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Reppy's Sig Workshop - A guide to building forum sigs

PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:18 pm
by Reploid Productions
How to Make an Effective Forum Sig

With a limit of 800 characters that you have to cram into just 8 lines of text, you might wonder how to go about making a forum sig that is short enough to fit and yet still conveys all the information you'd like to share. This thread is here to provide suggestions and examples of forum sigs to help you organize one... so I won't have to when somebody reports it for being too long!
What Not To do

This is a screenshot of a sig I recently had to trim down, and a good example of how to make a sig way too long with unnecessary stuff. This is 14-15 lines on my screen, well over the 8 line limit.
Image
Some of the most common space-eating goofs I frequently run across include:
-Adding an empty line (or more!) between two lines of text
-Putting a single link on each line
-Trying to put all of a nation's military and RP info into the sig
-More than 2 spoiler tags in the sig
-Explaining a DEFCON thing (or worse, having each number of a DEFCON chart on a separate line!)
-Excessive and unnecessary tags. (Multiple align tags for example.)
-Big quote boxes

Determine the purpose of your sig

The first step to making an effective sig is deciding what purpose you're using it for. If you're using your sig space for displaying roleplay information for the Nationstates, International Incidents, Global Economics & Trade, or NS Sports forums, you're going to want to convey different information than you would if you're using that space for World Assembly, Gameplay, or General stuff. Let's compare The Emmerian Unions' sig:
Image
with Bears Armed's sig:
Image
TEU's sig is not something most RPers would have; it's bright, colorful, silly, and sneaks in just barely at 8 lines. In comparison, BA's sig is short, fairly simple, and full of links that contain further info regarding his nation. So you need to think about the content of your sig and decide on that before you start trying to stuff it into 8 lines.

If you're using a sig to share roleplay information, you may be listing basic military or national information: the nation's current DEFCON/ECON/etc status, names of various government personnel, wars and alliances; perhaps sporting events and storefronts. If you're using it to display WA stuff, it might be proposals you're campaigning for, proposals and past resolutions you've authored, and so on. If you're using it to display something else, say, for General or something, you might be including a witty quote you liked, maybe political compass results. You might even want to have a little of all of that!

Space-saving Suggestions

The spoiler tag is your friend!
If you insist on putting a ton of stuff in your sig, you can use up to two spoiler tags to make it fit. You can cram more information into your sig, but still keep it under 8 lines unless somebody decides to click the little Show buttons to reveal all of your sig. Let's take a look at The Great Lord Tiger's sig, which uses spoiler tags to great effect:
Image
See how tiny and simple that is? It's short, tidy, and unobtrusive. It won't clutter the forum and it's something that isn't going to annoy people to see every single time TGLT posts on the forums. So what's he got under those spoilers? Let's see:
Image
Whoa! Look at all that! We find out that he's a veteran of the old Jolt forum, that he's in two alliances, several handy links to information about his nation and military, that he's currently at IFWAL level 2, and his political compass results! All dressed up nice with a few horizontal line tags and all very neatly centered and organized.

Double-check your spacing and BBCodes!
A surprisingly common mistake I run across is just plain bad spacing. Somebody hits return twice, leaving an empty line in their sig when they don't really need one. If you've only got maybe 3 lines of text, sure you can add a blank line or two without going over the limit, but remember that blank lines DO count toward the total! Generally you don't need to have blank lines; I recommend avoiding them if at all possible.

BBCodes are also a common problem area, especially the align, spoiler, and table tags. If you want everything in your sig centered, for example, you only need to have ONE align tag in your sig. I have seen people put an align tag on every line of their sig; this does nothing except double the length of it, since the align tag automatically adds a line at the end. These tags can be used on a single line, and they will automatically skip down to the next line after they're closed. Compare the results of this:
Code: Select all
[align=center]This block of text[/align]
[align=center]is really kinda[/align]
[align=center]stretched out because[/align]
[align=center]every line has its own[/align]
[align=center]tag.[/align]

This:
Code: Select all
[align=center]This block of text[/align][align=center]doesn't look[/align][align=center]stretched out[/align][align=center]but all the tags[/align][align=center]are on one line.[/align]

And this:
Code: Select all
[align=center]This block of text
is not stretched out
because the entire block
is contained inside
one tag.[/align]

This block of text

is really kinda

stretched out because

every line has its own

tag.

This block of text
doesn't look
stretched out
but all the tags
are on one line.

This block of text
is not stretched out
because the entire block
is contained inside
one tag.

The first is 9 lines long, the second and third are only 5 lines. Efficient use of your BBCode tags can make a world of difference in how compact your sig is. If you have doubts or questions about the BBCodes, you can ask over in the Technical forum for help.

