The much-revered template has three functions :
- Guidance by reminding you of everything that goes into a profile.
- Allowing you to copy and reuse the “hardened” parts of a writeups – the ones where my scripts look for *specific* sequences of characters to add code.
- Extensive advice and cheat sheets.
The template itself is best copy-pasted into a blank, raw .txt document, then used as a trellis for your material. I’d suggest printing a copy of the entire document so you can easily have it at hand whilst writing. You could keep the pages in those multipunched transparent plastic sleeves in a one of those soft, slim binders ! It’d be so neat.
The template itself
NAME Category > Subcategory > Sub-subcategory > Etc Power Level: XXXXXXXXXXXX Role : XXXXXXXXXXXX URL of the shared Google Drive folder with the pictures selection : XXXXXXX (or just "the usual" if you already have a set shared folder with me). - point of import you absolutely want the reader to know before they read anything else. - another similar point of import. [lead]If an entry has a tagline or "atmosphere intro", it must be bounded by a [lead] key word and [/lead] key word, both in brackets as with this example.[/lead] <h2>Context</h2> A brief, efficient, compact, interest-arousing section. These two or three paragraphs normally cover : - the media, its origin, its era (say, a Marvel comic books series published during the 2000s, or an action-adventure video game released in 1999). - either the standard DC or Marvel lines, or a very quick sense of the setting. - some sense of why it's cool and interesting, if applicable. <h2>Background</h2> Real Name: Bob ; if none known list it as "Unrevealed" (note how we prefer "unrevealed" to "unknown", out of sheer pedantry). Alter Ego: (This is for those special cases who have a name that can't really be called a "real name", such as a serial number, a name they use on Earth but which does not legally exist, a false ID with a full paper trail, etc. Skip entirely if not applicable, which is normally the case.) Other Aliases: The Mighty Bobster (skip entirely if not applicable). Note how the labels at the beginning of the lines are always capitalized. Former Aliases: Kid Bob (skip entirely if not applicable). Marital Status: Single. Known Relatives: Bob Sr. (father, deceased), Bobette (mother), Roberta (sister). Group Affiliation: Group A (note the singular to "affiliation.") Base of Operations: Mobile ; formerly Kansas and Charente-Poitou. Height: 5'9" Weight: 170 lbs. Eyes: Brown Hair: On writeups.org, men are blond and women are blonde. Other Distinguishing Features: (Skip entirely if nothing to say, or you'd rather cover it in the Description section.) <h2>Powers & Abilities</h2> Paragraph A of the Powers and Abilities section. Paragraph B. Have you noticed how you no longer need to type in a short codes for paragraph breaks ? So that's totally cool. Keep your paragraphs short and to the point. 3 MID-LENGTH SENTENCES IS A GOOD AVERAGE PARAGRAPH LENGTH. Keep your sentences short and do not abuse multi-parts sentences. Keep in mind that paragraphs are going to look larger on the site than in your text processing software due to the font and layout. Do not use too many adjectives and passive tenses. Keep the narrative focused on whom is doing what. USE LISTS WHENEVER SUITABLE. Your objective is to explain as much as possible in this section in layman's terms. That means people can understand as much as possible even if they don't speak DCH, and that the game section that comes later can have "naked" stats rather than explanations. If you want to indicate what corresponds to which game concepts, the trick is to state "the keywords in parentheses are for DC Heroes players", so you can mention the DC Heroes powers as you explain things in layman's terms such as "Bob can fire concussive force from his eyes (Mental Blast)" without weirding people out. <h2>Video</h2> If you're writing about a movie, TV series, video game, musical, etc. having at last one video should be considered. Favour official accounts (so the video won't be taken offline), HD footage, brief sequences (3 minutes or less) and no copyrighted music. The goal is to give people a sense of the material. <h2>History</h2> The biographical information, as usual. Now let's discuss headings, because that's the ONLY technical bit you need to memorise. As you have seen, the "big" section titles like "Powers & Abilities" or "History" must start with a <h2> and end with </h2>. "<h2>" means "start formatting the following text like a type 2 heading" and "</h2>" means "stop doing the type 2 heading format from this point on". We'll now introduce a sub-section heading. Subsections every 5 paragraphs is a good maximum to aim for - we want to keep things AIRY and LEGIBLE. You can use subsections in any section you want (History, Personality, Powers & Abilities, etc.) <h3>Title of a sub-section within the current section</h3> Exact same thing as before, except of course "h3" stands for a type 3 heading, which is lower in the headings hierarchy by one rung. These subsection titles aren't just there to help the layout breathe - people who just scan the article (*most* readers) may only read those. Making the subsection titles both informative (about what's in the subsection) and attention-grabbing is one of the few ways to get these folks to actually read the article. <i>(And now this is a "meta" paragraph, parenthesised and in italics. This is when you briefly stop the narration to make a side remark - usually about continuity problems, out-of-universe aspects of the story, an implication about the character's power, a personal remark, etc..)</i> If you need a banner picture (a picture embedded in the column of text) to go at a specific place and/or have a specific caption and/or link to a large version, have a big marker so I won't miss it and explain what you need. For instance : XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX (Banner image of pie goes here, with a "I really like pie" caption). <h3>Below this sub-section title, we talk 'bout lists</h3> Lists are verrrry important when writing stuff that's read on a screen. Any time you're enumerating more than three or so things, rapidly chaining examples, listing a series of plot each summarised as a single short sentence, etc. please please consider using bullet points. Just keep in mind that bullet points must use short items. - In practice, simply use... - A series of single dashes at the beginning of a line... - Just like this. <h4>Sub-sub section title</h4> In some cases you may need a heading that is "smaller" than <h3> headings. Unsurprisingly, that's the <h4> heading, which is simply coloured text. For instance you could have a subsection about the equipment of a character, but several items have explanations that are too lengthy to present the equipment list as a bullet-point list. Using sub-subsection headings to present each piece of equipment would keep things structured. <h2>Arbitrary section I just made up</h2> The usual flow is Powers & Abilities -> History -> Description -> Personality -> Quotes, but you can add whatever new sections you want like a boss. Just give them a type 2 heading and you're in business. A common example is when you need to explain a bunch of things about the milieu of the character, such as her planet. Video game profiles often have multiple extra sections like this, explaining various aspects of the game world. <h2>Description</h2> Additional information about how the character looks, sounds, etc. As a random note, remember you don't have to post your writeup right away -- letting it rest two or three days before posting as you get new ideas, tweak little details, realise mistakes, etc. is often valuable. <h2>Personality</h2> Remember, the information in the Personality section is one of the more unique and distinctive things about WORG (and interests even non-roleplayers), so it's worth the effort to fine-tune and detail it. Almost nobody else covers this. <h2>Quotes</h2> "Quote A !" "Quote B ?" Character 1: "Dialogue part 1 ?" Character 2: "Dialogue part 2 !" <h2>DC Universe History</h2> Yes, these are commonly omitted now, but these sections tend to be interesting and to spark on-list discussion. You can of course have a "Marvel Universe History" section instead or in addition, or "Star Trek Universe History" or whatever. So, you're close to the end. Now look at the Wikipedia and Wikia entries about the character. Now look at your entry. Now look back at the wikis. Look back at your entry. Is it BETTER? Because if it's not, people don't have much of a reason to read it, you see. There aren't too many ways to exist in the shadow of a 85-tons gorilla. <h2>Game Stats</h2> Name of character A XXX points Character (only for those who want to calculate this ; if not just skip) Dex: 01 Str: 10 Bod: 01 Motivation: Motivation (note how attributes always have two digits) Int: 10 Wil: 01 Min: 10 Occupation: Occupation (note *exact* name of attributes) Inf: 01 Aur: 10 Spi: 01 Wealth: 001 (note how Wealth, Init, HPs always have 3 digits) Init: 012 HP: 100 --Powers: Power A: 01, Linked power B*: 01, Mystic-linked power C (ML): 01, Mystic-linked and linked power D (ML)*: 10 (If no Powers whatsoever, skip entirely. Note the double colon, and that scores always have two digits. Note where the asterisk is for Linked Powers. Note where the ML is for mystic-linked stuff) --Bonuses and Limitations: - Power A has Limitation 1. - Power B has Limitation 2 (-50 BC, -2 FC) (If no Bonus and Limitation to Powers whatsoever, skip.) --Skills: Skill: 10, Linked skill (subskill A, subskill B)*: 08 (If no Skills whatsoever, state it. Note the double colon, and that