contribute content

What to contribute

1. Useful information.

For things like bioinformatic methods, lab protocols and field techniques please stress the empirical information you have. The best posts are those that clearly state the problem or objective being addressed, what you did and whether or not that worked. Provide evidence and examples wherever possible. For scripts and pipelines please be very clear about what the script or pipeline achieves, what the input and output files are, including formatting, what user specified parameters are available, and what they do.

In terms of the amount of context and explanation to provide, please ask yourself whether an interested reader would readily be able to repeat, or avoid repeating, what you are posting about. Brevity and clarity are nice.

Please take a look at the DNA Extraction – CTAB post as an example of a good methodological post.

2. Images.

We can share images via the blog. Please contribute photos of plants and people in the field and any images of lab work or other subjects, practical or abstract, related to the projects you are involved in. The idea is that these images will be available, with attribution of course, for use in presentations and posters etc.

Please read my post about Intellectual Property at RLR  if you haven’t already.

Please read the RLR To-Do List post for some ideas about what we need posted.

How to contribute

RLR is constructed with and runs via software called WordPress installed on the Zoology computers.

I’m not going to provide any instruction on how to use WordPress as I am not an expert and it is easy and generally intuitively obvious how to do the important things. You will have to become familiar with WordPress to contribute to RLR. If you run into trouble look at the help and try Google.

There are four main ways to contribute content to RLR: make a new post, comment on an existing post, edit an existing post or upload an image gallery. You can also add a new page but think twice before doing this – posting is the appropriate action for almost all content.

Make a new post

At RLR you will see a toolbar across the top of your browser window. You can click Add New -> Post or click Dashboard to go to the editing side of RLR.

If you go to the Dashboard you will need to click on Posts then on Add New.

Once you have the Add New Post page its all quite obvious. You can type your post in to the text editing box or you can paste from a text editor, including Word. Note that there are handy tools for formatting your post, including a specific “Paste from Word” feature, that you will see if you click the “Show/Hide Kitchen Sink” button.

If you love coding HTML you can change the editor over to an HTML tab.

How to add a link: If you want to link to another post or to another RLR page or to an external website highlight the word or words you want to act as a link and click the link button. (If you are linking to an RLR page or post you will be able to simply browse or search for it then select it). Note, as of early 2012, almost all posts on RLR are published privately and, contrary to the previous sentence, this means you can’t simply browse our posts to link to them.

If you are linking to a file in the RLR media library or another post at RLR or something external you need to enter the URL in the add link dialog box. Just go to the file/page and copy its URL from your browser’s address bar. To get URLs for RLR posts, go to the post and look for the “Permalink”. Copy that URL and use it as the link. For files in the RLR media library – you can go to Media via the Dashboard or, from the Edit Post window – click the Upload/Insert media button, then Media Library, then browse to the file and click “show” then you can copy the URL then cancel out of the Upload/Insert window get back to your post.

How to add a document for download: at the top of the editing window there is an “Upload/Insert” button. Click this if you want to insert an image, a text document, a Word file or pdf for example, into your post. You will be able to browse your hard drive to select the file and it will be uploaded to the RLR media library. This means your file is copied to the RLR directory on the Zoology computers and it will be downloadable from there, via your post, with a simple click by other users of RLR. You can also browse and insert documents that have already been uploaded to the RLR media library. Bear in mind that the link that will be inserted into your post will be the name of the file so change the name to suit your link. If you do not want to change the file’s name then you can select whatever text you want to work as the link in your post and then link that to the file in the RLR media library (see above).

How to put a table in your post: This is unfortunately tricky. The visual editor for posts does not have any tools for making and formatting tables (at least none I can find). You can make and format tables in HTML via the HTML editor or, if you are happy with a very simple format, you can make a table in Excel or Word (and maybe other editors) then paste it into your post. If you do this the visual editor will recognise that its a table, and it will look like a very simply formatted table, but you won’t be able to change the formatting. Don’t put any effort into fancy formatting of a table in Word or Excel as it will be lost when you paste it into the WordPress visual editor. Without any real grip on HTML coding you can make simple edits to a table by editing the HTML. For example, I have changed the alignment of text within table cells by changing the obvious HTML tag that relates to that characteristic.

How to display your post on the Home page with just the opening paragraph or two followed by a “Continue reading ->” link. (This is highly desirable for all but the shortest posts).:

Easy method . . .

Write your post. Make sure your opening couple of sentences are clear and strong. Put the cursor where you want the “Continue reading ->” link to appear (either on a line of text or a line of its own), then click the “Insert More Tag” button at the top of the post editing window – its the button with a small rectangle above a dashed line above a larger three sided rectangle, beside the link and unlink buttons.

Manual method . . .

    • Write your post. Make sure your opening couple of sentences are clear and strong. Note where you want the “Continue reading ->” link to appear – i.e. after what text.
    • Switch from “Visual” to “HTML” view in the post editor.
    • Find the spot where you want the “Continue reading ->” link to appear.
    • On a new line right after the text you want to appear on the Home page type, or paste, this:


    • Switch back to “Visual” mode.
    • That’s it, publish or update your post.

Categorise your post: select one or more relevant categories from the categories box. If you don’t see anything suitable add one. Note that you can select more than one category and that the default category is “uncategorized” – remember to uncheck this one when you categorise your post, by default it will be checked.

If you make a new category: we want it to appear in the clickable list on the right side of the Home page so it can be browsed easily. That list on the Home page is a Widget that displays a custom menu called “Categories”. You need to add your new category to that menu. To do this:

Go to the Dashboard -> Appearance -> Menus then look for your new category in the Categories box and tick the checkbox and click Add to Menu. Make sure you add to the Categories Menu not one of the others.