Don't list your military in your sig!
This is a common issue, and while you can use spoiler tags to hide it, placing all your military details in your sig just looks tacky and disorganized. Whenever you have something that needs to be listed, it's far more efficient and easier to make a thread or in-game Factbook to make some sort of national or military factbook listing this sort of information, and then simply placing a link to it in your sig. TGLT in the earlier example does this, with links to stuff about his military. Doing this gives you more room in your sig, and more options to describe your military and such in whatever thread or page you link to. Sigs can only have 800 characters remember, whereas a single post in a thread can have several thousand characters!

Compact, compact, compact!
How can you fit more onto one line? Does every link in your sig
need
to
be
on
a
new
line?

Hardly! You can very neatly put links to multiple threads/sites on a single line of text, with some little separator such as | or -- in between each item. It looks nicer AND saves space!

And are quote boxes really necessary? Even a short quote box can take up 4-5 lines all by itself! You can save plenty of space by quoting the old-fashion way, without the quote box. Just list the name of the person you're quoting (some people will also make the name a link to the post or nation they're quoting from,) followed by the quote itself. So instead of this:
Reploid Productions wrote:I am a mod! I say witty things and delete people!

Try this:
Reploid Productions: I am a mod! I say witty things and delete people!

See? The version with the quote box takes up 4 lines. The version without the quote box only takes up one! That means you've just saved 3 lines of sig space you could use for something else; maybe more quotes! Saving space is important if you want to have a little of everything in your sig, from roleplay info to quotes from NS General. Take a look at my sig:
Image
I've got three blocks of information here. The first line is all roleplay related things; my NS Wiki factbook, the NS Wiki page on the alliance I'm most involved in, and a link to my webspace and a FAQ I wrote for the 3-D modeling program DoGA. The second line is all mod-related stuff; the OSRS, the moderator info thread, and a direct link right to the Getting Help page. After this thread is posted, I'll probably add a link to this on the second line of my sig too. Finally, the third line is just a personal quote, attributed to my nation's leader.

Remember, your forum sig is as big a part of your identity on the forums as your flag/avatar and nation name! Put some thought into it; trust me, it's worth it.

All this being said, if you have any sig-related questions, just want some help tweaking your sig, and so on, the floor's now open. Note that off-topic posts will be removed.

Image
~Evil Forum Empress Rep Prod the Ninja Mod
~Master of the mighty moderation no-dachi Kiritateru Teikoku

PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:55 pm
by North Wiedna
Hey, Reppy! Wanna help me tweak my sig? I've been wanting to do it for so long, but don't have a clue of what to do.


Currently, my sig is this:
Code: Select all
[size=90][i]Economic[/i] Left/[b]Right[/b]: 7.00 [i]Social[/i] Libertarian/[b]Authoritarian[/b]: 5.23
If my posts are really short, I'm on my Wii.
I support real music.
[color=#008000]Everything around you/What's it coming to/God knows as your dog knows/Bog blast all of you/Sabbath Bloody Sabbath/Nothing more to do/Living just for dying/Dying just for you[/color]
[b][url=http://www.nationstates.net/region=zeves_aetheria]ZA[/url] - [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=782&start=0]WVS[/url][/b][/size]


I'm thinking I don't need,
Code: Select all
If my posts are really short, I'm on my Wii.
I support real music.

Umm... yea....

PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:09 pm
by Reploid Productions
Yeah, that bit does strike me as being... well, not exactly vital information- after all, people who AREN'T online via their Wiis (or phones, for that matter) still make really short posts too, and the line about music might be something well-suited to a discussion thread on what counts as "real" music.

You're at 6 lines right now though, so you've got some room to maneuver. :)

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:31 am
by Bears Armed
I've just expanded my sig by ading one more link, and am letting you know in case you want to keep the copy of it that's being used as an example in this thread's first post up-to-date...

PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:53 am
by Ifreann
800 characters, eh? Somehow I don't think I'll be making a big ass multicouloured sig with a dozen different links again any time soon. For he best, I'm sure. Two things that were useful back in those crazy days, for anyone that wants to try and squeeze a lot out of the 800 char limit, are thinyurl and the [p] tag. On Jolt there was a tag for linking to posts, [p]. Remember those numbers that'd appear in the quote tag when you clicked quote? You slap them into a [p] tag and bingo. Shorter way to link to a post than using a [url] tag. If there's a similar thing here then it could be useful *hints at Reppy, nudge nudge, wink wink*. The other one was.....actually if I recall correctly the other one got banned from sigs, so never mind that then.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2009 4:16 pm
by Reploid Productions
You know, I don't think we have a p tag yet, but that is something worth looking into making ;)
Got one now! :D

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:36 am
by Ifreann
Reploid Productions wrote:You know, I don't think we have a p tag yet, but that is something worth looking into making ;)
Got one now! :D

Ooooh, how does it work over here?

