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 6538 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Perfect Circle

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2952
  • The followers of chaos, out of control
I have to say that every time a topic like this is posted, the examples posted really do bother me.

I don't read posts with random letters as names as they become too hard to follow, posts with non-stop ellipses because they just scream stream of consciousness to me, posts with every sentence separated by a paragraph break for the same reason, no capitalisation because that just smacks disrespectful to the reader etc. Typos don't bother me that much unless they are constant.

I won't PM anyone, just ignore their posts. Which is probably a shame as I may miss some real words of wisdom. But I won't use that much energy into trying to read what someone is saying.
In all this talk of time
Talk is fine
But I don't want to stay around
Why can't we pantomime, just close our eyes
And sleep sweet dreams
Me and you with wings on our feet

ydpubs

  • Has a fine singing voice.
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3357
  • Reading the threads here makes me hungry.
There have been a very few threads that I was interested enough to ask the person if they could possibly add paragraph breaks or get rid of the abbreviations.

But hey, I'm not the posting police. People can do whatever they want, that's their choice. But, IMO if you want the maximum exposure for your thread and responses, then I think it would behoove you to communicate in as clear a fashion as possible. It could be that (what in many cases is a large portion of the forum depending on the posting style) just won't read unintelligible posts is the group that could have helped you.
No matter where you go, there you are...

sparksals

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 17264
It would depend on the error and whether or not the error changed their point or simply made it difficult to understand.  If they said, "I hate guppies!", but meant, "I don't hate guppies!", it makes a bit of a difference.  If it's style-related, i wouldn't mention it ("Dear Mr. Joyce, Your style of writing with run-on sentences and invented words is not suitable for publication....").  If the entire post of 12,000 words is presented in one long paragraph, I'd post whatever reply I had and I'd add a, "Hey, you might want to consider breaking your post up into paragraphs to make it easier to read." addendum at the end.

Grammar mistakes and typos I tend to ignore.  People generally won't appreciate a "heads-up" PM about them and if you post about them you'll start a flame-war about who is/isn't the "grammar/spelling police".  (Quietly grits her teeth over "its/it's", "your/you're", "they're/their/there" and "to/too/two".)

This is a perfect example of a post that is difficult for me to read.  Lots of slashes, brackets, .....'s, - I understand you wrote it for effect, or at least I think you did.  A post like this sends my head into a dizzy tailspin.

If a post has no paragraph breaks, I will politely add into my response to let the OP know.  There are a few who don't use caps and sometimes lack punctuation.  I just skip those. If people don't take the time to use proper punctuation so a post is easy to read, I don't take the time to read it.  I think styles like that are a conscious choice, whereas I notice it is mostly newbies not using paragraph breaks.   

I also skip posts that use colourful fonts or unusual text styles.     

ettiquit

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1660


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




I disagree.  I tend to be very literal when I read, so I don't always read short-speak the way it's intended.  For example, I don't read "ur" as "you are".  I read it as "ur".  I do logically understand what's trying to be conveyed, but I typically have to re-read the sentence after correcting myself on how to interpret "ur". 

Also, since I don't use text-speak I'm not at all familiar with what common "words" are used in place of real ones.  Yes, I can figure it out if I care to take the time.  Usually I'm not going to bother unless the text-speak is used sparingly.

sparksals

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 17264
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.

Hey!  LOL.. that was me with the cannibal vs. cannonball autocorrect!  I appreciated your PM on that one! 


Hijinks

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5195
    • Maitri Bath & Body
It really just depends on the maturity level of the person who receives the pm, sometimes.  Some people can't take criticism at all. Personally, if I received a pm that something I was posting was illegible to others for whatever reason, and there was something that I could do to fix it, I sure would take that feedback in the spirit in which it was intended and I'd make every effort.  If people get upset by receiving a kindly-intended pm, well, that's on them.  Things can only bother (general) you if you let them.

The goal of communicating is to be understood; if no one understands you, or bothers to try because it's more difficult than usual, then what's the point?  If someone wanted to post something that no one else was going to bother to read, then just have a blog.

HorseFreak

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2724
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.

Hey!  LOL.. that was me with the cannibal vs. cannonball autocorrect!  I appreciated your PM on that one! 



I thought it was just hilarious the way it completely changed the meaning of the sentence. The way I think of it is if I wouldn't mind getting a PM pointing it out I send one. I laugh at myself when I make silly errors like that especially when they're inadvertently hysterical.

Honestly, if a post annoys me enough I skip reading it. Using standard English grammar communicates more effectively than not, but it's a free world if someone wants to write without it, but the reader is also free to ignore it.   

padua

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 493
i think it interesting that there have been assertions that a lack of caps indicates laziness on the poster's part. or that a lack of caps renders the post unreadable/difficult to understand.

i agree with the few posters who've stated that one can choose what format she/he posts comments in: if it is determined to be illegible, i can certainly understand a reader opting to refrain from reading it. personally, i enjoy writing in lower caps. i find it appealing, enjoyable, and a way to distinguish between my personal and my professional life. perhaps i ingested a bit too much of e.e.cummings while growing up.

perhaps the result is a decrease in individuals responding to my posts. i'd no inkling until now that this could perhaps subject me to a grammar pariah- no one has told me that it was unacceptable on this site to submit to an approved grammatical format. i find myself a little embarrassed and more than a little let down that what i deem esthetically pleasing (still relating to my choice of writing style) could be deemed offensive to other readers.

i've received a host of postings offering brilliant advice, hugs (when i needed them), and support over the past several years, and am admittedly stymied regarding what i should do with regards to this situation. i don't want to change how i post, yet can see that there are individuals who consider this style disagreeable.

stargazer

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5405

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.

