HOW TO CONTRIBUTE
The essential philosophy behind the Orion's Arm Universe Project ("OAUP") is that one person alone, no matter how talented, cannot come up with as diverse a scenario as many contributors can together. Through synergistic creative effort by many, we have built a vast universe of the imagination that no one person alone could have dreamt. To this end we are always willing to accept new material from those interested in helping to build the collaborative universe that is Orion's Arm.

Here is a step-by-step explanation of how to best contribute content to the setting, what to expect, and a list of frequently asked questions ("FAQs").

Required Reading:

When you do submit material, at the very least you will be expected to be familiar with the following resources:
  • The Terms, Copyright, and Submissions Agreement
  • The Netiquette Page
  • The Illustrated Backstory
  • The Orion's Arm Primer
  • The FAQs Pages
  • The OA Canon
While not required, the following will help you in becoming acquainted with what has been done before, as well as the look and feel of the project. It is our experience that reviewing these can save you a lot of time, trouble and frustration.
  • The Encyclopaedia Galactica
  • The Orion's Arm Creative Writing Section
  • The Orion's Arm Members' Gallery

Join relevant discussion groups

Join at least one of the relevant discussion groups (some members take this step before step 1, that's fine as long as both steps 1 and 2 are taken):
  • You can join any of these groups by following the 'Discussion Groups' link in the navigation at left.
  • Orion's Arm Worldbuilding Group ("OAWBG"): Worldbuilding materials, worlds entries, and material for the Encyclopaedia Galactica. Please note you don't have to write essays. Some additions are a single paragraph.
  • OA Nexus: The softer side of OA. Stories, screenplays, poetry, art, animation and music.
  • OA Celestia: Discussion, help and inspiration for those using the Celestia software to illustrate the project.

Do your homework

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Being new to the project, questions are perfectly normal. We do suggest taking a couple of easy steps before posting to the group:
  • Use the Search function to try and find it on the site. You may find nothing, or you may find we already have something identical, or at least very similar, and it will save you the trouble of writing a long essay.
  • Search the web. Do a little homework to make sure the science is on at least stable ground - it doesn't break the laws of physics for example.
  • NO PLAGIARISM. Please refer to the Terms, Copyright, and Submissions agreement for our stance on this. Inspiration is one thing, direct copyright infringement is quite another. Breaking this rule can get you banned.
Content can be created at any time in the OA timeline, but to reduce the chances of becoming dated, we try to avoid near-real-time events and references.

