There's an art to feeding the Hippo. To keep your Hippo as fat and happy as possible, you are advised to loosely follow these guidelines (plus a couple of tips 'n' tricks). Most of them are elementary and second-nature for many of you. These aren't strict rules, they're just a good idea. The trick to breaking the rules is always to do it deliberately, for an effect.
There are links in this entry to some Hippo posts as examples to illustrate the point. We aren't calling you out as the worst offender. Probably.
Try to make your headlines descriptive rather than self-referential.
If someone who isn't a Bloggie regular sees your headline, will they want to click on it? Remember that there are 50 lurkers reading for every active or even semi-active participant. They're part of your audience too. What's a FNJKSH? And no, that's not an invitation to spell out "filthy, Nazi, Jooooooo-killing shithole" instead. We really shouldn't have to spell that out, but there it is.
Your headline is a teaser: it should be short, informative, and pack a punch. There's almost no reason to have more than one sentence, or to have a multi-clause sentence.
Your headline should not contain what would more properly belong in a comment.
Save that part for your first comment! Unnecessarily long headlines make the whole page look ugly and mis-shapen. We care about the aesthetic appeal.
To get more people to read your Hippo thread, leave the first comment on your thread as soon as you post it. Often, leaving a comment right away makes the difference between a dead thread and a lively one. It's an invitation to start the conversation. Since you're the one who started the thread, try to jump-start the conversation too.
Language: try not to say disgusting things in your headline like "felching". It just ain't right. Nobody whose name doesn't rhyme with Mandrew Gullivan wants to think about that.
Self-linking to your own blog or writings elsewhere: Please do. It is encouraged, in moderation. However: don't self-link if you don't even make a token effort to participate in the community. Then you're just link-whoring and abusing the privilege. The Hippo is a facility for all of us. We do
want to see your stuff. It's a good thing. Examples of good self-linkers: Jauhara, V the K, airforcewife, Jourdan. Examples of bad self-linkers: Potfry and Buckley, Allie's World. If you're a self-linker, it should be pretty obvious to you whether you're the good kind or the bad kind. Don't be that guy.
Linking to other people's blogs: be careful with the link you paste in. First of all, some bloggers have a "trackback" link. Don't use that one, you want the permalink that takes you directly to the post in question. Try pasting your link in your own browser's address bar to make sure it goes where you expect it to go. Look at the end of your link: does it end in #comments or #more? You're linking to an anchor, which will make the clicker's browser jump to a certain point in the page when it loads it, rather than the top of the page. If this isn't your intention, delete the anchor portion from your link (everything after the # sign).
Hat-tipping and cognac-giving: it's polite on long front-page entries to credit who pointed you to a hot piece of news, but it's visual noise within the constraints of the Hippo. The hat-tip also takes oomph away from your headline and makes it end limply. Put the cognac in your comment, not in the threadline. The point of your link is the link itself, not where you got it from-but feel free to tell us in the comments.
Linking to a dot-info URL: We know it's a pain in the ass that we don't allow that. Unfortunately, the .info prohibition is very effective, stopping something like 1/4 of our spam attempts in their tracks, so we have to keep it in place. As a workaround, if it's time-urgent and we're not around, post the link, deleting the dot from dot-info, and tell people in the first comment to click and then add the dot back in. Email us to let us know so we can go back and add the dot in when we're around.
Linking to pages without permalinks that have frequently-changing content: this is a problem. Some people (coff coff Drudge) re-use URLs
for different stories. This makes it hard to link to them because the Hippo will think it's a duplicate and just redirect you to an old thread with the same URL. Here's a workaround: just add a query parameter to the end of your link. That will make it look like a completely different URL to the Hippo. For example, to re-link a previously-linked Drudge page that has new stuff on it, add "?123"—without the quotation marks—to the end of your URL. Drudge's server will ignore that portion and serve up the page you want, and the Hippo will happily eat it up.
Topic matter: everything isn't war, blood, and politics. Keep that coming! But also keep the weird gadgets, horrifying celebrity crotch-shots, neat art, interesting people, past heroes, flash games and animations, quizzes, and YouTube rubbernecking coming. If it's interesting to you, chances are it's interesting to us, too. And the Hippo will thank you for the variety in his diet.
In conclusion, great job, thanks for all the fish, and try to keep some of this in mind :-)