UCL Centre for Digital Humanities


Staff Blog


DH Blog is a blog; it carries personal takes by real people on issues pertinent to digital humanities and academe at large. 

Policy change: event announcements no longer posted to DH Blog

It's your voice

Whereas the prose on UCLDH's main Silva site aims to be impersonal British English, blog posts are written in the voice and from the perspective of their respective authors (see Bylines below). 

When posting or editing, make sure to log in to Wordpress using your personal login, as edits made with the Admin login introduce an accountability issue: it isn't immediately clear who made them.  


DH Blog is a group blog. As the author's identity is a crucial piece of context against which blog posts are read, we have implemented bylines that precede any post's body copy. A byline is a strong statement: it's a guarantee that the author identified in that byline has written the words that follow and lays their reputation on the line for what these words say.

As a byline states a claim to authorship, any chunk of text authored by anybody else needs to go in quotation marks or, more commonly, should be treated as a blockquote. If you find that the whole post you were going to make would need to be a blockquote, because, say, you want to forward a job ad, then don't do it, because it's not a blog post (see Reposts below).   

Bylines and "guest bloggers"

The principle that every DH Blog post should have a correct byline extends to Guest Bloggers as well.

Guest bloggers come in two varieties: those we trust to be able to compose and submit a blog post on their own, and those that we don't.

Those who can can be trusted to compose and post a blog post of their own can be given an account. Others need an account, too, but they won't get access to it.

To add a new user, go to Users > Add New in the left sidebar, then fill in the form with their correct e-mail address and other details, set their Role to "Author", then click on Add User. The Role of a "Contributor" will probably give them an account that lets them submit posts, but a trusted user with sufficient editorial privilege will need to put those posts online. Don't give them Roles higher than Author, as this might allow them to tweak the site's configuration settings.

In case that we don't trust a guest blogger to be able to compose and submit on their own, fill in their account details as above (make up an e-mail address if you'd like), and untick the box that asks whether or not you want to notify the person of their account. Once you submit this form, the new author is accredited, and you can assign their byline simply by picking the author's  name from the drop-down menu at the bottom of the posting interface, meaning that you don't have to log in as that author if you want to post in their name.

Dicouraged: the "By UCLDH" byline

One of the user accounts on DH Blog is "UCLDH", which can be picked from the dropdown menu in the bottom leftt corner of the posting interface, resulting in the "By UCLDH" byline, regardless of which user account was used to create or edit any given post. The "By UCLDH" byline was introduced to meet the need for "impersonal" posts, especially event announcements. Since event announcements are posted via the Events section of the Silva site now, there doesn't seem to be any further need for it, and its use is in fact strongly discouraged. We're still making it available, however, in case there might be an occasional need for it.


DH Blog posts don't have to be illustrated. If there's an illustration included, there's a strong preference for the illustration to be square, 150 x 150 pixels, located top left in the post [nice example].

Here's the thinking: the DH Blog illustrations have always been a bit of an issue because the wider they get, the harder they squeeze the first paragraph of the blog post copy between the illustration and the Twitter widget top right. If the illustration is only 150 px wide, this is not an issue, which is good.

More importantly, maybe: square images have become part of the house style that make up UCLDH's visual identity: they're an extension of the squares in the logo and we've been using them for a while on the front page, on the Courses pages, and more recently we've introduced 150 x 150 px pictures, floating right, to the refurbished Events section.

Note that Wordpress has a very basic image editor built in now that allows for image editing online. Sometimes it may be easier to edit an image locally prior to uploading it, in which case the GIMP's cropping tool might be handy. 

Hint: if the illustration is a photo (high colour depth), save it in the .jpg format. If it's a piece of graphic design with a limited palette ('flat colours'), save it in the .png format.

Event reminders, event write-ups, etc.

As per January 2011, DH Blog no longer carries event announcements, which are now handled via the Events section, providing a much saner, human-readable interface. While, as a consequence of this re-organisation, event announcements are no longer to be posted to the blog, other event-related posts still are. Here's what we see as the appropriate division of labour between announcments in the Events section of the Silva site and event-related posts on DH Blog:

  • An event announcement goes on the Silva site as soon as possible: weeks or months ahead of the event; the sooner the better, since the Events overview page serves as a Programme. An event announcement might be updated or emended closer to the time as the need arises (see: posting guidelines for events)
  • Unlike an event announcement, which, as everything else on the Silva site, is written impersonally, an event reminder is a blog post: it is written as a personal invitation by somebody who uses their own personal voice (and byline) and may provide a personal take on the event ('UCLDH' as blog user name is discouraged now). An event reminder may go out a day or three before the event (but not a week or three before the event). While event announcements are mandatory, event reminders are not. 
  • An event reminder never includes a full repost of the corresponding event announcement. The reminder links to the announcement (HTML version, not PDF, if any!) and may use a pull quote from the announcement. That pull quote may be the first paragraph of the announcement, as the system constraints (teasers on the overview pages) force us to pile the important bits into the first paragraph of an announcement. The idea here is to keep the event announcement canonical rather than ending up with competing announcements in different parts of the site (see also: Reposts).
  • Event reminders may be posted about non-UCLDH events, whereas the Events section will only announce UCLDH events (see the Events page for the distinction)
  • Event reminders, event-write-ups and anything else event-related (except for announcements, obviously) should continue to be categorised as "event".

Bigging up UCLDH

If either UCLDH or somebody affiliated with the Centre gets a mention in the press, make sure to post a quick note to the blog about it, complete with the link and maybe a pull quote from the piece (example).

If a person affiliated with the Centre posts an article of particular note elsewhere, link to that article, quote from it, provide context and/or commentary but do not repost it in full.

To avoid the appearance of immodesty, the bigging up should be done by a UCLD person not directly being bigged up. Use e-mail to make arrangements in this respect. [see also Wikipedia]


As a matter of editorial policy, DH Blog does not repost articles that have run elsewhere. If a third party has an original piece that warrants being posted to the DH Blog, that person can be signed up as a guest blogger. If a third party requests a repost of a piece that has been posted elsewhere, please decline that request and ask for a canonical permalink (ie the URL where the piece has originally been posted). DH Blog might then run a post about that post, typically reprinting a short quintessential passage from the original post in a block quote while providing a link to the full original post and a bit of context or commentary provided by the UCLDH author. Do not repost anything in full!

Articles posted by UCLDH people elsewhere should not be reposted to DH Blog either and should, in fact, be treated like any other link of interest: some UCLDH author (preferably not the author of the article being discussed) should link to it, quote from it, and provide a minimal amount of context and/or commentary.

Some notes on markup

Web pages are coded in Hypertext Markup Language, which has certain limitations compared to the printed page but is typographically much richer than a plain-text environment such as e-mail. Use correct typography rather than the plain-text conventions that have evolved as stand-ins. Especially, if you post lists, either of the ordered or the unordered variety, make sure you use the correct markup. On top of the Wordpress posting testarea, there's a point-and-click tool that lets you insert the markup without needing to bother with actual code. Use it.