Guidelines for content published on libcom.org including what kind of content we want, where different types of articles should go and how to format and layout articles.
Guide to the style and tone of original writing we want on libcom.org, particularly with regard to news and current of analysis.
The libcom.org style guide is designed to make our content easier to read and give our website more consistency in our articles across all the different sections. A lot of great material and information in alternative media sources today suffers from simply poor quality production and style, and we aim to try and address that. Compiled with help from Freedom Press, this style guide applies to the news and blog sections of the site, and to the library and history sections where appropriate (i.e. for new writing, as opposed to republishing old content).
This guide may seem large but please do not be put off! The most important thing is that we want content. If you have an article you think would be good on libcom.org let us have it in whatever form you can. If necessary we can edit it so that it fits our guidelines and any random bits and pieces we may be able to put in our Library. This style guide is included so people know why and how we might be editing any submissions, and for any people who feel they can take these suggestions into account when writing new content.
Different sites have different ways of conveying information. On libcom.org we decided that the most effective way for us to get our message across is with a uniform tone and general style of writing across the site. The tone we would like to maintain on all sections of the site should have the following characteristics:
- Serious - avoiding rhetoric and overly emotive language
- Clear - written using simple English, free from jargon
- Concise – trying to keep below 2,000 words per article where possible. Longer articles can go in our Library.
- Outward-looking - i.e. aimed at the intelligent layperson, not at people who are anarchists, activists or libertarian communists already. Not talking down to anyone, but explaining all historical references, specialised vocabulary, etc. and in general trying to address general issues of concern to all.
These are the kinds of articles and writing styles we would like for different parts of the site:
Primarily we are interested in three main things:
- Stories about people taking collective direct action to improve their lives. Example: Striking Bangladeshi garment workers win 77% pay rise
- Libertarian and working class analysis and perspective on current events, such as wars, natural disasters and other big mainstream news stories. Example: Greece: when the state turns antifa
- News about the effects of corporate and government policies on people and the environment. Example: Death-trapped in a burning cage - the Ashulia inferno
While these are our priorities we will publish almost any other news stories provided they fit the aims and ethos of the site with the general exception of the following topics:
- The left - Leninist groups are a minor irrelevance in society who do not interest anyone. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, let’s not give them any attention they don’t warrant. Example: The Trotskyist Workers’ Alliance publish revisionist paper on North Korea
- Events or adverts - If you would like to advertise an event or anything else please post a Discussion. Only things or events related to working class struggles or libertarian communism are permitted in this forum. Unrelated adverts or spam will be removed and the posters may be banned.
News reporting guidelines
Top of the list because it can't be stressed enough. Anything which is not a direct fact useful to the piece should be removed. Try to stick to a low word count, ideally 250-500 for news articles, 600-1,000 for comment, 1,200-2,000 for in-depth pieces.
News is not comment
Try to limit personal opinion in news articles. Unlike the corporate media we don’t pretend to be objective, but we decided to avoid overly emotive and subjective language - for example “the filthy pigs injured 11 demonstrators” should be “11 demonstrators were injured by police”. News and comment are two separate things, generally please try to treat them separately.
You could find a great news story a few weeks old, so to make it sound current there are a few tricks you can use. Couch your language in the present - 'Prince Harry has been wearing a nazi uniform' sounds more up to date than 'Prince Harry wore a nazi uniform two weeks ago'.
Answer six questions
Who, Why, What, Where, When, How. Who and what should be the first questions you answer - assume your audience has no prior knowledge of your subject.
Worth a thousand words...
A relevant picture is a great addition to any news story. Please post images along with any story you can, but please do ensure you have copyright permissions to use the image, and include a credit to the photographer or copyright holder.
Any clearly written article with tips on various aspects of collective organising and action, which isn't already covered in our organise section. Ideally fewer than 2,000 words.
In addition to news and comment, we are keen to host any other content which is broadly in line with the aims of the site. In particular we are keen to host old texts, leaflets, articles, books, personal accounts, pamphlets, posters and other artefacts from individuals, groups and past struggles and campaigns.
In all the sections of the site, please try to take the following suggestions into account:
Use as many sources as possible - The more sources you have, the more reliable, well-rounded and believable your story. Please list your sources in footnotes or in a list at the bottom of your article.
Cross-reference - If you add links in parts of your article to other articles or sections on libcom.org, please do! Further reading and links for more information at the end are very welcome.
