Subtle changes come to SB Nation, and by extension, CougCenter

One thing I love about writing at CougCenter is being part of the SB Nation network of blogs. There are a lot of reasons for that, but one of the biggest is that they're constantly trying to improve the user experience for both the reader and the writer.

Unless you've written a FanPost since Monday, you might not haven't noticed any changes, other than there being a lot more links in our stories -- mostly in terms of player names. I'll explain why in a second.

The next thing you'll notice is that the FanPost interface has gotten a facelift. You might not know this, but the interface you use for writing FanPosts has been and still is virtually the exact same one we use to write our posts. A lot of the changes probably seem cosmetic -- you can read full details here -- but I think the upgrade accomplishes two things:

  1. It makes it easier for you to make the post look the way you want by adding media and other assets by putting thsoe tools in more logical locations, from the top of the page where you write to the bottom of the page where you publish. Make use of them.
  2. It helps you get your writing read by people outside of CougCenter. When you use the autotagger, it will add tags and links to your post that will promote it around SB Nation. Additionally, you can easily promote your post to your personal Twitter account with a click.

The autotagger still is a little buggy; for example, when it sees Cougars, it currently links to either the Houston Cougars or the BYU Cougars. The SBN techies are working on that. But otherwise, it's awesome and use it if you can.

How does it help your posts get seen? Every team and every player has their own page at SBN where all the stories, FanPosts and FanShots that are tagged with that team or player are gathered. (You can alo add tags that the autotagger misses, which we highly encourage you to do, for obvious reasons.)

For example, check out the Cougs' team page. The pages aren't new, but they have been redesigned, and I think they're awesome -- in addition to having links to the schedule, stats and roster at the top, they cull all the stories from across SBN that have been tagged "Washington State Cougars." You'll also see boxes on the right where it gathers all the FanPosts and FanShots tagged that way as well. The player pages are similar -- here's Klay Thompson's.

One other cool thing. If you go to the team schedule, you can click on coverage of each game. For example, here's the coverage of the last game against Washington this year. It categorizes all coverage by pregame, in-game (game threads) and postgame coverage. (There's also a box score and scoreboard for that day on the page.) How do you get your FanPosts there? When you run the autotagger, it will also give you a box to check called "events." It will automatically give you the last one and next one; just check the one the piece goes with. If you're writing about another event, you can just click the "find other event" button.

I point out these pages for two reasons. One, to show you where all your posts appear and all the places you can get read. But also, I point them out so that you can use these pages -- they all have RSS feeds. I've put the RSS feeds for both the Cougars' team pages and all the player pages into my Google Reader. That way, I never miss anything written about the Cougs across the SBN network.

I hope you all find all this stuff as useful and cool as I did, and rest assured, any bugs you run across are probably already being worked out. But if you want to be a part of the solution, report any bugs to support(at)sbnation(dot)com.

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