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The RedState How-To

Note: A year or so ago I published a diary of “Frequently Asked Questions” about RedState.  Erick’s recent “Dear RedState Reader” post reminded me that I needed to publish this.  This is a total re-write and expansion on that original.  Numerous new members have asked for an “instruction guide” on how to use RedState.  So – here’s a go at it.  If you have suggestions, please comment and I’ll try to update.


So, you want to be a part of the RedState community?

Here’s how.

Getting Started:

You have probably already been browsing the site, or “lurking”.  You’ll note that Redstate.com is a “community blogging” site, which means that community members can write their own blog entries and interact/comment on the “diaries” created by both front-page contributors and by site members.  Now you would like to participate.

Register and join RedState.com

  1. Click the “Sign Up” link on the home page and you’ll be presented with a page where you can enter your new username and an email address where we can send you your site password.  Also you will be given the option to sign up for the various mailing lists that we at RedState use to pass along information about the site and about various key issues that arise periodically.  Note:  when chosing a user name, don’t use a name of a famous person – we don’t allow impersonations…
  2. Once you click the “Next” link on the first page of the registration process, you’ll get a message verifying your new user name and will be sent a “verification” email that contains a web link for activating your ID.
  3. Open your email, click the link, and your new RedState account will be activated.  You’ll also be given a new password.  Make a note of this password!
  4. Click the “Log In” link and log in using your new username and password.
  5. Once you’ve logged in, click the “My Profile” link, and then “Edit” to update your profile information.  On the Profile page, you can update your password to one that’s more to your liking (unless, of course, you like the one we assigned to you!
  6. Also, under “My Profile”, you can enter information about yourself, such as your email address, personal web site, general info (“Biographical info”), and a “Signature” that will appear at the end of your comments.

You’re now a member of the community!

(Important note: You will not be able to enter any comments or diaries for 24 hours after signing up.  This is to discourage “trolling” by those who sign up merely to cause trouble.)

Participate in RedState.com

Of course you’ve already been able to read the content on the RedState site.  But how do you get involved in conversations and post your own contributions?

Commenting:

  • To comment on a diary, simply navigate to the diary and click on the “Leave a comment” link at the end of the diary entry, or go to the bottom of the page and enter your comment in the “Leave a Comment” box.  Be sure to enter a title to your comment.
  • To respond to someone else’s comment, navigate to the comment you’re responding to, and (this is important!) click the “Reply to This” button.  If you don’t do this, your comment is “orphaned” and doesn’t appear in the threaded comment string.  It still appears, but the rest of the commenters won’t know who you’re replying to.
  • Sometimes you may just want to enter a brief comment that is just title, with no text in the body.  Enter your title text, and then append the characters “(NT)” (or [NT] or -NT-) to the end of the title.  That tells the RedState software that there’s “No Text” in your comment, and it won’t bug you to enter a comment body.
  • To add a signature to your comments, you can update your member Profile and enter information in the Signature field.   This field can contain HTML or plain text.  Once you’ve updated the Signature field in your profile, that signature text will be automatically added to all of your comments.  Don’t get carried away here – excessively long signatures are distracting and are frowned upon by The Management.
  • To follow comments on the site, many members use the “Tracker”.  You can get there by clicking the “Recent Posts” link that appears near the top of every RedState page.
  • Suggestion: Spend some time viewing diaries and comments on RedState before you begin commenting.  You’ll get a feel for the behavior of the various site members and the generally acceptable behavior and “manners” that we use.  The official site posting rules can be found here.  Commenters who jump in and behave inappropriately are generally not received in a friendly manner (an unfortunate truth in Internet-based forums…)

Now that you’re interacting with the community, how do you publish your own diaries?

Diaries

Diaries are blog entries that are available to all RedState members.  They are generally intended to share the thoughts and views of the diarist/member.  As a general rule, a diary should be non-trivial (more than a couple of sentences) and reflect the opinions of the writer.  In other words, don’t use diaries to just post a one- or two-sentence comment, or to just post a “standalone” excerpt to an article or a YouTube video.  Add your own two-cents-worth!  We are interested in what you think.

A while back, one of the RedState contributors wrote a diary documenting some tips and suggestions on writing diaries on Redstate.  You may want to review it for hints on how to write a diary.

