Q: I see lots of different areas on the site (blog, chats, forums, clips, etc.), but I'm not sure what's what. Can you explain what I can find in each of these areas?
A: Yes, most certainly! Here's a quick synopsis, starting with "About" at the "top" of the main navigation line and concluding with "Contributors":
Members: The area where you can quickly search for members by geography, username, email, or any of our member profile fields.
Clips: The place to view all "clips" (photos, videos, audio files, and text files) that members have uploaded to the site. Photo clips are also viewable in the various home page photo galleries, and in our "Hot Spot", which you can read more about below.
Blog: Our blog, naturally! Here, you'll find all of our written tutorials, Cookier Close-up interviews, Practice Bakes Perfect challenge posts, Saturday Spotlights, and other fully developed articles. Much of the content here is developed by our site contributors, though any member can also post here.
Forums: The place to post one-off questions or comments for which you are seeking members' input or advice. Or to find answers to burning questions (zillions of questions have already been asked)!
Chats: We host live text-based chats with cookie "celebrities" nearly every month. This is the area to find out more information about upcoming chats, read past chat transcripts, and participate live at chat time!
Surveys: We routinely survey our membership about cookie products and tools, their satisfaction with the site, and other topics. Here, you can read the results of all past surveys and add your two cents to any active ones! You can also post surveys of your own.
Calendar: Our site calendar lists members' birthdays, as well as key cookie events and cookie decorating classes throughout the year. We rely on members to post information about their own classes and courses, and to keep that information current.
Hot Spot: The place to see which cookie photos, videos, blog posts, and other site content are currently most popular on the site.
Resources: Our Decorator Directory (an opt-in list of members who sell cookies) can be found here, as well as a regularly updated list of online cookie decorating courses. Quick links to our own on-site tutorials are also located here.
Contributors: In this spot, you can read all about our very generous team of contributors who donate their time and talents to keep this site hopping with tutorials, articles, challenges, and interviews!
And, let's not forget the big blue "Post" button (top right on standard laptop screens); that's how you can add your content to many areas of the site. (Note: "Topics" post to the forums and "Events" post to the Calendar; the rest of the options should be self-explanatory.)Q: Yikes! I can't comment on or like any posts, or upload any content! How come?
A: Chances are good that you are not logged into the site. In order to interact with the site, you must be logged in! There are essentially two different areas/ways in which to log in, depending on whether you are viewing the site on a mobile device or a standard laptop. For complete login instructions and tips for updating your member profile, both on laptops and mobile devices, click here.
Q: To what areas of the site can I add my own content?
A: Once logged in, members are able to add forum topics, clips (aka photos, videos, audio files, and documents), calendar events, surveys, and even blog posts. Forum topics, clips, and calendar events will post immediately to the site, without any admin moderation, though these posts may later be edited by moderators to correct any misclassifications or other errors. Surveys and blog posts will enter the admin moderation queue, and will get reviewed and edited by the Cookie Connection editorial team before going live. There are also lots of options for customizing your member profile. But only admins can create live chat events and forum, clip, and blog categories (aka collections or sets).
Q: Are there any rules about posting clips, forum topics, or blog posts?
A: Yes, in addition to only posting your own work, it's extremely important for you to fully classify (both tag and put in sets or collections) all content that you upload to these areas. Classifying is the only way to ensure that your content will be found by people and search engines later.
Please also remember that blog posts are intended to be instructional content that shares a technique, tutorial, or idea that you have thoughtfully developed into a cohesive post with text, photographs, and/or sources. Notices of giveaways, contests, and challenges can also be posted in the blog, but please be sure to catalog them in these particular folders under "Collections."
Forums are primarily intended for more casual, off-the-cuff Q&A and discussions. Before posting to the forums, please search existing topics to see if your question has already been asked, as we try to avoid duplicate topics.
Please note that there are also guidelines unique to each of these areas (clips, blog, and forums), so be sure to review them BEFORE posting. Links to those guidelines are directly below, and can also be found at the top AND top right of each of these sections of the site.Clip Posting Guidelines
Blog Posting Guidelines
Forum Posting Guidelines
Q: Can I cut and paste or otherwise post someone else's work to this site?
A: Absolutely not! In using this site, you guarantee that you own the rights to all content (photos, videos, blog posts, etc.) that you upload/submit, and that you will under no circumstances knowingly infringe upon the copyrights of others. If you reference another person's work, or knowingly draw on that person's designs, ideas, or techniques, in a blog post, photo, or elsewhere, please also do what is right by referencing the source and linking off to that source's site or blog when known. The source link should be placed in the first comment under any photo that has been inspired by it, and the source itself should be indicated in both the photo sub-title (caption) and tags. For more information about US copyright laws and our policies about copying and attribution, which mirror those laws, read this post.
Q: What about calendar events? Can I post classes, conferences, or seminars of my own, or that someone else is conducting?
