If you're reading this, you are either new to Elfwood and need a friendly guide for your walk into the woods; or you have been around for a while and hope to learn something new. We hope you'll find this guide useful.
This is a guide to the Extranet, generously seasoned with hints and tips from two grizzled Elfwood veterans and former moderators. We tried to include everything we can think of: starting with an explanation on what makes a good user id, and covering areas which include making a good impression.
User ID (UID)
Each new library or gallery requires a unique User ID, commonly referred to as the UID. This serves as both your login username and your Elfwood gallery or library URL. While it is preferred that you use your real name or parts of your real name, the rules have since been relaxed to allow you to use a nickname or a handle.
Some tips, using my name as an example:
- 'georgette', 'gette' or 'gtan' are recommendable because they are all parts of my real name.
- 'sailorgettemoon' or 'legolasgirl' are likely to get me branded as a lame ass, but are acceptable nonetheless.
- 'getteloveslegolasandhatessailormoon' will earn a reject for being too long (not to mention, too stupid). Please keep your UID between 3 to 20 characters long. The shorter the better; it'll be easier for people to remember.
- 'iwanna[profanity]legolas' or anything rude, obscene or plain inappropriate can get you voted off the island, or at least, you'll be asked to change it. You can be sure that the moderators will remember you, and not in a nice way either.
After your page is created, you cannot change your UID at whim. So choose carefully, and make sure it isn't something you'll be embarrassed about a few months later.
The Info Page is the first page you will see when you log into the Elfwood Extranet. It holds some basic information about your account, like your URL, the number of items you have in your gallery/library, and options regarding your current ticket if you have one. It also displays any Moderator announcements - they would let you know if they are currently not accepting any new uploads.
Everything you put in this page (except the password) will be published on your gallery. Read on and learn the best ways to utilise it.
Your Full Name
This should be pretty simple to understand, but people still managed to come up with the most creative ways to mess up something so straightforward. Each library page begins with the name you entered in this field.
As a spanking new member, your name is automatically generated in a GIF image when your gallery or library is approved. Pretty isn't it? I'd like to draw your attention to the shape of the font, particularly the flourishing strokes on the upper case letters. Now imagine the name header looking like this:
You know what they say about caps online being the equivalent to shouting in real life? It's true; and it looks terrible when done on fonts with decorative uppercase letters. Some people use uppercase initials for their first or middle names, which is fine. You are meant to capitalise those. A name like LM Montgomery comes to mind.
Some people include their nickname in the name. Here are some good examples seen around the 'woods:
Here is a bad example, once seen around the woods.
Georgette Tan aka SUPER Termite Queen, RULER of Woodworks, Supreme Owner and Mistress of your SOULS!!!
Can anyone else say, "LAAAAAAME!"
Here are more examples of what to avoid:
Is it necessary? Umlauts and similar accent marks should only be used if they are actually part of your name. As for hacker-speak... please. Save it for the appropriate places (i.e nowhere on Elfwood).
I know that not everyone in Elfwood is here because they are serious about their work. However, if you are, the last thing you want to do is to turn potential viewers off by trying to be too cute. This also goes for unconventional capitalisation, or the lack of it in appropriate places. If you type your name like this:
...does it say, "I'm unique; this is my personal identity" or does it say, "I don't know something as basic as proper capitalisation"? Is your work good enough for people to forgive a few eccentricities?
This field allows you to change your password. Choose with care and try not to make it too obvious. Any "friend" or even someone who have had some contact with you might be able to guess passwords that comprise of your birthday or your crush's name. If your account gets hacked and someone causes mischief under your name, you are the one who will be held responsible. You are the one who might lose your account.
Your Email Address
An email address is very important. It allows you to retrieve your password (if you've forgotten it), have your comments mailed to you and most importantly, allows the Elfwood administration and moderators to get in touch with you if necessary. If your email is invalid, your account will be suspended.
Some members are naturally worried about getting spam mail. This isn't much of a worry anymore since preventative measures were put up. Anyone who clicks on your email link will be taken to a feedback form. Your email address will also be there in the form of an image file that bots will be unable to wantonly harvest. If you're still worried, get a free web-based email especially for this purpose, but remember to check it regularly. You may be contacted by the administrators, and you most certainly will get a message from the moderators whenever you upload something. You do not want to miss anything important.
Your homepage on the web (Optional)
If you have a personal website, this is where you put the URL.
