How to post a blog or story

For the past (roughly) two years that azbrowncoats.org has been around, an extremely limited number of people have added content to this site. While we strive to keep the site current and interesting, real lives (and laziness) often gets in the way. Over the next few months we'll be making some changes to the site to update some of the outdated features and eliminate some worthless ones.

Not the least of those changes, I've removed the ability to create new logins on your own. Every day about 30 spam accounts are created, to the point that if any legitimate requests are made, they often get tossed out with the garbage. The other reason however is that nearly no one actually uses their registration with the site to leave comments, blog, or any other feature that a membership would make worthwhile. Not to mention I think it may be confusing people who want to join the AZBC, Inc. membership. Membership on the site will now be invite only.

How do you get a membership so you can write stories and blog for yourself? It's really quite simple. Email support@azbrowncoats.com and let me know you want to post stuff to the website. I don't expect an essay, just confirmation that you're not a spammer or a troll. I'll then create an account for you and you'll be able to post freely to the site as explained below. FYI, for those of you who already have a content creator account, nothing will change. If you already have an account but you don't have content creation permissions, email me to get upgraded.

But what does that have to do with you, gentle reader? And why do I insist on beginning sentences with conjunctions? Well, if you're going to write stories for this fine website, you probably should know how. The software behind this website, Drupal, has its Linuxy quirks but once you get the hang of it you shouldn’t have any trouble doing routine tasks.

Step 1: Think out your story

While I hardly ever do it myself because I'm a fool, it's a good idea to write your story first in a separate program. The website does not have a quick save in case you need to step away and you don't want to lose your story mid-writing. Word or Wordpad doesn't matter, but you'll be best off not using any formatting as it will likely complicate the final formatting. If you have an app that can help you create documents and convert it into html, then rock on. Otherwise, stick to straight text and format it later in the website.

Step 2: Log in to Azbrowncoats.org using Firefox

A close friend of mine recently accused me of being anti-Internet Explorer. Not true! Internet Explorer 7 and 8 are workable browsers and IE9 is on par with the best of the browsers out right now. Internet Explorer 6 may be the bane of my existence, but only company computers at firms with lazy IT departments use that anymore. The problem is, most of the more interesting features of this Drupal installation simply don't function with anything other than Firefox, even on my beloved Chrome. You should still be able to post straight html with other browsers, but the graphical UI that works in Firefox is the way to go for if you’re less html savvy.

To login, make sure you have an account (discussed above) and log in on the left under the logo. After you're in you should see some new menus.

Step 3: Create Story

 If you’re using Firefox 4, you should see a black wrench in the top left corner. That’s your easy navigation menu. If you don’t see it, you’ll have to go old school and use the text menu at the top of the screen. From there, go to Create Content, and choose Create Story. It will open up the story page.

 

Step 4: Start Writing Your Content

I recommend beginning with the Title and the Tags.

Tags are mandatory and help sort articles by search. Where applicable, as you type in a tag, if it has been used before it will appear in a drop down. Choose the one that appears. As much as possible, stick to tags that already exist. Now you’re ready to get that story in there. The graphical interface is a lot like Word so you should be able to figure out what you’re doing. Don’t get too crazy with formatting though, stick to hyperlinks, video embed codes, and images. Special fonts, colors, effects… they’re so 1990s! Anyway, write your article. By default it will mark off the first 100 or so words or the nearest paragraph break as the “break” or “jump”. That is where it cuts off the part of the article that will appear on the main screen. It’s usually best just to let that happen how it falls, but if you need to set the break yourself there is a button in the controls for that.

For images, you'll need to upload your pictures to imageshack or another image hosting site, copy the direct link, and paste that into the url for the image (the icon with the tree). You can reset the size, and check the other tabs for other settings like aligning the image to the left or right of your text.

For video embeds, there is a film frame icon but I've had spotty success with that. I usually switch the whole story over to html (Input format menu right below the story box) and paste the embed code that way.

Step 5: Publish

The options on the bottom will default to what you want it at, so generally leave those alone. Go to Preview and make sure your article is what you want it to be.

Once you’ve fixed everything, go ahead and hit save. It’ll pop up on the main page and a few minutes later into our RSS feed and Twitter. Congratulations, you’re now a published blogger with a viewership of tens of people!