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Jam - the 'do-it-yourself' web site for NSW folkies!  
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7. More about how JAM works

By Wayne Richmond
Posted Thursday, December 23, 2004

Only financial Folk Federation members - Although JAM is open to the world to look at, the ability to contribute is restricted to currently financial members of the NSW Folk Federation. Apart from financial considerations, the success of an open community web site like JAM is dependent on the responsibility of its contributors. The Federation is relying on you, its members, to act responsibly with regard to what you write in your articles - it is your responsibility to stay within the law. It is expected that financial members of the Folk Federation will be more likely to take this responsibility seriously. Get a membership form here.

Big Medium User Guide - The makers of Big Medium have put together an Editor's Guide with full information about writing, editing and publishing articles. It can be downloaded in PDF format from the Big Medium web site. You will also need a copy of Adobe Reader.

Articles sorted chronologically - Within each sub-section, articles are listed in chronological order of their publication date with the oldest dated articles at the bottom. In this way, new articles always appear at the top with older articles further down. Eventually, old articles won’t appear on the page at all but will still be accessible via an ‘In case you missed them’ older articles link.

Automatic promotion of articles - Unless you have used the ‘Display Preferences’ panel to prevent it, articles you publish will be automatically promoted on both JAM’s home page and the article’s main section page. If you have included a Spotlight image, your article may even be featured as the ‘Top Story’ for a period of time on the JAM home page or the article's main section page/s.

Publication date is important!

Make sure the Publication Date of your article is accurate - In order for Big Medium's automatic archiving and promotion of new articles to work properly it is very important that the Publication Date is accurate. Remember, it should be the date the article is published (or at least written) NOT the date of an event.

Start with a copy of an old article

Copy old articles - Rather than start with a blank slate, sometimes it makes sense to make a copy of an old article and turn it into a new one. This would be particularly the case for club coordinators. Once you have a good layout for all of the information required for a monthly announcement, it is more efficient to copy last month's article and change it rather than start from scratch every month. This would also help to maintain a consistent appearance. You will find a 'copy' link in the Admin section's list of articles.

Not all browsers are equal! - Only certain web browsers will give you fully WYSIWYG editing of your articles. Recommended browsers include:

Windows: Internet Explorer 5.5+, Netscape 7.1+, Mozilla 1.4+, Firefox 0.6.1+

Mac OSX: Firefox 0.6.1+, Mozilla 1.4+, AOL (not Safari v1)

Linux: Netscape 7.1+, Mozilla 1.4+, Firefox 0.6.1+
Other browsers will work but you will have to use special formatting code (called Moxie Code) to achieve formatting of your article (such as bold, italics, lists, web URLs etc.)

Printer-friendly! - At the bottom of all articles is a link to display a ‘Printer-friendly page’ showing just the article without the surrounding navigation frames. N.B. Unfortunately, as it sits in the right-hand frame, you lose the 'Main Article' image.

Email this page - At the bottom of all articles there is a link to allow readers to automatically email the page to a friend.

Send a comment to the author - You should provide your name and email address in the 'Author Info' section so that your name will appear in the article as a link to a form which readers can use to send a message. N.B. The author's email address is not revealed in this process so there is no danger of attracting spam.


Built-in archiving facility - Owing to the way Big Medium handles articles (automatically moving old articles from the main pages) there is no need to remove articles to keep the site current. All that needs to happen is that new articles are written which push older articles further down the page! There will be times, however, when it is appropriate for particular articles to be removed (see below).

Keep Folk Mart up-to-date!

Remove out-of-date Folk Mart announcements - Some articles - such as those in the Folk Mart, on the other hand - should be removed once they are no longer current. In other words, once you have found a violin teacher or sold your accordion, please remove the corresponding articles. If your status is only that of ‘writer’ you will need to email me and ask me to remove it. Please do this by using the built-in ‘E-mail this page’ link at the bottom of the relevant article. That way I will know exactly which article you are talking about.

Edit or remove out-of-date promos of old events - You might like to either re-write into the past tense (turn it into a sort of archival review?) or remove articles promoting events which have already taken place. For example, you could change "Loosely Woven will be doing a concert with Denis Kevans and Sonia Bennett . . ." to "Loosely Woven did a concert with Denis Kevans and Sonia Bennett . . . ". On the other hand, it doesn't really hurt leaving event articles as they are to form an historical archive of events. Providing the date (including year) is clearly stated, people won't be confused. Once again, if your user status is only that of a 'writer' you should use the 'E-mail this page' link at the bottom of the relevant article to request me to unpublish any article that you wish to edit or delete.

Links are a bit different!

Contributing to JAM's links section - There are actually four different kinds of 'content' in articles, one of which is a link. This is the kind of article that should be used when adding to JAM's links section. Use the Description Text section to write a short description of the link and then add it to one of the four sub sections - NSW, other states, national and international. It is also important that you open up the Display Preferences and check all of the options except 'On main section pages' and 'On subsection pages'. It isn't appropriate for links to be promoted in the same way as other articles.

Including downloads in your articles - There is no easy way to do this in the current version of Big Medium. However, it can be done:

  1. Add a 'download' article to the 'Downloads' subsection of About JAM. (Choose 'Download' as the article type and navigate to your download file.)
  2. Once your 'download' article has been published go to it and copy its URL.
  3. Using this URL, add a link to the file in your main article (See here for instructions).
See this article for an example of using this technique to include an MP3 file in an article.

RSS news feeds - JAM has the built-in ability to provide automatic RSS news feeds for most of its sub-sections. Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is an exciting new technology for sharing headlines and other web content, allowing users to browse headlines with a news-reader program. To find out more, click on any of the relevant links on JAM or click here.

WRITER - create & edit (but not publish) their own articles.
EDITOR - edit (but not publish) anyone's articles.
PUBLISHER - edit and publish anyone's articles.

Levels of Big Medium users - There are a number of different types of Big Medium users. Initially Folk Fed members will be given ‘writer’ status which will allow you to create and edit your own articles but not actually publish them. I will regularly check for and publish new articles (usually within 24 hours). Please feel free to send me an email if you would like your article published sooner. Unfortunately, the current version of Big Medium only gives publishing rights to a much higher level of user with full access to every article on the site. As I feel that this would be somewhat daunting to newcomers (not to mention dangerous - it would be quite easy for someone to inadvertently delete someone else’s article), I am starting all members off with ‘writer’ status. However, please let me know if you think you are ready to handle ‘publisher’ status and publish your own articles.

One-click editing - Users with 'Publisher' status can configure their local computer to enable 'one-click editing' of articles. An 'Edit' link appears at the bottom of all articles which leads directly to the Big Medium editing screen for that article.

JAM Talk - An online discussion forum has also been established which can be accessed by clicking on the Forum link. This is a totally separate program from the rest of the JAM site and requires its own registration and login. Everyone is free to register and create new topics and post messages, setup polls etc.

Please encourage participation!

Encourage active participation in JAM - Please encourage your fellow Folk Federation members to actively participate in JAM. The notion of a web site maintained by ordinary people through their browsers is quite foreign to most of us. Some members will require a lot of encouragement before they are confident enough to contribute. Please help make JAM a success by encouraging active participation and helping them in whatever way you can.

JAM is an evolving concept! - JAM will undoubtedly continue to evolve and change in response to the way it is used and the creative ideas of its members. Please feel free to suggest ways that JAM could be improved - such as, additional sections or subsections. Furthermore, Big Medium, the technology behind JAM, is also evolving with a major upgrade expected in the second half of 2005 with a whole raft of improvements. Send your comments to Wayne (02) 9939 8802.

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7. More about how JAM works