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On-line Community Event Calendar policy FAQ:

Please note this applies only to the on-line Community Events Calendar. The print newspaper version Newswest/Kitchissippi Times Community Calendar Column criteria are decided separately by their editors.

How does this calendar compare to the print version ?

The on-line calendar is not a replacement for the in print calendar but acts an add-on to it. The on-line calendar is intended as a quick look-up for events by day, week or month. It can present events sooner, quicker and provide updates but not all notices or details can be supported. On the other hand, not all events presented here will appear in print for reasons including our publishing deadlines and dates, or space limitations.

Why do you limit the length ?

We limit the length on-line for both appearance and function. A description of more than 175 characters (four+ lines) makes some of the output screens bigger than what we feel is good. 130 characters (Three-four lines) is, in our opinion, an optimal length for the event’s description. Functionally the on-line calendar’s mission is to be a simple and short gateway to finding more information, and not a verbose read.

How can I write such a short description ?

  • Think of the description as your one-and-only tweet or twitter opportunity. Say it in one tweet.
  • Use abbreviations, sentence fragments, keywords to grab a reader’s attention. Studies say 75% scan to read bits.
  • Avoid long verbs tenses, use active voice present tense. Bring a reader into the event, avoid weak future tenses.
  • Avoid flowery adjectives, colloquials. Usability studies say readers want simple facts.
  • Don't repeat information already in other fields (title, date, time, place).
  • Don't present too much information. Make them want to find out more.
  • Present only one full top-level adult price with the words “or less” if discount price levels exist.
  • Use words that replace multiple words like “refreshments” instead of a list of drinks and snacks,
    “entertainment”, “Live Music” or “Bands” instead of a list of Artists.
  • For a wider audience avoid using youthful l33t spellings.
  • To ensure an effective tweet in our news-feed, put the most important info in the shortest form at the beginning.

Why can we not include emails in the on-line description ?

There are a few reasons why.
  • The Internet has malicious programs searching web-pages for email addresses for email spammers to use. Hiding email addresses from them is possible but time consuming to do. Governments write anti-spam regulations that are even more time consuming. As a volunteer organization we can not guarantee that time at every instance.
  • E-mail addresses are often near impossible to verify as legitimate. Your website will normally provide emails or contact forms so we prefer to include links to it. Phone numbers are good too since they are traceable while tracing email addresses legally is too cumbersome. Instant messaging has the same issues as email.
  • If email is critical you can convert your email address to an HTML link using a mail hiding service like reCaptcha Mailhide and enter it in our form as your website. However due to Federal Legislation we can not accept these links for private emails. The email you submit as a Mailhide link must already be publicly accessible on the Internet or in your organization’s handouts and posters. First time verification of emails submitted in this manner may delay your submission 4-8 weeks!

My announcement is not appearing on-line. why ?

In order for the announcement to appear on-line it must meet selection guidelines.
* Serious real events:
a) The first thing we try to determine is; Is there any collaborating information on line?

This is to avoid publishing hoaxes and pranks. We search for your organization’s website and domain. We consider; if the announcement has appeared in the past, is this your first announcement, and where is it to be held. In the end it is a judgement call, but if no collaborating information is found, and you are not known to us then the announcement may be delayed (until it can be confirmed or deemed reasonable). This is very rarely the case so more likely the failure to appear is because ;

* In our immediate area:
b) We limit on-line announcements by geography.

Our readers are in an area bounded by the Ottawa river to Carling avenue between Woodroffe and the O-Train. Events in that area are likely to be fully covered. Additionally an arbitrary band of partial coverage around that area is included since some readers live close to our borders. Beyond that other events are looked at both in terms of distance and local interest. These areas beyond are discretionary and we don't guarantee they will appear. It would be too time consuming and be contrary to our aim of a simple short clean experience for our reader-visitors for this website to include all regions of Ottawa-Gatineau. Likewise we do exclude on-line any out-of-city organized trips, even though those may appear in print.

* That are Open Discrete Event types in terms of time and place:
c) We also currently exclude on-line announcements for things like multi-day courses, regular monthly meetings, calls for volunteers/members/donations.

The functionality of our calendar is not made for recurring events, and we prefer to draw attention to unique activities for our reader to participate in. So if your regular monthly meeting has a special guest speaker or activity then it may be included just as we include annual general meetings. Other announcements that are not tied to a single specific date and time are not included currently on-line except for special cases such as making a correction to the print version, or for some long term announcements from inside the distribution area. As many as half of the print Community Calendar Column announcements are general or recurring date types which we invite our readers to read in the print edition. Including those announcements on-line in the calendar tables is not part of our current plans for our online calendar page. If you feel it should be you can join our board meetings and ask that it be discussed.


Our ideal is to present a wide range of discrete events that are open-to-all, free or paid admission perhaps with pre-sale or pre-registration close to the event date. These events should have very few to no prerequisites of previous training so that a wide audience may be interested. The event should start at a specific date, time and place and run one to two days preferably (and not more than a week.). Prior day attendance requirements should be none or optional. The event should be at a single location or a contiguous walkable area. And it should be of important interest or fun for our community and readers to attend.