Post material

Once you have familiarized yourself with the project, joined a group, and done your homework, post your material as follows:
  • Write up a solid draft of your proposed submission, and submit it to the group using the appropriate Topic Headers as outlined within the Netiquette pages. Also, add a footer designating the nature of the draft.
    • This should look something like: Title
    • The most commonly used headers are:
      • EG: A post intended to be a submission into the venerable Encyclopaedia Galactica.
      • LINK: A post including a link to another website or online resource relevant to the OAUP.
      • OA: A general post to the group about some aspect of the OAUP. May be an addition/suggested change/hard to quantify thing relating to the project. Example might be a proposed new social phenomenon, fad, fashion, pet, person, etc. Pretty much anything pertaining to the site that is not covered above.
      • OT: Off-topic posts. These may be any material not directly related to the project. Please keep these to a minimum, as our focus is the project.
    • Currently the entry needs to be in English. We accept U.S, British, Canadian and Australian spelling. If you have trouble with English and really want to submit material, post a question to the membership looking for others that may also speak your native language. This way they may be able to aid you in the construction of a submission.
  • Wait at least 2 or 3 days, a week is better, to receive any suggestions, objections or criticisms.
  • Be prepared to back up any scientific or technical concepts with at least one good reference. Posting wild speculation, technobabble and pseudoscience is disrespectful of the membership and their time.
  • PLEASE DO NOT TAKE COMMENTS AS AN ATTACK ON YOU. Our goal is to ensure a good fit for the material within the setting. If you truly feel you have been unjustly treated, and the problem has not been dealt with on-list, please feel free to contact a moderator or senior member. Potentially, an issue may actually be with a moderator or senior member. In this case please review the membership roster of the appropriate discussion group or the senior membership list on site for an alternate contact. Everyone is expected to behave according to the rules laid out in the Netiquette page, and we want to ensure everyone is treated fairly. We do ask you to remember that we have hundreds of members, and not everyone will see eye-to-eye on every point.
  • We expect you to defend your idea. If you did not think it was a good one, you would not have submitted it in the first place.
    • There are a number of acceptable ways for arguing for the incorporation of an idea into the OA project if it is questioned.
      • Referencing generally accepted scientific or engineering publications (peer-reviewed or popular), serious websites, or other materials. Online references, including links are particularly welcome.
      • In the case of ideas of a societal/psychological nature, arguing a plausible chain of historical events, based at least loosely from a starting point in the present day that might lead to the conditions you propose.
    • The following are unacceptable defenses and will result in your submission being ignored (i.e it will never become part of the setting):
      • The idea is simply "neat" or "cool".
      • If you just keep talking about/presenting the idea and ignoring criticism thinking we'll just give in and incorporate it
      • You really, really believe strongly that it should be the way you say.
  • Rework your draft, accounting for suggestions and criticisms, and repost with the appropriate footer. For example: Second Draft, Third Draft, etc.
  • Repeat steps b, c, d and f until the group appears satisfied.
  • Post the material a final time with the topic footer Ready for Edit
  • Wait at least one full week for last minute suggestions, objections, corrections and criticisms.
  • Once your submission has passed muster, you need to post it to the Submissions Folder, found in the Files Section, of the appropriate group. (i.e Worldbuilding materials to the worldbuilding group; stories, screenplays and art to the Nexus, etc.)

What happens next:

  • From the Submissions Folder your material will be processed onto the site. This is handled by date of submission, or First Come First Serve as some call it.
  • The submission will be erased from the Submissions folder, edited (possibly with a final consultation with you), and eventually added to the site. This process may take weeks, and in some cases months, based on the availability of editors.
  • Once new material is uploaded to the site an announcement will be made via post to the various discussion groups. You can also watch for this by checking the "What's New" pages.

Potential Additional Areas of Contribution:

Please contact a Moderator, editor or, senior member if you feel you can aid the OAUP in any of the following ways:
  • Legal, Marketing, and Management ideas / skills.
  • Editors (multiple languages a plus, but not required — we are international after all)
  • General feedback and suggestions for improvement.
  • Computer coding skills.
  • Gaming ideas.

Voices:Future Tense Submissions:

In addition to the submission guidelines above, Voices:Future Tense, the Orion's Arm e-zine has it's own set of submission information which can be found here.

These guidelines are intended for use specifically for materials that you would like to appear in the e-zine and are intended to streamline the process of adding content to that publication. If you have specific questions or concerns about these guidelines, please contact the Orion's Arm Board using the Contact Us link at the bottom of the page.

Artwork Submissions

Orion's Arm is happy to accept artwork from members and select non-members in all mediums (digital, pencil, watercolor, oils, etc.) that can be effectively displayed on the project website. The following guidelines should be followed when submitting or considering artwork for inclusion in the project.

Basic Guidelines:

1) All submitted artwork must be print/publish ready.

2) Images should be at least 500 pixels wide, but no more than 1024 pixels wide.

3) Images should be clear and not overly blurry or `softened' unless this is
done deliberately on the part of the artist as part of the work itself.

4) No hue-shifted or inverted-color images made by others should be used except in the case of public-domain images. In the case of public-domain images, credit should be given for both the original image and the modified version.

5) Artwork is subject to the same Canon guidelines as all other material
submitted for addition to the project.