scores always have two digits. Note where the asterisk is for Linked Skills. Also it's Martial Artist, not Martial Arts). --Bonuses and Limitations: Skill A has Limitation 3 (-1) (If no Bonus and Limitation to Skills whatsoever, skip entirely). Note how the previous Bonuses and Limitations bit starts its lines with a dash because it will be a bullet-points list, whereas this one doesn't because it will be an ordinary paragraph. --Advantages: Language (Language A, Language B), Headquarters (Expansive - note how the stuff in parentheses starts with a capital), Schtick (Schtick A, Schtick B) (If no Advantages whatsoever, state "none demonstrated"). By the way, you *did* note the double dashes before each of the labels, right ? --Connections: Connection A (High), Connection B (Low) (Note the plural to "Connections". If no Connections whatsoever, state it. Note that Omni-Connection, Confidants, etc. are Advantages.) --Drawbacks: MIA toward X, Partial Attack Vulnerability (pink fluffy dinosaurs, -2CS to RV), MIH of Y, MIH (Pink fluffy dinosaurs) (If no Drawbacks whatsoever, state "none demonstrated") -- Genre: With any relevant explanation. Skip entirely if not important, which is usually the case. Do note that we be talking about Genre in the *DCH* sense of the term, not the general sense (e.g., "drama"). --Rituals: For the not very important ritual components are not an issue (0 AP cost) or considered already purchased -- Ritual Name [Power A: 08, Casting Time: 01, Special Restrictions: A goat] (If no Rituals whatsoever, skip.) If you want Rituals for that character to be more visible than the one-line format above, use this : Ritual's name Effect: Power A: 08, Fog: 03 Casting Time: 01 Components: 00 (Cost in APs). Special Restrictions: A goat. Comments: Power A is combined with (and active throughout) the Fog. Cost: --Equipment: - Gadget A [BODY 04, EV 03 (04 w/STR, 05 w/Martial Artist), Power A: 04, R#02. Notes : Note how BODY and EV are not followed by a colon because they're technical terms. Bonuses & Limitations : Note the use of the ampersand so the parsing script can distinguish it from the sections above. If there are mutliple Ammo scores, list them after the Powers in the form Projectile Weapons (Ammo 06): 06 -- or even something like Projectile Weapons (Ammo 06 - Left canister launcher): 06 if the stats are getting too hard to follow.] - Gadget B [DEX 01 STR 04 BODY 06, Skin Armor: 04]. There are dashes in front of the Gadgets because I want this stuff displayed as a bulletted list. - Gadget C, WHICH CANNOT BE TAKEN AWAY [BODY 04]. - Gadget D, WHICH CANNOT BE TAKEN AWAY [/DEX/ 04 /STR/ 08 /BODY/ 10, Notes : those are italicized/substituting Attributes. Note the lack of punctuation other than the slashes, and note how the slashes are around the word rather than the word and the number]. (If no Equipment whatsoever, skip entirely.) <h3>Title of a separate sub-section</h3> Just like any other sections, really. Good if you want to have stuff like : - a discussion of a technical point. - the stats for a Pet, a sidekick, etc.. - alternate stats (depowered character, character during a specific era, etc.). - an extensive technical discussion of a complex Gadget or Artefact (often useful for power armour, starships and the like). - etc.. Just have each one in its own section, with its own type 3 heading. Simple as pie. <h3>Note about what belongs to the game stats</h3> If you find yourself typing a game stats sub-section that has more than two sentences without game terms, it's a pretty good sign you need to move that to the general P&A section, and keep the naked technical info for the game stats. [special] <h3>Design notes</h3> If any. [/special] Recommended storyline: for comics, you can indicate which storyline featuring the character you'd recommend. If you happen to know the best reprint of it indicate it, if not just indicate the issues and I'll check for proper reprints. Same general idea for, say, characters who only appear in a handful of episodes of a TV show, in one film or novel of a looong series, etc. This'll get turned into our Amazon recommendation. Since you just did the research, you might as well recommend the coolest stories featuring this character. One or two recommendations is common, three or four is okay too. --By (name of the author). --Source: (if you want to add specific details about that, such as a range of issues, a beginning point and an end point, the specific DLC adding the character to the game, whatever). --Helpers: (names of helpers go there. Helpers for a previous version are inherited by the next version even if these people are long gone). Hopefully you have noted that these micro-sections all start with a double dash. --Date: Writeup completed on the 18<sup>th</sup> of October, 2009 (and yes, you have to change the date. Also, note the superscripting).
