07 November 2001

Star Strategery

Subject: Star Strategery
From: tortious tender
Date: Nov 7 2001 3:09 PM

I set out to get a star. This is how I went about it.

Reinvent Yourself. It is inevitable that you will make mistakes as a freshman poster. At the same time, the lessons learned and experience you gain during that time can also be invaluable. By reinventing yourself, you can keep the wisdom and dump the reputation but it is only worth it if you take those lessons to heart. Under your new alias you have to live by rules, always reminding yourself that you are in it for the long-term, not the quick fix.

» I dumped my cookies.

» I picked a unique alias. I wanted to catch people's eye, evoke a certain sense of who I was and be able to search the fray (via the search engine) for mentions of my name. For instance, if I called myself "And", a search would yield posts that had nothing to do with me. Conversely, if I called myself "threetoe", a search would yield only those posts that referenced me directly.

Editor's Picks. I rightly or wrongly assumed that after collecting a certain number (unknown) of Editor's Picks I would be considered for a star.

» I checked Slate's main page for new articles often. Playing it safe, I assumed a window of opportunity to get my post in response to a new article on the board prior to Moira going through and marking Editor's Picks. If the article went up in the morning, I had until early afternoon. If the article went up in the afternoon or evening, I had until early the next day. For this reason (and others), getting the jump on the articles is key.

» I read the articles (sometimes more than once).

» I asked myself the question, do I have an angle, hook, pertinent facts, a special perspective, anything of interest in relation to the article?

» If the answer was no, I didn't post. Sometimes I found it helpful to peruse the fray to see what others were saying but generally, if an idea wasn't forthcoming, I didn't force it.

» If the answer was yes, I would write a post on my word processing program. Tweak it, check and double check it, research it, get it just right then go to lunch or have a cup of coffee or even do a little work. Reread it with fresh eyes and ask, is this an Editor's Pick? Be honest. Sometimes it was and I'd post it. Sometimes it needed more work. Sometimes it was a lost cause. Bottom line, be your own worst critic and don't post anything no matter how much you have invested in it if it doesn't measure up.

The Fine Line I knew that if no one responded to my posts they would be a waste of effort. This forces you to write controversial opinions. There are inherent dangers to this, 1) you can't go so far as to be an extremist nut job; 2) you don't want to set yourself up as a punching bag and 3) you can't lose sight of the article. Be topical and be defensible.

Stand Alone Although this is not a must, I started each post as though it was a piece in and of itself. If you were to print it out and give it to a passerby on the street, would they be able to make sense of it? This is not a golden rule but it is a good starting point.

Maintenance There are two kinds of posts. The initial post (key post) as described above and maintenance posts. Monitor your key posts for reasoned responses and ignoring flame baiters. If someone catches you on a point, be gracious. In general, maintenance posts don't require the same fine tooth combing as key posts but they are just as important.

Focus Never forget your job, posting quality replies to articles.

Finally, there is nothing like a good/unique idea to put you over the top. After slaving away for months and collecting dozens of Editor's Picks, I had one. I sat on it for a while, refined it, expanded upon it and when, after about a month or so it was still a good idea, I posted it. This last part is very important because I have lots of good ideas but rarely do they still seem like good ideas after a few days or weeks.

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