QotW (and other) blog post templates

A suggestion for those who write the blog posts (as I am currently just a humble editor):

I think it would be a good idea to create a "template" post for Question of the Week posts, and any other sorts of posts that are done on a regular basis. I was viewing the old QotW posts, and found a lot of inconsistency in their formatting. I've fixed the title and tag issues, but I'm sure there's some other cleanup that could be done.

Some of the things I've noticed:

• QotW inconsistently capitalized: Sometimes it's QotW, sometimes QOTW, and one or two had it as QoTW.
• Pound sign inconsistently used: Sometimes it would be QotW XX, sometimes QotW #XX.
• Inconsistent separator between QotW number and title: Sometimes QotW #XX - Title, others QotW #XX: Title, and some even just QotW #XX Title.
• Inconsistent usage of the tag: Some used it, some didn't.
• Some QotWs occasionally do not include a link to the question itself. Usually, this is spotted and fixed shortly after the post goes live but it has been a recurring issue.
• Inconsistent formatting of the post body.
• Inconsistent usage of the question title as the blog post title. This is obviously going to be an issue where the QotW is actually a post about multiple questions, and that's fine. In single-question cases though, the blog post title doesn't always match the question title.

As I've said, most of the title and tagging issues have been polished by now. However, these and the rest of the inconsistencies should be prevented in the future by use of a template. Some suggestions for the template:

• Title format: QotW #XX: Title. Example, from #20: QotW #20: Are Powerline ethernet adapters inherently secure?
• All QotW posts should be tagged with .
• We may want to consider changing this to a Category.
• Posts should include some canned text at the bottom, telling users how they can propose a QotW (link to a search for meta questions tagged QotW, sorted by "newest" - make sure there's a thread started for the next week first).
• Closing text should also include an invite to participate in the site in general, and/or the featured question.
• Formatting and layout of the body should be more standardized.
• For single-question QotW posts, the post's title should match the question's title - and the question's title should be edited to be blog-presentable, if necessary.

I think this will help make our blog look more professional and inviting, as well as make things easier for those who actually have to write the QotW posts.

2 Answers

I hereby salute this noble attempt at organising blog posters and heartily apologise for any inherent confusion I may have caused by random capitalisation of the word qOTw. I simply copied whatever Rory did the previous week. Kinda. Sometimes.

Anyway, serious points now.

• I've been editing a stock banner into questions for a while, like superuser do. Nobody seems to mind and it looks like this:

This question was IT Security Question of the Week.
Read the Sep 23, 2011 blog entry for more details or submit your own Question of the Week.

I propose a motion that whoever does the QoTw should also edit this into the question. We can't give extra rep for posts being qOtw but it will hopefully give everyone the impression they did a good job answering le Q.

• I also propose we adapt another superuser trick and start using trello. They're so organised it hurts:

They have a blog editor chat room too.

We use this at work and whilst when I first saw it I honestly thought what is Spolsky on? I now think it's actually an incredibly good tool. It's free, too.

Formatting and layout of the body should be more standardized.

On this one, I am not saying that I disagree but I may not 100% agree with every position in the sentence (that's a politicians way of saying: no). I think some standardization is important, but not too much. My English teacher used to lecture us about remembering our audience and our purpose. Our audience is obviously security-types; however our purpose? Standard purposes were:

• Entertain.
• Inform.
• Persuade.

What's the ultimate goal of the blog? To attract people here, generate a strong community, attract more people to the blog and son on. Qotw 7 was about stuff, Ninefingers wrote an essay, Thomas wrote a shorter and better essay is a bit too informative and veers on boring. We need some space to entertain, which is why I was slightly(1) excited to do the satellites question.

Don't get me wrong, we need to remain professional and I'm probably guilty of not being, sometimes, but just provided we're not following a script/writing press releases, I'm good.

Anyway, thank you for bringing organisation to my chaos. Feel free to beat me with a stick when I inevitably forget all of this.

(1): Oh ok, very.

Slight update. For doing qOTW posts, I tend to follow the following layout:

1. what did the Q ask? Who asked it and why might it be relevant to the reader.
2. The top voted answer in detail - its themes and conclusions.
3. An obvious counter point answer with themes/conclusions/comments
4. other answers/points raised that don't fit into the above.
5. Take home advice. What can the user learn from this question?

100% agree - currently I have copied and pasted format info from a previous one, but I managed to miss a link to the question one week, and I had also noticed the variation in QotW/QOTW etc.

First off, many thanks to @Iszi for proofreading through a chunk of these and fixing them after the fact.

Secondly - all blog writers and reviewers should favourite this, the Featured links, and the Timeline questions, as they will make things easier to manage.