Style Guidelines for SirTapTap.com

Last updated on June 15th, 2017 at 10:35 am

Wasn’t really planning on having official style guidelines in the first place, this since until this week this was explicitly a one-person-site (and it still is >90% of the time), but it was suggested I have style guidelines if I’m going to have guest writers and it’ll help me to solidify my own intents, tone, and habits.

Pitches

I don’t usually have guest writers on, but they are welcome if they’re topical. This site covers indie titles, game design, game guides, and specifically the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise (due to the lack of a nice, high quality home for fans online). Email contact@sirtaptap.com if you’re interested in writing.

Updates

These are usually used for guides, but I like to have an Updates section at the very top, after the intro but before the Read Mode block, inside an Expand block like the following. A header 2 should be used for guides so it’s easy to find and check the latest updates. If it’s a more minor change feel free to call it “corrections” instead and use a Header 5 instead of a Header 2.

“Read More” Block

The Read More block should be present in any post longer than a page as presented on a 1080p screen, or roughly three or so paragraphs or two images.

The More block keeps long articles from crowding the front page and their exact positioning is a soft science; try to make it very clear what the reader is getting beyond the More block and why they should be interested to continue past it.

Content warnings (including for spoilers, partial/full nudity, disturbing content etc) should always be placed before the More block.

Titles

Just keep it snappy and to the point. A good headline is more art than science and I’ll review headlines with higher scruitny than most aspects. Keep it relevant, include important key phrases (gotta get dat SEO) and avoid clickbait (generally enticing but ultimately meaningless attention grabbers).

Topics

This site covers pretty much anything I want, but with an explicit focus on gaming and a strong focus on indie or niche titles. For the most part this is a site for people to find information and discussion on games that major sites are lacking in, but general games criticism applicable to all games is always most welcome. You won’t see a review of a AAA game here for example, but an in-depth critique on how developers can learn from a certain AAA game would be most on topic.

There is a particular focus on the Neptunia franchise as I’m passionate about it and rather perturbed at the lack of high-quality sites to discuss and learn about the franchise. Anyone interested in being a guest author for any sort of Neptunia article should contact me at their convenience (contact info in the About page).

Images

Posts should have images where necessary to illustrate a point, spaced well. One every 3 paragraphs or one page’s worth of scroll on a typical 1080p screen is often plenty. Don’t force yourself to include images for images’ sake however, and just because an article is long doesn’t mean dozens of images are warranted.  After the first couple pages of scroll, images are less important (a reader is either hooked or not).

Images should be marked up with an Alt Text attribute, but if you forget or can’t think of one, as editor I’ll include one before posting.

Whenever possible a post should have a Featured Image set, with something that makes the subject clear. This is the most important image as assorted parts of the site will display the featured image prominently and the lack of an image thumbnail (or worse, an auto-generated thumbnail on aggregator sites) could make the topic less clear.

Featured Images should include some variation of the post’s title or topic as well as a relevant image, like a screenshot of a game, and optionally an image or signature of the author (or my logo, the TapTap).

Icons

If you want to include a TapTap for a thumbnail, here is a selection of icons commissioned by Sir TapTap that can be used for that purpose. You don’t need to use them, but I’ll use them by default if making a thumbnail so let me know if you want it specifically excluded.

Please use the full size image when making a thumbnail (these images are linked to their full-size versions).

Sir TapTap Sir TapTap, a spikeball with eyes and a smug grinSir TapTap

Voice

Overall, this site should read something like a collection of my more coherent tweets. That is to say, positive, not overly-formal, to the point, and exploratory. Stay on message, be loud if necessary, but don’t be a jerk.

Don’t be afraid to use big words, long sentences, or anything necessary to state your point or express your style. There are very, very few solid rules in writing. It’s fine if guest writers deviate from my general style (and they certainly will), but I would like to avoid the two extremes of overly informal (e.g. any Youtuber that starts their video by screaming) or overly stuffy.

Words are a soft thing. Do not be restricted by “dictionary words” (as if that were even possible when discussing games); if a word’s intent is clear, it is a word. Don’t be afraid to verb nouns or noun verbs. Singular they and all practical language constructs have a home here.

Criticism is fine and necessary, but ‘hit piece’ presentation is generally unwelcome here and any negativity should come with a point; when I complain, it is because I want something to be better. I expect the same of all work on this site. Criticism should almost always be pointed at a work, not a person; do not write about how Jim Bob Screwed Up, write What Could Be Better In Jim Bob’s Wacky Adventure™.

Non-guide posts should generally have a sort of “conclusion” or thesis that is brought to at the end of the post both to wrap things up and to keep the writing focused towards a particular end. If you bothered to write an article you clearly have a point to get across, so both the intro and the conclusion should make it clear to the reader and have a lasting impact.

