The BPI Campus is busy and growing, so perhaps it’s time to explain how we differ from other political blogs, and why. (More)

Editor’s Notes

It’s wonderful to see so many new faces at BPI Campus, both authors and commenters. As I’ve never really done so, it may help to explain how BPI differs from other political blogs, and why we made those editorial choices.

Our Categories and Schedule:

New readers may notice that there are fewer articles each day here at BPI than at most political blog sites. In fact, we publish only one article per category each day. Our categories and posting times (ET) are:

  • Campus Chatter – Posted daily at 6am in Today’s Buzz, this is our morning open thread. I introduce it with today-in-history tidbits, and on Fridays it includes your Bippiescopes. While some readers do comment on the history and/or Bippiescopes, readers also talk about the weather and pretty much anything else that interests them.
  • Morning Feature – Posted daily at 7am, this offers in-depth discussion of political topics. The Meta Monday Morning Feature reviews the previous week’s articles and previews the week ahead. Tuesday and Wednesday are usually “Digging Deeper” articles, exploring an ongoing news story through several sources. From Thursday to Saturday, the resident faculty usually explore a single topic in a three-day series. The Sunday Morning Feature is “Ask Ms. Crissie,” where your lowly mail room clerk replies to ‘letters’ in what Professor of Psycholegalese kktlaw aptly dubbed the “wingnut week-in-review.”
  • Things We Did This Week – Posted Mondays at 7am, this invites readers to share stories of offline political activism. Such stories encourage and inspire us to be more involved activists in our local communities.
  • Furthermore! – Posted Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10am, this is our campus soapbox, a place for (mostly) lighthearted rants about news stories or other events.
  • HEMMED In – Posted Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 11am, this is output from BPI’s state-of-the-art High Energy Meta Mojo Elucidation Detector (HEMMED) lab, hosted by Professor of Topofclassclownistics JanF. Tuesday and Thursday HEMMED Ins cover a wide range of topics. By overwhelming popular demand, Saturday HEMMED In offers the week’s best from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
  • Noontime News – Each day between noon and 1pm, TheNewsHound offers capsule summaries from our RSS news feeds, which you can find at the bottom of our Front Page. Readers often also add news stories from other sources in comments.
  • Midday Matinee – Posted between 2-4pm, this offers shorter, people-focused articles that may or may not involve politics. Imagine a zoo … from the animals’ point of view. If you have a quirky tidbit about human behavior, this is the place for it.
  • Campus Question – Posted daily at 6pm in Today’s Buzz, this is our evening open thread, hosted by JanF. Each evening she poses a question based on a recent news article, but like Campus Chatter the discussions can and do include everything from weather to sports to kids to whatever else comes up.
  • Evening Focus – Posted daily between 7-10pm, this is the evening counterpart to Morning Feature. JanF hosts Set-up Sundays to review the previous week’s articles and preview the week ahead. Monday-Friday articles are usually two- or three-day series, each exploring a topic in depth. Silly Saturdays offer a forum for our furry friends.
  • Our Earth – Posted between 8-11pm, this category focuses on our environment. On Sundays, JanF hosts our EcoNews Roundup. The other evenings are hosted by guests.

Why We Schedule:

Again, we publish only one article per day in each category. That means we publish only 8 articles per day (9 on Mondays). It also means we need to schedule our Authors, so they don’t bump each others’ work. That seems like – and is – more editorial work for less total content. So why bother? Two reasons.

First, we didn’t want BPI to be just another political site flooded with hastily-written screeds about Whatever Just Made Me Angry. There are already plenty of political websites for that, and too many boil constantly as cauldrons of free-floating outrage looking for a reason. Outrage attracts outrage, so the discussions at such sites too often require flame-retardant vests. We did not want to be or attract that at BPI.

