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Clear writing - Ed's journal
Clear writing
(Posted on the EVE-Online forums, cross posted here so it doesn't get spammed into oblivion)

Let me share with you all a secret.
If you write something on the internet, that you're hoping a lot of people will read and respond to it, then it's far more likely to be so, if it's well written.

It might seem like a drag, but your English teachers were right. Punctuate, form sentences and paragraphs, and your writing is much more readable.

And it's more readable, then people are more likely to read it.

I've run into a number of situations where I've seen a block of 100 lines of text, with barely a full stop (period for those in the US) between them.

I appreciate that there are those who don't have English as their first language, and those that suffer dyslexia. The sad fact is, the worst examples of English I've run into are those who do not have these problems, and it's technically their first and only language.

So here's a few thoughts on how to make your post read:

Paragraphs. Double lines between them. A paragraph is for outlining a 'thought' or 'concept'. Keep one of these in each paragraph, and people will read it.

Punctuate. Commas and full stops (periods) are essential parts of sentence flow. They allow you to put the string of consciousness into blocks that are possible to interpret easily. Oh, and put capital letters where they're needed, and not where they're not.

L33t/txt. Just don't. There's a very, very few situations where l33t or txt spk are acceptable. Mostly in an environment where you're limited in your character count (e.g. a text message). And even then, if you're using txt spk to send me 20 character message, I'm going to be annoyed. (The limit on SMS messaging is, if I recall correctly, 160 characters). Otherwise, there's really, truly and honestly very little 'speed difference' between 'txt' and proper typing. Especially when what you're trying to do is have a conversation or interaction with someone, when your 'txt' slows down their reading.

I'm also a lot more tolerant about 'abbreviated' English in a time critical medium, e.g. gang chat, where you might not have a lot of time to write. But on a forum, there's really no excuse for not taking a _little_ bit longer to write something that the other 100 people you're hoping will read it don't have to struggle through.

Spelling. It helps a lot if you spell stuff right. Mostly people don't tend to mind, although the prevalence of rouge drones and turrents is a little frustrating. Spell checkers really are a wonderful thing.

It's really not hard to write coherent and legibly. If you suffer dyslexia, I appreciate it's a bit harder. (For those that _are_ actually dyslexic, and not just plain lazy). If English is not your first language, then I'm a whole lot more tolerant (although most non-English people I run into on forums have a standard well above the average).

The thing is, what you're doing when posting on a forum is asking people to read what you've written. If you 'can't be bothered' to do a proper job, and you're just one person, why should they 'be bothered' to read it, and maybe consider, respond and comment? I wouldn't be too suprised to find that the probability of getting flamed increased dramatically on posts that were badly written. If you want someone to do you the favour of reading your posts, then it's only polite to make it as easy as possible to do so.

First impressions do matter, and if my first impression of you is of a sloppy lazy writer, then you've just made your life unreasonably difficult.
8 comments or Leave a comment
elrohana From: elrohana Date: August 11th, 2006 08:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Amen to every word of that.

It drives me mad, to the point where I simply won't read posts from people who obviously can't be bothered. In my experience, genuine dyslexics run their stuff through Word or ask a friend (I speak from experience here!) before posting, and yes, most foreigners write better English than most English folk.
veremit From: veremit Date: August 11th, 2006 08:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Second to last paragraph, third sentence: "suRprised".

Just thought I'd mention it :D
sobrique From: sobrique Date: August 11th, 2006 08:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah :/
syven From: syven Date: August 11th, 2006 09:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Amen! Since I write quite a bit, I do try very hard to make sure it is correct and endeavor to be open to critism when I make a mistake.
siryel From: siryel Date: August 11th, 2006 11:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I can only say thanks to that and will probably refer a few people to it...
jacks2k From: jacks2k Date: August 11th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Took your advice on my background. but cant help that it was 1:30 am i wrote the damned thing and that im dyslexic.
jacks2k From: jacks2k Date: August 11th, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
and i'll finish, this time without the bearded Dragon attacking the keyboard lol. tho i wasnt offended by your comment. it helps when someone does make them.
girl_working From: girl_working Date: August 13th, 2006 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ian's mum texts us in 'txt speak' and, well, here's an example:

Hi, hope u r bac safe n sound. Can u let us no wen u wood like yr stuff so we can plan as we r bac at wk now. Sandra's pics lovely n Jon's but yet 2 c his. Love B.

Given that full stops, and apostrophes take a bit more effort on mobiles than 'you' and 'work' do, we just sit there and go 'Why?!?!?' especially with predictive text input...

It takes us at least twice as long to decode it than a nice normal sentence does!

The spelling and preview function on here ignores most of the text message except 'bac' annoyingly!
8 comments or Leave a comment