Poll

How would you approach a poster with a difficult to read posting style?

PM the poster
29 (28.2%)
Mention the difficulty in the thread that contains an example of the posting style
17 (16.5%)
Do nothing
49 (47.6%)
Other (please explain)
8 (7.8%)

Total Members Voted: 103

Author Topic: How would you approach a poster with a difficult to read posting style?  (Read 6533 times)

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HorseFreak

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For things that may be autocorrects I often send a PM. Examples include "cannibal" instead of "cannonball." If it's confusing names like initials ("G and P went with L's sister, P, and K to the beach in M's MIL's car.") I will ask nicely for full names.

Some posters refuse to capitalize the beginning of sentences but will capitalize proper names such as, "i went to the lake with George." That drives me insane and makes my brain incorrectly break up sentences so I just skip those posts. Posters with styles like that have previously said that they know they are being lazy and they don't care.

TootsNYC

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And how much does it matter that YOU are the only one who finds it hard to read? I think that's important. Just because you find it hard to read doesn't mean other people do. Or, it might be *little* hard to read for you, and you personally may not like it, but that doesn't mean everyone thinks that. And it's pretty Special Snowflake to think that someone ought to write the way YOU want them to write--and it's extra Special Snowflake to write them and tell them so.


There may be some universal (or nearly so) standards. Some that might occur to me are:
*a wall of text--like, 25 lines or so with no paragraph breaks. (but who decides whether 8 lines is too much, or 16, etc.)

*a complete lack of capitalization. And even then, I'll tell you that *I* don't have the tiniest bit of trouble reading a post in all lower case, so I wouldn't actually agree that it's universal. And if people don't cap the letter at the beginning of the sentence but DO capitalize "George," you might not *like* it, but that doesn't make it hard to read.


But other things are not necessarily universally held. Some of this stuff, it's like complaining about someone's Scottish accent. (You specifically asked about *style*, not a single specific error that might create problems in comprehension.)

• lots of one-sentence paragraphs? That might be a jerky organization, but maybe that's what the person intended. And anyway, it's not like it's THAT hard to comprehend.

• Text speak? Informal, yes, but not so hard to understand.


But I basically think that it isn't our place to "instruct" our fellow posters, generally. If you truly have difficulty understanding a specific post, I say you should ask for clarification in that specific thread (or ask for paragraph breaks). But I think it's inappropriate to say to someone, on a forum like this, "you should change your posting style."

And I disagree w/ MasterofSquirrels--I think most of us, when receiving constructive criticism that we didn't ask for, do not see it as "a nice way to improve [ourselves]"...but I think people do take it "as it's intended," because I think it's intended to be "you should do things the way I think you should."

I'm an editor--I fix people's grammar mistakes for a living. And I teach the people on my publication's staff by explaining what I'm changing and why. I do approach people to tell them what they're doing wrong, or to suggest ideas to them for use and improve with. It's my job; I'm specifically tasked with it. But even then, I don't go "teach" people unless there's more than one error, or unless there's something sort of big at stake.

I would never do those things anywhere outside of where I work, where I have an acknowledged and open role in correcting people.

And in fact I think that unless the spelling error or word choice is really confusing, you shouldn't mention it. And if it IS confusion, then you should ask for clarification it right in the thread.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2012, 01:52:29 PM by TootsNYC »

General Jinjur

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It's situational.

So my answer is, "It depends."

Mostly on spelling, I can't read a post that's a spelling mess.


Bibliophile

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Would anyone be more likely to say something if it was bothering more posters than just yourself? 

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Red1979

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• lots of one-sentence paragraphs? That might be a jerky organization, but maybe that's what the person intended. And anyway, it's not like it's THAT hard to comprehend.

• Text speak? Informal, yes, but not so hard to understand.


I'd disagree on these; I find some posts using the above to be extremely difficult to understand.  I think there's a difference between "instructing" someone and offering them advice to make their posts easier for people to read and respond to.  I'm sure on some boards the above is par for the course, and on others it means you will basically be ignored.  I prefer to treat others as I'd want to be treated and I most definitely would prefer a polite heads up than people ignoring my posts because I've formatted them in a difficult-to-read way.
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Instantkarma

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And how much does it matter that YOU are the only one who finds it hard to read? I think that's important. Just because you find it hard to read doesn't mean other people do. Or, it might be *little* hard to read for you, and you personally may not like it, but that doesn't mean everyone thinks that. And it's pretty Special Snowflake to think that someone ought to write the way YOU want them to write--and it's extra Special Snowflake to write them and tell them so.

