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Case Study – Part 1 – Understanding the Problem

In this session, we discuss the special requirements on a member’s website where he needs to refer to specific citations repeatedly without making any mistakes. We talk about the kinds of references being used and get an understanding of the problem. Then we develop a plan for creating the custom post type, custom post meta and the shortcode that will be used to insert the post type.

Video Transcript

Rick: So let’s talk about what you want to do here.

Reese: Well, what I’m trying to do is an authority website.

Rick: And what do you mean by that?

Reese: Well, as you’re well aware of, I do have an expertise in gambling tax law. And the statute goes back to 1939. It’s not changed any since then but there is no central location, no central place… there’s not even a book by anybody that just talks about gambling tax stuff. And fortunately or unfortunately, Oklahoma is the casino capital of the United States. We have almost 25% of all the casinos in the United States are here in Oklahoma. Keep in mind that there’s more people in Orange County, there’s more people in the city of Phoenix than there in the entire state of Oklahoma. I mean, you can’t… there’s a little town in Miami, Oklahoma, not to be confused with Miami, Florida although they’re spelled the same. There’s 9 casinos in that town because within an hour’s drive, you have the state of Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. And it’s one of the big industries here in Oklahoma. I’m trying to develop this website. I’ve got about 2-300 court cases and I need to make sure that when I refer to one of those court cases that I refer to at the same way. The legal citation, there’s the Harvard Blue Book way. There’s a standardized way of citing to it. I need to make sure that when I type a 3, it says 3 and not a 4 or 5.

Rick: And you may be repeating that information a bunch of times.

Reese: I’ll be repeating it several times. Although there are some cases that are obvious… kind of the old animal farm. You know, all animals are created equal. There are some that are more equal than others. And some of the other things too is you know, back in 1945, nobody may have realized that this was going to become a landmark case. And so… then what happens is you know, 20-30 years later, several of the legal books or citations, services or book services started adding their stuff to it. So now, where I had a case that maybe has you know, the US Reporter, now it’s the US Reporter, the Supreme Court Reporter, the AFTR, the USTC you know, they could be cited by 4 or 5 books now. And so people kind of get their feelings hurt to say if you don’t include service in the citation. And quite frankly, what happens a lot of times from a practical standpoint, people get audited and so the auditor, the IRS Auditor will hand them a report saying, “Here’s our report. What do you think?” And they’ll have files based on the Dofen case, based on the Tohan case. This is why we’ve decided to treat you like this. Well, the first thing they do is they go through the internet and they go to Google and they type in Dofen case. They type in Tohan. They typed in whatever and they start trying to find out what they can about the Dofen case, the Tohan case. And so hopefully what they’ll do is they’ll find my website when they type in that… the name of that case and then that will lead them to, “Oh okay, look here. You know, this case was further explained by this other case or here’s another topic.” It’ll help them figure out where they’re at.

Rick: So then let’s talk about the kind of information we’re trying to capture with this little program we’re going to do. What are… and so let’s say we have sort of our you know, our reference case which is…

Reese: Basically, the Harvard…

Rick: Any specific case.

Reese: The Harvard Blue Book is very explicit. That’s one of the things they teach you in the first year of law school is how to cite cases. You have the name of the case and then you have the reporter service that it’s in. Then in parentheses, you have the name of the court and then the year that the case was decided. So you have…

Rick: And are you using those altogether in a single citation or are those individual pieces that you may use separately?

Reese: Well, what happens the first time you refer to a case… and you know, you can pick whichever one you want. You’re going to have the name of the parties. So a popular one, for instance, for my purposes is Welch v Helvering. Welch was the taxpayer, Helvering happened to be the commissioner of internal revenue at the time. And so you will have the names of the parties. After that then you have the citation services which… I think Welch is 290 US 111 and then 54 Supreme Court page 8. And then..

Rick: And are you ever going to use that and append on the first reference?

Reese: The first time you refer to it, you use the full monty, everything. You use the entire thing. The next time that you use it, it’s not uncommon to have people… since you know it’s the commissioner, in this case, you would just call it the Welch case. And you would just refer to it as the Welch case from here on out.

Rick: And how would you refer to that reference?

Reese: What I would do…

Rick: If you’re going to give that the Welch case a name, how would you refer to that?

Reese: I would maybe call it the Welch case or…

Rick: No, no. But if you called it the Welch case and you call it something else the Rick case and something else the Reese case, what would all three of those references be called?

Reese: Well, the way that I have used it in my… the titles of post, I’m using the party names. So it will be Welch v Helvering, Rick v the commissioner, Skills v the United States.

