News Posting Best Practices (Neoseeker)
As for GameGrep, this document will serve as a set of guidelines for contributing news to Neoseeker, if you have signed on with us. Note that this is written from a video game news perspective, though a fair bit of it can be applied for hardware writers too.
 Main Points
- Aim for strong, engaging writing on unique and/or interesting topics combined with a solid layout -- remember publishers and developers do read our website.
- Always read over your work: grammar and spelling are EXTREMELY important!
- Limit source links within text to one or two.
- Try to use former Neoseeker news and reviews and other pages (forums included) as source/reference links where possible.
- Limit the number of words linked as sources (try very short phrases).
- Images and videos should not contain watermarks.
First thing is first, grammar on Neoseeker official news is extremely important. We're not looking for perfect grammar, but it should be as professional as possible. This is about the best grammar resource I've found on the web, so please go through it (at least the parts you're not 100% confident in). In fact, we recommend a good skim even if you are confident.
Some common mistakes include mixing up it's/its, they're/their/there and your/you're. If you're not 100% sure on these, look up the rules. It should help you to remember an apostrophe indicates a separation of two words (i.e. "it's" = it + is, while "its" indicates ownership).
As for spelling, if you use Firefox as your browser, it should have a built-in spellchecker which highlights incorrectly spelled words. Beyond that, http://dictionary.reference.com is your best resource if you're not sure of how to correct mistakes, as it incorporates multiple dictionaries (including the elitist's favourite Merriam-Webster ;)). The site also has tabs for a thesaurus, encyclopedia, translation tools, and a bunch more. Use whatever pleases you. Spelling MUST be correct in all articles.
 Repetition and Flow
Make sure your headline and subheadline don't repeat each other (otherwise they're redundant). Generally you should use the subheadline to elaborate on what the headline says, so the latter should be specific, whereas the former can go either way. Keep these as to the point as possible; leave out unnecessary words. For instance, "Company X is showing off their latest product Y" should be changed to "Company X showing off latest product Y". On that note, always write headlines and subheadlines in the present tense (i.e. "Company X recently showed off latest product Y" should be "Company X shows off latest product Y").
As for article content, here's an example from a recent article to illustrate repetition and how it hinders "flow":
"Gold's Gym Cardio Workout for the Nintendo Wii is the result of the recent teaming of video game publisher and developer Ubisoft and one of the world's most recognized health and fitness companies..."
Try not to use the same words or phrases so close together, especially not in the same sentence. In this case, change it to this:
"Gold's Gym Cardio Workout for the Nintendo Wii is the result of the recent teaming of video game publisher and developer Ubisoft with one of the world's most recognized health and fitness companies..."
If you can't see the difference, look closer and/or read each of them aloud. One word can make a huge difference!
Flow is extremely important, and sentence fragments (i.e. "Jim walked into the store. He picked up some chips. He left.") should be avoided ("Jim walked into the store, picked up some chips, and left.").
Something you will encounter a lot in writing (naturally) is the need to write about a particular game (or hardware or what-have-you, as the case may be). Be sure to avoid repeating yourself in doing this, and in general. For instance, instead of just saying "game" throughout an entire article, use "title", the game's name (shortened if possible, sometimes), and whatever else you can think of to mix things up.
 Word Count
Articles will vary in length depending on the subject matter. Shorter posts are acceptable but must have a minimum word count of 100.
There is no cap on how long an article can be, but keep in mind no one wants to read a wall of text. If your article exceeds 300 to 400 words, break it up with a second image or video.
Quoted segments should not count toward word count.
 Product Profiles
Product profiles relevant to the article must be attached. If there are few links in the article, the first mention of games should link to game profiles, assuming they are not attached under related products.
Here is an example. The focus of the article is not on The Force Unleashed, but because the game is mentioned by name and the article has no other links, we include a link to the Force Unleashed game profile.
Take care not to overburden an article with links. If there are already too many present within an article, linking to profiles becomes a secondary concern.
Note: Always use original sources for your news (the first site that posted it), unless another site adds more information, in which case you can use them.
It's generally best not to use major sources like IGN unless the story is not very popular online. If the news is imperative though, of course, by all means. And this is not to say never use big sites, just generally only if they are the best source of information (or one of the best sources, if you're using multiples). Their size has the advantage of a lot of studios going to them with information, sometimes first and/or exclusively, so they certainly shouldn't be ignored.
On a related point, multiple sources can really liven up a story, since often each has some interesting things of its own to add, whether details or background info or whatever.
