Posting guidelines

The following is a set of guidelines to follow when adding new blog posts or calendar events. If followed, it will allow multiple authors to produce content for the website with a consistent style.

Blog posting guidelines

WordPress uses tags and categories to allow you to make blog posts appear in different places and also make it easier for others to only view certain types of blog posts. Over time, the number of tags and categories used on the Genome Center website has been reduced, in an effort to keep things as simple as possible.

Currently used blog categories

Example showing how to flag blog posts with categories or tags

Example showing how to flag blog posts with categories or tags (click to enlarge)

By default all posts appear in the News category. This reflects the fact that just about every post that is made on the website represents some form of Genome Center news (new paper, new coverage of the Genome Center by the media, new event etc.).

The choice of category is controlled by settings on the right-hand side of the blog editor page (see image on the right, though note that this also shows an Events category that is no longer used). All posts that are placed in the News category will appear here and the 10 most recent items will appear on the news page.

The only other category to consider using is the Highlights category. These are for the most newsworthy of posts, and the five most recent Highlight posts will additionally appear on the front page of the website (this ensures that the list will never grow too long). Highlights is a subcategory of news.

You may wish to sometimes use Highlights as a way of temporarily bringing extra attention to a news item or event. E.g. imagine that we receive some last-minute notice about a talk that’s happening either at the Genome Center or somewhere else (but involving a Genome Center member). In this case we could create a new blog post which is categorised as a News item (the default category) and also as a Highlight. This gives it some extra prominence by making it appear on the home page of the website, but perhaps after the talk has passed we would remove the blog post from the Highlight subcategory.

On all website pages, apart from the home page, there is a widget in the bottom of the sidebar which shows how many posts have been made in each category. You can click on these counts to see all posts in that particular category.

Currently used blog tags

I use the following two  tags to flag blog items if they relate to a few specific topics:

  1. careers — for job postings
  2. videos — for any post that contains a video

I suggest that this is probably more than enough to manage and adding too many tags will get harder to track. These tags make it easier for users to jump from any one post to see other related posts (tag names appear as links at the end of each published blog post). The careers tag is only used for job postings and this means that such posts will automatically appear on the Recruitment page.

Tips for writing news items

News posts will typically reflect some accomplishment from someone in the Genome Center: an interesting and/or prestigious paper, a grant or other funding award, joining/leading a new consortium etc. We will often have an external source of information to link to. When writing news posts I aim for the following criteria:

  1. Just 3–5 sentences about the news item. Basically to introduce the people in the news and a little about why they are in the news.
  2. Link to an external news source when possible. This is especially true if the Genome Center person in question is being featured in an external news item.
  3. Include a quote from the Genome Center member (if they have time). Just 1–3 sentences is fine. Use the ‘block quote’ tool in the editing toolbar.
  4. Include a picture or graphic to go with the story. I’ve started taking simple pictures on my iPhone of Faculty members in their office and then adding them to the post. Alternatively, there may be a logo or graphic associated with a consortium or other organization that is featured as part of the news story. Here is one news piece I wrote about someone receiving an award,  here is one about someone publishing a paper, and here is one about a Grad student being interviewed about their work.

Checking your blog post

excerpt problem

Example of excerpt problem (click to enlarge)

Any blog post will end up on the News page, as well as on the ‘Recent News’ sidebar, and potentially on the website’s home page (for news ‘Highlights’). It is important to note that the News page tries to generate automatic excerpts for each story. These excerpts show the first few dozen words of the story and then appends a Read more… link. You should be aware that the automatic excerpts can sometimes go wrong. This happens if the first part of a news item has a web link,  block quote, or certain other ‘non-plain-text’ content. If this happens, then the problem item can affect all items beneath it on the News page (the individual post is fine if viewed on its own). See image to the right:

In this situation, the block quote of the ‘Test post’ causes the excerpt of the blog post that follows (in the red box) to erroneously adopt the block quote style. To fix this, you must manually add an excerpt to the offending blog post.

Click on ‘Posts’ on the WordPress dashboard, and then on the problem post to edit it. Beneath the main box that holds the content of the blog post, you will notice an empty ‘Excerpt’ box (see below). Simply copy and paste some of the text from the start of the blog post into this box and then click ‘Update’. Your selected text should then appear as an excerpt when viewing the News page.

excerpt problem 2

The excerpt box (click to enlarge)

Event posting guidelines

I have set up a Google calendar under the Genome Center Google account. See the Events page for more details of how to access this calendar. You will need Adam or Keith to share the calendar with you and grant you permission to add entries. For this you will need a Google account.

The Genome Center Events calendar is for events that either take place at the Genome Center (GC symposium, workshops, Foosball tournaments) or which predominantly feature the Genome Center elsewhere (e.g. ‘Evening with the Genome Center’ type events). Talks that happen at the Genome Center can be included on this calendar. I.e. it is mostly intended for people who work at the Genome Center who might want to see if something of interest is happening in the GBSF building, but it should also be of interest to others on campus and further afield.

When adding details of a new event, I have been using the following guidelines:

  1. For seminars and talks, the event name should be ‘Seminar’, an em-dash (—), the speaker’s name,  another em-dash, and then the talk title. Nothing else. E.g. Seminar — Dr. Ian Korf — Bioinformatics solutions for toddlers
  2. For other non-seminar events, try to make it clear what the event is, and include explanatory title. E.g. Workshop — Learning to use Unix and Perl
  3. Date, and start and end times of talk should always be provided.
  4. Location field should be used to list room and building on campus. E.g. ‘1022 Life Sciences, UC Davis, Davis, CA’
  5. The Description field can list other relevant details. E.g. list the seminar series that a talk might be part of, include a URL for a website (if relevant), list the institutional affiliation of any non-UC Davis speaker.
  6. As much as possible, use the Description field (and no other) for all of the extra information. Keep the main title of the event clean and consistent (type of event + name + talk title).

As well as featuring on the Events page, calendar items will appear in the sidebar of webpages. People can subscribe to this calendar in whatever local calendaring app that they use.

Certain Events can, and should, also be created as separate blog posts (flagged in the Events category, and possibly News and Highlight categories). It all depends on how important/prestigious the event is, and how much attention you want to draw to it.