Tag your post: use tags like keywords. Tags will help people find your post and they will appear on the Home page in a menu. Use tags that already exist in the Tags menu on the Home page as much as possible but make new tags if you think of better ones. New tags need to be manually added to the Tags menu before they will appear in that menu on the Home page.

Publish your post: there should be a Publish box on your screen. Select the visibility you want your post to have then click Publish. Note that if you change the Visibility setting from its default to “Private” that will publish the post but you should still click “Update” if you have made edits to your post.

Comment on an existing post

This is easy. Please do it. If, for example, you use a method that has been posted and it worked for your plants then comment about it. If it didn’t work for your plants then comment about it. If you did something a little different and it worked comment about it. If you discovered an error or a problem then comment about it.

Edit an existing post

Sometimes posts should be edited. If there is a glaring error in a post and, especially if you are the author of it, then edit it. More usefully, if there is a post that you could make a substantial contribution to, and improve, then please do it. If the author of the original post is available then tell them what you want to do. In some cases it will be worth posting about an ongoing project or method under development and, as such, you should regularly edit the post to reflect ongoing developments. In such cases you should update other users on significant changes by commenting on the post as you update it.

Upload and Display Images

This is very simple although there are also lots of ways to mess it up. The idea is simply to upload a selection of image files such that they appear as an image gallery on a new page under the “Image Library” page that already exists at RLR. This is what you want to do . . .

  1. Prepare a batch of image files on your computer.
    • Make a collection of image files, using a file organiser or photo management application on your computer in such a way that you can easily select that group of image files for upload. For example, on a Mac you could use the Finder or iPhoto. With iPhoto you might browse your photos and make an album of those you want to upload, then export that album to a new folder. You could also name each of the files in iPhoto prior to export (a good idea) and you could also reduce the image/file size at the export step (also a good idea).
  2. Upload your image files to RLR.
    • You need to get your collection of image files off your computer and onto the RLR space at the servers as an image gallery. This is easy but it is important that your files go up formally as an image gallery and not just as RLR media files . . .
      1. Optional – compress the folder/directory of image files into a zip file. This is not necessary but it is an easy, and quick, way to do the upload. If you don’t want to do this skip to the next step. On a Mac, for example, you can simply select the folder of image files in the Finder and then select “Compress ‘folder name‘” in the File menu.
      2. Go to RLR and get to the WordPress Dashboard -> log in to RLR then mouse over “Rieseberg Lab Resources” in the banner at the top of your browser window and click “Dashboard”.
      3. Go to “Gallery” in the navigation pane on the left and then to “Add Gallery/Images”.
      4. If you compressed your images into a zip file – go to the “Upload a Zip-File” tab then make sure the “in to” box says “a new gallery” then browse your computer for the zip file in the “Select Zip-File:” box and then click “Start Upload”.
      5. If you are not uploading a compressed zip archive, i.e. you have multiple image files to upload, then go to the “Add new gallery” tab and enter something appropriate into the “New gallery:” box and click “Add gallery”. Then, go back to the “Upload Images” tab and choose your new gallery in the “in to” box and then browse your computer for the image files via the “Select Files” buttons and then click “Upload Images”. Note that there are two settings you can change before uploading – “Enable/Disable flash upload” and “Scale images to max width 800px or max height 600px”. I recommend that you enable both of these options.
  3. Display your images on a new page at RLR.
    • Give your new gallery a name and description and display it on its own, new, page under the Image Library page at RLR. There are various ways to do this but this is probably the simplest . . .
      1. In the WordPress Dashboard go to “Pages” and then click “Add New”.
      2. In the “Page Attributes” pane on the right side of the screen click in the “Parent” box and select “Image Library”.
      3. Give your new page a short but informative title – the name of your image gallery for example.
      4. Write a short description of the images – just the basics, what, where, etc.
      5. Place the cursor on a new line below the text and then click the “Add NextGEN Gallery” button that should be among the buttons at the top of the text editing window.
      6. In the dialog box that appears select your gallery and select “Image List” for the “Show as” option, then click “Insert”.
      7. In the “Publish” pane on the right side of the screen leave the “Visibility” setting set to “Public” and click the “Publish” button.
      8. If you want to make your new page private, so that only registered users of RLR who log in can see your new image gallery, then check the “Restrict Page” box at the bottom of the page editor and then click “Save Changes”. Do not publish your page privately (I know, counterintuitive but in this case you need to use the Restrict Page feature not Private Visibility).
    • That’s it. Note that you can do various things to image galleries, including making new pages to display galleries (instead of steps A-G above), via the “Gallery” pages – click “Gallery” on the left side of the WordPress Dashboard.
    • Note also that you can title and tag images via the “Manage Gallery” page under “Gallery”. If you haven’t already given your images informative titles before you uploaded them then you can do it there.
    • Save Changes – If you add or edit any of the titles, tags or descriptions of galleries or images click the “Save Changes” button regularly. This will write your changes to RLR and will prevent you from inadvertently losing your work. For example, if you delete an image from a gallery, the gallery resets and you will lose any unsaved changes.
    • Another useful tip. If you have titles and descriptions on your images in iPhoto those will carry through to your RLR gallery with the upload. So, if you do that annotation in iPhoto on your own computer you will have the annotation there and at RLR and only have to do it once.

Read my introductory post about the RLR Image Library if you haven’t already.

That’s it. Post!