Agree with Zilla's whole post.

Red1979

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5040
  • it's only a paper moon...
    • Subscription Therapy
i think it interesting that there have been assertions that a lack of caps indicates laziness on the poster's part. or that a lack of caps renders the post unreadable/difficult to understand.

i agree with the few posters who've stated that one can choose what format she/he posts comments in: if it is determined to be illegible, i can certainly understand a reader opting to refrain from reading it. personally, i enjoy writing in lower caps. i find it appealing, enjoyable, and a way to distinguish between my personal and my professional life. perhaps i ingested a bit too much of e.e.cummings while growing up.

perhaps the result is a decrease in individuals responding to my posts. i'd no inkling until now that this could perhaps subject me to a grammar pariah- no one has told me that it was unacceptable on this site to submit to an approved grammatical format. i find myself a little embarrassed and more than a little let down that what i deem esthetically pleasing (still relating to my choice of writing style) could be deemed offensive to other readers.

i've received a host of postings offering brilliant advice, hugs (when i needed them), and support over the past several years, and am admittedly stymied regarding what i should do with regards to this situation. i don't want to change how i post, yet can see that there are individuals who consider this style disagreeable.

You should post in the way you feel most comfortable.  You just need to realize that if you don't adhere to standard rules of punctuation, formatting, and grammar that some people are going to find your posts difficult to read.  That's pretty much the price you pay for choosing to deviate from accepted standards of practice.

If you are happy with your style and get enough responses, just keep on keeping on. :-)
--Red
"Pause you who read this and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, which would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day."

www.subscriptiontherapy.com - "I used to have issues -  now I have subscriptions"

wolfie

  • I don't know what this is so I am putting random words here
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6317


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




I disagree.  I tend to be very literal when I read, so I don't always read short-speak the way it's intended.  For example, I don't read "ur" as "you are".  I read it as "ur".  I do logically understand what's trying to be conveyed, but I typically have to re-read the sentence after correcting myself on how to interpret "ur". 

Also, since I don't use text-speak I'm not at all familiar with what common "words" are used in place of real ones.  Yes, I can figure it out if I care to take the time.  Usually I'm not going to bother unless the text-speak is used sparingly.

I with you there! I know there were a few text speak posts on the forum a while ago and it took  me rereading it a few times to get the idea of what they were trying to say. And then I gave up because I read this forum for entertainment and having to parse someone's posts ruins that for me. I also don't like the ellipses abuse because it usually is a stream of consciousness type post and it seems like there is a lot of things that I don't see how they are really relevant to the actual topic and aren't interesting to me. But I would never actually tell anyone their posts get ignored by me because of their style - I figure their style is there own and I don't have to read their posts if I don't want to.

Nika

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 428
i think it interesting that there have been assertions that a lack of caps indicates laziness on the poster's part. or that a lack of caps renders the post unreadable/difficult to understand.

i agree with the few posters who've stated that one can choose what format she/he posts comments in: if it is determined to be illegible, i can certainly understand a reader opting to refrain from reading it. personally, i enjoy writing in lower caps. i find it appealing, enjoyable, and a way to distinguish between my personal and my professional life. perhaps i ingested a bit too much of e.e.cummings while growing up.

perhaps the result is a decrease in individuals responding to my posts. i'd no inkling until now that this could perhaps subject me to a grammar pariah- no one has told me that it was unacceptable on this site to submit to an approved grammatical format. i find myself a little embarrassed and more than a little let down that what i deem esthetically pleasing (still relating to my choice of writing style) could be deemed offensive to other readers.

i've received a host of postings offering brilliant advice, hugs (when i needed them), and support over the past several years, and am admittedly stymied regarding what i should do with regards to this situation. i don't want to change how i post, yet can see that there are individuals who consider this style disagreeable.

I think the disconnect here is that people's brains read differently. The way your brain works, no caps is perfectly easy to read - after all, all the words are spelled right and everything, so why should it matter? But for me, I don't really process individual words. I process by sentence, and without the proper grammar I can't do that. It makes me have to read each word individually, and my brain doesn't like that. :D

I won't fault you for choosing to type like that; I just might skip your posts if I don't feel like doing the mental gymnastics I would have to do to read them.
"I am, in fact, a hobbit in all but size."

AustenFan

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 503
I know I may be one of the hard to read posters, because I talk/type the same way I think: I circle around my subject before landing on it. I always read what I'm posting trying to see if it'll be hard to understand for someone who doesn't share my brain, but between my thought process and trying to type on my phone I have no doubt there have been some sighs aimed in my direction.

Padua, since you're unwilling to change your posting style I also think you should keep on keepin' on (thanks, Red!) and accept that you may be missing out on the valuable advice of some of the more experienced members who are irritated by your style.

Reason

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 774
English is my 3rd language, so I am only too happy if someone corrects my sentence construction or grammar. When it happens, it's just another opportunity to learn.

Unfortunately, some people have corrected me in the past when they were the ones who misunderstood some basic grammar rule, and that can be pretty confusing.

CakeBeret

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4215
If the problem is something easily manageable (needs paragraph breaks or font is too small) a friendly FYI is fine IMO.

If it's a poster's style (poor grammar or punctuation, difficult to follow, etc) then I skip that person's posts and say nothing.

I would be more likely to post a friendly FYI if it was the original poster of the thread, than if it was a comment in the thread. (A commenter is not going to notice if many people skip his/her post, but an OP likely would notice.)

Newbie vs old hand doesn't play into it, for me.
"From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful."