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    an E2 user says heya. So you've been noding for 4.6 years, with 1200 nodes. That’s more than a node every 1.5 days?! Where do you get all your noding ideas from???? I'm very much stuck in a noding dry-spell of close to a year and need some insperation! :)
Are you caught in the clutches of Noder's Block too?

Here are some ideas that might be helpful. First remember you are writing for yourself as well as the reader. The most frequent advice I find myself suggesting is to include the basic elements of who, what, when, where and why. The second most often is attributing sources.

Node what you know.

Go back and do a brief survey of your write up titles and see if that jogs any related ideas. Look through those high school and college papers you did. Did you just finish a class or begin a new hobby?

If you have a number of interests that you want to study in school and never have time for this is an opportunity to find out. Are there other noders here whose work interests you? Go read through their write-ups for related ideas. Since the recent copyright changes there are thousands of subjects and songs that need a good write up.

Node what you don't know

To get started you can hit the local library and look around on the net with Google to see if there are several ideas that would make a good combination for a write up. It may take a while to come up with a method but once you get it down the rest is pretty simple. For instance, if I am writing about a poem, I will copy and paste a line from it in quotation marks, and then read through the first ten google pages to see what others have written about the poem and the poet or the history behind the poem.

Yep, that’s a hundred pages, but with experience one can tell which pages are worth skimming. Using Mozilla to block pop ups and run a spyware removal program once a week will keep things running smoothly. Many times there will be duplicate web pages so be sure to attribute all of your sources and use ones that are reliable like. edus, well known newspapers, dictionaries, encyclopedias etc. Including a quote from a credible expert on the subject is always worthwhile. Any personal web page articles cited should have several reliable sources cited. Adding trivia is great for reader's interest. If you would like to include the outlandish, which can be quite entertaining to some readers, make sure you make a note of that in the write up.

Keep writing

While you’re waiting for inspiration to strike. Try your hand at a quest! Find an old quest and see if the topic interests you. The CST group is closing in on 1000 write-ups processed. GrouchyOldMan says that the "Salvaged" writeups we've passed number about 840 thus far and failed around 70 as non-compliant. A large number of users have been more than willing to update theirs. Many times it’s just adding a few words. You can message the user account Content_Salvage if you would like yours reviewed. We’re always looking for people interested in helping. Feel free to message me or GrouchyOldMan if you’re interested.

I hope this helps get you started and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. We can use all the data we can get in E2 especially from outstanding writers like you!

On Soft Links.

Something I've noticed is that many nodes are sparsely softlinked, if at all. This is the case, as you might expect, with lots of old nodes. But newly created nodes can also suffer the same problem.

Every website has hyperlinks like our hard links. They aren't anything special. What makes E2 great is the self-organising nature of the linking process; the soft links. These are formed when you move from one node to another, and demonstrate associations between nodes that readers may think of, even if writers don't see it.

However, it's not enough to create a writeup and hope that soft links appear. It's your job, as the creator of a new node, to ensure that it's linked to relevant and interesting other nodes.

You should know this already. It is explained best in E2 FAQ: integrate your writeups and most vividly in Link and Link. But for whatever reason, many noders don't softlink their nodes enough. Often, I get the impression that people don't enjoy softlinking.

So here's:

arieh' s handy-dandy guide to softlinking

First of all, you don't need to create a soft link for every hard link you have. That advice is a relic from the old days of E2, when you'd have very few hard links because the writeups were shorter. However, you should certainly have softlinked the key concepts.

Secondly, make sure you are in the full node view for softlinking. It doesn't work properly if you're in the single-writeup view. If the top of the page has "all of your writeup, no other writeups in this node" at the top, you're in the wrong view. Click through the link before softlinking, and remember that if you edit your writeup, you'll be taken back to the single writeup view.

Now, follow the important hard links in your writeups, the ones related to concepts and things relevant to it. Open them in new windows - you may need to right-click on the links to get this option. Open many at a time. The link is created by the time the header of the page has loaded, so as soon as 'writeup@Everything2.com' appears in the top bar of your browser, you can close off that window. This is a good time to fix any hard links that don't go anywhere.

What's wrong with only following the hard links? Well, you want people to read your writeup in the future. Often, words that you hardlink to are common, and already have strong softlinks. Say you're writing up a computer game. Well, you may want to link it to computer and game, but those links are only one-way; while your writeup will show a link to computer and game, those writeups won't show a link back to yours. If your writeup is long, it could be easy to fill it with one-way soft links.

So next, I'd have a pop at related concepts. Pick a keyword related to your writeup, something you've probably already linked to. Pop it into the search box and tick 'ignore exact'. You'll probably be presented with a "Findings:" page with lots of writeups on topics related to yours. Some of them will only be loosely related, but it doesn't matter. Start opening a few in new windows, and close them off when done. Then repeat the process with other keywords. Often, writeups found this way will show your soft link at their end too.

If there are one or two soft links that you think are most important, you can strengthen them by following them a couple of times. This will move them further up the soft link block, to nearer the top.

Here's some miscellaneous soft link advice (just advice, mind. Not site policy):

  • Pile them on. Anything less than about 24 looks sparse. Don't worry about over-softlinking
  • That said, consider stopping at 40, so your readers and future writers can add softlinks too.
  • Link to at least one poetry/prose for a factual writeup, and at least four factuals for a creative piece
  • Link to at least two nodes with a title of more than two words.
  • Link to one - but no more than one - random node that you like.

For those who are scared of softlinking, don't be. I used to only submit writeups to old nodes to avoid softlinking. Now I quite enjoy it. Have a go, you can't go wrong.

For all those who already know all this and spend ages softlinking your writeups, find a writeup lacking in the link department - maybe one of your own old ones, or just a random piece from a fled user. Craftily integrate it, like a prodigal son, back into the fold of E2. Look at your handiwork, and be proud.

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