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How To Write Posts, Make Friends and Influence People

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Zombie Austin

Joined: 04 Feb 2005
Location: H E Double Hockey Sticks

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:10 pm    Post subject: How To Write Posts, Make Friends and Influence People Reply with quote

[Originally drafted by dWhisper]

This one is always a crux issue, because it's the sure-fire way to make yourself look like a twit online. Please realize that this section is not meant as a license to poke fun at other people's spelling/writing. Fact is, no one is perfect, and writing is something most people struggle with. We can be verbose when speaking, but trying to translate from brain to fingers is always a tough skill.

Why is this important? Because, nothing, absolutely nothing, is as damaging to persuasion as a bonehead typo or misspelled word. You can write something akin to the Gettysburg Address in a post, and if you keep putting teh and theyre in your posts, it will lose all of it's impact. Yes, it happens. But everyone is better served if you take a few moments before you hit that submit button and look over what you've written.

If you struggle with spelling, I'd suggest nabbing Firefox 2.0, with it's absolutely beautiful spell-checker. If you use IE, look up a spelling plug-in, like the one on the Google Toolbar. I don't think anyone expects people to spell things like verisimilitude correctly in one shot, but taking the time to check what you've written is just courtesy. It's not a lost art, and it's something that will assist you later in life. For those younger members, let me give a piece of advice: Poor Spelling will hinder you in your adult life. It will. You will not get away from writing. Even if you don't excel at spelling, learn to use a spell checker. Otherwise, people like me will circumvent you in this world, and it's a tough place to be.

Now on to the actual content. Because having everything spelled correctly doesn't help if you don't make any sense. Here's a few common sense points:

First... there is a time and place for most responses. Obviously, follow the Netiquette guide. Don't flame back and forth. You don't win, you can't win, and the rest of us don't want to see it. If you're a passionate person, just get in the habit of taking a few minutes between your response and your post.

Here's what I do... because I can get my ire up now and again. If it's something charged, or something that annoyed me, I write my post and hit preview. Then, I go do something else. It might be browse the forum (in another window) or I might play a quick game of FreeCell. But I've waited to post. I come back, re-read my post, and if I still feel passionate about it, I'll hit submit. If not, I'll scale it back. If you're in doubt that content might be acceptable, it's probably not. If you have a question, why not ask a mod? They're a helpful bunch (well, except Mike Razz ... just kidding Mike... unless I'm not...).

Now as for responses, there's a time and a place for things. Generally, responses like ":D" and that's it aren't helpful. Sometimes, there's a place for those, like a good joke or a funny statement. However, they don't add anything. And in a community, it's always better to add something than it is to add nothing.

There's no clearcut rule here... in a MOC page, a compliment helps. But constructive feedback is always a plus. And that is something that's hard to do if you don't understand it. Basically, there is a break between destructive and constructive criticism... and there's non-criticism.

Constructive criticism doesn't mean it's only good things. It's about identifying something and giving ways to improve it. If someone posts a MOC with a lot of guns, you can post "I think the overall arrangement for the guns detracts from the build. Have you thought about cutting the number in half, and using some antennas and dishes to set off the ship more?" That is constructive criticism. Another example would be suggesting a different part for a component or element.

Destructive criticism is posting just to tear something down. Honestly, there's a place for this too, but it's more in opinion threads, not when people are asking for feedback. I can post that I hate anything spewed from the vile mind of Michael Crichton, and that's somewhat destructive, but it's for the point of discussion (seriously, he's an awful author). But I can't go into the MOC forum and post "your model sucks and you should stop trying to build anything with LEGO except the stock model." All I've done is try to hurt someone, and there's no place for that. I deserve all the trout whacking that'd come with such a post.

Non-criticism is something that, like tiny laughs and the like, don't really add anything. When I've built, as much as I appreciate the compliments like "that's a nice build" or "beautiful," I look for the advice far more. Seeing Turkguy or other expert MOC'ers come along and give me advice is what I post for, and that's the meat. There's a place for it, but if that's all you post, you might get more response if you try something meaningful. I'll take one criticism over a dozen pats on the back. Maybe it's just me, but I think serious builders would agree.

Another point when you're writing is to avoid netspeak and anything associated with "1337." Trust me when I say you'll win no friends from such activities. Another thing on this topic is to avoid abbreviations that aren't common. Things like "r u" and the like may have just saved you one-third of a second, but they drive people like me up a wall. Take the time to write what you mean and you'll find you get more quality responses and feedback.

Lastly, form your idea before you post. If you can't articulate what you want to say to yourself, you probably shouldn't put it on the forum quite yet. Sure, it's great to get involved, but if you leave everyone scratching their heads over a post, something won't fit.

Response Etiquette

The last thing to cover would be response etiquette. Here's the crux of a response: you don't want the former material to over-shadow what you have to say. Generally, you want to cut out things that don't pertain to your response. In this post for example, you don't want to quote the eleventy pages of my ranting if the only thing you're looking to respond to is:
The Great and Powerful Oz wrote:
Rocko is certifiably insane and should probably be forced to carry a sign to warn the rest of us.

On that same token, you should break up thoughts between quotes. It's easy to use the tags in question... "quote" opens it and a "/quote" will close it.

This is idea one

This is response one
This is idea two

This is response two

It simply makes a post easier to read, which means more people will understand, and more people will respond in turn.

Another thing to keep in mind with replying to a thread is to avoid nested replies... what I mean is:

dWhisper wrote:
Someone who doesn't like trout wrote:
The Troutinator wrote:
Rocko wrote:
dWhisper wrote:
Rocko sleeps in Unicorn PJs
For the record, it's a Unicorn One-see
I think I just threw up in my mouth
It was me!
Bender is great, oh Bender is great... Bender Bender Bender Bender Bender is great

Sure, it could be a very funny exchange, but honestly, we can scroll up and see the discussion... it's in that thread. Putting more than one or two levels into a reply only detracts from what you have to add. It makes a large post when a small one would do, and in most cases, people will just scroll on past because we've already seen it.

So, that's about the guide. It's long and kind of scary, but hopefully, it helps someone out in trying to find your place amongst the heads in the jars.
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