DJB Guide: Report Writing

From Wikipedia of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, an online Star Wars Club
Real World Perspective.
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DJB Guide: Report Writing
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DJB Guide: Email Best Practices


Reports & News Posts

The following documentation will cover the technical process behind writing a basic report for the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. It will outline the standard operating procedures and best practice from the top level leadership. This article aims to show you the basic do’s and don'ts of report writing, and is by no means an all encompassing be-all end-all for the way leaders in the Brotherhood go about creating reports. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own unique style and voice to their reports, and as long as the rules and guidelines are observed, it is very rare that an administrator would ask for something to be changed or in the most extreme of cases deleted from the website.

While reports are expected from higher tier positions, they are not required at every level. Each Independent Unit tends to approach reports differently, with some units treating their respective positions differently. As a general rule of thumb and good habit, it is always best to check with your Clan or House Summit with questions about creating and posting reports.

Report graphic for the Grand Master.

Reports

A report is an informative piece of published documentation by a leader in the Brotherhood that aims to announce, share, and/or explain information relative to their respective position or society. Reports can be broken up into the following types:

Dark Council - Reports put out by the members of the Dark Council. These reports tend to focus on each Councilor’s area of expertise and the section of the club that they oversee.

Unit - Reports put out by the independent units that make up the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. This covers everything from entry level Battleteam Leader reports to top level Consul reports.

Society - Reports put out by society leaders that cover news and updates relative to their society (Wikipedia, Antei Combat Center, etc.)

Reports are released by a leader on some kind of determined schedule cycle. For example, a report can be released bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly. Consistency is king, as the general membership relies heavily on the announcements, shared details, and explanations of changes/events to not only keep up with the changes in the club, but also to know why things are changing.

News Posts

A news post is anything that gets published to the Dark Jedi Brotherhood’s website and appears on the main page: https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com. This means that any report that gets posted through the site administration is posted live as a newspost.

What you see from a news post on the main page.

Please make sure to review the News Page Policies and Best Practices page to ensure your report is meeting the standard expectations and rules. This page also has great information that will be highlighted for reference in this article.

Additionally, you can view previously published reports in the News Archives.

The News Archives.

Report Content

What do leaders put in their reports? Report content is entirely dependent on the information being presented, which ties into the expectations and responsibilities of the position. These expectations are usually outlined in the job description, with influence drawn from predecessors to the position and/or reader feedback. The following section breaks down the suggested content recommended by the Dark Council to be included in reports posted to the news page.

Outlining

A standard report should follow some kind of outline. The recommended starting point from the Dark Council is as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. News and Updates
  3. Member Recognition
  4. Q&A / Feedback
  5. Conclusion/Summary


You are in no way restricted to this outline, but again this is recommended as a starting point from which you can build and expand your reports.

Dark Council Reports

Each Dark Councilor represents a different facet of the club. They cover topics that relate to their job, and are expected to alert members to any impactful changes that affect how their respective facet is handled.

For example:

  • Grand Master Reports will tend to cover wider topics that affect the club on the whole. As the leader of the entire organization, Grand Master reports usually include major changes in leadership, policy, or provide roadmaps to the future of the club.
  • FIST Reports will tend to cover information, announcements, and updates on everything relating to Gaming in the club. This includes approved platforms, cluster balancing, as well as gaming competition administration.
  • VOICE Reports will tend to cover information, announcements, and updates on everything relating to the Fictional Society and Fiction System. This includes character sheets as well as fiction, run ons and other competition administration.

Unit Reports

Independent Units — which refers to the Clans, Houses, and sub-teams that make up the DJB — have a set command structure. The entry level positions start at Battleteam Leader, where the member is placed in charge of a small unit, all the way up to Consul, responsible for leading the entire Clan.

While each Consul sets the tone, schedule, and execution of reports, the Dark Council has a best practice outline it likes to direct members at. As with any report, a leader will bring their own unique style and flavor to their reports, and these are by no means an attempt to mandate how any leader writes their report.

The current positions within an Independent Unit that are able to publish reports are listed below. Some units chose not to employ certain positions, and not all units carry the same expectation for reports. Each position below, however, is paired with the best practice suggestions from the Dark Council.

