FanPost

BTB 101: Extended Guide to Creating Killer FanPosts

Many of you have been around BTB for quite a while now, but we've also had quite a number of new members joining us. Since August 2010, we've added almost 2,000 new members here at BTB. The purpose of this post is to provide some ticks and trips on creating superior FanPosts for those of you who are new, or still not quite acclimated to the system, as well as for our regulars, who might still pick up a thing or two here.

Some of the stuff below is cobbled together from other SB nation sites, most of the specific how-to stuff is new, all of it can be useful if and when you write a PanPost. If you do find it useful, you might want to bookmark this post for later reference.

Like it or not, to some extent you will be judged not just by the content of your FanPost, but also by the quality of your writing and its presentation. So here's an extended guide on how to make yourself look good online.

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 ideally, it should contain more than a single thought that could have just as well been made as a comment in any thread. Ignore this and you will be hunted down and/or ridiculed by our resident FanShot expert, thebigham.
  • Make It Coherent. Just to get it clear upfront, BTB is NOT a message board. It isn't a talk radio call-in show. It is not a texting platform for your cellphone. It is not a James Joyce novel where stream of consciousness writing is an acceptable form of discourse. You are much more likely to get someone to read your post if you follow some very simple rules:
  • Use proper spelling.

    - You're not sending a text message. There's no need 4 U 2 use "time saving" abbreviations which only lessen the value of your post. It's like writing a position paper in crayon.

    - Proper capitalization is not for wimps: random capitalization can Leave Many readers searching For hidden meaning in A sentence Or paragraph where no subtext exists.

    - Your keyboard has feelings too. Don't type in all caps. Don't abuse the exclamation mark. Be gentle to the question mark.

    Use punctuation. You wouldn't stand up and attempt to give a speech in one breath - at least you shouldn't - and you shouldn't try to make your FanPost one big sentence that never ends.

    The paragraph is your friend. There is something about reading text online that makes reading a large block of text unpleasant and sometimes downright difficult. Use paragraphs liberally.

    Give it a descriptive headline. "BTB Poll" may, in fact, be what you are posting, but it doesn't exactly inform your potential readers what the topic is about. Your headline should be informative, above all else, with bonus points for creativity.

    Examples:

    Poor Headline: Tashard Choice!
    Good Headline: Who should start as running back for the Cowboys?

    Poor Headline: Tashard Choice?
    Good Headline: Tashard Choice Rumored To Be On The Trading Block

    Poor Headline: My thoughts.
    Good Headline: Why Tashard is the right choice for the Cowboys.

    Proper Formatting

    You'd be amazed how much better your piece will be received if it's formatted properly. Proper formatting is like a killer profile pic on a dating site. Nobody will read a profile that has the picture of an ugly hag on it.

    Likewise, if I'm greeted by a wall of text in your FanPost, I'm probably not going to make it all the way through. Break it up. Make it more than one paragraph. Use the 'B' and 'I' buttons for bold and italic text, respectively.

    If you know how to format using Microsoft Word, you can make a perfectly formatted FanPost here at BTB, no problemo:

    ● Write your post completely in Word, making all your formatting adjustments there.
    ● Highlight and Copy your work.
    ● Click New FanPost
    ● Click the "Paste From Word" icon (The ‘W’ icon in the picture below).
    ● Paste your content into the dialog box (The SN Nation editor automatically removes all the superfluous junk html code that Microsoft loves so much).
    ● Done

    Fanpost_medium_medium

    Adding Pictures

    Manage your picture size: Sometimes you want to add a picture that turns out to be so big it disrupts the flow of your post or simply takes up a lot of the screen. Adding a HEIGHT attribute to the image tag will prevent your image from taking up an ungodly amount of the screen.

    src="http://cdn1.sbnation.com/imported_assets/646311/fanpost_medium_medium.jpg" height="200" />

    Use the PREVIEW button at the bottom of the Editor screen to preview your post and see whether the new size works for you. Perhaps it should be only 150? Or 250? Try it out and see what the effect is.