Avoid clichés, rhetoric and slang - Clichés are lazy writing and should only be used if you really can't think of anything else. Lefty rhetoric or slang, such as “Bliar” instead of “Blair” say, should be avoided at all costs since they immediately alienate a large audience and make reading uncomfortable for people outside activist culture. They also make a writer seem unprofessional and childish.
Cut down on capitals - Anarchist, anarcho-syndicalist, communist etc. as well as government and state should all be done without capital letters. Communist with a capital “c” can and should be used if referring to members of USSR-supporting Communist Parties. Try not to use political labels unnecessarily as they break up the reading flow, and may confuse the issue.
Use shorter words - Never use 'achieve' when you can say 'do'. Make sure you don't use words which people might not understand - 'Precarity' for example - unless you absolutely have to, and make sure you explain what it means if you do. If you can, go through the text afterwards to check and explain any word or reference the average person wouldn’t know.
Kropotwho? - Don't use quotations from people not directly involved. This includes dead theoreticians and living philosophers.
CNwhat? - Do not assume in-depth historical or anarchist knowledge, particularly with respect to libertarian groups and historical events. Don’t mention groups, such as the CNT, without referring first to their full name, acronym and brief description – e.g. instead of “CNT”, first write “the National Confederation of Labour (CNT), a Spanish anarchist trade union”. It can then be referred to simply as “CNT” from then on. Don’t refer to historical events in shorthand, like “Kronstadt”, instead say “the grassroots rebellion of workers and sailors against the Bolshevik Russian Government in 1921”, and/or provide a link to a related page on libcom with more information.
Grammar and abbreviations
To keep a standard look and feel across our site, we try to maintain a consistent use of grammar and abbreviations
Capitals - In article and page titles, only the first word should be capitalised. E.g. “US forces invade China”, not “US Forces Invade China”.
Royalty/Religion - All titles should be capped (big first letter) - the Queen, Prince (Charles/William etc.), the Pope. The Archbishop of Canterbury is Dr. Williams. Clergy should be first the Rev. John Brown, then just Rev. Brown after that. E.g. The Rev John Brown denounced Protestantism today as 'a bit silly'. Rev. Brown, a leading figure...
Everybody else - Start off using their full name. After that if it's someone we like, use their first name. If not, use their second name, with the exception of well-known figures, whose most easily recognisable name should be used - e.g. Chomsky rather than Noam. Don't use any decorations or honours.
Full stops - “USA”, not “U.S.A.”. Use “etc.” “e.g.”, and “i.e.” Don't abbreviate: Place names to St, Rd etc. Don't use Mr, Mrs or Ms at all. Don't abbreviate non-name words - “headquarters” shouldn't become “HQ” because it means unnecessary capitals.
Federations - The UK libertarian federations can be abbreviated to SolFed (Solidarity Federation), AF (Anarchist Federation) and IWW (Industrial Workers of the World). Always explain who they are at the beginning of the piece for sake of new readers.
Money/Numbers - Million shortens to m (£1m), billion to bn. Trillion is written as is because it isn't used often. Per cent becomes %. One to nine are written as words, 10 and above as numbers. If counting in euro it should be Eu120. “Euro” should always be in lower case, and “euro” is both singular and plural. Weights and measures always use the shortened version, except metres and miles. For wars, please use capitalising and numbers as follows: World War I/II, or First/Second World War.
Apostrophes - Apostrophes indicate possession or abbreviation. “Its” is the possessive form of it, so like “his” and “her” there is no apostrophe. The only time you need an apostrophe in “its” is when it is an abbreviation for “it is” or “it has” – e.g. “it’s cold” or “it’s got big teeth”. Acronyms do not require apostrophes in the plural form – i.e. “CDs and DVDs”, not “CD’s and DVD’s”
Exclamation marks - No, no, no, no, no! Try to avoid wherever possible. They undermine a serious message.
Hyphens - We use hyphenated political labels. For example, anti-fascist, anarcho-syndicalist, anarchist-communist, etc.
Words and phrases
For terms related to political labels and terminology, particularly related to class, please take a quick look at our introductory guide and try to apply them as we define them there.
Activists – most “activists” aren’t the full-time professional activists that term implies: they’re just normal people, so try to refer to them as such. If they are professional or full-time drop-out activists then please specify. See also Demonstrators and Protestors.
Anarchists believe – Please do not use, because it isn't 'anarchists', it's the writer.