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:21 am
by Bears Armed
Ifreann wrote:
Reploid Productions wrote:You know, I don't think we have a p tag yet, but that is something worth looking into making ;)
Got one now! :D

Ooooh, how does it work over here?

Like this...

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:41 am
by Weylara
Thanks, Reppy, I read this and totally reworked my sig.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:42 pm
by The St Timothy Isles
Wow, I got this and did it! Thanks! :)

PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 2:05 pm
by The Republic of Lanos
Is my sig ok?

PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 2:49 pm
by The Emmerian Unions
The Republic of Lanos wrote:Is my sig ok?


It's 7 or 8 on my screen depending on how many lines constitute a spoiler.

PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 3:19 pm
by Reploid Productions
7 on mine!

PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 5:19 am
by Kalasparata
Dear Reppy, please help me make a neater signiture that fits more. Thank you!
Reploid Productions wrote:7 on mine!

Myne too!

PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 6:41 am
by Shazbotdom
Kalasparata wrote:Dear Reppy, please help me make a neater signiture that fits more. Thank you!


While i'm not Reppy, I think you could alter your sig a little bit to make it fit well. The "Other Info about my Nation" spoiler and Passport Picture probably shouldn't be there at all as one would think that information would be in your Nations Factbook, which I do see that you have it listed. Your Defcon could go into a single line as well. I also noticed that your Photobucket is set that it needs a "visitor password", which if you list that on your Sig you would need to drop the password.


I worked up what I think would make it look nice, for your consideration.



The Democratic Republic of Kalasparata || Factbook (Wiki | OOC Thread) | Flag Meaning | Photobucket
cityrailsaints on TrainsPlanesNRL || cityraildude on YouTube || Cool Emoticon
Embassy | News
Economic Calculators: NSEconomy | SunSet
Founder: The Defense Alliance
DEFCON: 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1


I feel that looks best, as all the info you had is now condenced into 4 lines and gets rid of those spoilers. I have included the code for it below if you like it best that way.

Code: Select all
[align=Center]The Democratic Republic of Kalasparata || [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=42087]Factbook[/url] [size=75]([url=http://www.nswiki.net/index.php?title=Government_type]Wiki[/url] | [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=45266&hilit=Factbook]OOC Thread[/url])[/size] | [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=38967]Flag Meaning[/url] | [url=http://s826.photobucket.com/albums/zz182/cityrailsaints]Photobucket[/url]
[size=85]cityrailsaints on [url=http://trainsplanesnrl.50.forumer.com]TrainsPlanesNRL[/url] || [url=http://www.youtube.com/user/cityraildude]cityraildude[/url] on YouTube || [url=http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs32/f/2008/204/2/f/Shifty_Eyes_Emoticon_by_Canaan1.gif]Cool Emoticon[/url][/size][/align][floatright][url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=40052&hilit=Democratic]Embassy[/url] | [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=47079]News[/url][/floatright]Economic Calculators: [url=http://nseconomy.thirdgeek.com/nseconomy.php?nation=Kalasparata]NSEconomy[/url] | [url=http://www.sunsetrpg.com/economystatistics.php?nation=kalasparata]SunSet[/url]
[floatright][b]Founder:[/b] [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=47686]The Defense Alliance[/url][/floatright][b]DEFCON:[/b] [b][u]5[/u][/b] | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 1:07 pm
by Reploid Productions
I think I want to dub Shazbotdom as sig sculptor extraordinaire! ;)

PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 1:13 pm
by Sailsia
just got done with an overhaul of mine:
Code: Select all
[align=center][u][b][url=http://www.nationstates.net/nation=sailsia]The Republic of Sailsia[/url][/b][/u]
“Order, Liberty, Knowledge”[/align][align=center][size=85][url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=46144]Embassy[/url] | [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?p=1961103&sid=36831118e6f784b25a4daf3730c05df9#p1961103]Factbook[/url][/size] | [url=http://www.nationstates.net/nation=sailsia]News Thread[/url] | [url=http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac152/ohshniz/MapofSailsia.png?t=1272075056]Map of Sailsia[/url] | [url=http://www.nationstates.net/nation=sailsia]Embassy's In[/url]
[size=85]DEFCON: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | [b]5[/b] |[/size][/align][floatleft][spoiler=Conflicts][url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=39790]Vlack Sturm Expansion War[/url]: [b]Victory[/b]
Prevention of Expansion by Vlack Sturm[hr][/hr][/spoiler][/floatleft][align=right][floatright][spoiler=Alliances][url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=28790]The Vladivostok Alliance[/url]
[url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=40671]The Vian Alliance[/url]
[url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=30832]The Allied Powers[/url][/spoiler][/floatright][/align]

PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 4:56 pm
by Shazbotdom
Reploid Productions wrote:I think I want to dub Shazbotdom as sig sculptor extraordinaire! ;)


Yeah but i'm not that active on the forums. There are times when I go two days or more without posting. lol

PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 11:46 pm
by Kalasparata
Shazbotdom wrote:
Kalasparata wrote:Dear Reppy, please help me make a neater signiture that fits more. Thank you!