Rick: Okay so we can refer to the Welch case as the party name.

Reese: Sure. I mean, you will always… and for all intents and purposes, there are some other Welch cases but they were lower court cases. So you know, when you get to the Supreme Court then you can stop because the Supreme Court is supreme. They’re not right because they’re… what’s the old adage? They’re not last because they’re right. They’re righ because they’re last. So once you’re done, you’re…

Rick: But I’m trying to… what I’m trying to get at is sort of what are the pieces of the puzzle that we’re tying to capture?

Reese: Well, I need the full… the long name which will be Welch v Helvering then you have the sort name.

Rick: Okay so instead of party name, shall we call this long name?

Reese: Long name, yes sir.

Rick: Long name. And then what you’re also saying is you want a short name.

Reese: Correct.

Rick: Okay and then what else? You got the full reference, the long name and the short name. What else do you want?

Reese: And then basically the citation, the Harvard Blue Book Compatible Citation.

Rick: And that’s dfferent than the full reference?

Reese: That’s the 290 US… those are the names of the report services. Okay and on the Welch, there happens to be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 names.

Rick: So are… but are you referring to them separately in any case, at any point?

Reese: No, sir.

Rick: So this is tied up in either the full reference or the long name or something else.

Reese: If I do it, a proper citation you know, the first time it’s referred to it, I use the long name, the citation and then the part with the name of the court and the year.

Rick: And is that the full reference?

Reese: That’s the full reference. And then any other times after that that I refer to it, I can just refer to it by the short name. The only time you might short circuit around that is if you are referring to… for instance, on Welch, I think it starts on page 111. You might refer to a quote on page 115. But I’m not doing any of that.

Rick: Okay so really, the only thing we have here at the moment is we have the full reference and the short name.

Reese: Correct.

Rick: Because the full reference has a long name, has a citation, has everything else in it.

Reese: Correct. The full reference is everything that meets Blue Book standards and then you have the short name. But what I run into is I need to be able to put whether it’s a long name or a short name. I need to put that name in the HTML site tags.

Rick: But are you ever referencing the long name separately from the full reference?

Reese: I’m not but I can’t say that a judge in 1930 didn’t.

Rick: No, I’m talking… but I mean when you are… you want to use this information yourself, I’m asking if that is something we need to capture separately from the full reference or is it’s part of the full reference.

Reese: I’m trying to… yeah, I think, for the most part, you’re either doing the full reference or the short thing. Now, I need to be able to fit both of those like in anchor tags. And at the end of the day, it’s basically the full reference or the short name.

Rick: Okay and so now, I’m suggesting that we use a custom post type for this. And the custom post type has a title and it has content. Now we could…

Reese: And I need to be able to quickly find which means of the 300 court cases that I’m referring to. And what I have done in my file cabinet at the house is I’ve referred to it by year and then I refer to it by the short name. And that’s just so that I can find it quickly.

Rick: So name convention…we’re going to call it that for the moment. Name convention.

Rick: Okay so we have these 3 things that are going to be aggregated together into 1 block of content. And that block of content is a custom post type and the custom post type automatically has 2 things in it. It has a title and it has content.

Reese: Correct.

Rick: We’ve got 3 things here so we need to add one thing to the custom post type. Now I think that probably, this is the title.

Reese: The main convention? Yes, sir. Because when I’m scrolling through it, it’ll match up with my hard copy files and make that easy to find. So for instance, on the Welch case it would be 1933-Welch.

Rick: And so then here, what I’ve got, the full reference then, I think, is the content. And then the short name, I think we’re just going to make this post meta.

Reese: Now is that different from a custom field?

Rick: No. Custom field is the non technical way in which post meta is referred to.

Reese: Okay.

Rick: So then we have this correspondence of our name convention which is year short name, whatever it is, is the post title. The short name itself is going to be post meta and the full reference is going to be post content.

Reese: Now just to let you know, Rick, it doesn’t happen very often but it does happen that every now and then, the Pellet Court will render their opinion the same year that the lower court. So you might have… there’s a copule of cases where I actually have like a 1947-Welch and then I would have… well, I think the Donovan case is one. And so when I do then to distinguish it if they happen to be the same year, I may put tax court, 3rd circuit, Supreme Court after the naming convention if I happen to have one of those you know… there’s probably less than 5.

Rick: But that can embraced by the naming convention itself.

Reese: Right, right.

