Good Posting Habits Guide

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Good Posting Habits Guide

Post  MJGMANUTD92. on Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:37 pm

Welcome fellow posters! This guide has been put together by your fellow SMP members to help everyone (including themselves!), to make better, stronger, and more insightful posts, that everyone will value. This thread may look intimidating at first, but has been conveniently been broken down into small sections, to help you become a better poster. And remember, this guide is purely the input of the posters that have been rewarded for their great posts, the SMPs. We hope you find this guide useful, and hope it makes you a better poster!
Remember that you’re here to have fun!

Your're looking to get some posting done, but you're not quite sure how to approach the whole ordeal. The following should be assistance to you.


1.1 Creating a topic
Title – Using titles such as “I NEED HELP” doesn’t really describe what the purpose of your thread is. The title is basically a short description or summary of the body of your post. Use it to let people know what they’re going to be reading about before they actually read it. Some people will not even read a topic if the title does not offer any information regarding the content.

For example, if you want information regarding the class specific skills in Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, you might title your thread:


Disgaea 2: class specific skills help


This lets everyone know that you’re seeking help with Disgaea 2. Those that can help you will be quick to read your thread. Those that have a similar question will know they can check your topic for the information they seek. Those that can’t help can move onto another thread that they feel they can reply to.


If you want to get a good discussion started, you might use a title like:


The Importance of Excellent Graphics


A title like this lets everyone know that the thread will likely be a discussion thread regarding graphics in games.


Generally, you don’t want your title to be in all capital letters. This is generally considered to be “shouting” online and is not appreciated by your fellow users. You also want to avoid using ASCII characters and “leet speak”, as these are often difficult to read and tend to turn people away from your topic.


Above all else, you want your title to catch people’s eyes. A humourous quip, an intelligent remark, a bold statement, all is up to you.


Thinking of topics to start a thread about – This is pretty easy if you’re looking for help with something. Obviously, the topic of your thread will be whatever you’re looking for help with. However, thinking of a good discussion topic is a bit more of a challenge.

A good way to try and focus your thoughts might be to write some of your ideas down on a piece of paper (or in a word document). From there, try and break it down into smaller topics that you can discuss with others in a thread. Something too broad might turn people away because they might not even be sure where to start, but at the same time, something too specific might leave no room for discussion. It’s best to try and strike a balance between the two extremes. It’s a good idea to consider both sides of the topic as well, but as the thread starter, you don’t want to have the whole discussion with yourself by bringing up every conceivable point and defeating it in the original post. Be sure to leave room for others to reply.


Some good places to start thinking of topics would be to consider something that affects the gaming industry as a whole (e.g.: how production or localization times increase or decrease demand) or something related to in-game content (e.g.: what is the significance of object A in relation to the story of the game overall). You may also see an article that you think it interesting and want to share/discuss with others (please link to the article). Or, you may even find an idea for a new thread based on what another user said in a different thread. There are lots of sources out there for those that are paying attention!


Be patient – You’re ready to get the ball rolling, which is understandable. However, you need to be sure to allow time for others to reply. Bumping your topic generally doesn’t invite the types of replies you might be looking for, especially if you only wait a few minutes. One way to spread the word about your topic might be to send a message via the forum’s messenger to someone you know would be interested in the topic, but might not be online at the moment.

1.2 Picking a topic to reply to
Pick something that interests you – if the topic doesn’t interest you, then you’ll likely have difficulty making a post that interests others, if you're able to come up with something at all.

Read a lot of posts – You’re eager to jump into a discussion and there is nothing wrong with that. However, you might end up missing a topic that you might also enjoy if you don’t look at many different threads.

2.0 Post

You've found a topic you want to start a thread about or found a thread you want to reply to. Now it's time you write your post. Keep these guidelines in mind while typing, and you'll be able to say what you want to say and others will be able to understand it.