Anti-capitalist – Whatever anti-capitalist movement there was is now mostly dead, and the term has little resonance with anyone any more. Please avoid (see also Anti-anything else, below)
Anti-globalisation – The anti-globalisation movement was very badly named, and deeply flawed at the root of its politics, please try to avoid (see also Anti-anything else, below)
Anti-anything else – Lefties are often seen as “anti”-everything, so please do not fuel that impression by using “anti” excessively
Basically – Avoid. You are already putting it in layman's English, no need to labour the fact.
Bourgeoisie/Bourgeois – Sounds very old-fashioned, out-dated and complex. We prefer to talk of capital as the enemy of the working class, but if it must be used please use modern equivalents possible, or provide a definition if you really must.
Capital - Try to use this term to describe the entity of capitalism which the working class's interests are opposed to, rather than capitalist class, or bourgeoisie, which are a little muddy in terms of definition.
Class – Due to confusion about class on the left and in the general population we try to maintain a uniform usage across the site:
- Working class: The working class consists of all the people in society who can not get by without selling our time and energy to a boss - by working. I.e. if we do not make large amounts of money from property holdings or owning a business we have to be wage labourers, or in some places in the world rely on state welfare or crime.
- Capitalist class: The capitalist class consists of those individuals who do not have to work (though they generally do) since they draw enough income from property such as land, housing or businesses/stocks and shares. However when talking of the entity whose interests are opposed to the working class we prefer to talk of capital.
- Middle class: The middle class does not exist as a distinct economic class, so if you use the term please be as specific as possible with what you mean, i.e. if you are referring to the "cultural middle class", “professionals”, “intellectuals”, “home owners” or “more privileged workers” etc.
Deliberate misspellings such as cos, innit etc. – Just use regular language. Doing otherwise can read as patronising, and it can make things more difficult for non- native English speakers.
Demonstrators – See activists
Fascism/fascist – Only use when referring to actual ideological fascism. Its usage referring to non-fascist phenomena like liberal democratic governments makes the author sound silly.
Middle class – see class
Obviously – Avoid. It's only obvious to you, not to casual readers.
Proletariat - see bourgeoisie
Propaganda - The word "propaganda" is associated with distortion of fact for political gain, usually by dictatorial regimes. When talking of material designed to persuade people of a political idea, please use a different term, such as "outreach material"
Protestors – see activists
Smash – You can’t really smash an abstract concept, so please don’t encourage people to try.
Swearwords – Avoid in news or information articles as it can make the writer look immature, and put readers off.
Unsurprisingly – There is no such thing if you want to write for a mass audience. Avoid.
Working class – See class
This style guide is designed as an addition to large guides like the Guardian’'s, rather than as a comprehensive replacement. The Guardian guide contains large numbers of standardised ways of referring to people, places, companies and concepts and is worth checking out if you ever have anything you’re unsure about.
libcom group, with help from Freedom Press
We encourage other groups, websites and publications to use or adapt this guide if they so desire.
Tags: tagging your articles guide
A short guide to tagging and categorising articles posted to libcom.org.
Tags help our users browse content, so please do tag articles that you post.
The most important thing is to tag the name of the author of the article or text in the Author field. For texts with multiple authors, just click Add another item to add other author names.
With author names and all other tags, please start typing the name, and see if the person, word or group shows up as an autocomplete option. This is extremely important, because if tags are not matched, then we can end up with duplicate tags which mean articles cannot be browsed properly, and this is very time-consuming to fix.
Use the most consistent part of a name to look for options. For example, with CLR James, try searching "James", because there could be multiple different ways of writing his name, like "CLR James", "C.L.R. James", "Cyril James" etc. Similarly, for a text by Peter Kropotkin, search for "Kropotkin", as his name could be written "Peter Kropotkin", "Petr Kropotkin", "Pyotr Kropotkin" etc.
For organisation names, use the full name of the organisation, in the primary language of the organisation, in Roman characters. Then, if the organisation is well-known by an acronym, the acronym is then included in brackets.
E.g.: Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), Nihon Rōdō Sodomei etc.
For general tags, please try to include the following tags, again ensuring to search to match with existing tags. Multiple tags should be separated with commas:
Article editing guide
Information and guidance on how and why you should edit articles on libcom.org.
You may have noticed that, depending on your permissions on the site, most articles on libcom.org have an "edit" button above them.
This is so that our users can help us improve the site, and fix any errors.
To edit in article, just click edit, then make the required changes, in the revisions information box enter the information about what you have changed, for example "fixed typos" and click "save". Your edits will then go into a moderation queue, to be approved by administrators.
Here is some quick guidance on the type of edits which we hope people will make, and which can improve the site and its utility to our users.