Taxonomies cheat sheets
Open a default search page (by just clicking on “Search” in the header without typing in anything) and use the left-hand category toggles to explore the categories and see what exist.
- Not applicable
- Heavy Hitter
“Mid-level” is Aquaman, Spider-Man or most classic X-Men ; street-level tops out at roughly Daredevil level (street-level tends to top out with EVs and RVs around 06, whereas EVs between 8 and 12 are more typical of mid-level).
“Heavy Hitter” is Wonder Woman, Superman, Thor, a modern Iron Man, etc. EVs are usually in the 18 to 24 space.
“Cosmic level” is for Galactus, a maxed-out Spectre and the like.
Characters can have multiple power levels – Batman is both street-level and mid-level.
- Character (Heroic)
- Character (other story roles)
- Character (possible antagonist for both heroes and villains)
- Character (supporting cast)
- Character (Villainous)
- No applicable role
- Organisation or team
- Setting elements (objects, places, concepts…)
- Species (alien, humanoids, variant humans…)
Should be fairly explanatory ; “no applicable role” is extremely rare outside of FAQ/technical articles. Video game monsters usually end in the “species” category, and be mindful of not having supporting cast end up in “other story roles”.
Common opening bullet points
These are the successors of the old “Reasons” section, though much of their lunch was eaten by the new Context section. In practice it tends to always be the same ones, namely :
- This profile includes S P O I L E R S
- If you are not familiar with the material, see THIS BASE CAMP ENTRY first
- This profile is part of a series (PREVIOUS ENTRY, NEXT ENTRY)
- This profile features a sample or customized Player Character – see our <a href="/faq-video-games-writeups/">video games writeups FAQ</a> for more
- This profile assumes a specific video game playthrough – see our <a href="/faq-video-games-writeups/">video games writeups FAQ</a> for more
- This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay – see our <a href="/faq-video-games-writeups/">video games writeups FAQ</a> for more
- This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics – see our <a href="/faq-video-games-writeups/">video games writeups FAQ</a> for more
Taxonomies cheat sheets — tags
The point of tags is “I want to see more characters like that, irrespective of source, along this dimension”. This may range from populating a scenario in a RPG to personal interest. As of this writing they’re not yet live on the site. Like the categories, tags are taxonomy – they emerge from the content rather than being based on a pre-existing model. So these here is but a partial list.
Police ; Mob ; Military ; Espionage (“Enforcement tags”)
Ninja ; Brood ; Demon ; Nazi ; Undead ; Huge henchman (“Thugs tags”)
Power armour ; Robot ; Telepath ; Shapechanger ; Brick ; Martial Arts Master ; Speedster ; Gadgeteer ; Psionic. Suggestions for more ?
Blaxploitation ; War ; Fantasy ; Horror ; Western (genre) ; Action movie-like ; Thriller ; Pulps.
- “War” is a story in a setting in total, open, armed conflict, not necessarily about the military
- “Fantasy” is stuff with swords and possibly supernatural elements
- “Action movie-like” is stuff that is deliberately low on characterisation and plot but high on action – see the Wiki definition for something consensual – but a lot of video games (and some comics like some Punisher runs) are going to qualify
- “Thriller” is about suspense and tension that is more subtle and psychological than “Horror” – again, wiki discussion for the accepted definition and examples
- “Pulps” is specifically about 1930s stuff like the Shadow, the Spider (Master of Men), the Gray Seal, etc. and material that is clearly related (say, Green Hornet comics)
Undersea ; Space ; Magic. If the character is primarily associated with those, like Namor, the Silver Surfer or Dr. Strange
Gotham City ; Wonder Woman ; Bloodlines ; Sovereign Seven ; Planet DC ; Vanity ; DC Implosion ; Seven Soldiers series ; Jack Kirby’s Sandman ; DNAO Supergirl ; Flash’s Rogues ; Skartaris ; Super-Friends ; Apokolips ; War That Time Forgot. (“DC silos tags”)
Madripoor ; Savage Land ; Asgard ; Spider-foe ; Mutant ; Marvel UK ; 1993 Marvel Annuals. (“Marvel silos tags”)
Gamorra (“Wildstorm silos tags”)
Filipino material ; Francophone material ; Swedish material ; Spanish material ; Canadian material. This is the origin of the *material* – where it was written/by whom.
