Blogging On Madinamerica.com
I. Purpose of site
Madinamerica.com is a site that, broadly speaking, is intent on providing an Internet forum for people interested in “rethinking psychiatry.” As a beginning point for this discussion on our site, there is a general shared understanding that our current paradigm of care, in its conception of mental disorders and emphasis on drug-centered treatments, has failed and needs to be rethought. But, beyond that general understanding, we seek to be a site where diverse opinions can be aired and explored. As a site, we don’t have any fixed opinions or beliefs about what should be done differently.
We also want our site to be one that shows respect for people with different thoughts, beliefs, experiences, and opinions. We know that passions can run hot on this topic, but we are trying to foster an environment where there is a civil tone to the discussion.
II. Site content
We provide summaries of new research studies that are relevant to this issue, a roundup of blogs on the web, and the writings of a wide range of people interested in this topic. Our bloggers include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, ethicists, service providers, journalists, attorneys, family members, and people with “lived experience” as patients (which is to say people who may identify as peers, consumers, psychiatric survivors, etc.) A number of our contributors are from outside the United States and thus we are striving to be an international forum for this discussion.
We also feature video interviews, and have been building a resource section that includes research articles (or links to them) on various topics, and a directory of professionals who will provide support for those people interested in tapering from psychiatric medications. We also host “forums”—i.e. online chat groups—for people interested in discussing particular topics.
III. Overview of Blogging on Site
A. Tone of blogs.
We want madinamerica.com to be a place that is professional in tone. This doesn’t mean that bloggers shouldn’t write their opinions, etc. But, in a sense, blogging on madinamerica.com will be different than writing a blog on a personal site. Think of madinamerica.com as something of a magazine; pieces can be funny, opinionated, etc., but always written with a general professional sense.
B. Purpose of blogs.
While your blog is a forum for making your thoughts known on this general topic of psychiatry, mental health, psychiatry in society, etc, you should also think of it as a place to report on what you may be doing in your own sphere of involvement with this world. We want readers to come to madinamerica.com to learn about innovative projects, success stories, efforts at developing alternative therapies, peer-run initiatives, etc. So your blog might be seen as providing a mix of opinion, insight, and news.
C. Writing quality
Although we have an editor who will review your posts, please review your blog for clarity, grammar, and spelling. We expect our blog posts to be polished, and that our readers will find madinamerica.com a home for good writing. It may be the Internet, but think of your blog as a published piece, much as a piece might be published in a newspaper or magazine.
IV. Our Feedback to Bloggers
Our readership has been growing steadily, and we now get around 70,000 visitors per month. As part of our effort to increase our readership, we like to identify topics that may be of particular interest to our readers (or have a particular newsworthiness), and when we do, we may send you a quick email informing you of these “hot topics,” in case you would like to write about them.
V. Reader comments and interacting with readers
We have made a concerted effort to invite our readers to see themselves as part of a larger community devoted to “rethinking psychiatry.” There are many reasons for that, but partly it is because we believe that this is a discussion that our society needs to have, and that it should be a discussion that includes everyone, so to speak: mental health professionals, family members, patients, ex-patients, and so forth.
Readers who want to comment on articles must register with Madinamerica.com, and we ask that they comment in a civil manner. We of course want to keep the comment section open for critical thoughts, but we ask our readers to do so in a professional way, and without using language that is hateful, or might be considered a personal attack.
We have a moderator, Matthew Cohen, who seeks to keep comments within these guidelines. This isn’t easy, for we have to strike up a balance that allows for a free discussion of ideas and opinions, and yet keeps that discussion civil. In a sense, we strive for the atmosphere that might be found in a college classroom that allows for spirited debate and the free exchange of ideas.
Many of our writers like to engage with our readers, responding to their comments, and while it is up to every writer to decide whether to respond, we do encourage such interaction, as it can be so informative for everyone. We of course ask our bloggers to respond to commenters with the same respect that we ask our readers to give to our writers.
VI. What We Need From You To Create Your Account
a) A photo (jpg) of you, at least 200×300 pixels. A headshot would be fine, and if not a headshot, a photo that we can crop for a headshot. Photos and logos that are too large will be resized.
b) A short bio. See this page for examples of the length, etc. http://www.madinamerica.com/writers/ (about 40 words).
c) A title of your blog. See the above page
d) A longer biography that includes a description of what you will be writing about. This doesn’t mean that you will only write about that subject, but still let readers know your general focus. Click the individual authors on the writers page for examples.
e) Note that readers will be able to contact you through the form on our contact page.
VII. Once Your Account is Created: (SEE VIDEO)
Accessing the site
Login using the link in the top right of the page.
I. Your login name: Initial of your first name, then full last name, all lowercase. So for instance, Robert Whitaker’s login name is: rwhitaker.
II. Password will be sent to you. You can change your password if you like on the dashboard.
III. Please use your author account when commenting on articles. Do not make more than one account on Mad In America. If you were already a commenter then your existing account will be given author privileges.
Posting on the Site
If you are uncomfortable using WordPress, you may email posts to the Mad In America editor to be published by us.
If you’d like to submit posts yourself, it’s easy, here is how:
A. Login and a dashboard will appear. If you are already logged in, you can access the dashboard by clicking Mad In America on the admin bar across the top of the screen.
B. There are multiple ways to submit a new post: Click +New on the bar along the top of the page. Or click Posts on the left to view your previous posts and submit new ones.
C. Write your title in the title line. Capitalize all of the important words in the title. This is the style used by the New York Times. (So, for example, a title with the words at the start of this section would be: “Posting on the Site.”)
D. Insert the text into your post. If you are copying from another program: Click the second button from the right on the visual editor, which adds another bar of buttons. Then click the button with the clipboard superimposed by the letter “W”. Paste your content into the field and then click insert. Not all formatting may go through. Review the entire post and contact an editor if you need any assistance with formatting.
E. Footnotes may be added to your post using a simple shortcode contained in brackets. Write the number of the footnote, followed by the text you would like contained in the footnote. So a sample footnote would look like this in the editor: 1
F. Select the Category for your post.
You will see on the right hand side of the page a list of Categories. Click Blogs along with any of the topical categories that apply to your post.
G. Set a teaser for the front page.
First, go to the top right hand section of your screen. Click on “Screen Options.” You will see there a box titled “excerpt.” Click that box. You will only have to do this the first time you post.
Now, to create a teaser, copy the brief intro from your post that you want to serve as the teaser, and then paste it into the excerpt box. Please keep teasers short. The first two sentences is often a good length, although sometimes the best teaser comes from the middle or the end of a post.
H. Hit Publish. Your post will be accessible with a private link immediately. It will be featured on the front page as soon as it has been reviewed by a Mad In America editor. At times when we have many blogs published at once, we may postpone featuring posts for a day or two in order to spread out the publication of fresh content. H. A Mad In America editor may suggest revisions to your post before it is published on our front page. See the document Editorial Guidelines for information on creating a high-quality post for Mad In America. If you choose revise a post after it has been published on the front page, it will need to be reviewed again by an editor. Send us an email if you decide to do this in order to expedite republication.
If you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask.
You can call, or email. And thank you; your blog is going to be an important part of this community.
Kermit Cole — News and Blogs Editor
Matthew Cohen — Web Director
Laura Delano — Personal Stories and Resources Editor, Special Projects