or mediation.
  • Global Voices Volunteers have one elected representative on the Board of Global Voices who is also available to hear any queries or complaints, and bring them to the Board if necessary.
  • In order to be considered "active", Authors must write regularly (or semi-regularly) for Global Voices and participate to their best ability on mailing lists. If they are "inactive" for more than a few months, they may be removed from mailing lists. But Authors are always welcome to return after any absence!

Protecting Authors

As we all know, higher powers have ways to switch off the internet in moments of crisis and conflict or make people mysteriously disappear. Politics, conflicts, earthquakes, floods. It could really happen anywhere, usually when we least expect it.

Problem: In crazier months, we've previously struggled in several cases to locate alternative contact information for authors (like landline or mobile numbers) and it's made us acutely aware of how important it is for us to keep more information about how to reach authors in case they're not able to respond email. It doesn't matter where you live. This goes for everyone.

Solution: We have now added more fields to the profile information, and we ask authors to enter in the system when they have an account on Global Voices in English. This includes, phone numbers, city of residence, and emergency contact. All this is voluntary, but authors are urged to update their profiles immediately. Only editors will have access to this information.

Please login and visit this link.


Promoting Authors

In addition to the serious safety fields, we have added a few (hopefully) personally rewarding fields for authors to update.

  1. When you enter your Twitter name in your profile, readers who click on the "Tweet" button on any of your articles will be invited to "follow" you on Twitter immediately after.
  2. One of the new fields we have added is "Blog RSS". If you enter the feed of your personal blog, we hope at some point to have a GV community website that pulls in headlines from all the blogs of active authors. It's just an idea (actually, from the Summit) but if you add your feeds we can work on it.
  3. If you fill in all the fields we may be able to display information about authors in more interesting ways (for instance a map) or similar, fun things. So, please fill out ALL the fields.
  4. When you update your biography readers will know about all the exciting things you are working on apart from Global Voices.


Social Media

GV encourages authors to promote their own work and the work of other GV community members; it helps drive traffic to our site and help us continue the important work of the organisation.

Make sure you promote your articles and any other GV content that interest you via social media resources and tool!

See the GV Social Media Guidelines (coming soon) for advice and tips.

Impartiality and Diversity of Opinion

Global Voices strives to keep a neutral tone, so we ask Authors to keep personal opinion restricted to their own blogs, and be fair in quoting multiple voices on a story.

As a community, we are very broadly committed to freedom of expression, peace, and human rights, but our inclusiveness of Authors from so many different backgrounds means we must be open-minded and refrain from making statements for or against different issues on behalf of the whole community.

Covering Conflicts

We have an especially great responsibility to be fair and accurate in times of conflict, where either side is looking to prove they have been wronged. Scrutiny of unknown sources is extremely important, and we want to avoid using sensational language, or repeating numbers of dead or wounded early on in a conflict. Whether our sources are partisan groups, news reporters, or neutral observers such as the United Nations, we should be extremely cautious and never accept "facts" without question.

Reporting Breaking News

"Personal accounts", or translations of really good blog posts giving first hand stories of things that have happened are good ways that GV in particular can add value to breaking news.

Social media storytelling tools such as Storify can help when editors/regions are faced with a massive work load due to breaking news. However, these tools should only be used sparingly. Please consult with your editor regarding their use.

Reporting Suicide Responsibly

Some suicide deaths may be newsworthy, however, it has been acknowledged that the way media covers suicide can influence behavior negatively by contributing to contagion or positively by encouraging help-seeking. Think about reporting on suicide as a health issue, not just in response to a recent death.

As a global website – considering that online news are available at fingerprints and can be easily found through keywords – GVO can have a huge impact on people's decision to take their lives or not, and I hope we all agree we would rather having them keeping their lives.

Although culturally speaking, talking about suicide may differ from country to country, GVO is a global website catering for the whole word, so we need to be very extra careful when bringing ultra sensitive issues like this to a global audience.