When a field is marked "optional", you do not have to put anything in there if you do not have anything. The link will not appear on your page if the field is empty.
Your own story library/personal gallery on the web (Optional)
Some of us are prolific enough to dedicate an entire website to our work. If you have a personal library or gallery that is separate from your personal website, enter the full URL here.
Your short bio
To quote the info in the Extranet, this is where a lot of people do it wrong. The short bio always begins with Your Full Name, meaning that you need to assume your name is already there and begin writing in third person.
- "is a writer." will display as "Georgette Tan is a writer." (Correct)
- "Georgette is a writer." will show as "Georgette Tan Georgette is a writer." (Wrong)
- "I am a writer." will give you "Georgette Tan I am a writer." (Wrong)
This short bio appears in the gallery page (e.g. Gallery 15), or the listing of writers in Wyvern's Library.
Your Personal Bio Space & Personal Photo
Ever since the profile section of the gallery/library has become automatic, it only takes a few minutes for your bio to update. This allows you to freely experiment with how you want it to look and what you want it to say.
It is a bio section, so talk about yourself. The easiest bio you can write can include a brief description of you and your writing. Be wise about what you do tell; something as specific as stating what city you are in and what school you go to may mean that people can easily find you. It might not be a good thing. A lot of writers opt to talk about their influences, favourite authors, and why they write. Some provide a brief summary of each story so a potential reader can choose what they want to read without having to go through every page. Others will helpfully provide links to friends or other members that they deem worth a visit.
The bio space takes most HTML. You can perform a number of tricks with HTML that can make your arrangement of text look the way you want it to. Remember to keep fancy formatting to a minimum. The key here is to do as you would while formatting a story - keep it readable. Avoid fonts that are too small or too big. If you are not sure what size is suitable, use the default. If you must use colours, pick something that complements the background.
There is such thing as a bio that is too long. The reason for this is often a ridiculous amount of links, or sometimes, the person's entire life story. The ERB has been known to crack down on excessively long bios. Ask yourself these questions when writing your bio: Is this page about my writing or about my personal life? While we delight in learning about our favourite writers, some libraries only contain two items and enough personal history to publish an autobiography. Write your novel before you work on the dust jacket!
Because new stories don't get marked the way new art does, one of the more useful bits of information you can include are updates and the date you last changed things. The bio area is also a nice place to include a short synopsis of your stories and poems to help a reader make their selection.
You are given an option to upload a photo measuring 200 x 200 pixels or smaller. Types of images permitted for this is covered in the rules; what they don't tell you is that it will usually displace your bio. The photo is aligned to the top left of where your text begins, and the displacement may not make much difference, depending on your photo size. If you write in large paragraphs, it is likely to wrap neatly around it, but if you have many bullet points, half of the list might break off midway and fall completely out of alignment.
You can solve that with some clever rearrangement of text, or by using tables. Tables keep your text in place better than the free-flowing default does, but it should not be attempted unless you know your HTML. Perfect for the layout snob!
Other Login Names
The bio field is followed by "At 'Lothlorien - Fantasy Art Gallery' I use this login name", or something similar. If you belong to other areas of Elfwood aside from the one you are working on, this is where you enter your other login names or UIDs. If you do not have pages in other sections, leave it blank. Visitors will only be annoyed if they clicked on a link to a non-existent gallery and find themselves lost in the woods. They are also likely to be annoyed if you mistype your other UIDs. Guess who loses the visitor.
Spaces are provided for your AIM screen name, ICQ UIN, Elftown, Livejournal, Yahoo and MSN usernames. Again, fill them in only if you are using these services and don't mind visitors contacting you.
Who can comment?
You have the option of allowing anyone to comment on your gallery, or limiting it to fellow Elfwood members only. The second option should only be considered if you are being harassed by anonymous users. This forces any potential commenter to log in, but it means losing feedback from your genuine non-Elfwood friends and fans.
Only the maintainers of Elfwood (i.e. Thomas and Mirar) will be able to view the information submitted into this section. Part of it is for demographic reasons. The other part is to give them means to contact you if you become unreachable by email.
You are asked to provide your Name (it doesn't mean you are allowed to use a pseudonym in your public info), Address, a Phone Number, your birth date and gender. You're also asked to provide a "secret question" (and answer!) in case you need to verify your identity with Elfwood.