Second, we didn’t want a “Recommended List” and the meta-angst that accompanies such lists. With only one article per category per day, every article we publish stays on our Front Page for at least 24 hours. Our More News bar – in the middle of our Front Page and the bottom of every other page – highlights the six most recent articles. Most articles then move to our Lower Right Column, below the More News bar, and remain there until bumped by another article in that category. Only Morning Feature, Evening Focus, and our Today’s Buzz posts get bumped from our Front Page each day, where each was showcased all day long. In short, every article at BPI is “Recommended.”

The Schedule Page and How to Get On It:

To do that we have to limit our content, and thus we have a Schedule Page in the left-hand menu under “The BPI Experience.” That calendar shows who will post in what category each day, except where the hosts don’t change: Campus Chatter, HEMMED In, Noontime News, and Campus Question. (Note: I rarely Schedule my own Thursday-Monday Morning Features, but I should.)

As noted in each week’s Set-up Sunday and Meta Monday, Authors can find a list of open dates for each category in the Authors Notepad in your Dorm Room. Scroll down to the category you want, and below that you’ll see a line “Volunteer Here.” Type in your username (“I” is not enough), your topic, and the date you want, then click “Save Notes.” When I see your note, I’ll put you on the Schedule and remove the note. If you are not yet an Author and would like to become one, contact the BPI Webmistress.

You can also email me to request a slot, but please also use the Authors Notepad as that ensures every Author knows you’ve asked for that slot. I’ll be happy to help you develop a topic idea, suggest sources, explain how to use the WordPress text editor, embed photos or videos for you (WordPress limits that to Editors and Admins), etc. The BPI Webmistress is also happy to help with technical questions. So please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Our Editorial Guidelines:

Finally, unlike most political websites, all BPI articles are edited before publication. If it’s mid-morning and I haven’t replied to a comment you just wrote, it’s probably because I’m editing the articles we have scheduled for later that day. Apart from cleaning up typos (we all make them) and tidying up format and style (citations, etc.), I also make sure each article fits the Editorial Guidelines posted on our About Page:

  1. Factual Accuracy – Check your facts, especially the ones you think you already know. If there are conflicting legitimate sources for facts, acknowledge the conflict. Link to sources where possible.
  2. Family Audience – Assume our members’ children may be reading. Use no profanity.
  3. Keep It BriefMorning Feature and Evening Focus stories should be 800-1200 words. Other stories should be 500-750 words. Your intro can be no more than 25 words, including the word “(More)” at the end.
  4. Ballots not Bullets – We do not encourage or condone acts or threats of violence. Self-government is about ballots, not bullets.
  5. Write to All of Us – “We the People” includes all of us, regardless of age, appearance, ethnicity, physical ability, race, religious belief, sex, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Avoid the language of privilege.
  6. Write for Fred – Government must work for Fred, our archetypal median voter, and we progressives must convince Fred that government can work for him and people like him. Do not insult Fred. Without the median voter, we Democrats lose elections.

While editing I try hard to preserve your “voice.” I don’t want to write your article for you. I do want publish the very best article we can, together. I try to email each Author with a summary of the changes I made and why, but sometimes I get busy and can’t. If you have questions about any changes, please don’t hesitate to email me.

Editing and Rating Comments:

We also edit readers’ comments at BPI. Usually it’s just to clean up typos, or to embed videos or photos (just paste the web address in your comment). But we also sometimes change and may remove comments that violate our Editorial Guidelines (above). Please avoid profanity, don’t insult each other or Fred, and don’t derail.

As for comment ratings – the thumbs-up-or-down counter – please take that with a very large grain of salt. If someone else got more thumbs-ups than you did, it’s probably only because that comment posted sooner. Also, the plug-in for that counter is a little buggy, so sometimes you’ll see a comment suddenly jump from one or two thumbs-ups to a whole bunch. Please do not use the thumbs-down to express mere disagreement. Instead, only use the thumbs-down to let the Editor and Admin know you think that comment needs our attention. When we see several thumbs-downs – just one is usually an accident – we review the comment more closely. And if you get several thumbs-downs, take it as a polite hint to be more courteous and respectful.

So with all that in mind … welcome to Blogistan Polytechnic Institute!

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Happy Thursday!