Battleteam Leader

“BTL” Reports are where new leaders get their start, and where more than a few learn to write their first news posts. The position is designed as an introduction to leadership at the Unit level and starts with responsibilities that tend to cover a small sub-unit, or team, within a Clan or House. A typical Battleteam Leader report should cover:

(Suggested)

  • New information or announcements that pertain to the Battleteam.
  • Roster moves: new members in, old members moving out?
  • Where is the team fictionally? Where is the team out of character as a group?
  • Rewards and Recognition: highlight accomplishments by members in competition awards, merit, awards, and other milestones or achievements.
  • Battleteam Competitions.
  • Clan/House level competitions.

(Additional)

  • Fiction Updates
  • AskTheBTL / Question and Answers section
  • DB-wide competitions
  • DB-wide news and reports.

Examples:

Rollmaster

“RM” reports tend to have a singular focus on presenting information and updates relevant to their position. While each Independent Unit will articulate the role and purpose of the RM differently, this role has traditionally been tasked with the oversight of new members joining the Independent Unit and settling into the Brotherhood. They will often guide new members and establish relationships between veterans and newer members to assist in the process of integration into the club.

This means that typically, a Rollmaster report will talk about:

(Suggested)

  • New member joins and introductions.
  • Journeyman activity, advancements, and accomplishments.
  • Roster movement: Members that have come and gone.

(Additional)

  • Clan Updates and reports.
  • House Updates and reports.

Examples:

Aedile and Quaestor

“AED” and “QUA” Reports often vary depending on the unit or leadership team dynamic. Sometimes Aediles and Quaestors will do joint House-level Reports, and sometimes they can alternate writing one or the other. House-level reports tend to address multiple subunits, or at least are targeted at a wider audience than just a single Battleteam. This means that the level of detail and quality carries increased expectations. These expectations are different between each Unit’s command structure. As such, the following best practices are flexible between both positions. A House-level report usually covers:

(Suggested)

  • New information or announcements that pertain to the House.
  • Roster moves: new members in, old members moving out?
  • Where is the House fictionally? Where is the team out of character as a group?
  • Plans for the future? Upcoming events?
  • Rewards and Recognition: highlight accomplishments by members of the House in competition earnings, merit awards, exams passed, and other milestones or achievements.
  • BTL/House/Clan level news.
  • BTL/House/Clan level competitions.
  • DB-wide news and reports.
  • DB-wide competitions.

(Optional)

  • House Fiction updates.
  • AskTheQUA or AED / Questions and Answers section.

Examples:

Proconsul and Consul

“PCON” and “CON” Reports often vary depending on the unit or leadership team dynamic. Sometimes Proconsul and Consul will do joint Clan-level Reports, and sometimes they can alternate writing one or the other. Clan-level reports focus on issues that affect the entire unit, as well as provide introspection and awareness of what goes on outside the Clan across the Brotherhood and with other units. Members usually look to Clan-level reports to gain information on how the larger DB applies to them. As such, the following best practices are flexible between both positions. A Clan-level report usually covers:

  • New information or announcements that pertain to the entire Clan.
  • Roster moves: new members in, old members moving out?
  • Where is the Clan fictionally? Where is the team out of character as a group?
  • Plans for the future? Upcoming events?
  • Rewards and Recognition: highlight accomplishments by members of the Clan in competition earnings, merit awards, exams passed, and other milestones or achievements.
  • BTL/House/Clan level news and reports.
  • BTL/House/Clan level competitions.
  • Inter-Unit news, job openings, competitions, and events.
  • DB-wide news and reports.
  • DB-wide competitions.

(Optional)

  • Clan Fiction updates.
  • AskTheCON or PCON / Questions and Answers section.

Examples:

Society Reports

Currently, the two society reports that are active in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood are: Combat Master (ACC administration) and Wiki Tribune (Wikipedia administration). As these positions are held by members that have demonstrated a masterful understanding and command over their society, they each handle reports in their own manners.

Examples:

Writing the Report

When writing a report, there are a few different tools you can use. The most popular and common one — that is available to all members and completely free — is Google Docs. Google Docs allow you to easily share your reports with your supervisors or friends to get approval, feedback, or proofreading before posting. Alternatively, you can write your report in your word processor of choice with things like Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or even a simple Word Pad.

Since the Dark Jedi Brotherhood website leverages Markdown coding for reports and news posts, you can alternatively — or additionally — take advantage of Markdown Preview editors. This allows you to type on one side of the screen and play with code while generating a preview of how it will look when posted. The Dark Council recommends:

  • Dillinger - One of the best preview tools available. Great save features, streamlined and easy to use.
  • Stack Edit - Full featured preview tool with example template.
  • Socrates - Super minimalist design. Easy to share with others.

Note: It is always wise to have your reports proofread by at least one other person. This can be a friend you trust, or your supervisor, but proofreading is strongly recommended.

Formatting

Formatting is the key to making your reports not only aesthetically appealing to a reader. It also makes them clear and easy to read. The more clear and concise your report is formatted, the better chance of not losing or confusing the members you want reading the report you worked so hard on!

As stated above, the website takes advantage of Markdown coding, which you can learn all about in the following Shadow Academy Exams: Markdown 101 and Markdown 102. It is highly recommended to complete these courses prior to writing a report. These courses are quick, informative, and educational. They will help create a foundation for your ability to write clear and easy to read reports.

For the purpose of focusing on the presentation of a report, this article will highlight the fundamental elements of Markdown that come in handy when writing a report.

Headers

Headers are important because they help break up information and create definitive starts and stops to topics throughout the report. Reports are read from top to bottom, so anytime you’re going to change subjects it is good to insert a header. The best practice with headers is to use a descending flow of sub-topics. The top heading should be the "parent" topic, something like Recognition. A sub-topic for that would be Promotions, since Promotions are a kind of recognition, similar to Awards.

Headers are handled by using a different count of pound (#) signs.

## Recognition

### Promotions!

### Awards!

You can also separate sections using the insert line function, also called a page break. You can trigger this by using 3 (or 5) consecutive dashes “---”. To make sure the formatting triggers, you need to make sure to include a line returns before and after the dashes (press enter/return above and then below).

Text.

---

More text.
Bullet Points, Numbered Lists

A good way to break up talking points or to make a list of information easier to read is by using bullet points or numbered lists.

  • You can use bullet points by using an asterisk (*) or a dash (-) followed by a space.
  • You can create a numeric list by using a number followed by a period (1.) followed by a space.
* Topic 1
* Topic 2 

1. Topic 1
2. Topic 2 

Usually, lists will trigger their formatting automatically. If for some reason they do not, make sure to add a double space after each point.

Hyperlinks, Bold, Italics

Using bold and italics is a great way to help emphasize points you want to drive home in your report. To bold or italicize something in Markdown, you can use the following code:

*Italics* / _Italics_
**Bold** / __Bold__
***Bold-Italics*** / ___Bold-Italics___

A hyperlink is a highlighted piece of text on a webpage that, when clicked, brings you to another web page. Hyperlinks are important because they can help easily route readers to information that might be useful. To insert hyperlinks in Markdown, you can use the following code:

[Hyperlink Text](http://webpage.com)
Inserting Images and Gifs

You can insert images and gifs into your reports. These are good to break up walls of text or to add levity. Just remember the old adage "all things in moderation" and try not to overuse images and graphics.

![alt text](https:imageurl.png)

Important: Images and gifs must be “https” secure. Most popular images will use https, but if you run into issues you can use sites like imgur to host a secure image or gif.

Important: Images and gifs must include the filename in the url (.jpg, .png, .gif) in order to work. Using a .com, or any other website extension will not work.

Centering Images

While everyone has their own styles, the best practice and common style for reports is to center images. You can do this using the following markdown coding.

-> Centered Image <-

Anything else will default to Left-aligned. If you want to Right-align an image you can use the “->” arrow by itself.

-> Right-aligned Image

Creating a Report

Snapshot of the Administration panel.

To post/publish your report to the main page, head over to the Administration Menu -> Navigate to: “News and Reports” -> and then select: “Manage News and Reports”.

The create post menu from the Administration page.

Naming Reports (Title)

As a best practice, the Dark Council recommends the following format when creating reports for the news page.

> [Unit Name] [Report] [Report #] - [Title/Subject] (Optional)

Alternatively, you can change things up according to your preference and style. You can reference the date and/or the month, lead with a catchy title, or switch around the order of the above example. Keep in mind when using months by themselves, however, that you run the potential risk of lapping yourself and running into having duplicate “May Rainbow Squadron” reports. Which is fine, if you’re into that kind of thing, of course.

The important thing is to make sure you are in some way including the name or position in your title so that anyone scrolling through a list of reports knows how to easily identify what kind of report you’ve created and posted.

Choosing a Category

For reports, you are going to always want to use the “Reports” category. This keeps reports separate from newposts that announce things such as the new Star Wars trailer that just came out or major announcement that we want outside viewers to see.

For information on the other categories, refer to the News Page Policies and Best Practices page.

In the field right below it, you select your leadership position as the “Context” that you will be posting the report under.

Context

The context field here pertains to the position you are posting from. You will be provided a drop down box that gives you a selection of multiple positions. If you’re a Battleteam Leader, you would select “Battleteam Leader” for contex. If you’re a member of the Shadow Academy Staff, you select “Shadow Academy: Professor (Assistants)".

Rolling News banner

Rolling news banners are displayed at the top of the main page for https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com and work on a horizontal carousel.

Example of a rolling news banner.

Body

This is where you copy and paste your report when you’re ready to see what it looks like and then post it. This should include the content outlined in the above section.

Tag List

Tags allow you to easily identify and sort reports when searching through the archives. It also can affect how hashtags get implemented when reports are posted to social media.

For information on Tag Lists, refer to the News Page Policies and Best Practices page.

Comment Method

There are three options for how report comments are handled. You may select comments to be local, linked on discourse, or disabled.

Local comments appear under the report itself on the main page. This is the standard method for allowing commentary on reports from your peers.

The local comments found under a report.

Discourse comments link to our discourse forum. This is usually used for reports that want to take advantage of engaging with members on topics covered in the report itself.

An example of the discourse report.

Disabled comments is used for when you post a report that you do not wish anyone to leave comments. This is usually done when a decision is shared from the top executive level and isn’t open for further discussion from the membership.

Disabled comments.

Only members of the Brotherhood are able to comment on reports. As a best practice, be polite when responding to report comments, even if members get aggressive or use language that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you feel that someone has violated the Dark Covenant in your report comments, make sure you reach out to the Justicar and the Hands of Justice. The Brotherhood has a zero tolerance policy on harassment.

Publishing

Once you’re done writing and formatting your report, it's time to publish it and post it to the site.

Before posting, you should always make sure to preview your report. The Preview window will show you a preview of what your report will look like once it is posted to the main page. This is a great way to check for formatting errors that either show up when copying over from a word/google document, or even minor coding blips that can occur between a markdown preview tool. In short, no matter how/where you are writing your reports, the Preview window will give you an exact example of what your report will look like!

The preview function can be found at the bottom of a written report.

Editing A News Post

Caught a mistake that you missed when previewing your report? Wanted to go back in and clarify something? Don’t panic. Once a report is posted to the news page, you can easily edit it from your administration menu. Any edits made will update the currently posted newspost, overwriting the previous version. You can edit a report as many times as you need, and no duplicate copies are made when updating a report in this manner.

Summary

The easiest way to tie everything together is to demonstrate how a basic report should look. To that end, we’ve created a Dark Jedi Brotherhood Report Template that you can use to help write your own reports.

You can view the Example Report here from the News Archive.

Conclusion

By following this guide, and the best practices outlined within it, you should feel confident in either writing your first report, or implementing a new trick you learned into your existing reports. As with most skills, report writing becomes easier the more and more you do it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to have your superior or a trusted friend read over your report.

Useful Tools for Report Writing

  • Dillinger.io - Markdown preview tool.
  • Markdown 101 - SA Exam that teaches you how to use Markdown.
  • Markdown 102 - SA Exam that teaches you how to use Markdown.
  • Google Docs - Easily share writing and receive proofreading from peers.
  • Imgur - For hosting images securely with https.
  • Goo.gl - Url shortening.