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You are welcome to contribute materials, articles and thoughts for MidEast web via e-mail . You are also welcome to join the MidEastWebDialog e-group. Articles and comments sent by email may be circulated in the MidEastWeb/PEACE Viewpoints newsletter and posted at this Web site. In everything you write - try to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem by following the guidelines below.
Copyright information for submissions
1. Please submit only your own work. Do not submit articles for which you do not own the copyright.
2. Please tell us if the article has been published before or has been accepted for publication or submitted elsewhere.
3. Please tell us if you object to editing of your article. All editing is done with the permission of authors and after consultation with them.
These guidelines are really the heart of what MidEast Web is about. We ask that you follow them for news, information, materials you contribute, comments at the MEW log and forum, and in discussion groups and dialogs. We hope that you follow them in your daily lives and contacts with others as well.
1. Tell the truth - tell the facts, even if unpleasant, but tell them in a way that helps bring understanding and change for the better. Telling the truth obligates us to be frank, but it also obligates us to check our ideas and sources, to ask people to review our materials and get a second opinion.
2. Be a good neighbor - be useful to your neighbors by giving them information and help.
3. Be a good friend - tell your neighbors what is on your mind. If you are happy for them tell them. If you are proud of something you did, tell us. If you feel pain, tell us, as a friend among friends.
4. Be prepared to listen and learn and teach - if you see an error in fact or a report that is unfair or untrue - tell us. If you disagree with someone, do so politely and explain why. If you have something to contribute, don't be afraid to do so.
5. Remember who we are and act and write accordingly - The Middle East is the home of great civilizations known for courtesy, tact and diplomacy for thousands of years. These have served us in good stead to help spread the light of civilization throughout the world.
6. No Racism, Obscenity, Profanity, Personal Insults, Sloganeering or Name-Calling - Make your point forcefully, but do not offend other individuals or groups.
Formal Writing Guidelines
These guidelines are meant to ensure that your article or essay will be the best possible presentation of your thoughts, and will be read and appreciated by a large number of people. MidEastWeb is not a literary journal, and original and courageous thought and interesting content count for us as much as niceties of style, but readers will not read or respect materials that are poorly written.
These guidelines apply to all materials posted at MidEastWeb except informal comments or reproduced articles. We are flexible and bear in mind that English is a second or third language for some of our writers. We will help writers "polish" their articles. However, you should be aware of what we are trying to do, and editors will judge materials based on these rules.
1. Follow the General Guidelines Above
2. Truth - All assertions about facts must be true insofar as we can tell. Check your facts! Even in an opinion article, MidEastWeb will not knowingly disseminate disinformation. Rumors should be labeled as rumors, and opinion should be labeled as opinion. Quotes and information that is not generally known should be referenced. Use hyperlink references for materials that are on the Web.
3. Brevity - Articles or essays should usually be no more than 1,000 - 1,500 words. Special projects warrant exceptions, but the length should be justified by information content. Never use two words where you can use one. Try to build your article or essay around one theme and remove extraneous material, even if it may be interesting.
4. Simplicity - Your writing should be simple enough so that a high-school student will understand it, though your ideas may be complex. We do not have a "captive audience." Write simply, directly and vividly to keep the attention and interest of a diverse readership.. Sentences should be no more than about 15 words long on average. The longest sentences should not be longer than 25 words. If you have a great many long sentences, you should try to break them up into separate thoughts. Explain any terms that might be unfamiliar to people not acquainted with the Middle East or with your discipline. You may want to check "readability" of your text. You can use a utility like the one in Microsoft Word or the readability formula given here. A "before and after" example is given below.
5. Clarity - Brevity, simplicity and clarity take precedence over most other grammatical and style rules, because the rules are intended to help you write briefly, simply and clearly.
5. Grammar and Spelling - Please check your work for spelling, grammar and style errors before sending it.
6. Foreign Terms - Spelling of foreign words should be consistent and if possible, according to standard usage. Frequently there are several accepted usages. Use one of them all the time. All foreign terms not in common use should be defined.
7. Style and Usage - Try to follow good style practice. Strunk and White is a good guide on the Web. The Chicago Manual of Style offers online answers to frequently asked questions. http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/cmosfaq/cmosfaq.html
Some MidEastWeb preferences and practices:
Avoid Parentheses - Avoid needless parentheses. Parentheses complicate your text and put off readers. Instead of "Muhamad (the messenger and founder of Islam) was born to a family of merchants," use "Muhamad, the messenger and founder of Islam, was born to a family of merchants."
Hyphens or dashes - Avoid using hyphens to set off subordinate clauses. Instead of "Yasser Arafat -- President of the PNA -- died on Friday" use "Yasser Arafat, President of the PNA, died on Friday."
Quotes - Long quotations should be in separate paragraphs that are indented or italicized or both. It must always be clear what material has been quoted. Use quotation marks as well where possible, so that the quoting is clear even when the html is converted to plain text to be sent in an e-mail.
Avoid etc. - Do not terminate lists with "etc."