Blogs (official and otherwise), small/independent sites, fansites and forums are all great places to look for highly current and not so well known news, especially since a few translate Japanese news, which is where a fair bit of stuff comes from months before we hear word of it. Some good examples are Qj, NeoGAF, Siliconera, Capcom Unity blog, Major Nelson, and the PlayStation blog. Heck, even our own forums sometimes beat us on getting content out there first -- feel free to subscribe to the ones you're interested to keep up to date. We also recommend using Neoseeker's Twitter account to keep up to the minute on what publishers and developers are saying (really, even if you hate Twitter, it's very valuable) -- ask one of us for the password so you can check up.
Press releases should also be a constant source of your news, but be sure to make news based on them "your own" and not to assume everything in them is 100% true (they tend to be hyperbolic). Go here and here to find many of the latest press releases.
Mailing lists/newsletters for companies and/or specific games, press rooms, etc. are also awesome as (sometimes anyway) they offer up to the minute news. Keep in mind occasionally press releases are out of date (sometimes hugely), though mailing lists/newsletters are typically not.
A note about linking your sources: Minimize them within articles (generally 2 max, fewer the better), and never link to the same thing twice (this includes the sources you list at the bottom of the article). Also make sure links aren't too long (a few words or less is ideal). Try not to repeat the sources you do link to within articles, otherwise people are wasting their time clicking them.
Note: In the news system there is a "Source URL" field, use this as the preferred manner of linking to a source article. If you put the source in that field please do not link it again within the article text.
 Preferred content
Note: News must be highly current (within 12 hours, preferably -- 24 can be okay, too if it's really newsworthy and/or not really reported on anywhere else) though the rule is somewhat lenient on weekends as news is harder to come by then.
We aim for a unique collection of news, not just the huge stuff everyone's already reporting on. So keep in mind for example the really special stuff as well as the AAA stuff (whether it's a little known game we feel people should know about like Zeno Clash or a huge title like say, God of War III we know everyone wants to know about). And for these especially, it's best to include something of a personal touch to liven it up as opposed to just sounding like an advertisement (never sound like an ad if at all avoidable, that's what ads are for!).
New asset announcements (screenshots, trailers, etc) are encouraged, but again, personal touch is preferred. Here is a very good example of an article based on new assets, in terms of both layout and write-up.
Aside from announcements and assets, we also write about odd news bits like this one, betas, demos, patches, industry news, and notable interviews, among other things. Feel free of course to add to the mix with anything you feel fits in well.
Here are the sources we recommend using for acquiring your own assets:
- Big Download (Screens, trailers, also good for demo and patch news)
- GamersHell (Videos, also good for press releases, demo and patch news)
- FileFront (Videos, also good for demo and patch news)
Notes about videos:
- Check with editorial staff to see if the trailer in question is available for direct download or if it is has already been uploaded to Neoseeker's own video system.
- When embedding videos, grab them from Neoseekervideos, official game websites or a company's official YouTube channel. Avoid videos taken from other outlets or random fan accounts.
- Always center your videos using the center justify button.
- When embedding videos, always change the width to 650 px, which can be done directly in the embed code. In most cases, a widescreen format can be resized to 650 x 396 px. If the video is not widescreen, adjust height accordingly, but maintain the ratio.
- In the article, above the video, be sure to include the video's title in bold text and a link to the YouTube equivalent from Neoseeker's YouTube account. Here is an example.
- WinFF - use this to convert videos so they upload much more quickly, while still retaining the same end quality. Recommended settings are HQ MPEG4.
- Download helper - Firefox add-on. Use this to download videos from YouTube and the like. Do NOT download .flv files. HQ22/MP4 is what you want if available.
 Formatting (Layout)
For many of your formatting needs, the following highlighted buttons will serve you well:
Note you are free to explore a bit and use the others, but generally you will not need them.
 Default images
Images are always nice to have, and at first you'll notice the uploader has room for two. These are the main images, and you can choose to place them in any of the preset locations or pick manual to place it exactly where you want it (more on this in the manual placement section).
The most common layout style is to place one image top center, and for this you should make sure the image isn't too long ("wide" images strongly preferred, and can be found by using Google Images advanced search, for one), and also meets a minimum width of about 640px. Here is a good example. Some smaller images can be stretched to this width and still look good, but be careful about it.
Alternately, to accomodate users with smaller resolutions, consider placing the image in the middle or bottom of the article. Sometimes the image will be cut off and not look very good however, so keep that in mind as well. If you wish to use a smaller image, make sure it has a width of 150-250px (whether you do this manually and with floating or before uploading), and you place it top left or right (depends on variety of factors, choose what looks best), like here.