Nationality (Russian) ; Nationality (Canadian) ; Nationality (British) ; Nationality (French) ; Nationality (Brazilian) ; Nationality (Wakandan) ; Nationality (Mexican) ; Nationality (Swedish). The main origin of the *character* this time.
Black African-ish Ethnicity ; Eastern Asian-ish Ethnicity ; Native American Ethnicities ; Middle-Eastern/Maghreb ethnicities ; Indian Subcontinent ethnicities ; Other uncommon ethnicities in Western media. Primarily intended for cosplayers and people interested in minority representation in media.
MOGAI. Primarily intended for people interested in minority representation in media, so beyond the usual four letters in “LGBT” it covers intersexed/hermaphroditic characters, genderqueer ones, notably asexual ones, etc.
Distant past ; 1930s setting ; 1940s setting ; 1950s setting ; 1960s setting ; 1970s setting ; 1980s setting ; 1990s setting ; Near-Future ; Post-Apocalypse ; Distant future ; Time Travel. This is when the *story* is normally taking place.
1930s material ; 1940s material ; 1950s material ; 1960s material ; 1970s material ; 1980s material ; 1990s material ; 2000s material ; 2010s material. This is when the story was mostly *written* (filmed, programmed, whatever).
Gail Simone ; Grant Morrison ; Ed Brubaker ; Greg Rucka ; Alan Moore ; Roy Thomas ; Kurt Busiek ; Mars Ravelo ; Classic Stan Lee. In the sense of “the character as described in this entry is primarily associated with [author]”, who has a loyal fan following that will click on their name.
Anti-munchkin ; timeline ; disambiguation. Mostly for a few homemade entries with that theme.
Supergirl variant. For a writeup arc by John Colagioia.
FAQ. A second hook to help people find the FAQ articles, though they are already categorized as “Articles about writeups.org”.
Writeups are now close to WYSIWYG – between my scripts and WordPress’ texturizers, you can type your text pretty freely and it’ll be handled. The “hardened” parts are the ones that must still follow an exact formulation for the tech to work.
These are :
- Opening and closing your headings correctly : <h2>…</h2> and <h3>…</h3> for type 2 (big) and type 3 (small) heading respectively.
- Always copy and paste the sample DCH stats table exactly as is (while replacing the placeholders with the correct values, obviously). If some value is blank (such as Motivation or Wealth for an animal), use something like “N.A.”, a slash, a dummy datum (“Occupation: Professional Animal”), etc.
- The two dashes before the labels in the game stats, and in the footer (author, source, helpers) – which must be followed by the exact expression. For instance it’s “–Drawbacks:”, plural and immediately followed by a colon.
- Always copy and paste the sample Background block (remove the lines you don’t want to use, of course) since the script is looking for specific strings of text such as “Group Affiliation:” – singular, both words capitalized, immediately followed by a colon, etc.
- Bullet points are always represented by a carriage return followed by a single dash.
- If you have a [special] or a [lead] box, you *close* them.
Leave your writeup to rest for a week or so once completed
There ain’t no rush. Once completed leave your profile to rest so you can get new ideas, tinker with it a bit and — perhaps most importantly — re-read it one last time with relatively fresh eyes.
This allows for significant quality gains with little effort.
Cheat sheet – stylin’ your text like a dandy
If you want typographic effects, the main ones are:
- <i>This text will appear in italics thanks to the i tags</i> (you should do that for book/song/painting titles, and ship/starship names)
- <strong>This text will appear in bold thanks to the strong tags</strong>
- <sup>This text will appear superscripted thanks to the sup tags</sup> (mostly useful for abbreviations like 1st, 4th, XXth, etc.)
- don’t use underlining on the web, people can mistake that for hyperlinks.
Bold text (with the <strong> tag) is mostly useful in the Quotes section, if you want to emulate comic book lettering. It can also be used to highlight key words in a text to improve readability – this probably works, though personally I’m not a fan.
If you want to use special characters (anything that’s not a number, an unaccented letter or common punctuation or maths operators) in your text, you just have to quickly look up the code on a page like Ascii.cl and use its HTML name or HTML number.
Some common ones :
- é is é
- è is è
- à is à
- ï is ï (“uml” is short for umlaut)
- ü is ü
- ō is ō (often used in Japanese transcriptions)
- ñ is ñ
- ½ is ½ ⅓ is ⅓ and ¼ is ¼
WordPress automatically turns common smiley strings into a small image. Here is the list .
