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Limiting length of posts
Thread poster: Sarah Brenchley

Sarah Brenchley  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oct 31, 2006

Would it be possible or even a good idea to limit the length of people's posts in the forums? I often find myself scanning long posts (or even skipping over them) as I don't have the time to read each one in detail. What about limiting each post to 200-250 words - that way people would have to condense and summarise their answers, and it would make it easier to follow all the posts in a topic. The Gettysburg address did, after all, contain only 278 words.
There could be exceptions of course (e.g. literary posts, first post in a topic?).


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 12:43
SITE FOUNDER
Great suggestion! Oct 31, 2006

Great suggestion, Sarah. In fact, we have recently prepared a "focus topic" format, to be optionally set by posters, in which respondents woudl be limited to one post of up to 200 words in length. We intend to try that out soon and modify word count accordingly.

Thanks for using the site and making suggestions for improving it!


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Angeliki Papadopoulou  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 19:43
English to Greek
+ ...
What a great idea! Oct 31, 2006

Wonderful suggestion! I'm glad it will be tried out soon.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:43
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I don't mind long posts Oct 31, 2006

Sarah Brenchley wrote:
Would it be possible or even a good idea to limit the length of people's posts in the forums? I often find myself scanning long posts (or even skipping over them) as I don't have the time to read each one in detail.


I don't mind long posts. On the other hand, my pet peeves are:

* Using the subject line as if it were the first line of one's post (replying to such a post lacks the first part of the sentence).
* Not using proper capitalisation
* Not breaking up one's post into paragraphs
* Not using other forms of layout that makes the post easier to read and the argument easier to follow
* Quoting the entire post you're replying to
* Ditto, and then topposting a oneliner answer
* Quoting nested quotes without the nested quote having any bearing on your reply
* Not quoting at all when replying to a post that is not the previous post (eg when the replyer replies to the first post of a long thread but neglects to indicate what he's replying to).

I don't mind long posts. Eliminating long posts won't solve these other issues. However, there may be ways to solve some of them:

* Do not force users to use the subject line
* Warn the user if his post contains more than 50% quote (but allow him to post anyway if he chooses)
* Warn the user if his post contains nested quotes (but allow him to post anyway if he chooses)

Your comments?


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Jalapeno
Local time: 18:43
English to German
Re Subject line Oct 31, 2006

Samuel Murray wrote:

* Do not force users to use the subject line



I agree 100% with Samuel's suggestion. I'm often mildly annoyed that I have to fill in the subject line, as it's sometimes simply not necessary - yet I'm required to make something up to fill in the subject line. I assume that that's the reason some people use the subject line as part of their first sentence - it saves you from having to think of a snappy subject line.


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Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 00:43
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
More than one posting in the "focus topic" format? Oct 31, 2006

Samuel Murray wrote:

* Using the subject line as if it were the first line of one's post (replying to such a post lacks the first part of the sentence).
* Not using proper capitalisation
* Not using other forms of layout that makes the post easier to read and the argument easier to follow
* Quoting the entire post you're replying to
* Quoting nested quotes without the nested quote having any bearing on your reply
* Not quoting at all when replying to a post that is not the previous post


I agree with the above six out of eight points mentioned by Samuel. They get on my nerves.

However, Sarah has a point too. People will have to summarise their replies instead of going on and on and on... I wonder if we are allowed to make more than one posting in the "focus topic" format mentioned by Henry.

Denyce

[Edited at 2006-10-31 10:20]


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:43
English to Spanish
+ ...
Disagree with Sarah/Henry, agree with Samuel Oct 31, 2006

Hello Sarah and all,

I agree with Samuel's excellent arguments/points.

I would like to add that, in a perfect world, the ideal would also be to:

1) Make a major effort to avoid "typos"/spelling errors and the like, for the sake of looking like professional writers (which translators are supposed to be).

2) Yes, be as concise as possible, but not at the risk of not making any sense (I mean, the typical "one liners" that usually do not add anything to a debate).

3) Never lose sight of politeness (one can be polite even if one's arguments are totally opposed to someone else's).

I would also like to say to Sarah/Henry that, as with many other features of this site, I would prefer that the length of messages in forums remained a *choice* and not be subjected to a(nother) rule.

On the other hand, even if you (and I mean the "neutral" *you*) think that some messages are too long, obviously you have the choice of not reading them, but it would be logical to read them if you then want to post a reply about a given thread's subject.

Regards,

Ivette


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:43
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What I do with readerunfriendly posts... Oct 31, 2006

ICL wrote:
...obviously you have the choice of not reading them, but it would be logical to read them if you then want to post a reply about a given thread's subject.


