BTD 101: An Overview of Posting and Commenting

It's now been over a year since Building the Dam made the migration to the new SB Nation platform. Many of us have learned the new system together, but I've never put together an extensive guide on how to use the features this site offers. Now I have.

For those of you who are new, make sure you read the SB Nation Welcome Guide for a primer on how things are structured around here. After that, read on below for a in-depth guide for Building the Dam. I would like to personally welcome all of you who have recently joined. I urge you to read this post in it's entirety, and begin to delve into conversation here. I will be providing more discussion topics in the next few days as we prepare for the TCU game on Saturday. 

Thanks go out to many SB Nation colleagues who have paved the way for me by posting similar guides for their communities. Much of what you see here have been adapted from posts that appeared on Red ReporterBleed Cubbie BlueSouth Side Sox, and Bruins Nation

Follow me after the jump for an extended guide into FanPosts, FanShots and commenting.

FanShots

FanShots are quick posts, links, images or videos from around the internet -- it's not just for photos, there are several different types of things you can put in a FanShot.

When Should You Post a FanShot?

  • Whenever you find a link, a quote, a video, a photo, around the internet that you think fellow BTD members will enjoy.
  • When you don't have any commentary to add other than your link, video, photo or quote.
  • When you can't meet the 75 word minimum for a FanPos

How Do You Post a FanShot?

 

1. Click "New FanShot" -- Seems simple, right? While logged in, you can visit any page of BTD and click the handy "New FanShot" button. Enter the link or pic URL in the proper place.

2. Use the FanShot Bookmarklet -- Clicking and dragging the "Share on SB*Nation" button (which you can find here at the top of the FanShot section), right underneath the top ad bar; just click "FANSHOTS" on the front page to get there) to your bookmarks bar (the area under your address bar in your browser) will allow you to post to BTD quickly and easily while browsing the internet.

Once you have a "Share on SB*Nation" button in your browser, you have one-click posting of FanShots at your fingertips. Clicking the button will bring up a dialog box that includes this area:

Screen_shot_2010-08-31_at_10

Just select the type of FanShot you wish to post, apply the proper tags (more later) and hit publish.

If your FanShot gets promoted to the Front Page of Building the Dam, it will look like these:

Screen_shot_2010-08-31_at_10

FanPosts

FanPosts are just like front page stories, except they're written by you, the BTD reader. You can help keep the best FanPosts on the list longer by recommending them using the "Rec" link at the bottom of the post. Two recommendations puts a FanPost on the rec list.

What makes a good FanPost?

  • Make It Substantial. When I say "substantial", I don't mean it has to be a dissertation or manifesto. But if you see the dreaded 75 word warning, it's either time to put some more thought into your FanPost or start over. If your post contains something like this:
    words words words words words words words words words words words words words words words words

    ... then it's probably better as a FanShot.

  • Make It Relevant. Your FanPost should relate to OSU or OSU athletics in some way. If you want to talk about other sports teams there are sites on SB Nation for that. Of course you are more than welcome to write about other sports teams if there is an angle that is specific to the Oregon State community. For example, more than ok to bring up your pro teams if it has OSU alums.

    If you want to do nothing more than post a link to your site, you're probably a spammer, and should expect your FanPost to be swiftly removed. If all you want to do is post a link to a news story or other online article or page, try a FanShot.

  • Give it a Descriptive Headline -- "Question" may, in fact, be what you are posting, a question you want us to consider; but that doesn't exactly inform us what the topic is about. Your headline should be tight, concise, and informative, above all else, with bonus points for creativity.
  • If you do have some breaking news, post away. Even though I try, there's no way I can be the first to hear/read/see every piece of breaking OSU news. That's where you can help. The tech team at SB Nation has built a powerful WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. The best way I can explain is that you should take time to browse over the icons to find out how they work. This is something I have self-taught myself over the years, and I think it's something you all can pick it up if you are willing to be patient. 
  • If you know how to format using Microsoft Word, you can make a perfectly formatted FanPost here at BTD: Start by opening Word and write your post completely in Word, making all your formatting adjustments there. Highlight and Copy your work. Click "New FanPost" on Building the Dam, then click the "Paste From Word" icon (upper right icon in the WYSIWYG editor). Paste your content into the dialog box, and click insert.

Tagging

Screen_shot_2010-08-31_at_10

To the right of the text area in FanShots and at the bottom of FanPosts you'll find the area for tagging your posts, as shown in the illustration above. Tagging is important because it helps your content show up in searches and in dynamically-rendered content areas, such as on a player page or in the new "More from Building the Dam" box at the bottom of each post. It helps increase your post's exposure.

Tagging is simple. Just type the topics of your post into the area cleverly labeled "tags." Use commas to separate tags, as shown above. If you type a tag that's already been used at BTD, it'll begin to autocomplete.

Players and Teams have their own dedicated area, which will help link your posts to the proper Player and Team Pages. These fields also auto complete, just begin typing the player's name and it should fill in. You can see that I typed "Ryan Katz" into this field and his name appeared in the drop-down list. 