A: Yes, please do. We'd like our community calendar to reflect as accurately as possible the wealth of activity going on in the cookie, decorating, and baking communities. But please check first to make sure that someone else has not already posted the same event. Please also link off to the source content about the event, as Cookie Connection will not track and publish updates to any posted events, other than those posted by us. Please also recognize that Cookie Connection cannot guarantee the accuracy of any event info (or other info, for that matter) posted to this site, so it's always best to check in with the actual event provider to confirm event details.
Q: Is there a limit to how much content I can post at any one time?
A: We hesitate to confine participation by putting an exact number on the quantity of photos or other things that you can post over a period of time. After all, the more active everyone is on the site, the richer the learning experience will be. However, please be mindful of what others might be experiencing when you post. If people receive a lot of email notifications from you in rapid succession or see your content dominating the site, they may be less likely to participate themselves and may even tune you out - neither of which is a good thing. If we receive complaints from other members about the quantity of content that any one person is posting, we will, of course, look into it. As a general rule, if you've posted five (5) or more items in a row to a single area of the site, you've probably crossed the line and should wait at least 24 hours before posting again.
Q: Can I post the same content to multiple areas (i.e., clips, blogs, forums, etc.) on the site?
A: The answer is generally a big "no." No one likes seeing the same old stuff over and over again. Please restrict posts of identical type to one forum or area of the site (i.e., do not cross-post the same content to multiple forums or to both the blog and forums, the forums and clips, or any other combination of areas!)
Also, please do not post the same image to “Clips,” and avoid posting more than one (1) or two (2) other view(s)/angle(s) of the same work to “Clips”. However, you can post the same clip to multiple clip sets (aka categories) to ensure that it is properly catalogued and easy for members to find. It's also fine to post an image to "Clips" with a link that directs to additional content related to that image on the blog or in the forums, as long as that link shares new content in addition to the original photo.
Q: How do I edit and customize my member profile?
A: You'll be prompted for a lot of profile info when you register for/join the site, but you can also edit many other things once you log into the site. Simply hover over your member image in the upper right corner of the site (if you are viewing on a standard laptop); you'll then see a drop-down menu below, which allows you to change profile information, adjust the frequency and type of notifications you get from the site, integrate social networks, and do many other things. For an example of a fully fleshed out member profile, check out Julia's profile here. For more info about how to edit your profile, both on laptops and mobile devices, click here.
A: It depends on the social network, but generally you will be able to sign into the site through them and auto-feed their activity into the "Social" tab on your profile page. In the drop-down menu in your member profile area, just click on "Social Networks," and then check off all of the options you'd like to enable for each of your social networks.
Q: Help! I'm getting a lot of email notifications from this site. How can I control them?
A: Great question! The default email notifications are set to show you most of the site info that you could get notified about, just so you're aware of the site's full functionality. But we recognize that this amount of info may (or may not) be overkill for you. That said, we recommend that you edit your "Notifications" settings early on, so that you are comfortable with the quantity of notifications you are receiving. You have the flexibility to turn everything on or off, or to do just about anything in between. To edit your notifications, again simply hover over your profile image in the upper right of the site (if you are viewing on a standard laptop), select "Notifications" in the drop-down menu that reveals, and then review your various settings. You may also want to revisit these settings over time as overall activity on the site changes.
Q: How can I get a new category (aka set or collection) added to the blog, forum, or clips?
A: Email us, and Julia or another site administrator will evaluate your request as soon as s/he is able. But please recognize that we may not elect to add a category if there isn't enough demand, or for other reasons.
Q: Am I allowed to provide constructive criticism on others' posts?
A: Glad you asked! The operative word is "constructive"! We aim to keep Cookie Connection a positive, safe, and friendly environment for all. If you disagree with someone, or have had a negative experience with something, we encourage you to share, but we do not tolerate cruelty, abusiveness, or otherwise unconstructive commentary.
Q: How do you determine the order of the hottest cookie photos, blog posts, and other topics published on the home page and in "Hot Spot"?
A: Ahhh! We knew you would ask! The ranking is based on a top-secret formula that takes into account page views, comments, and likes, and how the activity on a particular image or post has been trending over a specified period of time. We don't share the formula in order to prevent any gaming of the system, though we do reveal the trending period in the title. We may also change this period from time to time in order to maximize exposure for members.
Q: I see featured blog posts and clips on the site. How can I get my blog posts or clips featured?
A: The simple answer is: post great content (and be sure you have the copyright to post it)! Content that hits our "Hot Spot" is featured weekly in our Saturday Spotlight posts to the blog. The more original, informative, and new you make your content, the more likely it will be featured.
Q: And how can I get my cookie images featured in the site's main banner and background?
A: Another good question! Julia loves to feature members' work in those areas, but it is a selective process. For more information about this process, click here! Best of luck!
Julia is also interested in cultivating a cadre of creatives (say that three times fast!) to become regular featured bloggers. If you're interested in being considered for a guest blogging position, please contact Julia with clips of the typical work you'd like to post. Please note that submission of clips does not guarantee a guest blogging position; we are selective in this process as well. These positions are also not paid, but will hopefully bring you a wealth of exposure!
Revision: November 28, 2016