Articles

A form is now available where you can submit an article for submission for posting. Previously this was done by sending an e-mail to one of us at the foundation or sending an e-mail to articles@richarddawkins.net  

After filling out the form, the article is posted to an approval queue where the moderators will review the article for completeness of the form and suitability for posting. When the article/form is submitted you will receive an e-mail letting you know that it has successfully been added to the approval queue. If your article is posted on the website, you will also receive an e-mail letting you know. Your RDF user profile is also automatically tied to the article and visible to others on the site. 

If you would rather that an article be submitted and if posted, without your user name being published, please note that in the creator comments area.  You will still be notified as above, but there will be no "Submitted by" field populated.

Fields available for input for submission of an article
  • Category
  • Title
  • Source URL
  • Creator Comments

The only field that is mandatory is the source url and title. The title field helps us sort through the articles and select those appropriate for the website  The website code will parse out and format the article and add the title, author, source, and an image if there is one in the article. 

Here is a link to the form http://richarddawkins.net/news_articles/new

Browser Settings

Javascript and Cookies must be turned on for the application to work properly.

Discussions

Starting a new discussion: how to give your topic the best chance of being selected

Thanks for your interest in starting a new discussion topic.

When you submit your topic it is not published automatically but is stored with all the others until the moderators have had chance to look at them all and decide which ones to post.

Sometimes this happens within a couple of hours, sometimes it may take a few days: it varies, depending on the number of topics submitted, moderator availability, etc. We won’t write and let you know if your topic hasn’t been selected, but generally speaking, if it hasn’t appeared within 3-4 days, you should probably assume it isn’t going to.

If this happens in your case, don’t worry: most days we receive about 5 times as many submissions as we are able to publish, so only a relatively small proportion of the total will make it through.

There are a few things you can do to increase the chances of your topic being selected:
  1. Most importantly, please check first to see whether we already have a thread on this topic, or have recently had one. If we have, please submit your thoughts as a comment on one of those instead.
  2. Ensure your topic is in keeping with the purpose of this website, which is the promotion of reason and science.
  3. Like anyone else, we like articles which capture our interest early on. Try to make sure there is something fresh and original in your submission: something that is likely to trigger interesting discussion. Avoid rehashing topics that have been done to death unless you have something genuinely fresh to bring to them.
  4. Please don't use the Discussions section for submitting news stories to the site. You can do that by emailing the URL of the news story to articles@richarddawkins.net Even if your submission is really intended for the Discussions section, and not News, please don't just submit a link on its own but write something to explain what it’s about, why it’s of interest, something to get the discussion started. If linking to a text somewhere else, include the text in your submission. 
  5. Try to make sure it’s written properly. We don’t mind tidying up the odd spelling or grammar mistake, but if your submission is full of them, it is likely to be rejected. But don’t worry if English is not your first language or there is some other reason why this is difficult for you – let us know at the start of your topic (don’t worry, we’ll remove that bit before we publish your discussion), and we’ll obviously be sympathetic.
  6. Similarly, try to make sure that the point you are trying to make is expressed clearly, so it is immediately obvious what you are trying to say. Breaking it up into appropriate paragraphs also helps.
  7. Make sure you have included references and sources where appropriate. Don’t ask users to comment on hearsay.
  8. Don’t include comments which could be considered defamatory.
  9. Don’t post questions that you could find answers to yourself by doing a simple Google search or by doing some elementary reading.
  10. Don’t include any form of advertising, whether it is for a commercial service or your personal blog.

Although we cannot guarantee that any submission will be selected, if you follow these guidelines you will definitely be in with a better chance.

One final thing: we reserve the right to edit your submission, to correct spelling or grammar mistakes, or to improve the clarity of it. We may also change the subject line to make the topic clearer. We will not, however, intentionally change your meaning or the point you are trying to make.

"Creator comments" is a  place for you to enter notes as to why you think this discussion topic should be posted. This is not visible to readers and is only seen by the moderators.

Event Calendar

You can submit any event associated with a local skeptics, athiest, or similar groups. No event is "too" local. Whether you have a local "drinking in the pub" meeting or a national meeting please post it as we will be adding filtering and viewing options. 

Adding your very local event is also a way for people to simply to go the Maps feature and zoom in or scroll to an area they may be visiting to see what is going on. 

