Author Topic: Making a good thread  (Read 7520 times)

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Lynn2000

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Making a good thread
« on: July 18, 2011, 10:48:34 AM »
I'm curious about what people feel makes a thread "good," and what the OP can do, if anything, to help with that. What I mean by a "good" thread is one that goes on for several pages, with people posting on-topic with sizable (two paragraphs or more) posts articulating their stance on the issue. It seems to happen the most with situations where the posters can easily have two or more different opinions on the matter, but where it's not so contentious that things get out of hand right away.

I think the "limited alcoholic drinks" http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=97455.0 thread has been pretty good, for example--a little heated now and then, but with people going out of their way to say that they appreciate debating with other people and that they respect differing opinions. And the arguments there have been so good for all sides that I honestly don't know which "side" I'm on.

Does anyone else have other examples of "good" threads? What do you think makes a thread "good"? Do you think the tone of OP influences the thread development? What should the OP do, or not do, to encourage a "good" thread?
~Lynn2000

jimithing

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2011, 10:51:11 AM »
Honestly, I think the topic has a lot to do with it. Threads about alcohol tend to go on, as do threads about vegetarianism, crazy wedding things, etc.

mechtilde

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2011, 10:55:25 AM »
Information swapping therads get quite long too- such as "What's for Dinner" and "Culture Shock Stories" as we all have plenty of those.

Very specific threads are quite shor- like one where I asked about the etiquette of visiting a Japanese person (just wanting to make sure that I didn't accidentally do something offensive) which was short, sweet and told me what I needed to know.
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POF

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2011, 10:57:11 AM »
For me,  - I like honest answers and suggestions of how the situation could have been handled  better.  While I might not agree, I always appreciate the different points of view.

I like threads where the actions are judged and not the people. i.e. - it was rude to say or do X as opposed to calling a poster names like immature, patronizing childish etc.


Lynn2000

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2011, 11:01:06 AM »
Honestly, I think the topic has a lot to do with it. Threads about alcohol tend to go on, as do threads about vegetarianism, crazy wedding things, etc.

True, the topic is quite important, and the OP can't really control that--in the sense that, if their question is about when to send thank-you notes, throwing alcohol or vegetarians into it just to get responses is kind of silly. :) But, having lurked here for a couple of years now (hardly any time compared to some, I know), I don't feel like I'm seeing "the same old arguments" in the "limited alcoholic drinks" thread--it seems like the situation has enough new twists that people are really getting into it with fresh ideas. Eh, maybe that's just me...

Information swapping therads get quite long too- such as "What's for Dinner" and "Culture Shock Stories" as we all have plenty of those.

Very specific threads are quite shor- like one where I asked about the etiquette of visiting a Japanese person (just wanting to make sure that I didn't accidentally do something offensive) which was short, sweet and told me what I needed to know.

So which do you consider to be "good" threads--the very, very long "information swapping" threads, or the "short, sweet, answered my question" threads? Or both? :) I guess an OP with a specific question, especially if they're under time constraints, might consider a "good" thread one that answered their question without debate, while someone else who enjoys the community aspects of eHell might think the very long "getting to know you" threads were examples of "good" threads. (I'm not saying they're not, I'm just asking for opinions.)
~Lynn2000

Lynn2000

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2011, 11:06:00 AM »
For me,  - I like honest answers and suggestions of how the situation could have been handled  better.  While I might not agree, I always appreciate the different points of view.

I like threads where the actions are judged and not the people. i.e. - it was rude to say or do X as opposed to calling a poster names like immature, patronizing childish etc.

I can definitely agree that if a thread degenerates into name-calling, it's no longer a "good" one. And those tend to get locked pretty quickly, it seems, which is sometimes a shame as the OTHER posters were having a nice conversation--it's often just one or two who ruin it for everyone. (I mean, I understand why those threads get locked, I'm just saying it's not always that the topic itself is inherently "bad.")

Do you prefer threads where the OP is asking what to do in an upcoming specific situation, or where the OP is saying what already happened, and asking for assessment/advice for a vague future time? I guess that's a very academic question :) but I'm curious.
~Lynn2000

POF

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2011, 11:40:25 AM »
I like both - they are both interesting.

Lynn2000

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2011, 02:00:14 PM »
One thing I've noticed on eHell is that, it seems to me, other posters respond more to a thread if the OP is obviously upset/irritated by the situation. Has anyone else noticed this? Sometimes hypothetical situations with Bob and Jane do inspire a lot of conversation ("salting before tasting" comes to mind), but I feel like if you have an OP who's more emotional in the tone they take with the initial post, other posters feel more impetus to jump in and help them with advice. I think sometimes if the OP comes off like the situation isn't such a big deal to them, other people don't feel like they "need" to respond as much.

