Author Topic: Commenting on posting style?  (Read 9362 times)

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LadyL

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Commenting on posting style?
« on: July 26, 2011, 09:15:52 AM »
For those of us who check the site several times a day a lot, you start to notice people's posting "style" based on their history. Is there a polite way to constructively criticize a poster's style?

I think the #1 style issue I run into is leaving out important details or background info. For example, an in-law crosses a relatively small boundary. If the poster seems upset about it, we're going to wonder if there is back story of other boundary trampling that puts the newest incident in a different perspective. If that's not included in the OP then everyone's comments get prefaced with "Well, I don't know if you've had other issues like this before, but if this is the first time..." If the OP updates and says yes, in-law has a history of being a huge boundary trampler, it changes the whole scenario and can render lots of previously given advice invalid.

I've seen first time posters be told that it is considered forum etiquette to include all applicable background when they've clearly omitted important detail. However, long time posters who do this often don't get a reminder. I don't know if it would be helpful to them or not to say "Hey, in your last few posts you've left out details that were pretty important - is there more to <xyz scenario> that might be helpful for us to know?" I feel like this rides a bit close to calling people out about past disagreements, except in this case it's a disagreement about what should be included in a post.

And for an even stickier example - what about posters who leave out background info to make their position seem more sympathetic (and the less than flattering side of the story only comes out later with lots of prodding)? Or conversely add in a bunch of info that isn't really relevant to try to make their "case" stronger (i.e. a bunch of small, unrelated complaints about the person they feel is being rude)? If someone does this, let's say, in five consecutive posts is there any way to address it? Reporting all the posts to a mod seems excessive to me, yet I also feel like wasting the forum's time is not good etiquette.






TurtleDove

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 09:44:59 AM »
I agree. I find it frustrating when the facts change as the OP realizes not all posters see things the way she does. It's very difficult to provide feedback on a moving target, and it comes across as seeking validation rather than etiquette advice.

camlan

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2011, 10:21:22 AM »
I share the OP's frustration, but I'm not sure how much control we can have over this.

Some posters complain when there is too much detail in the OP. Or detail that people don't think is important to the issue.

Some posters complain when there is too little detail in the OP.

It's hard to find a balance.

People have different levels of writing skills. Different levels of ability to tell the story, in order, with all relevant details included and all non-relevant details excluded. And when you're in the middle of a big mess, it's sometimes hard to know what's important and what's not. Some people add/delete details on purpose. Others just don't think about them. I've spent considerable time composing posts, only to find that others either misread the entire post or felt my level of detail was all wrong. And I was trying my best to include just enough detail.

We could create rules. We could admonish those posters who don't follow the rules. But I think the end result would be a lot fewer posts, as people get frustrated with the rules and leave.

When situations arise where new details keep being added or arguments occur over the level of detail in the OP, or I feel the OP is trying to manipulate the readers, I just stop reading the thread. If it gets bad enough, over repeated posts, I just stop reading threads started by that person. You vote with your feet, as it were. If no one reads or responds to those threads, the posters will either learn to write better posts or leave the forum.
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Lynn2000

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 10:23:34 AM »
Interesting question. I tend to read the content of the posts, and only occasionally glance to the side to see who wrote the post--usually if there's something remarkable about it (either bad or good). So, I probably don't pick up on stylistic patterns for most individual posters.

All that being said, I feel like I do see a lot of people who (gently or not) challenge the OP about the details they provide--I've not noticed people refraining from saying anything just because the OP is a long-time poster. Of course, sometimes with a long-time poster, people with better memories than I already KNOW extra details--I sometimes see replies like, "Oh no, MIL acting up again? What with her history of boundary-smashing, I think you seriously need to just stay away from her for a while." And the OP hasn't even mentioned much history with MIL, but posters remember it from previous posts (which the OP hasn't even alluded to). I consider that part of the perks of being a tight-knit community, though I think it's perfectly reasonable for someone else to say, "Sorry, I don't remember the history here. Can someone provide links to previous threads?" if they're interested.

I've also seen people say in a thread, "You know, Wynn5000, I've seen several threads from you lately, and you always seem to put in these extra negative details that are unnecessary for the story." I don't know if that's polite or not, but it does happen. Would it be better to send Wynn5000 a PM, if you take a helpful, "you're new here so maybe you didn't know..." tone? Or should you just use the "mental ignore button" and stop reading posts by Wynn5000?
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Nanny Ogg

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 11:30:23 AM »
I don't think its fair for anyone except the mods to advise on posting style. The guidelines are there in the rules, let the mods point the annoying poster to read them - if you feel that strongly, take your complaint through the proper channels or just don't read the thread. I fear that otherwise "commenting" on posting style is just going to lead to bruised egos and tantrums, and I think it would be too easy for certain people to start dogpiling.



