The Signpost

Cobwebs

Getting serious about writing

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By Headbomb

As part of our attempts to publish lost Signpost articles, to give glimpses into history, we have an article originally intended for April 2019, describing changes to the Signpost's backend that took place at that time. We've been benefiting from them for so long that perhaps we don't remember how bad things used to be, so here's a report from the time, excited for the improvements. It also provides a lot of notes on using these features that might well help new contributors.

For real: be careful using this as a guide! Some of the templates and processes introduced in this are already gone.


The Signpost has been hard at work to streamline its submission process and make the behind-the-scenes grunt work more manageable. Writing for us and getting involved has never been easier! Here is a short overview of the changes that happened since mid March.

The Signpost gets a shakeup

The Signpost, tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 2019J. M. W. Turner

For those that follow The Signpost, there was a big shakeup recently, resulting in new blood on the team (see Signpost coverage). While Smallbones is now the new editor-in-chief, I've decided to include myself (Headbomb) as a general editor, mostly focusing on copy-editing, writing special pieces and polishing the technical aspects of The Signpost.

The shakeup left the team with a very short amount of time to cobble together the previous issue of The Signpost, with a generally positive reception. While I can't speak for Smallbones (who said that 'getting the issue out was a great experience'), I felt there was very steep learning curve to getting involved and that a lot of things were needlessly complicated, involved pointless busywork, were poorly documented, or relied on someone else knowing how to do something.

We have been putting up call for volunteers and writers for years without much success. But we failed to ask ourselves who wants to work on a boat where you can't get out of your cabin because the door is rusted shut? Possibly because we were too busy patching holes in the hull while at sea. So for this issue, instead of being a random passerby taking on the task of mending sails during the middle of a hurricane, I figure I'd take The Signpost to the shipyard for a long overdue refit. I don't know that getting involved at The Signpost is now as easy as 1-2-3, but it certainly is easier than ever before.

Simpler management

The old newsroom, with its state of the art binnacle from 1954.
The modernized newsroom, with its comfy chairs.

A lot stuff changed behind the scenes to make The Signpost easier to manage and collaborate on. Big ticket changes include

All of this should allow the editorial team to focus on content, rather than waste time managing things across dozens of pages and obscure template / HTML issues. If you go to the newsroom, everything is there within a click or two: the current status of the next issue, upcoming deadlines, recent changes, reader comments, and more.

Simpler writing

Before: To submit an article, just take the second left! You know you're there if you see persimmons. If you're surrounded by tomatoes, go back and take the third right. – This guy
After: For submissions, that's the second door in the back, labelled SUBMISSIONS. The one right there. – Janine Melnitz

While improvements to the management aspects of The Signpost will save the team a lot of headaches, writers and readers that want to get involved were not forgotten. Big ticket changes included

What it all means

These efforts, which would not have been nearly as successful without the help of DannyS712, Evad37, Pppery, TheDJ, have made it simpler than ever to contribute to the The Signpost! No longer do you need to be a template guru with a deep knowledge of an arcane, Rube Golberg-like, syntax! No more getting lost and confused!

Want to get involved? Then your one stop is the newsroom (WP:NEWSROOM)! If you can make your way there, the rest is an easy click or two away. And if you are content remaining a reader, you can sleep soundly knowing that The Signpost team can now spend more of its time on bringing you the best content instead of doing busywork.

If you have suggestions on how to make contributing to The Signpost more user friendly, leave us a comment below (or at WT:SIGNPOST). Happy editing!

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Congratulations to all those who contribute and make The Signpost a great vehicle for communication! - kosboot (talk) 17:33, 15 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]




       

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