But I basically think that it isn't our place to "instruct" our fellow posters, generally. If you truly have difficulty understanding a specific post, I say you should ask for clarification in that specific thread (or ask for paragraph breaks). But I think it's inappropriate to say to someone, on a forum like this, "you should change your posting style."

And I disagree w/ MasterofSquirrels--I think most of us, when receiving constructive criticism that we didn't ask for, do not see it as "a nice way to improve [ourselves]"...but I think people do take it "as it's intended," because I think it's intended to be "you should do things the way I think you should."

I disagree.  Just because only one person comments doesn't mean only one person minds.  I was very lazy when I first started posting here. It was pointed out in a thread and until that point I hadn't realized how annoying a majority of posters found it.

Did I appreciate the heads up? You bet! Now people are more likely to reply to me which is great.  I do wish it had been in pm instead of in the thread but it's my own fault for posting that way.

TootsNYC

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I think that w/ "techno-quette," there are often pre-existing etiquette guidelines that simply need to be applied.

One of them that applies here is, "Unsolicited advice is rude."

You think the lady down the hall from you at work is viewed less professionally because she wears clothes that *you* think don't go together. She's not dressing inappropriately (in terms of too revealing, etc.) Do you drop her an e-mail and tell her? Or do you walk over to her desk and sit down so you can share your insight with her? I sure hope not!

If she brought it up, that would be one thing. If you were her boss, or if she'd ever come to you for advice (making you a mentor of her own choosing), that would also be different. But she's not. She's just a lady who works on the same floor as you.

Zilla

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And how much does it matter that YOU are the only one who finds it hard to read? I think that's important. Just because you find it hard to read doesn't mean other people do. Or, it might be *little* hard to read for you, and you personally may not like it, but that doesn't mean everyone thinks that. And it's pretty Special Snowflake to think that someone ought to write the way YOU want them to write--and it's extra Special Snowflake to write them and tell them so.


There may be some universal (or nearly so) standards. Some that might occur to me are:
*a wall of text--like, 25 lines or so with no paragraph breaks. (but who decides whether 8 lines is too much, or 16, etc.)

*a complete lack of capitalization. And even then, I'll tell you that *I* don't have the tiniest bit of trouble reading a post in all lower case, so I wouldn't actually agree that it's universal. And if people don't cap the letter at the beginning of the sentence but DO capitalize "George," you might not *like* it, but that doesn't make it hard to read.


But other things are not necessarily universally held. Some of this stuff, it's like complaining about someone's Scottish accent. (You specifically asked about *style*, not a single specific error that might create problems in comprehension.)

• lots of one-sentence paragraphs? That might be a jerky organization, but maybe that's what the person intended. And anyway, it's not like it's THAT hard to comprehend.

• Text speak? Informal, yes, but not so hard to understand.


But I basically think that it isn't our place to "instruct" our fellow posters, generally. If you truly have difficulty understanding a specific post, I say you should ask for clarification in that specific thread (or ask for paragraph breaks). But I think it's inappropriate to say to someone, on a forum like this, "you should change your posting style."

And I disagree w/ MasterofSquirrels--I think most of us, when receiving constructive criticism that we didn't ask for, do not see it as "a nice way to improve [ourselves]"...but I think people do take it "as it's intended," because I think it's intended to be "you should do things the way I think you should."

I'm an editor--I fix people's grammar mistakes for a living. And I teach the people on my publication's staff by explaining what I'm changing and why. I do approach people to tell them what they're doing wrong, or to suggest ideas to them for use and improve with. It's my job; I'm specifically tasked with it. But even then, I don't go "teach" people unless there's more than one error, or unless there's something sort of big at stake.

I would never do those things anywhere outside of where I work, where I have an acknowledged and open role in correcting people.

And in fact I think that unless the spelling error or word choice is really confusing, you shouldn't mention it. And if it IS confusion, then you should ask for clarification it right in the thread.
Wow!  This topic really hits your button.

It has been said on this board more than enough that any one person's experience does not really have much to do with any other person's experience. 