Special Project Guidelines:

Some parts of the Orion's Arm Universe Project may include their own specific artwork submission guidelines that add to or supersede the Basic guidelines. These may include (but are not limited to) specific parts of the OA website, covers for OA books or ebooks, or other visual projects that the OAUP may carry out at any time. Guidelines for artwork submissions to these areas will be provided on a per project basis.

OA Main Page Artwork Guidelines: TBD

OA Hardcopy Book Cover Guidelines: Provided on a per project basis

OA E-book Cover Guidelines: Provided on a per project basis

Artwork that is created according to a specific project guideline may be used elsewhere in the project at the discretion of the managing board of the OAUP in accordance with the OAUP general submission guidelines.

Artwork Submission Process:

Artwork that is to be considered for inclusion in the Orion's Arm Universe
Project, must be submitted and reviewed according to the following guidelines:

1) A link to the location of the artwork should be posted to the Orion's Arm
Nexus or Worldbuilding discussion groups. This post must provide information on the name of the artist(s), and any necessary permissions of use if the
submitting member is not the artist. The submitting member may choose at their discretion to also post suggestions as to where they would like the artwork in question used.

2) The membership will review and consider the artwork and may offer
critiques or praise based on the following guidelines (Guidelines TBD).

3) The artwork may be modified in response to the feedback presented or the left unchanged with an explanation on the part of the artist as to why they feel the artwork as submitted does not need modification or cannot be practically modified. If modifications are made to the artwork, they should be resubmitted as a link with the file name changed to include an updated version number. This process should be repeated until a `final' version of the artwork is produced.

4) Once a final version of the artwork is produced, it should be placed in the Submissions folder after which it will be added to the Orion's Arm project in a timely manner.

The Orion's Arm Art Gallery Pages:

Artwork that is submitted to the Orion's Arm Universe Project without a
suggested location in the Project will be placed on the Orion's Arm Art Gallery Pages until project management determines a specific location for it. Artworks that are not OA Canon compliant or which do not meet Project guidelines for inclusion on the website may also be placed on the Art Gallery pages at the discretion of project management.

Call for Submissions:

On occasion the management of the Orion's Arm Universe Project may post a "Call for Artwork" for some specific part or aspect of the project. This may include artwork for a specific web page, a book cover, or some other venue. Specific artwork submission guideline will be included, if necessary.

Third Party Artwork

Third party (non-member) artwork may be included in the Orion's Arm Universe
Project although member artwork is always preferred. Third party artwork
submitted for consideration for inclusion in the project will be subject to the following guidelines:

a) The artwork/artist should be "sponsored" by a member. That is to say, a
member should present the artwork (including a link to its location) to the
discussion lists along with a brief explanation of why they think it should be included in OA. In certain circumstances, the sponsor of a third party artwork may be asked to act as a representative of the OAUP when initially contacting the artist on the project's behalf.

b) Third party artwork must be Canon compliant and is subject to the same Basic Guidelines as all other submissions to the project.

c) Third party artwork will be considered by the membership in the same fashion as all other artwork submitted.

d) Third party artwork may be subject to specific usage guidelines separate from those in use for member work submitted to the project. These specific guidelines will be negotiated with the artist in the event that a decision is made to request that their artwork be used by the project.

FAQs:

I have some material I have written for another setting. Can that be incorporated into the Orion's Arm Universe Project?

Yes, with the stipulation that you have the legal right to do so. The success of this scenario so far has been the ease with which other worldbuilding and roleplaying scenarios and settings can be incorporated into it. When bringing in pre-existing material there may be a need for modifications to allow them to fit within the Orion's Arm universe. Humanoid aliens may become Terragen uplifts, splices, etc. Please follow the link on this page to The Canon for a complete list of criteria.

In worldbuilding, can I adapt material from roleplaying manuals, books or other franchises?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and much of the Orion's Arm universe pays homage to the inspirations acquired from other sources in one form or fashion. While one can be inspired by and build upon the ideas of others, it is our goal to make something original from that inspiration, not slavishly imitate.

We must always avoid plagiarism. This is very much the case when trying to borrow ideas from roleplaying games, or established franchises. Also, despite how they may appear within the context of these other settings, they must conform to the laws of science and the canon of the Orion's Arm universe to be incorporated.

Understand, we are not saying you cannot use these other materials for inspiration, but it is important to give the original reference, and that the emphasis is on adapting and modifying the original entry to the unique hard science transhumanist Orion's Arm project.

I feel a bit intimidated because some of the people who have contributed material know much more about science than I do; how can I contribute material to a hard science setting?

If you feel that the science and tech side of the Worldbuilding list ("WBG") is a bit much, please check out our OA Nexus. This discussion list has been set up especially to provide a friendly, encouraging, non-technogeekish creative environment. This is where our writers, artists and other right-brained members can contribute. It is also important to remember that you don't have to be a practising particle physicist to participate. There are many sides of the setting, cultural, philosophical and artistic that need material as well. Many of our members lack a formal scientific background and might be listed as "enthusiastic amateurs". With a little research you might be surprised what you can contribute.

I have developed a detailed hard science setting concerning an alien empire. Can this be included in the project?

Maybe it can, but be warned, the standard for allowing this will be very, very high. Most of the setting is focused on humanity and human derived beings and civilizations. The setting does have some aliens ("xenos"), and at least one, the Muuh, have what could be called an empire. These were created original to the setting and, like most of the aliens, tend to currently be more like scenery then active participants. It is not that we're against the xenos being active participants, it just seems the membership has focused its efforts elsewhere. So in principle others could be added, although in order to justify such an addition, the race and empire in question would probably need to be both very unique, and very detailed. Other criteria would be how well does it fit within the Orion's Arm universe? Would it unbalance the focus on Terragen civilization? Would it create a major power shift? How does it fit within our existing Orion's Arm parameters, canon and feel?

With all that said, if you have something that you think might fit into all of the above, drop us a line and we'll consider it. The worst we can do is say no, and it won't be meant in a personal way if we do.

If I do choose to submit material to the OAUP, does the OAUP own the copyright?

No. You own the copyright, but by submitting material you agree to give the OAUP permission to use (and even modify/add to/ etc) your work for as long as the OAUP wishes, on the OAUP site or elsewhere. This is outlined in some detail within the Terms, Copyright, and Submissions agreement.

Is there any agreement in place for profit-share in case of the OAUP producing works (e.g. short stories) that turn a profit?

This may be handled on a case-by-case basis, depending on the project. The legalities of profit sharing are covered in some detail within the Terms, Copyright, and Submissions agreement.

Can I submit work I have done for Orion's Arm elsewhere, whether on my own or another website, or for publication in print?

Of course you can!

Say I change my mind and want to take my material off Orion's Arm, can I?

In the past we have had members demand that we remove their material from the OAUP. To stop this happening in the future we now ask that anyone submitting any materials agree to the Terms, Copyright, and Submissions agreement. As outlined in Section II Part 1 — Grant of Rights.

We do this to protect the collaborative efforts of the OAUP. It is the nature of a shared project like the OAUP to constantly build on earlier material. This can be compared to a number of people cooperating to build a house, and then one person demanding that the bricks he or she laid must be taken out of the walls — despite the fact those bricks are now supporting the bricks laid by other people. If this is something you cannot agree to, we ask that you not submit material for the project.

=If OA is intended as a sort of "open source" worldbuilding project, why all the legal conditions?=

This is to protect both the OAUP and the membership. Without these protections in place another person would be able to steal the ideas they found here, present them as their own, and potentially profit from doing so. We must also protect the OAUP from someone doing likewise to another group, and attempting to present the materials here as their own. Should this happen, the contributor and not the project, is liable.