The event you create will be posted to the approval queue where it will be reviewed for completeness and appropriateness.  Your userid is recorded when you create it so we can contact you if there are any questions. We will be integrating local groups and profiles with the event calendar in the near future.

RDFRS has decided to use Gravatar as our avatar management system. This is a 3rd party system that allows sites to grab an avatar using an email address from the Gravatar site. This is also useful for the user as they only have to set up their avatar once for multiple systems.  For example, if you have an e-mail associated with 5 sites that use Gravatar you only need to update the avatar image for that e-mail address on the Gravatar site and the next time the Gravatar image for that e-mail account is used on another site, it will display the new avatar image. The following is a quick introduction on how to set up your avatar and how we collect your avatar.

How to set up Gravatar

Visit the Gravatar site at http://gravatar.com. There is a Login button on the top right conner of the page. Click this and a drop down will appear. On this drop down there is a signup link on the bottom. Click the signup link
On this page there will be an email input field. Put in the email you would like to to sign up with. Note: this must be a valid email as there will be an email validation. When you click the sign up button you will be taken to a page that will tell you an email has been sent. 
Access your email and find the email sent. It may be in your spam folder. Once you find the email, click the validation link. This will take you to a new page which will have you enter a username and password.  
The user name has a checker so you can verify its uniqueness before you try to submit. Once you have a username and password read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and then check that you agree. Click sign up and your account will be made.  You will be taken to a page that says: "Whoops, looks like you don't have any images yet! Add one by clicking here!". Click on this link. On this page you will have 3 links. One for each option provided for selecting a photo. You can chose a picture from your hard drive, from a URL on the internet, or an image on Gravatar's site.  What ever one you pick, follow the instructions and hit next. This will take you to the cropping page. Gravatar provides your avatar in a specific ratio so that it never looks skewed or squashed. This means you will need to crop to that ratio. Move the dotted lines with your mouse to capture as much of your image as possible making sure to get any critical parts of the image inside the dotted square. Click "Crop and Finish". You are now on the Gravatar rating page. This will allow you put a rating on your avatar. Put what you feel is an appropriate rating. Sites will have the choice to to display certain rated avatars on their site. Such as a children site will avoid anything above G. Click the rating and you are now done no the gravatar site.

How to use Gravatar on this site

There is one more thing to do. We at the RDF tech team try to keep privacy in mind when dealing with user accounts. Due to this the option to use gravatar is set to off on your profile by default. (Unless you had gravatar enabled on the old site when you transferred).  You will need to edit your profile at the following link: http://richarddawkins.net/users/edit  On this page above the bio field you will see a checkbox with Use Gravatar next to it. Check that box and scroll down below the bio field and click "Update user". This will activate your gravatar for the email address you signed up with. If you have any problems feel free to use the gold feedback link at the bottom to open a ticket with us.
Here's a short video from their site. 

Privacy Policy

RDF is committed to providing privacy on our website. This policy outlines our personal information handling practices. If you give us personal information, we treat it according to this policy, and we use your personal information only in the ways specified on your profile. We do not otherwise share it. All information on your profile, other than your username, is by default private, you can set options to share or keep private all information except for your username. Your e-mail address and personal address can not be shared on this website.  If you choose to enter your physical address this can be used in conjunction with Google Maps to enhance the features of the event calendar.  You may wish to enter your work or other address for this. We do not make use of your mailing address for any other purpose than to extend your interaction with Google Maps.

This should go without saying, but simply; we do not sell your information.

In order to post comments, add events to the event calendar, submit or make use of other features on our website, you must first create an account.  Disqus is used for commenting on this site. To make the most of of the commenting features you should create an account on Disqus and merge it with your RDF account.  However, creating a Disqus account is not a prerequisite for posting, a Disqus account is created in the background for you so that you can use the basics of the commenting system.

Accounts in our system are perpetual. If you change the information in your account, our stored data backups may include your original information.

When you e-mail us or report problems using our feedback system,  we use this information to raise and respond to issues and inquiries of all types.

We do not share personally identifiable information with third parties, with one limited exception: we may disclose personally identifiable information about you if we have a good faith belief that doing so is required by law, such as pursuant to a subpoena or other judicial or administrative order.

A cookie is a small text file that is stored on a user's computer for record-keeping purposes. We use cookies on this site. The information we store in cookies is, in some cases, linked to readers' accounts.