In a way this is good because I think it shows that the community here is generally compassionate and wants to help people who are having trouble. But on the other hand, sometimes I think that posters who just aren't as good at expressing their emotions in this format don't end up generating as much interest/help, and that's too bad. Am I crazy here, or what?
~Lynn2000

demarco

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2011, 10:16:32 PM »
I don't think a good thread  is necessarily multiple pages long nor does it require lengthy answers.  A good thread sets out the background (if any) and the question clearly and concisely in the OP and responses stick mainly to the question asked, without going off on the underlying substance of the post.  Example of a " good thread":  "Dogma" writes an OP asking what to do when strangers criticize her method of training her dog to walk on a leash.  Posters answer  by suggesting polite responses to the criticism.  Example of a "bad thread": posters respond with criticism of Dogma's training  method. 

Just my opinion.  :)



POF

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2011, 07:43:59 AM »
I don't think a good thread  is necessarily multiple pages long nor does it require lengthy answers.  A good thread sets out the background (if any) and the question clearly and concisely in the OP and responses stick mainly to the question asked, without going off on the underlying substance of the post.  Example of a " good thread":  "Dogma" writes an OP asking what to do when strangers criticize her method of training her dog to walk on a leash.  Posters answer  by suggesting polite responses to the criticism.  Example of a "bad thread": posters respond with criticism of Dogma's training  method.  Just my opinion.  :)

POD

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2011, 08:02:01 AM »
I think a good thread is one where there is no black-and-white answer - that is, there is no clear consensus that a specific person/behaviour in the scenario was rude.  Even better when half the posters feel passionately about one side of the story, and the other posters feel strongly about the other side,

In my time, I've started a few threads that have ended up running to over 20 pages (eg - the "Not Taking Husband's Name, but Expecting an Engagement Ring Thread", or the "Rude to Bring Family On a Girl's Weekend"). I must confess, I always feel a thrill of surprise and delight, whenever I check on a thread I've started, and see that it's several pages long already!

Lynn2000

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2011, 10:27:05 AM »
POD to both demarco and LifeOnPluto. demarco, I know the kind of threads you're talking about--the OP has to give enough details to explain what was going on, but sometimes those end up being fuel for debate itself, instead of people talking about how to address the rudeness of other people. In a similar vein, there are occasionally threads where the OP says, "I dislike doing X. How can I politely convey this to people?" and a lot of people respond with, "X isn't so bad! Try adding a cream sauce or starting it three months in advance, you'll probably like it better." Although it's possible the OP hadn't thought about those alternatives, that wasn't really the question they asked, and if a lot of people respond with answers like that, the OP is going to be frustrated instead of helped.

LifeOnPluto, I like those threads, too! I don't want a thread of mine to become contentious, especially if I'm really looking for an answer somewhere; but it's nice to see a healthy debate going on. I really learn a lot from those threads where many different perspectives come out.
~Lynn2000

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2011, 12:01:09 PM »
I think the most important thing for a good thread is a good, descriptive title.

A lot of people will skip a thread that says, 'Was I rude?' but will click on a thread that says, 'Was I rude for salting my potatoes before tasting them?'

And the more people that read a thread, the more likely it is that there will be more comments.

Beyond that, I agree with demarco and LifeOnPluto.
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pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2011, 01:12:25 PM »
One thing that I have noticed which can derail a thread quickly is including unnecessary and extraneous details.  Someone points out, "What does purple hair have to do with the etiquette question?"  or "Would you saw that about people with blue hair?" or even, "I love purple hair!  I like it roasted with redskin potatoes." and we are off discussing food. 

Meanwhile, there are a few people (often including the OP) saying, But what about the question.

On the other hand, some critical details do get left out, and the thread derails because no one can agree what is going on.

So for me, a good thread is specific (I don't care for the generic, what if ones), and contains the pertinent details, but ignores the clutter.
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Lynn2000

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Re: Making a good thread
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2011, 01:25:20 PM »
Good points. I also agree with the title thing: I'm much more likely to click on a thread with a specific title, as opposed to a generic, "Who was rude here?" title. It's also easier to remember which thread it was later--if a thread turns out to be a good one and you want to tell people about it later, it helps if it has a good title!

I do think derailments of most kinds can make a thread "less good." That's another way that the thread could avoid answering the OP's question (along with criticizing something else in the story or suggesting alternatives that the OP has said they don't want), and I think the purpose of most threads here ought to be to answer the OP's question. (Of course, there are exceptions, especially in folders like Coffee Break, where it's more about people getting to know each other, and that's fine.)

It can be difficult sometimes to know which details are important to put in, and which can be left out. Though, I think sometimes the "non-essential" details actually help the posters understand the OP's real problem and give advice on it, even if the OP doesn't see that as the real problem at first. For example, the OP might start off by asking if it's rude to bring her own food to her MIL's BBQ, and gradually it comes out that MIL is very controlling and petty and point-blank refuses to serve anything the OP can eat, so the OP's problem is a WHOLE lot bigger than just one BBQ, and thus people can give advice about the REAL situation. It seems like those kinds of threads might potentially be really, really helpful to the OP, if they're given a new perspective on their lives and encouragement to change things.
~Lynn2000