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Writing for LWN

Do you have expert knowledge of some aspect of the free software community? Do you have an urge to write high-quality articles for extremely picky editors and demanding readers, sometimes under tight deadlines, for minimal pay? If so, writing for LWN may be for you. Please read on for information on how you can participate in the creation of LWN.

What we are after

LWN.net is seeking authors who can contribute articles on a free-lance basis. Our needs fall into two areas: (1) lead-in editorials for the various Weekly Edition pages, based on current events; and (2) longer, feature articles that are not so tightly tied to this week's news. As of this writing, we are particularly interested in contributions to our weekly Kernel page, but other subjects are welcome too.

Contributions to these pages will run in the "lead-in" position at the top of the page. They usually cover some topic from recent FOSS news (a release, mailing list discussion, plans made, etc.). Our general guideline is for articles to be around 1500 words in length, though somewhat longer or shorter can work too. The best articles cover a fairly narrow topic completely, without any big omissions or any extra padding. We are generally looking for authors who have their own ideas on topics they want to write about. Looking at past weekly editions in the Archives is a good way to get an idea of the kinds of topics we cover and how we cover them. First drafts of articles are typically due on Monday, with a (hopefully) one-day turnaround for a final draft sometime on Tuesday. Our deadline is early Wednesday morning, US/Mountain time (six or seven hours behind GMT, depending on the season), but it is best to not push up against that if possible. Articles that are less tightly tied to the news of the week can be delivered at most any time, the earlier, the better.

We are also always on the lookout for standalone feature articles. Feature articles can run independently, on the Weekly Edition front page, or both. Articles intended for a specific week's front page are subject to the same deadline constraints as other Weekly Edition material; others can be more flexible in their timing.

Please note that we are, as a general rule, not looking for "how to" articles; there are plenty of other outlets for such content on the net. We're more interested in the current news and in informing our readers of interesting developments in the community that they may not have previously heard of.

We are especially interested in authors who follow an area well enough to propose topics for articles and follow through quickly.

How to contribute to LWN

If you wish to write one or more articles for LWN, the first order of business is to contact us (at authors@lwn.net) to discuss your interests. Please do not just send articles without talking to us first. We'll discuss subjects and timelines and come to a determination on if and where your contributions fit into LWN.

Please read our writing style information (below) so that you understand the kind of content we are looking for.

Before we can publish your work, we'll need full name and contact information from you. If you pay U.S. income taxes, we will need your tax ID number (and a completed withholding form) so that we can send you a 1099 form at the end of the year. If you are not subject to taxation in the U.S., we'll need a declaration from you to that effect.

Compensation

We will currently pay $200 for well-done leadin articles from new authors for our Weekly Edition pages. For Kernel page articles, which tend to be more complex, we start new authors at $250. Those figure do go up quite substantially for authors who, over time, establish a record of good writing and on-time contributions. We'll entertain proposals for in-depth articles (or a series of articles) of greater complexity at a higher price; please contact us if you have an idea you would like to pursue.

Payments are sent out by the 15th of the month for all articles published in the previous month. At this time, we are able to make payments via U.S. check or PayPal.

Copyrights and further reproduction

Authors retain the copyrights for their work. We ask that you grant LWN exclusive rights to publish your work during the LWN subscription period - currently up to two weeks after publication. Thereafter, we retain the right to publish the material, and release it under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license (CC BY-SA 4.0). After the subscription period, authors may republish their work however they wish.

LWN style guide

The world is full of technical journalism sites. LWN tries to distinguish itself from the crowd through (1) a high degree of respect for its readers, (2) a high level of technical competence, and (3) top-quality writing. External contributions to LWN must fit those goals. To that end, we must be able to edit contributions before publication if required (though we much prefer to receive writing which requires little or no editing), and we must reserve the right not to publish work which, in our opinion, does not belong in LWN.

Audience. LWN's readers tend to be highly educated and strongly technical in their outlook. Some of them are likely to be developers for the project you are writing about. Should you feel the urge to "dumb down" material, that urge should be resisted. LWN is not "Linux news for dummies;" our readers are most emphatically not "dummies." If you talk down to them, or tell only part of the story, they will call you on it.

Style. Here is an in-progress list of style guidelines for articles in LWN. They reflect the practice we have lived by since 1998, but never really documented before.

The overall voice of an article should be factual and authoritative. Do your research, and let it show. LWN has a long history of allowing the author's opinion to show through in its writing; in our opinion, it is better to let the audience know where the author is coming from than to try to adopt some pose of "objectivity." Opinions, however, should never get in the way of the facts; your reader should be able to separate the two.

Document your sources. If you are working from a press release, or a message on a mailing list, link to it. Always let your readers know where your information is coming from; many of them will follow the links for articles of interest and come to their own conclusions.

Special care is required when dealing with press releases. Much technical journalism seems to consist of rephrasing press releases and presenting the result as original work. LWN explicitly avoids any such practice. A press release can be a good source of information (once it is translated into English), but it is far from an objective source. If you are passing on information from a press release, make sure the readers know that. (Incidentally, our preferred places to link to press releases are, in order: (1) a local copy sent to us by the company or PR agency, or (2) a copy at the service which distributes the release (usually PRNewsWire or BusinessWire). Press releases on company sites tend to move or, if the company later regrets it, disappear. Services like Yahoo and NewsAlert age off releases quickly, breaking our links).

LWN is produced in the United States, and uses American English. The American variety is not in any way better than any other (though writing in Pidgin would present certain challenges to our readers), but lack of consistency can be distracting.

Be concise. Try to find a way to get your information across with a small number of well-chosen words.

Acronyms should be spelled out on their first use, except for the most common and obvious ones (i.e. GNU, GPL). Excessive use of acronyms can make articles harder to read and understand. Also, please avoid the use of informal terms when real terms can be used; thus, for example, "distribution" is always preferable to "distro".

Still interested?

Drop us a note and let's talk.

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