I tend to ignore readerunfriendly posts altogether and read only those that invite reading. Even readerfriendly posts I only skim read to see if I can contribute anything. When I find something promising, I read more thoroughly.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 12:43
SITE FOUNDER
One post, 200 words, to be adjusted in use Oct 31, 2006

Denyce Seow wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:

* Using the subject line as if it were the first line of one's post (replying to such a post lacks the first part of the sentence).
* Not using proper capitalisation
* Not using other forms of layout that makes the post easier to read and the argument easier to follow
* Quoting the entire post you're replying to
* Quoting nested quotes without the nested quote having any bearing on your reply
* Not quoting at all when replying to a post that is not the previous post


I agree with the above six out of eight points mentioned by Samuel. They get on my nerves.

However, Sarah has a point too. People will have to summarise their replies instead of going on and on and on... I wonder if we are allowed to make more than one posting in the "focus topic" format mentioned by Henry.

The "focus" format, as we have prepared it for optional use by posters, limits all but the initial poster to one post of 200 words. Lets see in practice if this should be changed to two posts of 250 words, or whatever.


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 12:43
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Henry Oct 31, 2006

Your post contains more than 50% quote

Giving the option to the poster to limit the answers to his topic sounds as an interesting experiment, although I'd hate to click on "send" and see a message saying "your post is xx words too long".
There are people who talk too much, others who repeat what they said just to make sure the others understand, others who just want to listen to their own voice... and forums are supposed to reflect real life too.

In summary, I'm willing to try but at first glance wouldn't vote in favor if all the forums became like that.

There's something I'd like to add to every single post, it's an option to put next to it "agree" or "great post", something which would allow an opinion (maybe neutral and disagree too) without having to write a posting (which implies generating emails, with no much content if all I have to say is that "agree").

Claudia


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Sarah Brenchley  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Why limit posters to one posting? Oct 31, 2006

I don't understand the idea behind limiting posters to one posting. It often happens that you need to post something in reply to one of the other posters or am I missing the point?

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Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 00:43
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
One posting Oct 31, 2006

Sarah Brenchley wrote:

I don't understand the idea behind limiting posters to one posting. It often happens that you need to post something in reply to one of the other posters or am I missing the point?


This limit makes sense when you are soliciting suggestions or ideas. However, it does not really work when it comes to discussion topics. Maybe we can have a system that allows the owner of the topic to decide on the limits, e.g no. of words and no. of posting?

Denyce


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:43
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Please don't Oct 31, 2006

I don't see the point of length or number of posts restrictions at all. This almost goes against the freedom of speech.

If I have the feeling I have something to say but won't have enough space to do so in a proper way or I won't be able to respond to somebody else's reply to my own post, I'd rather not post at all. Why bother?

Once we reach the limit, our sentence would stop right in the middle (as in the Kudoz notes), we would have to go back and spend a lot of time post-editing our text to make sure we get our main points across in less words... Speaking of wasting one's time. Thanks, but no thanks!

How can you have a genuine, open, informative discussion when you can't say all you have to say and when you constantly have to keep an eye on the remaining number of words?

It might also lead to an abbreviated style of writing, with articles and other less important function words simply left out. Is that so desirable?

What is the actual harm done by long-winded posts? Do they actually offend somebody? What is the percentage of actual posts that go on too long?

Maybe instead of regulating the length of posts, what about having a little note pop up at a certain amount of words, reminding the writer that their message is getting a bit long and advising them to come to an end? Or just a friendly reminder at the top of one's post plus a word counter?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:43
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some more thoughts... Oct 31, 2006

henry wrote:
...limits all but the initial poster to one post of 200 words. Lets see in practice if this should be changed to two posts of 250 words...


I have in principle no objection to limiting the number of words, but I have a problem with limiting the number of posts. I often have a comment on the original post and also on some of the subsequent posts. For this, I might use more than one post.

There have been times when I started a thread, and after a day or two answered all the replies with a single, long reply in which I quote from each person's post. It looks tidy and it is comprehensible. It also enables subsequent posters to reply to my entire post in one go, instead of having to copy/paste text to quote from each of my replies.

I do reread my posts before sending them, but only to the degree that I try to make myself as clear as possible -- not in an attempt to decrease the number of words. And I have on occasion abandoned a Kudoz answer I was writing because I was unable to say what I wanted to say in the required maximum number of characters -- I'm sure other people have done the same.

But I'm sure some people just type away and at the end hit "post reply" without so much as glancing back at what they've written. No-one can stop such people from posting, but attempting to do so by limiting the posting capabilities of those of us who are circumspect, is counter-productive IMO.


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:43
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Short reply Oct 31, 2006

I don't see a problem with long posts.

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