Sunday, January 01, 2006


The Basics

What is a blog?

A blog, short for "web log", is a website where users can post entries. Lots of people have personal journals online as blogs, and many newspapers and magazines have started their own blogs. Chances are, whatever you want to read about, someone's writing a blog about it.

Why do writers need a blog?

To write, of course!

One of the main roles of Writers' Community is a source of constructive feedback. The workshop sessions at group meetings are great for this, but we can only get through so many items per meeting. Also, it's very inconvenient for both the author and the other members to read the entirety of a long piece at a meeting.

By posting your writing to the blog, you make it available to the entire membership of Writers' Community to read and comment on. If you can't make meetings, would rather avoid the spotlight at them, or just have work that the usual meeting environment isn't conducive to, a blog post is a great way to get your work out there and read.

Where is the blog? . Take a look!

How do I ...

... join the blog?

It's really easy! Our blog is hosted on Blogger, so if you're already blogging with Blogger, then just send me an email ( and I'll send you an invite.

If you're not already using Blogger, do you have a Google Account (e.g. for Google Mail, Google Reader, etc.) ? If so, you're already set up to use Blogger! Just go to Blogger and log in with your Google Account. Once you've accepted your invitation, you'll see the Writers' Community blog there on your Blogger home page.

If you don't have a Google Account, don't worry - it's really easy to get one. Just go to Create a Google Account and fill out the form there. A confirmation e-mail will go to the address you provided. (Don't worry if it's not there right away; mine took a few minutes to arrive.) Once you have the Google Account, request an invitation and accept it when you receive it. Then log into Blogger and our blog should be there on your home page!

... post on the blog?

The easiest way is to go through the Blogger website. Log into Blogger and click the "New Post" link under "UM Writers' Community." This opens up a page where you can create a post. Click "Publish Post" when you're done, and voila! Your writing is on the blog!

If you're a more advanced user and you want a stand-alone client for Blogger - well, I don't know of a good one, but ScribeFire is a nice Firefox extension you may want to try.

... get help from a real person?

See the "Contact Us" section at the bottom of the FAQ.

The Not-So-Basics

What about copyright or other ownership issues?

When you put your work on the Internet, it becomes available for everyone to see. At present, the blog is not members-only for readership - although this may change in the near future. Even if we chose to make it so, however, we understand that some members may have concerns about their work being plagiarized or otherwise misused.

First of all, Blogger themselves explicitly disavow any ownership over your work and in fact, for liability reasons, want to distance themselves from it as much as possible. You don't have to worry about some Blogger executive using a clever phrase from your story as a marketing gimmick and making millions from it while leaving you high and dry.

However, if you're worried about other users like yourself, the Creative Commons License is something you may want to look into. Without going into detail, it allows certain types of fair use without giving your work away entirely. Please read more - the Wikipedia article is pretty good - if you're interested, and feel free to append the Creative Commons license blurb to the end of your posts.

As for you, the poster, plagiarizing content: just don't.

Are there any restrictions on what I can post?

The line between art and obscenity is so contentious that we're not going to take a firm stance on it. Just keep the following in mind:

We're a student organization and are therefore automatically subject to certain de facto restrictions, especially when it comes to issues of race, ethnicity, gender identity, etc. Please don't bring the wrath of the University down onto us.

Blogger has its own rules about obscene content, but that's primarily user-driven - a user can flag a post and, if enough flags are thrown, bad things can start to happen. Let's try to avoid bad things.

If you're ever in doubt, consider letting a core member take a look and getting their opinion.

What about post length? Can I submit my 50 page story?

Absolutely! However, we do ask that you check the guide on how to make a long post first and follow those instructions. This helps keep the front page of the blog clean and will hopefully contribute to everyone's happiness.

Why does my post look weird?

If you paste into the "Compose" tab from a word processor, there's a good chance that some of the formatting will be lost. I don't know of a good way to deal with this, but here's something that seems to work for most members:

Instead of copying and pasting directly from your word processor to the blog, first paste into a text editor, such as Notepad (on Windows) or TextEdit (on Mac). Then paste from the text editor into the blog, and re-do the formatting using Blogger's toolbar.

Can't I just use HTML/CSS to format my posts?

Of course! If you know HTML and/or CSS and want to format your posts that way, feel free. Just click on the Edit HTML tab on the New Post page to get started.

However, there are a few restrictions. Hopefully you're all a decent, happy, and loving group of people, and won't abuse your freedoms, but there are a few rules you should be aware of:

"With great power comes great responsibility" : Don't deliberately mess with the layout of the blog or other people's posts. If we find destructive content, we'll remove it. If you're clever enough to pull off something like that, do it on a blog where the readers will be impressed by it. We'll just be sad.

"Oh my god, look at her post. It is so big" : If you put up a really, really long post (as discussed above), please refer to How to make a long post

"The goggles, they do nothing!" : If your post has a flashing yellow background with flashing green text and pictures of tiny dinosaurs marching around the perimeter, we reserve the right to hide it behind a link saying "Click Here To View Post". It'll still be there, but users will have to click that link to view the post, keeping the front page clean and providing a layer of protection for those of us who prefer to keep our brains unexploded.

Contact Us

So who's in charge, anyway?

The powers that be have seen fit to delegate all things blog to lesser beings; two of us, specifically.

Right now, the blog is administered by Hafizah Omar. I send member invitations, I maintain the modifications to the template, and I implement new features like post previews and in-line comment viewing.

You can email me at (

This post is originally written by Neil who has since left us for greener pastures.