If you want to have a poll with your post -- click "Attach Poll". The options that come up are self-explanatory; just remember to save your poll when you're done. The "Attach Event" option allows you to tie your post to a specific game. Clicking the "Attach Event" button will bring up a box that lists the Beavers' past and future games -- click the drop-down box to select "completed", "upcoming" or "in progress". Clicking the Add button will make sure you post appears on the page for that specific game.

Commenting

The basic layout of BTD is pretty simple: three columns, with links to various items on the left and and right sides and the primary site content down the middle. In the middle will be news items, Game Threads, game recaps, and other fun stuff.

One thing you may find in an article on the front page is a link that says "Continue reading this post" at the end. Be sure to click that to get to the remainder of the post (as you did with this one). If that link is not there, just click the "Comments" link to start reading the comments.

Navigating Comments

Right before the actual comments, you'll see this:

Comment options

Display lets you change the view of the comments from Expanded (subjects and text) to Collapsed (just subjects are visible).

Checking the Auto-refresh box will toggle on and off the auto-refresh feature in the comments section. When checked on, new comments added to the thread will magically appear with a little note popping up in the corner with the name of the poster who made the latest comment.

Below those two boxes you'll see keyboard commands for navigating a thread. They work as follows:

  • - using the c key will take you to the first unread comment in the thread. This key does not mark a comment as read. Unread comments show up highlighted in light yellow.
  • x - using the x key will mark the current comment with focus as read. This is how I typically navigate the comments, using c and x in tandem.
  • - the z key will combine the actions of c and x. One note of caution: often, if a new comment is added above the comment currently with focus (the one you're on), using z or x will actually mark that comment as read before you've read it. I suggest that whenever you see a new comment box pop up in the corner, pushing the c-button before hitting z or x to make sure you don't mark comments above your current point as read.
  • - to reply to the current comment with focus, simply press the r key and a reply box will appear. Please try to use the r key (or click "reply") when you are responding to a specific comment; this helps keep a conversation properly threaded.

Reading Comments

When you get into the comments section, you'll see:

The subject line - the bolded area is the subject line. Clicking the subject will collapse the text below it down; click a second time to bring the text back.

Username/avatar - you can click the commenter's username or their avatar on the far right of the screen and it will take you to that person's SB Nation profile page.

Date/time - after the username is the date/time of the comment. This is also where you will find a link for that specific comment. If you want to refer to a comment in another place, copy the link from the date of the comment and use that URL for your reference.

up - the up link only appears for comments that are a reply to another comment. Clicking up will take you to the "parent" comment to which the current comment is a reply. This is particularly useful in a long thread with many replies to a single comment.

reply - use this link to reply to that comment. Your response will be indented one level and put below the comment you reply to in order based on when responses happened.

actions - this is a special link that allows you to recommend or flag a post. When you click actions, two more links should become visible, labeled Flag and Rec:

The Flag link should be used if you find something offensive or if the commenter is being a troll or posting spam. I hope it won't be necessary to use this button too much. If you Flag a comment, nothing will be visible to you or others, but I will see it in red.

The Rec link allows you to recognize a post that you find particularly informative, useful or that you think others would like to see. At the end of the commenter's line, you'll see a rec count (e.g. 2 Recs). If a comment gets two recommendations, it will turn green and get a big asterisk (not steroid-induced) in front of it.

Posting Comments

When it comes time for you to finally say something within a thread, you can do so via the comment box. This box is the bottom of every thread, or if you'd like to respond to a specific comment, it will magically appear when you click the reply link. As noted above, it would really help if you'd click the "reply" link if you are replying to a specific comment; this will help organize the comments in each post by thread and show each "conversation" as it develops.

Posting Images, Videos And Links In Threads

If you want to post a link in a thread, don't just copy/paste the link into the posting box. Instead, first highlight the text you want to be linkable, and then click the icon at the top of the box that looks like a link. Doing that will call up a dialogue box that looks like this:

Put links here!

Then, copy/paste the URL into the box. If, say, you have highlighted text that says "Click here to go to OSU Athletics' Official Site", and then enter "http://www.osubeavers.com" into the dialogue box, you will get a clickable link that looks like this (don't put the quote marks in the box or your highlighted text):

Click here to go to OSU Athletics' Official Site

If you check the "Open in new window" check box, your links won't navigate away from your post.

For videos, if you find a YouTube video that you want to post in a thread or post (as opposed to a FanShot, where you can post it directly, using the Video tab), find the EMBED code on the YouTube page. It should look something like this:


Paste the above code into your post and you'll get the following video:

 

Thanks for reading this long and detailed post. If you can put some of these suggestions into your own posts and comments, they'll look better and you're more likely to get many more people reading them.

Now ... fire away. E-mail me with any questions. 

--Jake | (jake.buildingthedam@gmail.com)

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