Oxford Comma

Solely for the purpose of generating less complaints and sticking to something consistent, this site will use the Oxford Comma.

Headings

SirTapTap.com uses “Table of Contents Plus”, so any post with more than 5 total Heading 2, 3, or 4 will auto generate a nested Table of Contents in the sidebar and at the top of the post. This makes larger posts much easier to navigate and they should be used responsibly especially for guides.

If you don’t want to generate a Table of Contents, either ensure less than 5 Header 2/3/4 are used or convert to Header 5 & 6.

Heading 4 is ugly all-caps (I’ll edit the style one of these days I swear), so it is currently unused.

Heading 5 is generally used when a heading is needed but a ToC entry is not wanted. Heading 6 should be used sparsely, only when a subheading under a “not important enough” Heading 5 is truly needed. Only the most complex of guides should have to resort to this.

Content Warnings

Content Warnings are basically the opposite of censorship (allowing more comfortable expression and digestion of potentially touchy subjects by both parties) so feel free to use them where appropriate. This is too soft a subject to have specific guidelines, so just leave them where appropriate.

Content Warnings should of course appear at the top of the piece and always above the “More” block.

Spoilers

Spoilers should be avoided where entirely unnecessary, and wrapped in a spoiler block like below if necessary. Use the Spoiler Title to indicate what the reader is getting into by clicking.

Story/gameplay spoilers

If spoilers are too significant to be avoided or hidden without it being a major burden for the reader, a major spoiler warning should be given above the More block and after a scroll or so feel free to spoil.

Image spoilers should be linked or hidden in a Shortcodes Ultimate spoiler block.

Editing

For guest writers, everything will be passed to me for final or draft editing, and all changes will be agreed on by both editor and author. Author name (or pseudonym) will always be recorded so it’s clear who an author is. I generally won’t mark when I’ve edited but all posts on the site can be assumed to have my editorial tone; if you have a problem, take it up with me before the author.

For anything published by “Sir TapTap” there is generally no editor but myself, though input and corrections from others will be noted. I am the editorial voice of the site and any works not explicitly from other authors.

For the most part just worry about the body text and images, worst case I’ll do all the meta stuff like post tags, SEO, headline, featured image if you don’t/can’t do them.

Swearing and Explicit Content

Swearing should generally be avoided unless necessary, but direct quotes or screenshots from a game or other work should generally be left entirely intact unless actual explicit nudity is involved (which is unlikely to be covered at present).

Particularly NSFW images should be kept below the “More” block and a content warning before the More block should be issued.

Due to their presence above the More block and prominence around the site, Featured Images are a bit of a special case and should be kept a bit tamer. If it would get someone fired it shouldn’t be above the More block.

As per above, I’ll be reviewing anything before posting so when in doubt just include it and ask me whether it’s too much. It’s always better to include too much and edit it down than to have nothing to edit.

Bylines

Of course you get a Byline, what kind of absurdly unethical site would deliberately scrub Bylines. I’ll make sure your byline and avatar (WordPress uses Gravatars) appear as you’d like them before your first post is published.

SEO

Yes, SEO matters and no I don’t expect any authors here to be an expert, but keep it in mind and try to include key phrases. SEO isn’t about Max CPM™, it’s about helping readers find the information they need. If you’re going to write something, SEO is what’ll help make sure it actually gets read. Like headlines, SEO is something it’s fine if you’re totally ignorant at, I’ll do my best in editing to improve it without changing tone.

Ads and Affiliate Links

SirTapTap.com (and my Youtube) uses ads, as much I would like it not to. For a while this site didn’t use ads, but now server costs have gone much higher than I expected to pay due to the success of my guides, which I guess isn’t the worst problem to have.

If my Patreon earnings and other non-ad income ever completely cover my expenses so that ads are not necessary I’ll remove them; but that day’s not here (cough if you want to bring that day closer you know what to do).

The only ads used are Google Adsense Ads (which are more or less the most trusted on the web) and affiliate links (which have no attack vector). I hate malware, slowdown and the like as much as you.

Ads on this site will be minimal and no guest post will have ads. Ads also only show on Guide pages due to the high effort and traffic involved. Guides are generally written by me anyway but if the two overlap I’ll work it out with the guest author.

My policy on ad blockers is I would really prefer if you whitelisted my site (and any site that is not exceedingly annoying/malicious with ads), but I’ll never have any of those “block content until you disable adblock” features on the site. My general philosophy is the site can only have ads/features that I would personally accept an unaffiliated site having.

If you adblock but donate to my Patreon by any amount I consider any guilt absolved in entirety.

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Sir TapTap

Author: Sir TapTap

Gaming Spikeball dedicated to helping more people enjoy more cool games, especially the underrated and unknown. Positive vibes, cool games, thoughtful articles.