Avoid "i.e." "e.g." and other abbreviations. - Use "that is," and "for example."
Be consistent - always spell the same thing the same way, especially for foreign terms. Do not have "Qur'an" and "Koran" in the same document.
Avoid very short and overly long paragraphs - Avoid one sentence paragraphs if possible. Likewise avoid long paragraphs, which increase reading difficulty.
Conjunctions - Most people consider that It is a grammatical error to begin sentences, and especially paragraphs, with conjunctions like "And" or "But." This usage has become fairly common, but it is usually not allowed at MidEastWeb.
Political Writing - George Orwell (Politics and the English Language, 1946) gave us these maxims of style and usage
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are
used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
8. Avoid Polemics - We are trying to spread light, not heat.
9. Examples - The essay on Christmas and the essay on Easter are examples of what we consider to be good essays and good writing. The MidEastWeb Log and Magazine give numerous examples of the kind of articles we publish.
Here is the same information, before and after editing:
The events of this period are illustrative of the perennial east-west dichotomy that has characterized the problematic nature of Palestinian socio-political organization throughout history. The Seljuk Turks gained control of Jerusalem in 1071, but the rule of the Seljuks in Palestine was short-lived - it lasted less than 30 years. In 1098, the Fatimids, (an Egyptian dynasty) - taking advantage of the Seljuk struggles with the greedy and evil Christian crusaders from Europe - allied themselves with the crusaders and captured Jerusalem, Jaffa etc. But the alliance was broken by the cruel and perfidious crusaders, who - often careless of treaty obligations- invaded Palestine about a year later, capturing Jaffa and Jerusalem in 1099; a great slaughter of the Jewish and Muslim defenders followed, and no Jews were allowed to live in Jerusalem. The city was in the hands of the crusaders until 1187; in that year the righteous Muslim ruler Saladin attacked Palestine successfully and Jerusalem was subdued by him, the crusaders being expelled. Subsequently, the crusaders (in accordance with a treaty they had concluded with Saladin) held an ever-dwindling area along the coast of Palestine. But the treaty with Saladin was broken by the crusaders along with later treaties, and successive crusades tried in vain to recapture Jerusalem but were defeated. The crusaders were definitively and finally evicted from Palestine with the capture of Acre - by Muslim forces - in 1291. During the post-crusade period following their defeat, the coast of Palestine was frequently raided from the sea by the crusaders. To minimize the profitability of these forays, the Muslim rulers retracted population from the coasts and practiced a scorched earth policy; consequently the piracy of the crusaders resulted in a great depopulation and impoverishment of the coast of Palestine for hundreds of years.
(Statistics: 291 words; 29 words per sentence. Flesch Reading Ease 25.0; Flesch-Kinkaid reading grade level: 12.0 (maximum) )
The Seljuk Turks conquered Jerusalem in 1071, but their rule lasted less than 30 years. Initially, the Fatimid rulers of Egypt replaced the Seljuks. The Fatimids took advantage of the Seljuk struggles with the Christian crusaders. They made an alliance with the crusaders in 1098 and captured Jerusalem, Jaffa and other parts of Palestine.
The Crusaders, however, broke the alliance and invaded Palestine about a year later. They captured Jaffa and Jerusalem in 1099, slaughtered many Jewish and Muslim defenders and forbade Jews to live in Jerusalem. They held the city until 1187. In that year, the Muslim ruler Saladin conquered Jerusalem. The crusaders then held a smaller and smaller area along the coast of Palestine, under treaty with Saladin. However, they broke the treaty with Saladin and later treaties. Crusade after crusade tried unsuccessfully to recapture Jerusalem.
The crusaders left Palestine for good when the Muslims took Acre in 1291. During the post-crusade period, Crusaders often raided the coast of Palestine. To deny the crusaders gains from these raids, the Muslims pulled their people back from the coasts and destroyed coastal towns and farms. This depopulated and impoverished the coast of Palestine for hundreds of years.
(Statistics: 197 words; 13.1 words per sentence. Flesch Reading Ease 42.7; Flesch-Kinkaid reading grade level: 10.5 )
Guidelines for Articles
Articles at MidEastWeb should be topical and usually related to the Middle East. They should usually discuss one topic and give your opinion about it, using a style that is forceful and fresh, but not offensive. Remember that even "op-eds" at MidEastWeb must be faithful to the facts. The Log and Magazine feature articles with many different viewpoints and styles. Some of the most popular "articles" are not articles at all, but satirical comparison tables.
Guidelines for Essays
Essays should be about the countries, problems, peoples, culture, religions and politics of the Middle East. Essays can be informative or personal. Informative essays about history or religion must try to provide a balanced view of all the pertinent basic facts, and should not be colored by the writer's prejudices and opinions. Personal essays can be autobiographical or relate a story or a strictly personal viewpoint. Personal views should be clearly labeled as such.
Thank you for helping us build a better Middle East. Shukran - Todah.
The members and staff of MEW.
Copyright 2001-2005, MidEastWeb for Coexistence RA.
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