On the other hand, Microsoft is the Devil
Make sure not to have Microsoft auto-styled characters such as their damn legacy version of an ellipsis (…) and the em-dash (—). These cause all sorts of issues.
If you want a … simply type three periods (...) and they will be auto-styled when published. And if you can’t arsed to type your em-dashes, a pair of hyphens (--) will be auto-merged as an em-dash when published.
I heartily recommend the Associated Press rule — numbers below 11 in letters, numbers above ten in digits. It’s efficient and logical. Which is good.
The boxed sections – [lead] and [special] and blurbs
[lead] – the tagline box
Some profiles have an “atmosphere intro” block with a special style – usually a tagline, or a particularly atmospheric quote, or a remarkable caption. Most writeups are better without, but if you think you’ve found a good hook that really tells something about the profile, go ahead.
It must begin with [lead] (in brackets) and end with [/lead] (in brackets) for the content to be styled.
[special] – the green box
These are sidebars, really – except that our layout means that they ain’t actually on the side. They must remain short – if what you have in mind is longer than 3 paragraphs or so, it is almost certainly a custom section instead.
They must be bounded using a bracketed [special] and [/special], and have their own type 3 heading *within* the bracketed keywords.
There are two main type of use – general, and within the game stats.
Green boxes are rare in general use. They mean “here is an aside I have to discuss now for clarity’s sake, but it’s not a part of the normal flow of the section”.
In my experience these are usually about simple chronological and continuity issues (complex ones are, again, covered in custom sections). If you really want a long one, consider breaking sections (ex.: a “History, part 1” section, a “Continuity notes” section, then a “History, part 2” section).
So, yeah, this is one of ’em green boxes. Just to be sure we understand each other.
In the game stats
These are normally titled “Design Notes”. You can imagine that these constitute a “breaking the fourth wall” or a “behind the scenes” moment where you explain and comment the stats – it belong to the stats section, but it’s not stats.
Many readers find such discussions interesting and educational, and it might teach future contributors how to stat out characters in our style — so don’t assume that nobody cares.
We used to have a lot of grey boxes in the game stats, but these were a mistake and have been phased out in favour of simple sub-sections.
“Blurbs” are large, styled text that floats to the right. They often are a quote about the character, or a salient point of what is being explained. It’s meant to be eye-catching and to encourage people to read instead of scanning.
Their main use is when you don’t have enough banner images to break up the text, for instance because you’re writing about a novel and there are few pictures to be had. So that’s not a common layout element, but it’s one that really helps in certain cases.
There’s no pseudo-code to learn for that one, just spell it out in your text (“put the following up as a blurb at about this point :”).
Your words processor presumably has a calculator for the Flesch-Kincaid readability score of your article. That encourages writers to stick to short sentences, and use mostly short words. A score above 60 is usually considered good.
If you want something more colourful you can paste your draft into Hemingway for feedback about long sentences, long words, passive voice, adverbs, etc. It’s free and it’s useful, though of course it remains a simple tool with narrow coverage.
Remember – the average American reads with the proficiency of a 7th grader.
We’ll use a sort of pseudocode that goes <url=https://www.writeups.org>text for the link</url> . As always, don’t forget to close the tag.
What sorts of links ?
The four usual sorts of links we want are :
– Links to other WORG entries.
– Links to external pages for credit.
– Links to external pages for explanations.
– Links to highly-ranked sites.
Links to other entries
I’LL DO THESE, DON’T BOTHER. Let me know if I miss one, but it’s easier for me than for you to do it, and fewer URLs will make your draft more legible.
Linking to our own entries is important. Feel free to name-drop a bit in the History section and elsewhere, even if we don’t have yet a profile for a character you’re mentioning.
External links for credit
When crediting an external site used as an information source, though that doesn’t happen since we do original research.
External links for explanations
When you’re making a complex reference, using a rare term, or other cases where you cannot reasonably expect the vast majority of readers to get it. An old example was using the verb “to grok” in a profile ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grok ), but it could also be referring to well-known events such as the Mutant Massacre ( http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Mutant_Massacre ) without having to explain it further for newbies since you’ve provided a link.
Keep in mind we write for people of all ages, all over the world, of most social classes, with all sorts of educational profiles. Refrain from assuming that “meh, everybody knows about that”. We want to be accessible and communicate clearly.