My announcement is not appearing in your event calendar feeds or tweets. why ?

Not all events in the full Calendar page will appear in our rss feeds and @OttawaWCalendar twitter account. A rare few events may be marked for exclusion if subject matter is considered sensitive, or not suitable for twittering. Other events that are outside of our normal fare may also be excluded to save space in our feeds or tweets. Event information received with less than the desired advance notice may miss the feed deadline to get in the Monday update of “A Week of Community Events” but could still appear in the full Calendar. If your event gets into the rss feed and “A Week of Community Events” page but does not appear in the tweets then the number of events that week exceeded the 8 tweet maximum that the FeedBurner service supports.

Can we include images in the calendar record ?

Not currently, but we do invite our readers and community event organizers to try their hand at creating image files for the top banner on the on-line calendar page. Basically be our reporter/photographer and create a wide aspect-ratio image (720 pixels wide by 148 pixels high or so). Do something that shows the fun that happens or happened at your event. Create a panorama or collage of photos that say Fun!, or speak to the visual interest of the event. No direct advertising text please, just visually report a selection of activities or art about the event. Or ask our volunteers to make one from available digital images. If a banner is selected we will add the name of the event and credits, Then overlay the Newswest Logo. We reserve the editorial rights to crop, saturate, add borders and other effects, and the final image used will be under our copyright. Image banners may also be placed in our newsfeeds and may be seen below your event info in the emails and our 7 day calendar listing. Image banners do not currently appear in our @OttawaWCalendar tweets.

Technical: What are the calendar record fields ?

The on-line calendar uses a client-downloadable date-indexed database of records. Each event record has the following data fields:

  1. Date: is not a true field since it forms the actual index used for the creation of the event record and is passed as a parameter to a script function in the format of yyyy,mm,dd. Newswest creates the function call based on the start date information you provide.
  2. Name: the short title for the event. We recommend the title word/words be descriptive, and can include 1-2 words indentifying the organization/venue if space allows. Try to keep the title to 5 words or less.
  3. Time: the start time for the event, and optionally the end time. Preferred format is [NN]:[NN]AM/PM-[NN]:[NN]AM/PM where [NN] is a one-two digit number terminated by an ‘AM’ or ’PM‘ indicator (caps preferred). Examples: 1-3PM, 10AM-2:45PM, 10:30AM-Noon. Noon is preferred to 12PM to avoid confusion. For brevity ‘:00’ is omitted as are duplication of the 'AM' or 'PM' indicator. Simple hyphens are used to indicate a span (as in start-end). For events like plays with multiple starts in a single day the preferred format separates each time with commas (for example: ‘1PM, 3PM, 7PM’). More complex time information like start time on alternate dates, 'door opens' time, should go in the description and/or the Runs field. (BTW: For event records entered in French a 24 hour format is used in place of AM/PM above.)
  4. Loc: the location/venue for the event. If the venue is not already in our location or parks listings, then a very short name and/or street address is the preferred data. If the location runs long, put the name or its abbreviation in the Location field, and add a longer description of the location at the end of the description. Multi-Street outdoor events should provide a partial description for this field, example: Island Pk. to Golden Ave.'
  5. Desc: the description for the event. We recommend the description start with the words 'At [PlaceName]' if the title does not hint at the venue. That way the tweets generated on the week of the event will be better for the followers of @OttawaWCalendar. Since only a few words from the description will find space in the tweet, pack important words at the beginning of the description so a follower will partly understand the tweet and may be curious enough to follow the link to the full calendar record for that date. Brevity in the description is very important, since readers gloss over longer text. You should provide just basic info about what will happen, what is extra-ordinary, what it might cost, keywords including 'kids', 'family' for family/kid friendly events, and most importantly how the reader can get more information on your web-site, web-page or phone-number. Emails are discouraged for reasons given above as well as for the low level of response. Readers want a link to click or a number to call, they do not want to have to compose and send a query and wait for replies at this stage.
  6. Runs: This is an extra field to identify events that have contiguous extra dates like '2-day', '3-day' events. it can also be used for 'Raindate:' dates and if space allows extra time info on the alternate dates. This field can also contain a hidden advance date code to feed an announcement of an early-bird or other type of deadline a week or 2 prior to the event. Such pre-event-dates should be put in the description, and Newswest may add the special code to the Runs field if warranted.'
  7. Type: is a special hidden field coded by Newswest for searches by event type. More info on searching by type is presented in the calendar help page. You may provide an opinion as to the event types applicable, but Newswest will set this field based primarily from your event’s description. This hidden field is also used to code link buttons linking events in the calendar to a related post in our on-line archives.
  8. Img: is a special hidden optional field coded by Newswest for the event’s image banner location for newsfeed generation. It supports CDATA image coding in the RSS 2.0 description, and has optional support for enclosure links (Podcasts). Only one image banner per event can appear in the newsfeed.