2.1 Respect for others
We’re all people – Contrary to popular belief, there is another person on the other side of the screen with thoughts and feelings much like your own. Remember, the way you value your opinions and feelings, so does everyone else value their own. There is no need to belittle someone because you do not share the same views. If someone’s information seems to be wrong, politely point them to the correct information. Everyone deserves the same amount of respect, regardless of whether they’re new to the forums or a moderator.
Agree to disagree – If you disagree with someone, come right out and say so, but please do it in a mature manner. Debates are always encouraged and are more than welcome, but there’s a point at which a debate ends or starts to become an argument. At that point, it’s time to agree to disagree and move on. There’s no point in having the discussion degrade into a flame war or a “back and forth” type deal where the same points are being made over and over.

Spoilers – Always be sure to label your posts with a spoiler warning if they contain such information. This lets everyone know that there is information ahead that might spoil the game for them. The more descriptive the spoiler warning, the better. If you’re unsure whether the information you’re sharing is a spoiler or not, a general rule of thumb is that anything stated in the instruction manual cannot be considered a spoiler. However, as a general courtesy to everyone (not just those that own the game), label all information that might be a spoiler with a spoiler warning. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it avoids negative responses.

2.2 Writing your post
Be yourself – Don’t try to pretend you’re something you’re not. Say what YOU want to say, not what someone else wants you to say. You’ll find that things tend to flow better and you should let them do just that.

Don’t force it – Odds are, if you’re forcing yourself to post, then your post’s quality will suffer. Remember, you’re here to have fun.

Thinking of what to say – if you can’t think of something to say right away, then probe your brain a bit. It won’t hurt to put some deep-thought into your post. It also helps to think about what you’re trying to say before typing it. Have an idea of what you’re looking to get down before putting it down. This will help keep a steady flow within your post. If you put some thought into it and still don’t feel right about your post, then you may want to try again later when you’ve had more time to think about what to say. Again, don’t force yourself to post! You’re here to have fun, after all. It shouldn't feel like a chore.

You don’t have to write a novel – When you’re passionate about a subject, it’s expected that you’ll have a lot to say, but you don’t have to write a novel if it’s not necessary. If you can say what you want to say in a few meaningful words, then go for it! However, if you do have a lot to say, then come right out and say it. You shouldn't cut pieces of your post out or stop short while writing just because you think you wrote too much. If you find yourself cutting pieces out of your post, you might remove something that’s more important to the your point than you realize. Quality is always valued over quantity!

One-word responses - One or two word responses such as "yes", "no", or "I agree" don't really bring anything to the table and should be avoided. If you agree with something, then say why. There are few, if any, situations in which a one or two word response can't be elaborated upon. It doesn't take a whole lot of time and will help keep the discussion going.

A little humour doesn’t hurt – A little humour in your posts will help to keep them entertaining. Not everyone will enjoy your brand of humour, but at least you can say you tried. Just remember to keep it tasteful and appropriate.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it won’t kill you – If you have a question, ask away. Part of a discussion is the learning process. You will be able to solidify your thoughts and knowledge by asking questions.

Research – A quick look around to make sure your information is correct is beneficial. With tabbed browsing (featured in browsers such as Firefox and IE 7), you can keep a window open to sites like google and wikipedia at all times without it really affecting you too much. They’re there for when you need to do some research and they are easily accessible.

2.3 Extra tips for organization/easy reading

Colour Coding – It’s usually not a great idea to make your post look like a rainbow. While it may seem like a great way to distinguish what you’re replying to, odds are that at least one of the colours you choose won’t agree with one of the forum skins. It can also be hard on the eyes. You can just as easily distinguish what sections of another user’s post you’re replying to by using lines and the indent functions. The format for the following example is: Indent (), horizontal line (), copy & paste the part of the post you want to reply to at that moment, horizontal line (), out dent (), write what you have to say. Repeat as necessary. Example:



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The combat in this game felt authentic because...
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I agree because...