In other words just because you don't find it difficult doesn't mean others don't.  And a nice PM to that person shouldn't be taken as hostile as you posted.  Now if they keep harping on it and keeping Pm'ing about it or remarking in every thread. Then yes that's rude.  I would hope on this etiquette board, the person receiving a nice heads up PM would treat them courteously.  I know I would.

Red1979

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I think that w/ "techno-quette," there are often pre-existing etiquette guidelines that simply need to be applied.

One of them that applies here is, "Unsolicited advice is rude."

You think the lady down the hall from you at work is viewed less professionally because she wears clothes that *you* think don't go together. She's not dressing inappropriately (in terms of too revealing, etc.) Do you drop her an e-mail and tell her? Or do you walk over to her desk and sit down so you can share your insight with her? I sure hope not!

If she brought it up, that would be one thing. If you were her boss, or if she'd ever come to you for advice (making you a mentor of her own choosing), that would also be different. But she's not. She's just a lady who works on the same floor as you.

I think your analogy doesn't apply here.  People on ehell are most often asking for advice.  The way in which they ask for it can sometimes usurp even the etiquette issue itself.  If the lady down the hall came to you and said "I need to give a presentation on TPS reports on Friday.  Do you have advice on how to put the presentation together?"  You know that she often dresses inappropriately and that it would get in the way of a successful prentation, it would be helpful and kind to offer her advice on how she *presents* the report along with just the content.

--Red
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TootsNYC

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Would anyone be more likely to say something if it was bothering more posters than just yourself?

How will you know whether it is bothering other posters? You'd have to run around soliciting criticism of other people's posts--and that's not really in the spirit of EtiquetteHell. In fact, if I remember right, that sort of "behind-the-scenes criticism" created a big problem for us recently.

When I see people write "diffuse" instead of "defuse," I'm pretty sure that it bothers some other people--I don't even have to ask anybody. There are enough people here that the odds are in favor of me not being the only one familiar with the original idiom.  And yet none of us say anything (certainly on the thread--it's true that I have no idea who sent them a PM). I think to say anything at all would be really rude. It would be a criticism, and I think that's rude.

So my own answer is, I don't spontaneously contact other people to point out how they can improve themselves. Because I think unsolicited advice is rude.

TootsNYC

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I think that w/ "techno-quette," there are often pre-existing etiquette guidelines that simply need to be applied.

One of them that applies here is, "Unsolicited advice is rude."

You think the lady down the hall from you at work is viewed less professionally because she wears clothes that *you* think don't go together. She's not dressing inappropriately (in terms of too revealing, etc.) Do you drop her an e-mail and tell her? Or do you walk over to her desk and sit down so you can share your insight with her? I sure hope not!

If she brought it up, that would be one thing. If you were her boss, or if she'd ever come to you for advice (making you a mentor of her own choosing), that would also be different. But she's not. She's just a lady who works on the same floor as you.

I think your analogy doesn't apply here.  People on ehell are most often asking for advice.  The way in which they ask for it can sometimes usurp even the etiquette issue itself.  If the lady down the hall came to you and said "I need to give a presentation on TPS reports on Friday.  Do you have advice on how to put the presentation together?"  You know that she often dresses inappropriately and that it would get in the way of a successful prentation, it would be helpful and kind to offer her advice on how she *presents* the report along with just the content.

Ah, but our hypothetical lady has just asked for advice.

Here on EHell, people come and ask for advice about how to handle their mom and sister. How is it relevant to tell them that they should capitalize differently. Or use more or fewer paragraph breaks?

And some people on EHell don't often ASK for advice. (I seldom do, for example.) The fact that they're "in the room" when advice is being given means they are now fair game for you to criticize their accent, or their clothes, or their spelling quirks.

Red1979

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Would anyone be more likely to say something if it was bothering more posters than just yourself?

So my own answer is, I don't spontaneously contact other people to point out how they can improve themselves. Because I think unsolicited advice is rude.

I'm confused.  We're talking about people who format or write in ways that make their posts difficult to read.  It isn't about "improving themselves", it's about helping them post in a way that gets them the most responses.  You seem to be making this very personal and elevating to a much bigger issue than it warrants.
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Red1979

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I think that w/ "techno-quette," there are often pre-existing etiquette guidelines that simply need to be applied.

