writers' guidelines

rabble.ca is always looking for original material where both style and content surprise and engage the reader.

We run articles from other publications, as long as the author holds the rights and indicates in writing that we have his or her permission. We are also establishing editorial partnerships with other alternative media. Any such arrangements are negotiated with the rights of authors in mind. Visuals and excerpts will not be addressed in this document. We run fiction and poetry, at the editors' discretion.

1. Style

Online writing isn't the same as magazine, newspaper or academic styles. When they're online, many people scan text more than they read it. Reading from a screen is not as comfortable as reading print. And many people will be checking this site out on limited time, looking for up-to-the-minute information. Please keep this in mind when writing for rabble.ca.

The best online writing is chatty. People using the Internet are accustomed to the conversational tone found in e-mails. Keep sentences short, clear, and to the point. Don't leave out needed information, but also be sure not to clutter your text with unnecessary details. Avoid clauses and convoluted sentences. Make sure what you write makes sense. Use simple language.

rabble.ca stories do not patronize or indulge in stereotypes, overgeneralizations or other techniques that diminish people due to their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or level of education. For more information about how to avoid bias, please refer to Chapter 8 in Editing Canadian English (Mcfarlane Walter & Ross).

Please avoid jargon of any kind, clichés, assertions and oxymorons. If you are writing opinion, make it clear that's what it is - your opinion. But be sure your words are based on something real, and establish your foundation at the top. Avoid using quotation marks and italics as a way of qualifying or emphasizing a word or phrase. Let the sentence explain itself.

Show, don't tell. Describe, don't preach. Try to avoid these words: must, should, ought to, correct. Avoid hyperbole, bombast, didactic language and rhetoric. Hone your language. Try to make your work a pleasure to read, not a duty.

Where possible, avoid first person.

Wit is good: clarity is better. If you can combine the two, that would be the best.

2. Substance

An exciting part of this project is that last-minute updates are possible. But there is a downside too; there can be a temptation to post information as fast as possible, without careful checks for style and content. Are all your facts confirmed? If not, hold back from sending it to the editor, or clearly flag the information outstanding at the top of your piece. Is there anything you are basing on memory, assumptions, educated guesses, rumours or gossip? Then don't send it. Check with your sources. Make sure your information lines up with what can be confirmed. File a story as soon as you can verify the facts. Remember, rabble.ca is not a magazine with staff dedicated only to the task of double-checking your work. We do have editors, and they will look at your copy, but they are also very busy with a lot of other stuff. We usually don't have time to do major edits or corrections.

When you've got a final draft ready to send the editor, check it a final time. Look at the grammar and spelling, especially of proper names.

Speed is good: accuracy is better. If you can combine the two, great.

3. Related items

Writers are strongly encouraged to include a comprehensive list of sites related to their subject. A brief very brief description (i.e. the title of the article and the source it comes from) and the specific URL that takes you right to the relevant information must be included. These other websites might link to opposing views, artists' work, sound clips and background documents that broaden the discussion.


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