While i'm not Reppy, I think you could alter your sig a little bit to make it fit well. The "Other Info about my Nation" spoiler and Passport Picture probably shouldn't be there at all as one would think that information would be in your Nations Factbook, which I do see that you have it listed. Your Defcon could go into a single line as well. I also noticed that your Photobucket is set that it needs a "visitor password", which if you list that on your Sig you would need to drop the password.


I worked up what I think would make it look nice, for your consideration.



The Democratic Republic of Kalasparata || Factbook (Wiki | OOC Thread) | Flag Meaning | Photobucket
cityrailsaints on TrainsPlanesNRL || cityraildude on YouTube || Cool Emoticon
Economic Calculators: NSEconomy | SunSet
DEFCON: 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1


I feel that looks best, as all the info you had is now condenced into 4 lines and gets rid of those spoilers. I have included the code for it below if you like it best that way.

Code: Select all
[align=Center]The Democratic Republic of Kalasparata || [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=42087]Factbook[/url] [size=75]([url=http://www.nswiki.net/index.php?title=Government_type]Wiki[/url] | [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=45266&hilit=Factbook]OOC Thread[/url])[/size] | [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=38967]Flag Meaning[/url] | [url=http://s826.photobucket.com/albums/zz182/cityrailsaints]Photobucket[/url]
[size=85]cityrailsaints on [url=http://trainsplanesnrl.50.forumer.com]TrainsPlanesNRL[/url] || [url=http://www.youtube.com/user/cityraildude]cityraildude[/url] on YouTube || [url=http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs32/f/2008/204/2/f/Shifty_Eyes_Emoticon_by_Canaan1.gif]Cool Emoticon[/url][/size][/align][floatright][url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=40052&hilit=Democratic]Embassy[/url] | [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=47079]News[/url][/floatright]Economic Calculators: [url=http://nseconomy.thirdgeek.com/nseconomy.php?nation=Kalasparata]NSEconomy[/url] | [url=http://www.sunsetrpg.com/economystatistics.php?nation=kalasparata]SunSet[/url]
[floatright][b]Founder:[/b] [url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=47686]The Defense Alliance[/url][/floatright][b]DEFCON:[/b] [b][u]5[/u][/b] | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

Thank You! But what about the new stuff I've added?

PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 12:58 am
by Kalasparata
How come you got rid of my quotes and tech level?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:47 am
by Briganti
Thanks I really didnt know how to sort my signture out. Thanks for expalining what a spolier was I didnt know thanks alot :D

PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:10 am
by Usual People In Life
Would a sig be able to have links to sites outside NS, and if so, to what sort of sites could that be?

PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:27 am
by Euroslavia
Usual People In Life wrote:Would a sig be able to have links to sites outside NS, and if so, to what sort of sites could that be?


Signature Spam: Forum signatures give you space to include a few carefully selected links or quotes. Sigs are attached to every post, and must therefore conform to clutter-reducing rules. Maximum size should never exceed eight lines, including blank lines and quote lines. (A short quote takes up 5 lines - "quote", attribution line, two lines for the box, and one line for the quote). Large font sizes should be avoided and may be trimmed without warning. Posting forbidden links is not allowed.


which leads to...
Forbidden links: There is not, and will not ever, be a definitive list of forbidden links. Since we don't control the content of other websites, a link which was fine yesterday may be forbidden today. Each link is judged on a case by case basis, and occasionally the Mods will outlaw certain sites.

* Any outlawed site is forbidden in the forums, as a signature, as a motto, as a World Factbook entry, or in any other format.
* General classes of forbidden links include porn or other sexual imagery, warez (see below), sites promoting other illegal activities, referral links (see below), or sites that have links to such sites as a principal component.
* Some generally unacceptable popular sites include ebaumsworld, albinoblacksheep, plasticnipple, Encyclopedia Dramatica, and Fred Phelps' godhates<group> hate-mongering sites.
* Don't link to sites where you (or a friend/relative) stand to gain financially.

PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:42 am
by Reploid Productions
Usual People In Life wrote:Would a sig be able to have links to sites outside NS, and if so, to what sort of sites could that be?

Euro's already pretty thoroughly covered it, but here's my abridged version:
My sig has some examples of off-NS site links as well. Things like links to your NS Wiki article, your region's off-site forum, a personal blog, and so on is generally a-ok. Ads for other games, a friend's online store, or a competing website (ie: a political discussion forum that could be seen as a competitor to NS General) aren't so good and will be removed from a sig.

PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:54 am
by Usual People In Life
Thanks for your fast response, I have been unsure till now and I might put some links in with a future sig.