From time to time people ask us if we’re interested in a guest submission or simply email us text. It’s resulted in some of our best posts, but also a lot of wasted effort, as we get thousands of words we’re never going to use. We certainly don’t wish to reject posts in which writers have invested a lot of time, although we remain dedicated to high editorial standards.
The best way to contribute to STB is to write something on Page 2. If we like it, and it’s written under your real name, we’ll consider it for featuring on the main page. We’d be happy to review and edit it with you before publishing, if you desire. Sign up for a Page 2 account here.
Below are some guidelines that will hopefully prevent potential authors from writing something that will never see the light of day on this blog. These are guidelines, and in some cases we’ll approve posts that don’t meet all these criteria.
- Follow the Comment Policy. In particular, avoid ad-hominem attacks.
- Don’t say anything false. I try pretty hard to fact check guest pieces. We will never knowingly publish anything that is demonstrably false, and issue corrections when we do so unknowingly. If you write “Dow Constantine agrees with me” I’m going to ask him. Links to reputable sources are very much appreciated.
- Make a single, on-topic point. If your post is more opinion than fact, be clear on what you’re trying to convince the reader to believe. Whatever it is, it had better be about transit or land use. If you have multiple points, consider breaking it up into multiple posts.
- Be brief. Unless you have a large amount of new data, keep it to about 500 words or less. Making a single point helps here. The longer a post is, the fewer people read it. That said, we have accepted some really well-written guest posts well over that limit.
- Be proficient with the written English language. Mangled syntax and unclear sentences are something we’re willing to work with, but slow down the editing process and can be the difference between a marginal post that isn’t worth the trouble and one that makes it onto the blog.
- Engage with strong counter-arguments. No matter what side of an argument you’re taking, if solid, unaddressed counter-arguments come to mind then the piece is not convincing. It’s important to address these.
- Proposals should be somewhat realistic. If you want to change service in some way, it’s very helpful if it’s actually realistic revenue-wise. Any fool can improve the bus system if he adds $30m in annual costs, so you’ll have to do something really clever or innovative to spark interest.
- Present something new. If it’s new information, a novel approach to a problem, or a different way of looking at a situation, that’s especially likely to be published.
Guest contributors add variety to the blog and make it easier for our group of committed volunteers to keep the blog active. They are very much appreciated for their help. To writers who have written good but time-sensitive posts that we were not able to process in time, we apologize.
Format-wise, we’re pretty flexible, but plain text with html formatting is ideal. You can simply email photos or figures you would like to include, or better yet, post them to the Flickr pool and send us a link. If you do send photos, please give them descriptive names, rather than “image001.jpg”.
I’ll leave you with a quote George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language“, which presents rules that I try to follow in my own writing:
(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
If you are unable to sign up for a Page 2 account, fill out the form below and we’ll review your idea.