Due to the way Google works, websites benefit from linking to good, reputed websites – and are better off not linking to shitty ones.
This is why, when reading news sites, you see so many links in the text that serve no real purpose and that few people ever click.
In our case, cred-building links we might use when fitting include :
- The publisher sites (Marvel, DC, Square Enix, Bioware, 20th Century Fox, whatever).
- Wikipedia, the 800 lbs. gorilla.
- The big wikias (Marvel, DC, the better video game wikis, etc.).
- Peers (Marvunapp, Comics.org, ComicVine, Cosmic teams…).
- Major universities (at their .edu domain).
- YouTube if you don’t want to embed the video.
- Maybe some major newspapers and pure players (New York Times, Vox, Daily Bugle, etc.) to link at a review or something.
- Big references sites such as the Merriam-Webster.
Adding the external link icon
If a link is to an external site (i.e., not writeups.org) add a little [ext] (with the brackets) at the end of your link, just before the </url> closer. This will add the little courtesy icon signalling an external link.
Our glossary – a specific kind of link
Our glossary is a specific form of link. This page is intended for people who aren’t full-bore geeks and do not know the lingo that is taken for granted by role-players, gamers, comics enthusiasts, etc. It is part of our efforts to make the site more accessible.
If you use a bit of jargon, simply add “[gloss]” (without quote marks, but with brackets) after it – that will add the information circle icon and the link. Of course, check whether the jargon in question is in the glossary, and if it ain’t offer a definition so it can be added.
About jargon in general
We can distinguish 4 Kinds.
A typical example with me is using military TLAs out of habit, and assuming people know what a MOS, a FOB, CQB situations, CAS requests, etc. mean.
Simplest approach for this set – avoid using it, or in the case of acronyms spell it out. So avoid having people running around with glaive-guisarmes if a simple “polearms” will do (plus, Gary Gygax is dead).
(Of course you can have one or two bits of flourish per profile, let’s not dumb everything down either).
Typical examples are world elements – the names of gods and places and peoples in an Everquest article, the Negative Zone, the Crisis on Infinite Earths, references to famous characters such as Sylvanas Windrunner in a World of Warcraft article, etc.
Hyperlinking those to an outside source (or inside source if writeups.org has the goods) *and* providing a shred of context seems to be the best approach. So if my WoW article mentions Tirion Fordring, I’m gonna write “the aged but mighty paladin Tirion Fordring” rather than just his name, and hyperlink his name to a good WoW wiki.
As previously discussed, keep the technical terminology to the Game Stats section. It’s not an absolute though – we capitalize on the fact that most DCH terminology looks like normal English.
So something like “in DC Heroes terms, this is Mind Probe” is sufficiently unintimidating and can stick around in a Powers & Abilities section. Whereas something like “she generally subs MA for EV while spending some HPs on RV” definitely belongs to the Game Stats section.
My exception is “Hero Points”, since it’s just so useful a concept. Hence their presence in the glossary (though it’s best to spell it out rather than go “HPs” outside of the Game Stats zone.)
That’s where the glossary comes in. The jargon is understood by the bulk of the readers, but we can no longer assume that all readers are high-level geeks – so a resource helps.
That way it can just be thrown in without having to build a link toward a specific word, and it encourages people to learn several words in one go.
Images, video, sounds, etc.
- A width of 1,000 pixels for “vertical” images for the right-hand column, 1,500 pixels for “horizontal” images for the main column. Uncompressed .tiff images shared via Google Drive. Original material when possible (i.e., not taken from another website)
- The basics for the “vertical” images in the righ-hand column are a body shot, a face closeup and an action shot. It’s not always possible, but it’s nice. Don’t have too many images in the right-hand column either – we have a tendency to have redundant images.
- Corporate-owned art is fair use, but fan art must be authorised, credited and hyperlinked.
- One banner image for almost every sub-section (about 5 paragraphs) is nice. These break up the wall of text, rest the eyes, encourage those only looking at the pictures to glance at the text, etc.
- Not all banners have to be of the character, which gets repetitive for very long entries. Landscapes, bases, vehicles, equipment, group shots, etc. are also fine as long as they are clearly captioned.
- If what a picture depicts ain’t obvious or benefits from context, just caption it. It’s always better to err on the side of captioning, whether it’s a main column image or a right-hand column one.