- fixing typos
- fixing errors in the text, for example if some text is missing, or if it is a scanned text with some mistakes in it and you have a copy of the original text so that you can correct them. If there is an error in the text, such as a date or place is wrong then it may or may not be appropriate to just fix it directly. Example, if it is an old historical text and the original author made a mistake then it would be more appropriate to add a footnote explaining that the error is in the original. However, for news articles these can just be corrected. Ask in the comment section below the article if you are not sure.
- adding images. If the text does not have an image attached to it, please feel free to add an appropriate one. Or attach and add images throughout the text if you have the time.
- adding hyperlinks to other content on libcom.org. This is something we would really appreciate. If a reference in one article is made to an individual, event, country, organisation or whatever else that we have content elsewhere on libcom.org, please turn the relevant words into a hyperlink to the relevant page. If there is a tag for the keyword then that would be the best page to direct people to. For example:
Maria fought in the Durruti Column (named after Buenaventura Durruti) in the Spanish civil war...
Ideally this would be edited to:
- editing articles to match our style guide. If any articles or badly formatted, or don't match our style guide please feel free to fix them up and make them look nice.
- entering new style footnotes. Any footnotes written with text like  please feel free to replace them with the new style nicely formatted footnotes like this1 .
- entering PDF documents as text. We have quite a few PDF documents in our library, many of them are here. However, we much prefer to have documents in text format on our site. This means we can add links between articles, and also articles are easier to search for on libcom and from Google. So if you have the time to copy the text from PDF documents and paste them up in the body field of their existing article pages it would be very much appreciated. You can leave the original PDF attached to the article.
Many thanks for any help you give us - and any questions please feel free to e-mail us or ask in feedback and content forum.
- 1 Footnote text here
Online article tools
Links to helpful online tools for assisting with putting together articles and content for libcom.org.
- LibreOffice Draw: Enables you to edit PDF files.
- FWO Formatter: A tool for getting rid of excess of line breaks in your text.
- HTML table generator: This handy page generates the HTML code for tables, so you don't have to.
- Rotate PDF: Enables you to rotate PDF documents and save them in the same format.
- Merge PDF: Enables you to merge multiple PDF documents into one.
- Split PDF: Enables you to split PDF documents into multiple, smaller ones.
- Compress PDF: Enables you to compress large PDF files into high-quality, much smaller file sizes so they can be uploaded.
- 2epub: Enables you to turn text, doc and other files into e-book formats like mobi and epub.
- Cute PDF editor: Advanced PDF editor allowing you to do many of the things in the above websites, with additional features like inserting additional pages, cropping and resizing pages.
- Online HTML Editor: Enables you to simultaneously edit text and HTML. For example, if you see an article that you like, and want to post it on libcom, you can right-click on the webpage of the article and select view page source, copy the sections of the code that contain the article+its references, and paste it in the right-hand box of the HTML editor. Then edit it in the left-hand box, and as you edit it the HTML in the right-hand box will change. After you've finished editing it, copy the HTML code in the right-hand box and paste it in the libcom article 'Body' box. Underneath the 'Body' box, change the Input format to HTML no line breaks.
If there are any other tools which could help libcom contributors please post them below and we can incorporate them into this list!
Comments: posting guidelines
10 simple rules for posting comments and discussions on libcom.org.
1. Be clear
2. Play the ball, not the person
4. No trolling, no sock-puppeting
5. Don't post up large 'copy and pastes'
6. Spamming/direct linking
7. No adverts
8. Have a look at these tools which may come in handy for the forum
9. Moderation policy
10. Overview & legal bit
Post comments and discussions in the appropriate place. Give relevant, precise titles, don't capitalise every letter ("LOOK @ TH1S!!" - is not acceptable). Give meaningful post content which gives people something to discuss - relevant? coherent? formatted?
Play the ball, not the person
The internet is not as far removed from real life as you'd like it to be. People are real, have real feelings and thoughts. Do not abuse people because of their ideas and beliefs for no reason. Be aware that not everyone has read as much Bakunin as you. Be nice to new posters and people developing their ideas. Any kind of oppressive, sexist, racist, transphobic, unreasonable personal abuse, discrimination etc. is not allowed and threads will be removed and offenders banned. Please respect people's privacy and refrain from posting up personal details without their permission. Untrue smears against other site users or related individuals or organisations are not permitted.
