Torch Collaborator’s Guide

This guide is available as a PDF here: TorchCollaboratorsGuide.


Just want to send in a suggestion? Go ahead!

We thank you for your interest in writing for The Torch! We value your contribution. As you read, remember that this Collaborator’s Guide is a set of suggestions, not rules.

Our Mission

We aim to make commentary on politics and student life at Caltech with biting satire.

  • The Torch is meant to unite, not divide. We generally do not accept articles based primarily around house stereotypes or individuals. In particular, we will not publish articles that unwarrantedly attack particular people.
  • We publish varied content. This includes breaking news, opinion, clickbait, comics, podcasts, and other media.
  • We satirize systems and attitudes, not people or groups. In general, we will not use the names of real people unless the author can prove to the Editorial Board that they have permissions. Exceptions may be made in the case of certain public figures, so long as the article does not attack them.

Picking a Topic:

Already got something in mind? You can skip this section.

Methods for topic creation

One common method to create a topic is to take something common to the Caltech experience (e.g.: Researchers Discover Particle) and turn it on its head (e.g.: Researchers Discover Each Other).

Some of our best articles seek to satirize events or changes at Caltech with a new viewpoint.

Another method is to report on a daily, mundane happenstance as if it was extraordinarily important.

Then, there’s the article-based-entirely-on-pun.

But you don’t need to follow any of these formats at all. There are lots of good articles that don’t directly follow any of the above methods.

Inspiration for topics

  • Systems and processes at Caltech
  • Daily life at Caltech
  • Recurring Caltech events
  • Recent events at Caltech
  • Attitudes at Caltech
  • Caltech rules and regulations
  • Caltech culture

(In General) Do:

  • Create a pseudonym
  • Choose an appealing topic and title
  • Follow standard good-writing practices
    • The Torch generally uses journalistic-style writing; feel free to deviate
    • For examples, see any publication on The Torch, as well as most publications from  The Onion
  • Write at least two paragraphs (may not apply to all submission types, such as listicles)
  • Recognize that it may take a couple days for us to get back to you (especially during midterms and finals)
    • Plan ahead if you desire to publish on a specific date
  • Write about something most Caltech readers will understand

(In General) Don’t:

  • Hurt people’s feelings – Caltech is hard enough already
    • There are exceptions to this rule, but not many; see “Alligator Returns” for an example of an article that may have hurt feelings
  • Contact the Editors from your Caltech account
  • Stereotype the houses  – we want to unite campus, not divide it
  • Make fun of students who are struggling with Caltech
    • Since nearly everybody struggles here, think carefully about how you phrase things
  • Use personal names in the article
    • Exceptions include certain Caltech figureheads, such as Core professors and the President
  • Write about something that only a small fraction of Caltech will understand

Submitting an Article

  1. Ideally, contact the Editors from a non-Caltech account
  2. Email the submission as a Word document, or other similar document style
    • Do not use Google Drive to submit
  3. Include your pseudonym and an article title
    • You may also optionally include a desired date of publication, just let us know far ahead of time
  4. We love images! Just make sure they’re copyright-free or made by yourself
    • If you include only one image, we will assume that it is the “header” image. If not, let us know
    • If you include multiple images, let us know which is the desired “header” image
    • If you include in-article images, let us know where in the article they should appear
    • Pixabay is an excellent source for copyright-free images
  5. The Editors may make some edits to your submission. We will always let you see the edits we make, and get your approval before we publish an edited version
  6. The Editors may request to publish your article in The Tech. We will always ask your permission before publishing in The Tech