Home Forums QCAstro Membership FAQ’s and How-To’s How To Contribute the Blog "Meridian News"

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    Matt Neilssen

    Since the beginning of QCAS we have distributed a monthly newsletter. In the beginning “The Meridian” was sent snail mail to each member. Later on as technology advanced, the newsletter became a PDF distributed via email. The downside of each of these methods is that someone within the club needed to solicit and compile articles to include in the newsletter each month. Then that same person needed to build the newsletter and send it out to the membership. Not any more!

    The new website allows any (paid) QCAS member to contribute to the front page of the website via making blog posts to Meridian News! In this way, any contributions can be immediately published without all the extra steps involving another person needing to take on a monthly responsibility. In the near future, there will be a service in place to compile a “newsletter” out of the submissions from the previous quarter as well as our upcoming calendar dates. That automated service will replace the old Meridian emails for subscribers who are not club members who may not have regular access to the site. In this way, the service can be used for distribution to media and partner outlets (think public relations) to enable us to have greater exposure to a broader audience without too much extra work. After all, this club exists to nurture the interest of it’s members and all other’s in the hobby of amateur astronomy. The less work it takes to run the club, the more time we have for Astronomy!

    I very strongly encourage you to contribute to the site by making posts. It’s a great way to engauge with the hobby when you cannot make it out to the observatory or to meetings!

    Contributing to Meridian News

    There are a lot of online resources for utilizing WordPress. I encourage you to use your favorite search engine to look for tutorials, video, guides and whatnot. When making this “How To” I figured I’d look for myself rather than posting 40 screenshots and another long post and boom! First result is a video better than I could have spent an hour writing. Check it out!

    Creating a WordPress Post from iThemes

    After viewing that. I’m gonna point out a few of the ways our site is different and point out a few best practices below.

    Our gallery manager (NexGen Galleries) adds another button to our post formatting display.

    Clicking this launches the gallery manager to enable you to add a gallery to one of your posts. We would appreciate it if you have at least one image included in a post to the front page in order to maintain a consistent look on that screen. The NexGen options look a bit different here though.

    Here we see in the menu on the left, the two options for INSERT INTO PAGE and UPLOAD IMAGES.
    INSERT INTO PAGE allows you to use ANY gallery uploaded into the website. This is handy if you are looking to reference older posts or recycle an older topic. From this menu looking across the top you’ll see CHOOSE DISPLAY, CUSTOMIZE DISPLAY SETTINGS, and SORT OR EXCLUDE IMAGES. Notice next to CHOOSE DISPLAY there is a button that says “Need a quick tutorial?” Yep! The site will show you how! For a refresher now, hit here -> Two-Minute Introduction to NextGEN Gallery

    Once you’ve configured the gallery and inserted it in to the post, you’ll find yourself back at the post screen but with a NexGen banner in the text field. Like this.

    You can type above and below the banner. Where you put the text determines how it shows up when posted to the blog (Meridian News). It’s a good idea to check out how a post is gonna look while you’re creating it just to make sure everything is lining up the way you want. You can do that by hitting the Preview button on the top right.

    Hitting the Preview button in this case took me to an example of what the post would look like if published as is.

    Notice that the “Text can go here… On the top!” is displayed above the pictures and the “OR Text can go here! On the bottom!” is displayed below them. It’s exactly how the text was shown in the Visual editor on the Add New Post Screen.

    Oh I almost forgot! Your post needs a Title! Don’t forget to add that! Right up top under Add New Post.

    Which shows up on the site like this…

    A few other things. Categories and Tags. These allow things to be found more easily on our site. Categories also allow people to use the sidebar on the blog to look for articles with a certain subject matter. There are a few categories already loaded. Please choose whichever categories you feel your post can apply to. Tags, on the other hand, are “anything goes” keywords that you want associated with your post. Write in however many you want, separate them with commas.

    Finally, when you’re happy with the way it all looks, go ahead and hit that Submit for Review button.

    Once submitted, one of the website Editors will review the post and finish formating it for display on the front page. Just in case the website fails to inform us that a submission has been made, please also email me once the post is submitted.

    Happy Posting!

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