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Guide for Contributors

Photo of Graham Young.

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At the start I want to say what On Line Opinion is not.  It is not a magazine or journal that just happens to be published in an electronic medium.  It is a new species, and while it may share certain characteristics with the terrestrial, hardcopy beast, it has about as much in common with it as a chimpanzee has with a human.  The three percent of genes that are not shared makes all the difference.

The Internet was originally a means of sharing information, and that is where it excels, with the emphasis being on collaboration.  Hardcopy publications have inflexible deadlines and bring production and management headaches. They are limited in space, and apart from the letters pages offer little room for reader participation.

As a result they ration content and find that employed journalists generally give them the most suitable material for their production schedules. They tend to create an editorial culture that is hierarchical, consistently takes a particular political line, and discourages wide participation in debate.

So what are we looking for in On Line Opinion that is different?

In the first place we don't employ anyone, journalists or otherwise. At this stage in its development On Line Opinion is an entirely volunteer affair - its only income an occasional commission from or Google. What we do is publish pieces of opinion from people in the community who know and understand what is happening.

Our contributors have a combination of one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Expertise in their field
  • Influence in their field
  • Writing skills
  • Interesting, even iconoclastic, ideas
  • The ability to provoke debate

The ideal contributor will have the lot, but writing skills on their own could well get you a gig. So could influence in your field.   And one might lead to the other. We are also continually looking for new voices and fresh points of view, so previous experience is not necessary.

Our editorial policy takes only one political point of view - that every idea has a place in the public debate and has a right to be expressed. On Line Opinion believes evangelically  that speech must be as close to absolutely free as possible. In this way individuals can make up their own minds as to what is true. Not only that, but the forceful expression of opposites is more likely to lead to the uncovering of truth than the rote recital of mantras of common faiths. For a more detailed expose of this point of view contributors should have a look at John Stuart Mill's essay, On Liberty - 130 years old but still extremely relevant.

At this eZine every writer has an opinion and an ideological perspective, and we are continually seeking out contributors  to put the other side. All are welcome.

Potential contributors should also have a look at our "style manual".  Apart from making enduring contributions to 20th Century literature and providing some memorable phrases in works like 1984 and Animal Farm, George Orwell virtually invented the modern opinion piece. His essay Politics and the English Language contains all the good advice that any writer of columns needs to know and apply.

So much for the theory, but what practical things do contributors need to know?  Here is a list of specifications, and permissible exceptions.

  • Articles should generally be between 800 and 1,000 words, unless the subject matter demands a longer piece - 2,000 is an absolute upper limit.
  • We will republish articles from other sources. You do not have to write something completely new.
  • If the article is based on a large paper we will try to link to the full paper or put it up as a download for interested readers.
  • On Line Opinion is published continuously but we have a feature publication date on the 1st Monday of each month. A practical copy deadline of the 25th of the month applies to feature articles.
  • The legal details of our acceptance are contained in our Contributor's Agreement. By submitting an article or agreeing to let us publish one, you agree to accept these conditions.
  • If you know of information on the net that is relevant to your article you should supply us with details of the URL.  This would include details of your home page and your organisation's home page.
  • If concepts in your article are likely to be unfamiliar to a general reader you should supply us with any explanatory information that is on the net so we can provide links.
  • Articles should ideally be supplied in Word 2000 format, but anything in Word before that is O.K., and of course we can copy and paste from emails.
  • If we are interested enough in a story we will edit a longer piece, say a seminar paper, down to size - but of course we have to be interested enough.
  • We need biographical material on contributors so that it can be added to the by-line.
  • We also like to have photographs of you - GIF and jpeg files are the best, but we can scan hard copy.
  • We would like a link to our page added to your organization's page, or your home page. We will return the favour.
  • Please let us know your ideas for future articles and features.

One last thing. Serious subjects don't have to be treated reverentially. On Line Opinion is not an academic journal, it is a work of communication, and you will communicate much more potently if the readers enjoy themselves while they are reading your writing.

Graham Young is the editor and publisher of On Line Opinion.  He is a writer, property developer, and an "inside observer" of Liberal Party and Australian Politics.

Please send your contributions to


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