We use both short-term cookies and persistent cookies. A short-term cookie expires within a limited period of time. We use session cookies so that readers with accounts can navigate and contribute to our site without logging in multiple times over a short period of time. A persistent cookie remains on your hard drive for an extended period of time. We use persistent cookies to recognize account holders and present the site accordingly. You can remove cookies by following directions provided in your Internet browser's "help" file.

If you reject cookies, you may still use our site, but your ability to use some areas of our site, such as comments, will require logging in for each action you want to take.

Ad-blocking software. We do not host advertisements on our website and we discourage the use of ad-blocking software as this may inhibit or block some of the features of the website.  If you choose to use ad-blocking software it is your responsibility to configure it approriately.

Links to Other Sites

This website contains links to other sites that are not owned or controlled by RDF. Please be aware that RDF is not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. This privacy statement applies only to information collected by this Web site.

RSS Feeds

RSS feeds are now working as of 30-Aug-2012. If you had a feed set up with in reader which has stopped working you will need to resubscribe. If you have an App that used the old site's RSS feed you will need to contact the developers of that app to have them update their feeds. 

Please subscribe to the following urls for RSS feeds.

Report a Problem

To report a problem or suggestion for the website please use the gold "UserVoice - Feedback" icon at the bottom left of the screen. This captures your browser and operating system information automatically which will help us in looking into any issues.

Website

Tech

The new website has been completely rewritten from scratch so that we have a basic architecture than can be built upon.  Content on the old website was not migrated but left in it's original format and will be maintained in a read/write mode.  It is not archived in the sense of a read only version of older content. Comments and Discussions which have been going on, some for a long period of time, will continue to be available for commenting in their original format.

User Accounts

User accounts need to be reestablished on the new website. Many have already done this during the beta period. If you have not done this yet, simply clicking on the "Transfer" button prominently displayed will accomplish this. This will bring over your profile info and Gravatar.

Some of the tools we use
  • Agile Zen - feature, issue tracking and project management
  • Amazon S3 - cloud storage
  • Campfire - internal text chat
  • Disqus - comment management - we will be migrating to a different solution
  • DNsimple and IWantMyName - DNS management and domain registration
  • GitHub - code and version control
  • Google Docs - document collaboration
  • Google Maps - integrated with the event calendar
  • GoToMeeting - online collaboration and screen sharing
  • Gravatar - user avatars
  • Heroku - application server services
  • Rackspace - cloud storage
  • Rspec - code testing
  • Ruby and Ruby on Rails - code
  • Shopify - online store
  • Solar - search engine
  • UserVoice - user feedback and problem reporting tool that captures the url, browser and OS info

The new website has been completely rewritten from scratch using using Ruby and Ruby on Rails using Heroku for server application support and Rackspace and Amazon S3 for cloud storage. We use GitHub for code management.  The event calendar is integrated with Google Maps. UserVoice is used for feedback and reporting of issues on the site.  Internally we make use of tools such as Campfire, Agile Zen and GoToMeeting as are our development and code team are in many different parts of the world and time zones. We use Solar for a search engine.

Reporting a problem

Please use the "Feedback" icon at the bottom left of your screen.  This captures the url of where you are on the site when you submit your feedback as well as the browser and operating system versions to help us further investigate any issues.

Known Issues and features in development
  • iCal export of individual events - not working at present - iCal of the entire calendar works fine
  • Letters - feature not yet migrated
  • Books/Recommended Reading -feature not yet migrated, this is will be greatly enhanced database of books suggested by RDFRS staff as well as readers and will have the ability for readers to up-vote their favorite books so that everyone can see the most popular and favorite books.
  • Videos/Vignettes - feature not yet migrated
  • Local Groups - this is now Groups and has been greatly expanded.
  • Links - this is in development.  Previously this was just a collection of links. This being expanded to be a more useful and more searchable features.
  • Every feature on the website has a number of enhancement which are planned or in progress
Releases and bug fixes

Bug fixes and and code updates are pushed to production on a daily or more frequent basis.  There is no release schedule but rather a continues improvement release of updates using GitHub's philosophy of "Commit early, commit often." Lots of small incremental changes. This also make isolating any problems or issues with a new release simple as there were few changes made. If a quarterly code release is pushed, there are 100's if note many more places to look and check for errors.  Prior to each push of code an automated test suite is run to catch the majority of any issues.