- If there are no pictures for a character, strongly consider making some. Beyond drawing and scanning, there are plenty of free resources such as fabricadeherois.blogspot.com or the Saints Row 3 Initiation Station (free download on Steam).
- For characters from movies, TV series, video games, etc. embedding a YouTube video is a definite possibility. There must be a caption explaining what it is, and you shouldn’t rely on it (some terminals can’t do video, videos on YouTube tend to disappear, etc.). Usually it’s best to create a full separate section with the videos and some explanations about them. Very useful if you want to show movement, fighting, voice, body language, acting, etc.
- In very rare cases you may want to have the possibility of playing a sound (no autostart, obviously). You’ll need a file in a standard format, though (.wav, .mp3, etc.)
Giant pictures of doom
The banner-format pictures are now appreciably larger, but in some cases it may still be too small to your liking – especially if you have a HD screen. In this case, add a note to your write-up saying which images you’d like to have available in giant format. What I will do is add a clickable caption under the image, and clicking takes the reader to a blank page with a 1,500px-wide version of the image.
This is not meant to be systematic — we only have so much storage space — but it’s mostly useful for atmospheric landscape shots to show how a world looks like, screenshots that required a lot of work, complex images with lots of telling details, etc.
Additional notes about images size
A quick note about the image sizes for entries (1000 px wide for verticals, 1500 px wide for horizontals in most cases).
These sizes are deliberately more-or-less doubled. In publication terms these images will be 500px and 725px respectively. In many cases they will be smaller as responsive code fits them to the display size. Banners, in particular, become tiny in smartphones held vertically.
The doubling is to future proof against displays with increased pixel density (HiDPI), such as Retina screens. Will HiDPI techs ever be a dominant standard ? As Alamen would say, **** if I ****ing know. But it’s a definite possibility.
HiDPI displays do a bit of hoodoo on images, so they display at the same size but with a double (or more) resolution. The usual solution is to have an alternate set of larger images, tagged HiDPI, which are served instead to these displays. Who thus can work with an image that is *actually* double-res, rather than hoodooin’ some resolution in.
IN PRACTICAL TERMS, this means that if you *don’t* have a 1000px or 1500px widths image, but can do 500 or 725 (or less but not-too-much-less) from your source, we’re still good. This specific image won’t be future-proofed, but as Mytasha would say, that’s just the way the flatcake crumbles.
IN PRACTICAL TERMS AGAIN, what happens in most cases is that I have images between 500 and 1,000 or between 700 and 1,500, and I process ’em up to 1,000 or to 1,500. Doing it manually rather than by hoodoo allows for an additional pass to filter artefacts from, as Kamala would say, embigenning.
Additional additional notes on small images
So, the next question is of course “which images are too small ?”.. The answer, is with everything in life is – it depends.
The embigenning algorithm is Photoshop’s. It’ll usually allow me to work with 300px or even 250px images, to bring them to 500px. But not necessarily.
A lot has to do with the level of aliasing in the original images, the level of aliasing of the lettering (often different from the image’s), its DPI resolution (whether there are “fat pixels”), any colour banding, the printing quality if it’s a scan, whether there’s moire, the video compression if applicable, contrast (in some cases), etc..
Even with experience, guessing ahead whether the embigenned image will be usable is a mug’s game.
It also depends how well various filtering treatments will perform when it comes to repairing the damage that embigenning an image inevitably does. Sometimes it’s magic, sometimes it would require hours of work – and these might easily be wasted because it all plain sucks. Which means I’ll likely won’t engage an image that requires too much work.
Another aspect is that “slim” images, when embigenned to a 500px width, can become extremely tall. Like, they wouldn’t fit into a browser window, even on a 1080p desktop display. So that’s a showstopper, unless some smart cropping is possible.
One last aspect is that one needs experience to spot the aliased, ill-rendered and artefacted, smudged, etc. damage on the image. You can see that every time there’s work to improve IQ (image quality) by, say, injecting shaders into a video game. You’ll have Clueless Claude walking in and announcing “uhhhr, I don’t see the differences between these two screenshots, it’s all the same”. Well, dear Clueless Claude, we don’t work for *you*. We work for all the people who *do* see the difference, even if they can’t define it. Grrr.
SO, IN PRACTICAL TERMS – it depends.
These live in their own article.