Cyber-bullying/harassment is not tolerated on libcom.org. It may also include threats, sexual remarks, pejorative labels, ganging up by making them the subject of ridicule in forums, and posting false statements as fact aimed at humiliation or defamation. Cyber-bullies may disclose victims' personal data (e.g. real name, address, or workplace/schools, photos) or may pose as the identity of a victim for the purpose of publishing material in their name that defames or ridicules them. Some cyber-bullies may also send threatening and harassing messages to the victims, while other post rumours or gossip and instigate others to dislike and gang up on the target. Please report any cyber-bullying to the admins via the contact form.
No trolling, no sock-puppeting
From Wikipedia: "a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion." Trolling is not allowed, and may lead to posts being deleted, users warned and persistent offenders banned. Sock-puppetting is setting up multiple accounts to agree with yourself, to create a false impression that more people are expressing a certain view, to try and evade an account ban, or to make posts the perpetrator doesn’t want associated with their ‘real’ pseudonym. Sock-puppetting is not allowed, and may lead to all associated accounts being banned. Multiple accounts are allowed in some circumstances, e.g. a shared account to upload library articles from a group or publication, or to maintain a collaborative blog. If in doubt, ask in the feedback forum.
Copy and pastes
Do not post up large chunks of cut and paste text in Discussions, but make things easier for others by summarising the article and including a link to the unabridged version. If your text is not available elsewhere online you need to find somewhere to host it, perhaps you could post it to libcom.org if it is relevant, otherwise use one of these sites to paste the article in then use the link to it - http://docs.google.com (free registration), http://writer.zoho.com (free registration) or http://paste.turbogears.org (no registration required). Post a comment on your summary in order to arouse interest in discussion around the article. What is a long piece of text? Think - would anyone be prepared to sit and read it in the context of a discussion on our website?
Flooding the boards with links to your site is considered spamming. If you want to link to a relevant article provide a short summary or quote to describe what's contained in the link. This will help readers know if it's relevant and moderators to distinguish it from spam. Do not directly link to 'hostile' websites (leave gaps in the URL if you wish to refer to them or prefix the URL with http://anonym.to?). Anyone found posting up malicious links on other sites and/or trying to stir up 'board wars' will be banned.
Any form of commercial or personal advertisements will be removed and the poster dealt with. Relevant adverts should be posted as a Discussion. This is for discussion, not a free advertising resource and offenders will be warned and then banned. Signature files/avatars are disabled and putting in links to your own website with every post isn't permitted either: we want to hear your opinions, not see the same link with every post!
Useful forum tools
All tools are free and nothing to do with libcom.org, where free registration is required look for the [R].
- http://www.box.net - upload any kind of files publicly and link to them from the forum [R].
- http://imageshack.us - upload, resize and link to images.
- http://docs.google.com - upload long text files (articles, pamphlets) here for referencing on the forums [R].
- http://tinyurl.com/ - turn long web addresses into short ones, or just use the URL button above the comment box.
Ordinarily we have a policy of one discussion thread per topic. Duplicate threads may be locked, with a link given to the main discussion. If your thread or post goes against any of these guidelines it is likely to end up in the bin, unpublished (hidden from non-admins) or deleted. Infringement may lead to a temporary ban (typically 72 hrs), or in serious cases and/or serial infringement a permanent ban. Abuse of the report function, e.g. mass reporting posts which don't breach the site guidelines will result in a ban. You have been warned. Old threads may be deleted without warning. PLEASE MAKE COPIES OF THREADS IMPORTANT TO YOU.
If your post is moderated or you are banned, an explanation should be edited into the post or posted on the thread. You should first check these posting guidelines if you have any questions. Failing that, you can start a discussion, or if banned, use the contact form to contact the admins. Querying moderation decisions on-thread derails discussions and such posts are likely to be removed. Repeatedly doing so will attract further moderation up to and including a ban. Please only query moderation decisions, using a fresh Discussion, if they do not appear to conform to this policy, not just because you don't agree with them. Reposting anything that has already been edited or removed by admins will usually result in an immediate ban.
Overview & legal bit
Please remember we run this website out of our own time and money. Please respect the site and comments section and people putting effort into them. This is not a haven of free speech for some wackos with weird ideas, we have clear aims and ideas about what we are trying to encourage with this project and will strive to maintain those ideas. Posts represent the views of the respective posters, we do not take any responsibility for the contents of posts and cannot be held responsible for any information in a post or any actions and events resulting from information within posts. All opinions stated on the forums or in comments are those of the individual authors and are not the responsibility of libcom.org.
Last revised March 2022.