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The Smoking Musket User's Guide: How to use FanPosts and FanShots

One of the great features of the SB Nation network is the ability for readers to become part of the community by posting their own articles as FanPosts and FanShots.

If you've never used FanPosts and FanShots here at The Smoking Musket, or any SB Nation site, you really should. FanPosts and FanShots are a great way to share your opinions about the West Virginia Mountaineers and all topics surrounding them. They're a great way to drive discussion about the topics you care most about. FanPosts and FanShots are incredibly easy to use, but here are a few tips to get you started.

You can find links to create your FanPost or Fanshot right below the day's top stories on the front page of The Smoking Musket. (circled above).

First, FanPosts and FanShots have two very different purposes. FanShots are for sharing a quick thought or a link to a video, photo, Tweet, Vine, etc. A good example of this is FanShot posted by WVUIE97 about Lady Gaga's mother being a WVU cheerleader. That FanShot has been shared on Facebook over 5,000 times.

If you've got something with a little more content, a FanPost is you friend. FanPosts give you the chance to blog like we do, and we try to promote the best FanPosts to our front page for everyone to enjoy. A great example of this is grumpnet's FanPost in response to Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports naming West Virginia one of the losers of conference realignment. This is also a great way to be considered for any possible openings on the staff. If we see someone who provides quality content on a regular basis, there's a good chance they will be asked to come aboard in an official role.

How to make a FanPost

Let's take a look at the FanPost process. First, click the "Write a FanPost" link on the front page, shown above, or just click right here.

You can begin by writing your post in the "Body" section of this page, and don't forget to give your post a catchy headline to draw everyone's attention to your post. You want people to read what you write, or else it would be like writing a letter to someone and then throwing it in the trash instead of mailing it.

The FanPost editor has a bunch of different tools that allow you to make your post look nice. Just between the "Title" and "Body" sections are a few buttons that allow you to alter the format of your text, add bullet points or attach links to your post.

You can insert a picture or video with the tools located on the right-hand side of the Body section. Below the Body section you will find the League Filter. Here you can select the sports league you wrote about. In most cases, for The Smoking Musket, you will choose between NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball or perhaps the NFL or NBA.

The Auto Tag & Link button parses your article when you are finished with it and tags any player or team you have mentioned. Below that, you can attach a poll to your article if you want feedback from your readers.

If you still have questions about the FanPost editor, the big yellow help section can tell you pretty much everything you need to know.

Here are a few tips to make your FanPost more successful:

- Don't just repost articles from elsewhere. Those copyrights are owned by someone else, and we will have to delete your FanPost.

- If you want to comment on a post on another site, link to it and quote a few lines. Then share your take on the subject.

- Your point will come across better if your post is easily readable. Take a few minutes to go back and check for spelling and grammar mistakes. We all make these mistakes, but by the miracles of science we have a spell check in our editor. Your readers want to see your thoughts in complete sentences and paragraphs, not text speak. Use punctuation to separate your thoughts. A little time spent editing will improve the way readers view your FanPost, and will increase the odds that it gets promoted to the front page.

- Don't forget to preview your post before you publish it to make sure your formatting will come through correctly. Use the button right next to "Publish" at the bottom of page to do this.

How to make a FanShot

Again, you can click the link on the front page that's shown in the image above or just click right here.

First select a FanShot type by using handy chart to help you determine what type is best for the content you are sharing.

Then paste your content into the applicable box and provide a brief description and catchy title. Click publish and you're done. It's that easy!

How else you can get involved

Read other people's FanPosts and FanShots. You can always find them on the right sidebar on the front page.

If you like something, give it a "rec." The posts with more recommendations filter to the top and it's a great way to say "good job."

Comment on other people's posts. Check your own posts for comments and reply to them if you have more to say. Driving discussion about your topic is half the fun. In fact, just comment on anything and everything! We have a great community of commenters here and they are always welcoming to new faces.

Ultimately, we want you to get involved. Don't make us do all the talking. If you have any questions, just ask!