    NOTE: This does not change the KB size of your image, just the display size. Please try to avoid posting images over 100 KB at all times. It's a common courtesy to those with slower connections. Also, particularly in open game threads, please avoid posting images over 50 KB. Large images slow down threads and make them a pain to follow. If an image in a game thread is too large, the comment may be deleted by me personally or another admin.

    Adding Data Tables

    Tables are the worst nuisance you will encounter when writing a FanPost. Copy/pasting from Excel is an endless hassle and the html editor will always kill your carefully formatted table.

    But there is one very simple solution to your table needs:

    ● Copy the table you have prepared from your spreadsheet.
    ● Go to a nifty little site called Tableizer.
    ● Paste your data from Excel, Calc or another spreadsheet into the form provided and press the 'Tableize It!' button
    ● Copy the html code the site gives you and paste that code into the 'HTML View' tab of your SB Nation editor.

    Unfortunately, you're not quite done yet. For technical reasons, some of the generated code will not work in an SB Nation FanPost. The code you have just copy/pasted into your 'HTML View' tab contains a piece of code that starts and ends with "style".


    table.tableizer-table {
    border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif
    font-size: 12px;
    }
    .tableizer-table td {
    padding: 4px;
    margin: 3px;
    border: 1px solid #ccc;
    }
    .tableizer-table th {
    background-color: #104E8B;
    color: #FFF;
    font-weight: bold;
    }


    Delete that whole thing. And where it says table class="tableizer-table" , remove the whole class="tableizer-table" thing. With those easy steps, you have just created a basic in the SB Nation default format that looks like this.

    Data Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
    First Row 1 2 3
    Second Row 4 5 6

    For most people, the defaut format should do just fine. But if you want a little more individuality, open the 'HTML View' tab again. Look for the line that starts with ' table class ...' and replace it with the following code:

    table class="sbnu-legacy-content-table" style="width: auto;" align="center" border="1"

    Data Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
    First Row 1 2 3
    Second Row 4 5 6

    Your table should now look something like the table above, with borders and a little more room for the numbers.

    But now you begin to notice that the individual data cells are currently all aligned to the left. In this example, we're going to align them in the middle of the cell. The example below shows the code for the first row of the table, and adds align="center" to the code (you could also use "right"):

    align="center">1
    align="center">2
    align="center">3

    Want to add color? Simply pick the cell you want to highlight and add e.g. bgcolor="yellow" or any of the thousands of html color codes you can find on a site like this handy HTML Color Code Picker. Let's say you want the three highlighted in yellow, and the six highlighted in a light green. This would be your code:

    align="center" bgcolor=yellow">3 ... and a little further down ... align="center" bgcolor="lightgreen">6

    Ultimately, below is what your table could look like.

    Data Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
    First Row 1 2 3
    Second Row 4 5 6

    At the bottom of your SB Nation editor window is a yellow button named "Show Editor Help >>". If you click on that and then click on the tab "Style Tips" you'll get even more options for your tables.

    Including a video

    Videos1_medium There are two basic ways to include a video in your fanshot.

    The recommended way is to use the Inserts function provided in your SB Nation Editor. The right side of your editor screen should look something like the image on the right.

    I've circled the little TV icon in the image on the right. If you press that icon, a screen pops up asking you for the URL of your video or the EMBED code.

    The easiest way is to simply copy the URL (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1YDxdCx8-Q) and paste it into the URL line of the pop-up window.

    Alternatively: video sites like youtube all have a little embed button under the videos they host. Press that embed button and the site gives you a piece of code that you copy and then paste into the SB Nation pop-up window in the EMBED line. This is an example of what the embed code could look like:


    I've run into a little trouble on occasion with the EMBED code, but that may just be me.

    Hit The Preview Button often and hard

    Here is the most important button to use while composing a FanPost:

    Preview_medium

    As you're typing your opus and long before you pushing the big green Publish button, please push the orange Preview one. Repeatedly. It's a good way to make sure your formatting looks the way you expected, your images are where you want them and your table is not a jumbled mess.

    Finally, you are ready to click PUBLISH and share your wisdom with the world. Good luck!

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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