TychaBrahe

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 12:05:55 PM »
When you say posting style, do you mean the text and the way that the person tells the story, or do you mean other stylistic things?

I will PM a newbie and suggest that they use paragraph breaks, and especially hit two Enter's to break paragraphs visually on the screen.  I know there are some people who won't read a post that is difficult to read. 

If someone came on that posted entirely in text speak, I might suggest they use more formal writing.  Few of us are perfect spellers, and if you post via a smartphone, the phone can add all sorts of stuff, but most people aren't going to want to read "BFF n me wnt 2 chrch Sun n met up w sum boyz," for three paragraphs. 

I don't comment on it, but I prefer posters who rename the characters in their stories rather than abbreviations.  Referring to two couples in the thread as "Alice and Andy, and Betty and Bob" or "Fred and Wilma, and Lucy and Desi" help me keep it straight in my head the gender and relationships of the couples.  It's harder with "A & B and my DH & I went out to dinner with C & D."  In the first couple, is A the husband, or is B?  Because if guy A wants to hang out alone with guy C and gal B is ticked off, I have way different advice than if guy A wants to hang out alone with gal C.  Or are A&B a same-sex couple, which puts a further different spin on it. 
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Zilla

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 12:06:02 PM »
I also don't like the style when the OP clearly wants everyone to agree with them and gets very upset when the sympathy/explaining goes to the other person they are posting about.  Then all sorts of facts come out the person to sway the "favor' back to them and it still backfires. 


Another style that irks me is when they post asking for advice, but already had their mind made up and just wanted validation on the decision they already made prior to posting because it works for them.  Then why post in the first place?  If you already made the decision then post in the coffee break thread and post, "This is what happened, this is what I decided."

Flora Louise

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2011, 12:25:13 PM »
I also don't like the style when the OP clearly wants everyone to agree with them and gets very upset when the sympathy/explaining goes to the other person they are posting about.  Then all sorts of facts come out the person to sway the "favor' back to them and it still backfires. 


Another style that irks me is when they post asking for advice, but already had their mind made up and just wanted validation on the decision they already made prior to posting because it works for them.  Then why post in the first place?  If you already made the decision then post in the coffee break thread and post, "This is what happened, this is what I decided."

Well, OK, but aren't there two sides to that scenario? I know that I've posted things that I've been widely criticized for and I just remain unconvinced. I just disagree.
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TurtleDove

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2011, 12:28:57 PM »
Well, OK, but aren't there two sides to that scenario? I know that I've posted things that I've been widely criticized for and I just remain unconvinced. I just disagree.

For me, I think it's fine for an OP to uphold her opinion.  I don't think it's okay to change the scenario to try to convince others to change their opinion based on the OP.

rashea

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2011, 12:32:44 PM »
Well, OK, but aren't there two sides to that scenario? I know that I've posted things that I've been widely criticized for and I just remain unconvinced. I just disagree.

For me, I think it's fine for an OP to uphold her opinion.  I don't think it's okay to change the scenario to try to convince others to change their opinion based on the OP.

I know I got caught in that once (that I remember, so probably more). But it really was just me not having enough information in the OP because I was trying to keep it shorter. I think if someone does it every time, or frequently it might be worth addressing, but sometimes it really is a situation of just not knowing what to include.
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Flora Louise

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2011, 12:38:28 PM »
Well, OK, but aren't there two sides to that scenario? I know that I've posted things that I've been widely criticized for and I just remain unconvinced. I just disagree.

For me, I think it's fine for an OP to uphold her opinion.  I don't think it's okay to change the scenario to try to convince others to change their opinion based on the OP.


I know I got caught in that once (that I remember, so probably more). But it really was just me not having enough information in the OP because I was trying to keep it shorter. I think if someone does it every time, or frequently it might be worth addressing, but sometimes it really is a situation of just not knowing what to include.


Yeah, I don't recall ever feeling that someone was deliberately misleading me by leaving out info from the OP. It is hard to know how much to write.
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Lynn2000

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2011, 12:42:40 PM »
When you say posting style, do you mean the text and the way that the person tells the story, or do you mean other stylistic things?

I will PM a newbie and suggest that they use paragraph breaks, and especially hit two Enter's to break paragraphs visually on the screen.  I know there are some people who won't read a post that is difficult to read. 