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I think that the story was so-so because...
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think you might have missed the part where..."



By doing this, your post will be easier to read. You can also easily reply to multiple people in one post without it looking like a jumbled mess, rather than having to make multiple posts.


Writing skills - You’re certainly not in English class, but it helps everyone out if you take a bit of extra time to incorporate proper spelling and grammar into your posts. Not only is it easier to understand your post, you also won’t have people replying to you for the sole purpose of taking a shot at your writing skills.
Paragraphs are your friend – Separate different ideas into different paragraphs. A wall of text is not only a formidable foe for even those with the best of memories, it’s also hard on the eyes. If you want to say that you think both Resistance: Fall of Man and Killzone are great games, then you’ll want to use different paragraphs to say why you think so. Example:

"I think Resistance: Fall of man is great because...


I also think Killzone is right up there with FoM because..."


By separating your ideas, it’s easier to identify them and much easier for others to reply to.


Spell check – The forums feature a spellchecker. If you have difficulty with spelling or just aren’t sure that you’ve spelled some words properly, use the spellchecker. Spelling is not essential, but one typo might completely change the meaning of your sentence. Poor spelling might also distract others from the point you're trying to make. If the forum’s spellchecker isn’t working, many document-formatting programs do feature one, so don’t be afraid to copy and paste your post into one of them.

Grammar check – You’ll have to rely on your own abilities for this one. A good way to determine if your grammar is accurate is to say the sentence out loud. If it sounds awkward (e.g.: I saw an dog today), then the sentence probably needs to be restructured.
Much like your paragraphs, your sentences need to be separated. Once again, we’re not in English class, so we don’t expect you to know when to use a colon and when to use a semi-colon, but you should at least use periods to signify the end of a sentence. Each new sentence should also start with a capital letter. These two things combined will let everyone know when you’ve ended one sentence and started another.


CAPITAL LETTERS – Please do not type your posts in all capital letters. This is considered shouting online and it often hard on the eyes. Typing in all capital letters tends to yield negative responses that are unrelated to the topic at hand and it’s generally considered to be a nuisance. Once again, please try to avoid doing this.

Long posts – The longer the post, the more important these things are. They become increasingly important if you were distracted at some point while crafting your post (e.g.: your dog wants to go outside while you were in mid-sentence).

3.0 Post-post

You've finished writing your post. However, there's still one part left to take care of. Make sure you're happy with your post as a whole before you submit it.


3.1 The three R’s: Review, Revise, Review
Review your post – Read your post over. Make sure you’ve said what you wanted to say and put it so that others can understand it.

Revise your post – After you’ve reviewed your post, it’s time to make the changes. Review and revise will most likely intertwine throughout

Review your revisions – Reviewing your post one more time before you submit it will help you catch anything you might’ve missed during your earlier review and revision. And if things got a little jumbled during the revision period, you’ll also be able to correct those. Sometimes, the second period leads to a second revision period. The important thing is that you’re pleased with your post as a whole!
3.2 Save your post

Saving your posts - Sometimes things happen and your post is lost. For smaller posts, this might not be a big deal, but when you lose a large post that you put a lot of time into, it can spoil your day. It's good to try and get into the habit of copying and pasting your post into a word processing program before pressing submit. You can do this by pressing CTRL + A (or an equivalent if on a different operating system) to select all of the text. Then press CTRL + C (or equivalent) to copy the text. Then open a program (Wordpad will do) and press CTRL + V (or equivalent) to copy your post into the program. This way, if something does go wrong, your post will be safe and sound.

3.3 Editing

Need an edit? – Don’t be afraid to edit your post if necessary. It happens. Maybe you hit ‘Submit’ and noticed a mistake you made afterwards or decided you wanted to elaborate on a point you made a bit more. If you feel like your post needs to be changed, then by all means, go ahead.
Remember that you’re here to have fun!
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MJGMANUTD92.
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