When making default images here are style some requirements to follow
Top Image Requirements:
- Images with non-white backgrounds must be at least 640px wide.
- must be no taller than 375px
- white background images can be narrower than 640px wide because the background blends into the article.
- images with white backgrounds must have their top and bottom white space trimmed as much as possible.
The second thing you'll notice is the multi-uploader at the bottom of the page. With this you can upload an indefinite amount of images (50 is the record thus far, but please don't try to break it), which will be thumbnailed and formatted for you automatically. Readers can then click on any image to go to a gallery of all the images you've included, with the initial focus on the one they've selected.
An important note: If you wish to have one default image and want the rest in this format, upload the default image and then drag all the others into the multi-uploader all in one go. If you add a default image, save as pending, and then later add images via the multi-uploader, one of them will show up as your second default image, which you don't want.
 Manual placement
Sometimes, though, the auto-formatting feature won't do exactly what you like it to, or perhaps you'll want to spread out your images somehow, like in this article. To do this, you'll select the manual position option, then copy and paste the thumbnail tag to wherever you'd like the image to be. The tag looks like this:
You can change around the dimensions, which I have marked with XXX. Just make sure you try them out (I preview changes in Photoshop or Paint.NET), so the thumbnail doesn't look all stretched out when it displays. The same goes for any images uploaded via the Java uploader. Keep in mind image files need to be 3000x2000 px or smaller, or else you'll just get a big black box instead of the actual image. Also note typically giving the image(s) centered alignment looks best. To do this, simply highlight the image or images and click the 'center justify' button. Note the same works for videos by clicking on them once and then hitting the button. Done and done.
To prune your article's appearance further, take some time to actually copy and paste the thumbnail tags in an orderly manner. This way you can actually anticipate how the article looks. Otherwise, the images can really mess up the formatting of the entire thing. This is why the pending feature is so awesome -- it lets you preview everything before you publish.
 Getting Text To Flow Around Images
News editors can get text to float around images by inserting the following code:
[image5 link=yes width=150 float=right] Lots of text here to flow around the image.
[image5 link=yes width=150 float=left] >Lots of text here to flow around the image.
This can be useful in a variety of situations, including the use of very small images.
 Inserting full images
As of Sep 21, 09, a new attribute for the image tags was introduced to display images in their full or thumbnail size.
[image6 link=yes show=full] // Example 1 OR [image6 link=yes show=thumb] // Example 2
Example 1 will display image #6 in its full size linked to the news image browser, no matter if the image's a 1600 x 1200 screenshot, or 200 x 100 big; the fullsize original will display on your news. So all writers are responsible for sizing it to look appropriate on the story.
Example 2 will display the thumbnail of image #6 despite of its original size, as well as linked to the news image browser.
In many cases, you may wish to insert a large image which links to its full size and also the gallery, like here. To do this, when you click the Insert button, under Image Info, in the URL line, paste the source location of the image (ends in .jpg). Then under Link tab for URL, paste the URL of the image under the gallery (ends with =xx).
You may mix this attribute with uses of other tags such as float and align.
Note: The width and height attributes ARE NOT respected with show=full in the image tag.
 Other items to note
If you have a problem with image caching, you can remove the original images. Rename the file name before re-uploading, and the problem will usually be solved. Another method is to refresh the cache by hitting Ctrl+F5 on the edit page, and sometimes the article and/or main page too.
If you're running Windows XP, the Image Resizer Powertoy from Microsoft can come in handy for resizing an indefinite number of images at once, if you ever need. Sometimes images you'll download will come in extremely large sizes (dimensions and/or file size), for example.
You can use the pending feature as much as you like to try and perfect your article, just be sure when it is complete, add "(pending)" (without quotes) to the beginning of your headline, so we know when to look at it. If it takes longer than about 20 minutes to be approved, message one of us on MSN, or PM chautemoc or RabidChinaGirl (we're usually around).
As with GG, tie news to game profiles, and click the 'Insert companyid from product' box. This makes it very useful for readers if they want to find out more about the game you're writing about (GG news, release dates, screens, videos, walkthroughs, whatever), and also binds news to the given company.
Use the appropriate categories, too. A story about a Wii game, for example, should be attached to 'Nintendo Consoles' and 'Console games'.
Don't include references to other sites if avoidable, especially in the headline or subheadline -- it looks unprofessional.
Note abandoned articles can be deleted, so if for some reason you do abandon your article, add (Delete) to the headline so we know to get rid of it. An article can be restored, too, but you should be as sure as you can you want it deleted in the first place, as this is a bit of a difficult process.
Any suggestions of your own you have to add, use the discussion page here. :)