Rick: So then we have 3 pieces of content and we have 3 built in systems for handling that content. And so then the way this project is going to work is we need to create a custom post type. We need to create the custom post meta and then we need to create the shortcode that will insert this. And so our shortcode looks something like citation. That’s the name of the shortcode and then it could be…

Reese: Title = 1933-Welch.

Rick: Yeah, title equals and then this is the… and then it’s post title really, naming convention. And then content equals and you’re either title or content. But not title, I’m sorry. Not title, short title.

Reese: That’d either be your full reference… yeah. That’d either be your post content or your post meta.

Rick: Right. That’s what I’m going to say, post meta. Okay so this is what your shortcode is going to look like. Now, that’s a lot for a short name. So you’re writing this all out to put your short name in there, simply so that the short name is always exactly the same. And if you ever want to change it, you don’t have to change it in one place.

Reese: And you know, that’s a good point. The short name is less likely to have errors. I’m more likely to have errors on you know, 252 US 189 you know, 40, you know. I’m more apt to get fog-brained after driving 21 hours and mistyle that full reference than I am the short name.

Rick: So then you could choose to simplify this process by getting rid of the post meta.

Reese: Correct.

Rick: If you get rid of the post meta, you would never need to define the content because the only time you’re using this is when you want to insert the full citation.

Reese: Correct. But you have to remember the context in which I’m using this. There may be times when I want to embed it within an anchor tag. And there may be times… some of them are embedded in an anchor tag and some of them are not. You see, even if I’m using a short name, I still want to have the anchor tag because if you click on the short name…

Rick: And what’s it’s anchoring to?

Reese: To the page of that post, of that case. So if you click on Welch on the Welch anchor tag, it’s going to take you to you know, Gambling Tax Institute/Court Cases/WelchvHelvering. So maybe instead of shortname, you have the…

Rick: You have link.

Reese: Yeah.

Rick: No, and actually, at that point…

Reese: It’ll get a little recursive.

Rick: Yeah, at that point, what you really have is short name and link because… and then it does matter.

Reese: And see, it doesn’t make…on the link part, oh what did I… I’ve got the post pulled up. I had typed this in. See, on the link part, the full reference actually becomes part of the anchor tag.

Rick: Always?

Reese: Well, because see, when you hover over it, what’s the… when you hover over the anchor tag and it comes up with the… oh what’s the stuff?

Rick: Well, is the full reference always going to anchor off to that case?

Reese: Yes.

Rick: Is there going to be sometimes when that full reference does not anchor off to that case?

Reese: Only if it’s a mistake. No, it should always ancor off…

Rick: So you’re always going to have all of these cases on your site.

Reese: If I find that citation somewhere in a court case, I want them to be able to click on it and go back to that website, go back to the…

Rick: Go back to the full case.

Reese: Correct.

Rick: Okay so now, if this case is always going to exist on the site then you don’t want to use a custom post type. You would just include this altogether with that post. That makes it a lot simpler.

Reese: Okay, you lost me.

Rick: Okay well, you just said that Welch and everything like Welch is always going to have a full case on your site.

Reese: There are some cases, for instance, that statute came into being in 1939. If it refers to a 1920 case like Eisner v Macomber, I may not have that case on my site.

Rick: But you just told me that every time you see a full reference, it’s got a link off to the case.

Reese: If it’s a gambling tax case… I mean, there are… like for instance, some of these Supreme Court cases, they may have 30 citations. But there’s only one case that I care about. But there may be 4 or 5 other cases that refer to Eisner v Macomber. So I need to be consistent in my typing…

Rick: But are you telling me then that there are some cases that are going to have this kind of reference that you are not going to link to?

Reese: Correct. But every.. I guess let me rephrase it this way. Of the court cases in my list, if I have links to them, I will always link to them. If I don’t… if there’s a case that’s on my list that I don’t have a post for it, I will never… you know, it’s a binary… it’s a true or false.

Rick: Okay so now, I’m changing what I’m suggesting here.

Reese: Okay, like I think like in my post, like here’s the… you know, I’ll give you an example and the Welch case is a good example of that. The Welch case says that if the IRS is, the taxpayer’s tax, we’re going to assume that the IRS is right and that the taxpayer has the burden of proof. It doesn’t have anything to do about gambling. But it’s just a case that’s so frequently cited. I’m having mercy on it and I’m including it. I mean, it’s cited in almost every single case.

Rick: Okay.

Reese: So… but there may be some other cases that are frequently… they may only be cited 10 or 20 times but it’s not worth my time doing it just because it’s not related to gambling.

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