One of them that applies here is, "Unsolicited advice is rude."

You think the lady down the hall from you at work is viewed less professionally because she wears clothes that *you* think don't go together. She's not dressing inappropriately (in terms of too revealing, etc.) Do you drop her an e-mail and tell her? Or do you walk over to her desk and sit down so you can share your insight with her? I sure hope not!

If she brought it up, that would be one thing. If you were her boss, or if she'd ever come to you for advice (making you a mentor of her own choosing), that would also be different. But she's not. She's just a lady who works on the same floor as you.

I think your analogy doesn't apply here.  People on ehell are most often asking for advice.  The way in which they ask for it can sometimes usurp even the etiquette issue itself.  If the lady down the hall came to you and said "I need to give a presentation on TPS reports on Friday.  Do you have advice on how to put the presentation together?"  You know that she often dresses inappropriately and that it would get in the way of a successful prentation, it would be helpful and kind to offer her advice on how she *presents* the report along with just the content.

Ah, but our hypothetical lady has just asked for advice.

Here on EHell, people come and ask for advice about how to handle their mom and sister. How is it relevant to tell them that they should capitalize differently. Or use more or fewer paragraph breaks?

And some people on EHell don't often ASK for advice. (I seldom do, for example.) The fact that they're "in the room" when advice is being given means they are now fair game for you to criticize their accent, or their clothes, or their spelling quirks.

How you post here is completely applicable to whatever advice you are asking because it changes how people view your info.  It even changes whether they will skip over your posts or even bother responding.

For example, if someone posts about their mom and sister in a solid block of texts with tons of initials, it's completely applicable to give them a polite heads up that their post is difficult to read and they may want to change their formatting.
--Red
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Horace

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I think that w/ "techno-quette," there are often pre-existing etiquette guidelines that simply need to be applied.

One of them that applies here is, "Unsolicited advice is rude."

You think the lady down the hall from you at work is viewed less professionally because she wears clothes that *you* think don't go together. She's not dressing inappropriately (in terms of too revealing, etc.) Do you drop her an e-mail and tell her? Or do you walk over to her desk and sit down so you can share your insight with her? I sure hope not!

If she brought it up, that would be one thing. If you were her boss, or if she'd ever come to you for advice (making you a mentor of her own choosing), that would also be different. But she's not. She's just a lady who works on the same floor as you.

I think your analogy doesn't apply here.  People on ehell are most often asking for advice.  The way in which they ask for it can sometimes usurp even the etiquette issue itself.  If the lady down the hall came to you and said "I need to give a presentation on TPS reports on Friday.  Do you have advice on how to put the presentation together?"  You know that she often dresses inappropriately and that it would get in the way of a successful prentation, it would be helpful and kind to offer her advice on how she *presents* the report along with just the content.

Ah, but our hypothetical lady has just asked for advice.

Here on EHell, people come and ask for advice about how to handle their mom and sister. How is it relevant to tell them that they should capitalize differently. Or use more or fewer paragraph breaks?

And some people on EHell don't often ASK for advice. (I seldom do, for example.) The fact that they're "in the room" when advice is being given means they are now fair game for you to criticize their accent, or their clothes, or their spelling quirks.

If I came on here and asked for advice about my sister's nephew's cat eating my sandwiches but my post was difficult to understand, you bet I'd appreciate someone telling me I'd get more responses if my post was re-formatted.  There is a difference between someone writing in one sentence paragraphs constantly and someone who occasionally forgets to use a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence.  I thought editors existed to help writers format their writing so it can be widely read and understood?  If what you're saying is true, that everyone can write how they wish and the readers need to suck it up, then there is no purpose for editors surely? Or is that not what you're saying - count me in as being confused.

MasterofSquirrels

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If a member PM'd me and said "You know MoS, I think you have good points, but your lack of capitalization is bothersome to me." I would think about it. I was an ellipsis abuser at one time too. I took the criticism as it was intended. A way for me to present myself so I wasn't being ignored. My advice stayed the same, but my posting style changed. (Somewhat, I still have issues.)

If I was invited to a fancy party and dressed in a way that wasn't appropriate, I would hope the hostess would be kind and explain why people were avoiding me, and give me a chance to change clothes.