[Update: Some of this has been rendered moot now that our site redesign is live. However, everything under the big blue header at the bottom still stands!]
Promoting blogs is the best part of my job. It's also the most work. Even if your topic is unique, your grammar is impeccable, and you've remembered to italicize every name of every game, the process of moving a post from the cblogs to the front page can be cumbersome, even for a professional videogame journalist such as myself.
It came to my attention yesterday via conversation with dedicated community member PhilK3nS3bb3n that it might be helpful for the cblogging community to take a peek behind the curtain -- to see how the sausage is made, so to speak. Armed with a bit more knowledge about the steps we on the community team must take to migrate your blogs from cblog fapfest to front page fame might serve everyone's needs better in the end, we thought, and might be a welcome sight to those who endeavor to see their work garner more recognition.
Thus, this blog. After reading this, it is my hope that you gain a better understanding of what we do here, and maybe pick up a few blogging tips along the way. I'm not going to tell you how to write, because Kauza already did that better than I ever could. Instead, I'm going to give you a bit of insight into what it takes to get your blog on the front page from a technical standpoint. (JRo did a similar post a few years back, in case you need a second opinion!)
Remember, making our jobs easier means we're more likely to promote your work, which is a win-win if I've ever heard one!
Now, without further adieu, allow me to take you on a step-by-step process through the promotion of Dtoider Handy's latest blog.
(Note: Handy's blog was chosen because it was a great example of an excellent idea paired with a wonderful writing voice. It may have had a few grammatical, spelling, and structural errors, but the effort it took to promote it was worth the work. To skip the "sausage-fest" and go straight to the "best practices" part, scroll down a bit to the big blue text.)
IN THE BEGINNING, GOD CREATED THE BBCODE AND THE HTML
The way I see Dtoid is very similar to the way you see it. That is to say, having admin access doesn't allow me to see the Matrix or anything like that. However, there are two noticeable differences between my Dtoid and your Dtoid: the MOD button and the PROMOTE! button.
The MOD button is where I go to spank naughty cbloggers. You don't want me to have to push it. The PROMOTE! button, however, is where I go when you've written an exemplary essay deserving of front page attention.
For example, here's what I see when I look at Handy's blog:
See those buttons in the upper right? That's as deep as my rabbit hole goes, Matrix-wise.
So once I've decided that a blog is worthy of front page promotion like Handy's here, I simply right click and open the PROMOTE! button into a new tab (more on that later). Easy!
Then I'm given a page that looks like this:
Believe it or not, this is what Dtoid's news editors look at all day long.
Barf! See how Handy's once-beautiful blog has turned into a big, steaming pile of unformatted text?
Yeah, this is where the fun part starts.
To turn this hideous monster into something resembling its former glorious self, I cut the text, run it through a BBCode to HTML converter tool, and then paste it back in. That gives me this:
As you can see, it's not much different. However, if I scroll down a bit, I'll find that the BBCode tags have disappeared, and in their place is an image and an italicized caption, just like Handy intended. Progress!
Now that everything is coded correctly, I begin the process of reformatting the paragraph breaks, which, depending on the length of the blog, could involve quite a bit of going back and forth between the original blog (still open in that other tab -- see, told you I would bring that up again) and the new one. Regardless of how well-written a blog is, this part is always arduous.
(Side note: I could technically skip the whole BBCode conversion and paragraph reformatting steps by just copying and pasting the text of the original blog over this new word soup, but that produces so much junk HTML code that it isn't worth the trouble it would cause me later.)
Once I'm happy with the overall format, I then begin the process of editing. This includes:
-Editing the header down to 620x350 (or adding my own header if the blogger neglected to).
-Italicizing all game names.
-Making sure that Xbox is spelled Xbox (not XBox, XBOX, X-Box, etc.), PlayStation is spelled PlayStation (note the capitalized S), and so on.
-General proofreading for spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.
-Making sure all images are uploaded to Dtoid and not linked from some outside source.
You get the idea.
Finally, I change the title if necessary, add it to the schedule, write up a little intro, and tag it with the Promoted Stories tag so that that cool "free beer" banner shows up.
Here's what it'll look like when it hits the front page tonight:
And with that, ladies and gentlemen: SAUSAGE.
Now, for dessert.
THE TL;DR VERSION: HOW TO MAKE OUR JOBS EASIER
I won't go into too much detail here, as most of this should be obvious. But in case it isn't:
1. Proofread your shit! Think of it like this: every misspelled word, run-on sentence, etc. that you leave in your final draft is working against you.
2. Italicize the names of videogames! We even make Jim Sterling do this. And he gets to do pretty much anything he wants.
3. Upload your images to Dtoid! As sexy as Imgur and Photobucket are, if they ever go down or you decide to rearrange your images into albums, your blog loses all its shit. At least if you put them on Dtoid the whole thing falls together! (The only exception to this rule is animated gifs.)
4. Give your blog a header! If you don't pick one yourself I'll have to pick one for you, and nobody wants that. (A lesson Handy just learned the hard way.) Nothing can go up on the front page without a header, and it needs to be 620 pixels wide, 350 pixels tall, and safe for work to make the cut.
5. Use an appropriate title! When we promote a blog, we're going to add the words "Promoted blog:" to the front of your title. Please take this into consideration when naming your blogs! If our little add-on doesn't fit, we'll have to shorten your title using our best judgement.
And that's it! I hope this guide is read the way I intended; I can't stress enough how damn fun it is to promote a blog when the writer has taken the time to craft a quality piece. If you're ever in doubt, click here and browse through the blogs we've promoted in the past; each is a wonderful example of cblogging done right.
Now get back to work! You've got blogs to write :)