Many convincing pieces of research that shows people are affected by how suicide is reported or depicted, both in news and fiction. If the reporting glamourises and/or banalises it – depressed people living at risk can take news as endorsement to support their decision to take their lives. According to the World Health Organisation:

"Suicide is perhaps the most tragic way of ending one’s life. The majority of people who consider suicide are ambivalent. They are not sure that they want to die. One of the many factors that may lead a vulnerable individual to suicide could be publicity about suicides in the media. How the media report on suicide cases can influence other suicides. "

"Clinicians and researchers acknowledge that it is not news coverage of suicide per se, but certain types of news coverage, that increase suicidal behaviour in vulnerable populations. Conversely, certain types of coverage may help to prevent imitation of the suicidal behaviour. Nevertheless, there is always the possibility that publicity about suicide might make the idea of suicide seem “normal”. Repeated and continual coverage of suicide tends to induce and promote suicidal preoccupations, particularly among adolescents and young adults.""

Also according to the World Health Organisation:

"Sensational coverage of suicides should be assiduously avoided, particularly when a celebrity is involved. The coverage should be minimized to the extent possible. Any mental health problem the celebrity may have had should also be acknowledged. Every effort should be made to avoid overstatement. Photographs of the deceased, of the method used and of the scene of the suicide are to be avoided. Front page headlines are never the ideal location for suicide reports."

Reporting, however, can also be used to raise awareness and promote suicide prevention. Websites like Samaritans, Reporting on Suicide and Suicide.org have a lot of information for reporters working on suicide stories to help them do it in a way that will help prevent suicides.


Reporting Suicide on Global Voices

If you decide to write a post, you must adhere to the above mentioned, and also:

  • Add hyperlinks to sources of support to ensure that people in distress can access useful resources quickly.
  • Add the following statement to the end of your post using the "notes" style:

The number one cause for suicide is untreated depression. Depression is treatable and suicide is preventable. You can get help from confidential support lines for the suicidal and those in emotional crisis. Please visit www.befrienders.org to find a suicide prevention helpline in your country.

  • When translating a post about a suicide, localise the statement above to include more specific suicide prevention information available in your language/country.
  • Right after publication, repeat the national suicide prevention lifeline information in the first comment box and close the post for public commentary.

Do and Don't

Below is a quick 'do and don't' list put together by World Health Organisation which you should follow if you decide to go ahead with a news piece about a suicide case – but prior to that, we need to think: is this suicide story really newsworthy? Before writing, please consult the managing editor.

WHAT TO DO

  • Work closely with health authorities in presenting the facts;
  • Refer to suicide as a completed suicide, not a successful one;
  • Present only relevant data, on the inside pages;
  • Highlight alternatives to suicide;
  • Provide information on helplines and community resources;
  • Publicize risk indicators and warning signs.


WHAT NOT TO DO

  • Don’t publish photographs or suicide notes;
  • Don’t report specific details of the method used;
  • Don’t give simplistic reasons;
  • Don’t glorify or sensationalize suicide;
  • Don’t use religious or cultural stereotypes;
  • Don’t apportion blame.

We can also reduce the type of language that may increase suicide risk. Samaritans advises:

USE PHRASES LIKE

  • A suicide
  • Die by suicide
  • Take one’s own life
  • A suicide attempt
  • A completed suicide
  • Person at risk of suicide
  • Help prevent suicide

AVOID PHRASES LIKE

  • A successful suicide attempt
  • An unsuccessful suicide attempt
  • Commit suicide. (Suicide is now decriminalised so it is better not to talk about ‘committing suicide’ but use ‘take one's life’, or ‘die by suicide’ instead.)
  • Suicide victim
  • Just a cry for help
  • Suicide-prone person
  • Stop the spread/epidemic of suicide
  • Suicide ‘tourist’

References and Further Resources

  • Fight the Fog, an informal campaign by European Commission's translators urging writers and speakers to be as clear as possible in their original language.