If someone came on that posted entirely in text speak, I might suggest they use more formal writing.  Few of us are perfect spellers, and if you post via a smartphone, the phone can add all sorts of stuff, but most people aren't going to want to read "BFF n me wnt 2 chrch Sun n met up w sum boyz," for three paragraphs. 

I don't comment on it, but I prefer posters who rename the characters in their stories rather than abbreviations.  Referring to two couples in the thread as "Alice and Andy, and Betty and Bob" or "Fred and Wilma, and Lucy and Desi" help me keep it straight in my head the gender and relationships of the couples.  It's harder with "A & B and my DH & I went out to dinner with C & D."  In the first couple, is A the husband, or is B?  Because if guy A wants to hang out alone with guy C and gal B is ticked off, I have way different advice than if guy A wants to hang out alone with gal C.  Or are A&B a same-sex couple, which puts a further different spin on it.

POD to this. Ultimately I think it's the OP's choice how they want to present their information (from the standpoint of both content and form), but they might truly be ignorant of how confusing they're being, and they might appreciate stylistic advice that helps them get more advice for their actual etiquette problem. Obviously, this should be worded in a very tactful and helpful way, not a chastising one. But I don't see anything wrong with giving a poster this kind of advice about their posting style.
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Zilla

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2011, 12:47:36 PM »
Well, OK, but aren't there two sides to that scenario? I know that I've posted things that I've been widely criticized for and I just remain unconvinced. I just disagree.

For me, I think it's fine for an OP to uphold her opinion.  I don't think it's okay to change the scenario to try to convince others to change their opinion based on the OP.


I know I got caught in that once (that I remember, so probably more). But it really was just me not having enough information in the OP because I was trying to keep it shorter. I think if someone does it every time, or frequently it might be worth addressing, but sometimes it really is a situation of just not knowing what to include.


Yeah, I don't recall ever feeling that someone was deliberately misleading me by leaving out info from the OP. It is hard to know how much to write.


I can give an example of this from my own postings.  When I posted about my bil, I would write pages on him but trying to be concise and then ask for advice.  Sometimes the advice given was for me personally rather then on bil.  And I may present a few facts that I forgot from my OP, and their opinion remains unchanged.  Then I actually learn from that and think maybe I am seeing it wrong and will temper my solution to include that POV.


But others will be adament and keep presenting examples of why they are right and why the person/issue they are writing about is wrong.  And then end the thread saying that everyone misunderstands and leaves the thread.  They weren't willing to take the advice requested nor were they willing to see that there could be another way of looking at it.

I do agree its okay to disagree or be set in your ways.  But if you are, don't ask for advice, post about it in coffee break.

The Ricker

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2011, 12:49:49 PM »
A style that irks me is when a poster relates an incident in which he/she is treated with clear rudeness by someone else.  Then the poster describes how he/she rightly had a spine and responded in an etiquette-approved manner, and asks e-hellions "Was I rude?"  Makes me gnash my teeth.

To be clear, I'm not talking grey areas.  An example is when a poster is asked to do something outrageous and replies "I'm afraid that won't be possible," then looks for validation that he/she was not rude to respond like that.

Flora Louise

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Re: Commenting on posting style?
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2011, 12:56:26 PM »
Quote from: Flora Louise on Today at 12:38:28 PM
Quote from: rashea on Today at 12:32:44 PM
Quote from: TurtleDove on Today at 12:28:57 PM
Quote from: Flora Louise on Today at 12:25:13 PM
Well, OK, but aren't there two sides to that scenario? I know that I've posted things that I've been widely criticized for and I just remain unconvinced. I just disagree.

For me, I think it's fine for an OP to uphold her opinion.  I don't think it's okay to change the scenario to try to convince others to change their opinion based on the OP.


I know I got caught in that once (that I remember, so probably more). But it really was just me not having enough information in the OP because I was trying to keep it shorter. I think if someone does it every time, or frequently it might be worth addressing, but sometimes it really is a situation of just not knowing what to include.


Yeah, I don't recall ever feeling that someone was deliberately misleading me by leaving out info from the OP. It is hard to know how much to write.
>>  But if you are, don't ask for advice, post about it in coffee break.<<

Oh I don't know. I think it's possible to ask for advice, then decide it isn't very good and discount it.


A style that irks me is when a poster relates an incident in which he/she is treated with clear rudeness by someone else.  Then the poster describes how he/she rightly had a spine and responded in an etiquette-approved manner, and asks e-hellions "Was I rude?"  Makes me gnash my teeth.

Oh yes. It is annoying. And transparent.

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