To get started:

  • Click the “Create New Diary Entry” link near the top of the page.  You’ll be presented with a page that says “<your username>’s Diary” at the top, with a red-box-surrounded disclaimer stating the basic guidelines for an appropriate diary, as stated above.
  • Enter the title of your diary under “Title” and the body of your diary in the “Post” field.  You can use either the WYSIWYG “Visual” editor, or the HTML editor.  You can switch between the two by clicking the Visual or HTML tabs in the Post field.
  • The Visual Editor contains a number of buttons that can be used to format the appearance of your diary so you don’t have to know HTML.  For example, there are buttons for bold or italics text, buttons to add and remove links, and to create lists or blockquotes.  If you click the right-most button on the button bar, additional formatting buttons (the “Kitchen Sink”) will appear, and you’ll have additional formatting options.
  • Enter your diary text.  Format it using either HTML in the HTML Editor or with the formatting buttons in the Visual Editor.
  • One useful feature of diaries is the use of tags to help with classification and searching for diaries.  To add tags to your diary, scroll down to the “Tags” field and enter keywords that describe your diary.  Separate these tags with commas.  Once you’re done entering them, click “Add”
  • Don’t worry about the categories at the bottom.  They’re not used.
  • Don’t mess with the Advanced Options.
  • When you’re done, or if you’d like to save your diary as a draft, click the “Save” button.
    • If you want to go back and edit a previous draft, you have to use a somewhat non-intuitive process.  Click on “Create a New Diary” and then click “Manage” at the top of the page.  Then click the title of the diary you’d like to update.
    • From here you can then either save the new version of the draft, publish your diary, or delete your post.  Use the options to the right of the post title to do this.
  • Once you’ve saved your diary, you can preview it by using the “Preview this Post” button.
  • When you’re ready for your diary to get published for the rest of the Redstate community to see, click the “Publish” button.  Once you’ve done this, your diary will appear in your “My Diary” page (http://www.redstate.com/<your username>/  and it will appear on the Redstate front page in the list of “MEMBER DIARIES”  You will also see it appear in the Tracker.

A couple of notes about content:

  • RedState.com is very aggressive about enforcing copyright.  We ensure that “fair use” is followed.  Don’t include entire articles or other works from other sites or publications unless YOU are the writer or you have explicit permission to reproduce the work.
  • It’s OK to crosspost from your own personal blog.  Be sure to indicate that you’ve done this at the end of your diary entry.
  • If you want to include a picture, do NOT “hot-link” to someone else’s site without their permission.  If you want to use a picture, host it on your own web site or in a photo sharing site like Flickr, Photobucket, etc.  Hot-linking eats other folks’ bandwidth and opens you to the possibility that the other user might change the picture out from under you.
  • To include an embedded video from sites such as YouTube:
    • Find the “embed code” from the video site.  On YouTube, this is found in the grey box on the right side of the YouTube video page in the box marked “Embed”
    • Highlight the text in the Embed box and click “Edit-Copy” in your browser
    • Go to the diary you are editing and click the HTML tab
    • Scroll to the point in your diary where you’d like to place your video, place your cursor there, and click “Edit-Paste” in your browser.
    • Save your diary and view it with “Preview this Post” to ensure that the video works properly.

So how does a diary go anywhere beyond the RedState “Member Diaries” list?

  • If Redstate members read your diary and like it, they have the ability to Recommend it. There is a “Recommend This” button that appears at the top of each member diary.  Once a member clicks this button, the member’s user name will appear beneath the button, along with the names of other users who have also recommended it.  Note that once you recommend a diary, the button turns into an “Unrecommend” button.  If you click “Unrecommend”, your name will disappear from the list.  Once you’ve Unrecommended a diary, you cannot “re-recommend” it.
  • If enough members recommend a diary, it will appear in the “RECOMMENDED DIARIES” list on the front page.  That’s a good thing!  The visibility of a recommended diary is much greater than that of the diaries in the Member Diaries list.  Diaries can stay on the Recommended list for several days, but generally disappear from the Member Diaries list within 24 hours.  The algorithm for the RECOMMENDED DIARIES list appears to be something of a national secret, known only to those with a sufficient Redstate security clearance.
  • The Redstate editors/contributors will occasionally promote diaries that stand out.  We try to promote one or two member-written diaries each day.  Those that appear on the front page tend to get a lot of attention, especially if they make it to the “Morning Update” email that Erick sends out each day.  Promoted user diaries often make the top-10 hit list for the day, which means that hundreds or thousands of Redstate readers are reading them.

Note: Most of the diaries that appear on the front page of RedState.com are written by RedState’s group of front-page contributors.  There are 20+ regular contributors – we write stories for RedState in our spare time and are not paid for this.  We do it out of our passion for politics, writing, and a desire to make a difference in the political realm.  Some of the contributors use their real names, and others (for various reasons) write using pseudonyms.  The contributors (and site administrators) can be found on the RedState.com About page.  On occasion, front page diaries have been contributed by special guests, such as U.S. Senators, Representatives, and/or other notables.

Some “Frequently Asked Questions”

What is “NT”?

“NT” at the end of a comment title means “my entire comment is in the comment title and I don’t need to put anything in the comment body (”Your Thoughts”). If you don’t put [NT] or (NT) or -NT- (or some other combination that I don’t remember), you’ll get a prompt saying “Error: please type a comment.” when you try to save your comment.

What is “5??
When someone uses “5? as a posting title, or some other derivative, such as “55555? or “5!” or “5**5?, they are ranking the comment/diary as a “5 out of 5?. In the olden days of RedState, it was possible to rank comments and/or diaries, but that capability was removed due to (as I understand it) some abuses that occurred. When someone ranks your diary or comment as a “5?, it’s a compliment.

What does “Blam!” or “G’bye” mean?
These are “catch-phrases” used by some of the RedState moderators to indicate that they’ve banned a user. Why are users banned? For many reasons, but primarily because they’ve used excessive foul language, they’ve re-registered after being banned previously, or have been particularly obnoxious or objectionable in how they’ve commented or written diaries.  Consult the RedState Posting Rules for more information.  Please note that RedState.com is not necessarily a “free speech zone”.  We don’t particularly like leftists trying to cause trouble, so if you’re a Democrat/liberal/lefty who’s trying to come to RedState for “healthy debate”, chances are you won’t be around too long.

What is PULLING A KOWALSKI? (this one’s from kowalski himself…)
“Pulling a Kowalski” is an eponymous term and a euphamism for replying to one’s own comment with another comment. I (kowalski) do it because my blogging brain works in a strange, asynchronous manner — thoughts I would rather have placed in their proper order during execution are mysteriously delayed “in flight” while my brain parses them, and arrive out-of-order in the output stream. It is left to you, Dear Reader, to read re-parse all the comments and reassemble them into a coherent thought, if possible. I have to do this myself a lot of the time, alas.

I also do it sometimes because I am of different minds on a given subject, or because part of the subject is tangential to the rest, but that is rarer. Everyone knows I was a leftist before I became a Republican and the resulting schizophrenia is diminishing, but I fear will never be completely dormant. I don’t do it to take up space deliberately or to annoy people, and I’m glad that most around here have found it to be endearing enough to name the practice after me.

What is “The Hinz Rule”?
This “rule” originates from a diary by RSer the late David Hinz, where he encouraged us to not “feed the trolls.” When someone invokes the Hinz Rule, it says “OK, folks, that’s enough, let’s not encourage this troll-like person to continue”. But what’s a troll, you ask? “Troll” is a common term used to describe Internet message-board troublemakers…see more about it here, in Wikipedia.

What is a “moby”?
The word “moby,” as used here, refers to the musician, who in 2004 encouraged the pathetic, tone-deaf trolls who listen to his work to go on conservative boards and be so over-the-top that it would serve to discredit conservatives and Republicans. We now use it for anyone pretending (badly) to be a Republican or conservative, who is instead trolling for no reason we know or care. Once identified, they get tossed.

What is a “troll”?
A “troll” is described on the following sites:

Trolls can be rather annoying, but most of them are easy to spot and are usually banned within short order. RedStaters often pay attention to the membership history of posters and commenters…long established members are less likely to be trolls. This is why occasionally a new registrant will be treated somewhat harshly…there is natural suspicion that they’ve registered simply to “troll.”  (A member’s longevity can be found by clicking on a user’s name and viewing their profile)

The “concern troll” is a special kind of troll who writes comments or diaries that show “grave concern” about a candidate or policy position on the conservative/GOP. They seldom are truly concerned, but are simply masquerading as “one of us” and are trying to stir things up. (On rare occasion, the poster is TRULY concerned and trying to have an honest discussion, so RedState members should be a little graceful in how they handle potential concern trolls)

What is REDHOT?
Redhot entries are created by RedState moderators, contributors, Directors and selected members who have brief postings to share, and just wish to throw out little tidbits. They usually cannot be commented upon, although on occasion a moderator will open comments on a particular entry. If the general populace wishes to comment on a Redhot entry, they should start a diary/blog entry and point back to the Redhot entry.

Who are the Contributors, Directors and/or site Founders?
There are about 20 or so individuals who are regular front-page contributors to RedState.com.  In addition, several folks act as “Directors”.  See the About document for an up-to-date list of who they are.

I have a question or a beef with RedState – where do I go?
Click on the “Contact” link at the top of the page. You can send Redstate an email, and someone will (may) contact you via email.

Enjoy your time at RedState.com!

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