(Please contact Bob Weisenberg if you want
to suggest changes to this document.)

Below is our plan to help our writers improve their posting consistency and take some of the pressure off of worrying about forgetting something.

To put things in perspective, given the number of people involved and the general free posting policy, it’s actually quite surprising that our quality is as high as it is!

Nonetheless, there are some very well-established steps we can take to avoid most of the omissions some writers make in their everyday postings:

1) (DONE) E-mail the simple checklist at in the FAQ for Elephant Writers to all writers.  Include this exact same checklist in every instruction e-mail to new writers.

2) Whenever an article is found that doesn’t follow any of items on the checklist, correct the problem quickly if critical (like adding a featured image), then send a very friendly letter to the writer with the complete checklist, with the missed items bolded.  (See sample letter below.)  If not critical, ask the writer to make the changes.

3) Do this as often as necessary until the writer gets in the habit of using the checklist.  Usually this will happen quickly.

4) In all cases, our letter is very direct, but unfailingly friendly and appreciative, with the full checklist included.  We always treat our writers like the gold they are.

5) All of us–including all our many volunteers who are working with writers–treat problems in this similar manner, so there is consistency across all writers

6) (DONE) Write FAQ for Elephant Writers and Step-by-Step Posting Instructions for Elephant Writers.

7) Finally, we will establish a quick response “help desk” e-mail where writers can always go to get questions answered quickly when they are in the middle of their writing: [email protected]com?  I will start by taking all the requests myself, then, after I see what comes in, I will build a team of volunteers to handle writers’ questions within 3-4 hours.

This plan will solve most problems fairly quickly if we commit to working it together as a team.

Please let me know if you have any further suggestions or questions.

–Bob W.

Sample Letter to a Writer Who
Has Missed a Few Posting Items

Hi, Jim.

I greatly enjoyed your latest Elephant article.

I have one editing suggestion–break up your very large paragraphs into smaller paragraphs of no more than 3-5 sentences each.  This will make it much more inviting to read.

Also, we’re trying to tighten up our posting consistency.  Please run through the following checklist each time you post.  (I’ve highlighted in blue the additional things to do):

Checklist of Requirements that are Easy to Forget
(Please go through this checklist carefully on every blog)

1. Spend a little time to come up with a great title.  Read through your article and jot down the phrases reader passers-by would be most likely to click on, then choose the best of those. It’s often as simple as that.

2. Make sure you include at least one photo and that each photo takes up no more that 100kb.  Find free photos at Wikimedia Commons, Stock.XCHNG, everystockphoto, Flickr: The Commons, 25 Free Stock Photo Sites. Follow these simple rules:

–If an image is marked “Public Domain” or “Free Use without Attribution”, no caption is necessary.
–If an image is “Free with Attribution”, then you must show the source in the caption field of the image.
–If an image is not clearly free and available, do not use it and find another image.

3. Chose a Featured Image, in the right hand column.  Click here, choose the image you want, then look for “Set as featured image” near the bottom of the image box. This creates a small thumbnail for faster loading.

4. Fill in the “Excerpt”,  just under the text input box.  This is the text that appears with the listing on Facebook postings and other listings.  Make it the catchiest sentence from your text–the thing most likely to make people click on it.  ( (If you don’t see the excerpt box, click on “Screen Options” in the upper right hand corner of the page, then check the “Excerpts” box.)

5. Fill the in the SEO section at the very bottom of the page. This improves search engine results. Copy the “Excerpt” from above into the description box.  (Some listings take this instead of the “Excerpt”.)

6. Copy the keywords from the SEO into the Tags section in the right hand column.

7. Check all categories that apply near the top of the right hand column.  Please do not create any new categories (even though WordPress invites you to) and please do not use the categories marked “WAYLON”, “ADMIN”, or “Z”.

8. Always put a period at the end of your title.

9. Put your text though spell-checking and use bolding, italics, and any other special effects judiciously, and never for the main paragraphs of your text.

10. When in doubt, contact me or your editor.  We will be more than happy to help you.

Thanks, Jim.  Please let me know if you have any questions.