What makes a good poster?

I’m trying to get some kind of consensus from Forumosans about what makes a good poster, or what makes a poster good. Now I know this is a relative term, and that there are several very different types of forums here, so if you would be as specific as you can, that would be appreciated.

For me, consistency is the a key for good posting in the IP forum. Wishy washiness is an immediate casue for the sharks to bite.


Consistency, common sense and considerateness factor high in my eval list.

[quote=“jdsmith”]For me, consistency is the a key for good posting in the IP forum. Wishy washiness is an immediate casue for the sharks to bite.

Donning my anti-shark suit, allow me to offer a partial defense of wishy-washiness.

[color=black]Consistency at the expense of productive discussion[/color]

I agree with JD, that consistency is a commendable virtue. But it is also one that I believe is often overvalued when it comes at the expense of rational, intelligent discussion. Perhaps the problem I refer to is not even genuine consistency itself, but rather its ugly cousin, stubbornness.

One day not too long ago, in a particularly discouraged mood at intractibility and partisanship on the IP board that day, I actually did a few searches looking for the statements “I was wrong” “I admit that was incorrect” and the like. I had actually intended to start a thread congratulating the people who had wrote these statements within the past few months. But the results were so few and difficult to find, that I gave up. :s

Don’t get me wrong, I have a tremendous amount of respect for many of the posters on that board (including ones that I tend agree with, and ones that I tend to disagree with) but my impression is that a devotion to consistency often leads people to doggedly pursue petty disputes into meaningless grudge matches that accomplish nothing. Far better, in my opinion, to admit when you’ve made a mistake, say “Okay, you’re right on point A. But I still feel that points B and C are valid, and here’s why…” Or when that is not possible, then agreeing to disagree on certain points (where the arguments both ways have already been fully presented) is another great option. Keeps the discussion more fresh and engaging.

Although I try to be as objective and open-minded as I can, I am certainly guilty of reacting in with defensiveness as well. [color=blue]Sometimes I actually catch myself hitting the reply button to give a knee-jerk counter argument to a post which I later realize I should have just read with an open mind and thought about a little longer – because the post had merit.[/color]

None of this is to say that we should be shy about expressing our points of view. And obviously much of the back-and-forth banter, aggressive disagreement, and friendly gamesmanship are all part of the fun. I just think it behooves us (myself included) to keep in mind that consistency does not require (and indeed is often antithetical to) offering stubborn knee-jerk responses or taking position X for no other reason than that Such-and-such poster just took position Y.

[color=black]Consistency at the expense of merit[/color]

The second guise in which I feel consistency can be unhelpful is the argument: “You [Person A] said behaviour X is bad? Well So-and-so [government/individual that Person A likes/often defends] also engages in behaviour X.”

The problem with this response is that the analysis often ends right there. There is no attempt to address the legitimacy of the point, there is only a illogical implication that by bringing up the misdeeds of a fellow offender, the behaviour of the original subject of the criticism is vindicated. This has two effects:

(1) It ignores the original source of the debate: whether behaviour X is praiseworthy/blameworthy/none-of-the-above.

(2) It sets the stage for a childish round of “Oh yeah well you did this! Oh yeah, well you did THIS!” that, in addition to preventing a reasonable discussion of the original behaviour (see point 1) also has the tendency to turn what may have originally been a pragmatic discussion into a mud-slinging match.

Surely we can all agree that if I had once overstayed my visa (I haven’t :wink:), and I later go on forumosa and post that overstaying is a bad idea – that someone responding with “Oh yeah, well that’s pretty hypocritical, Hobbes, since you once overstayed your visa!” adds very little to the discussion about whether overstaying is advisable or not.

Again, the problem is not the observation that I’m a hypocrite – the problem is that this often passes as a decent response to my argument. [color=blue]In other words, this oft-repeated poor-excuse-for-an-argument ignores the fundamental fact that an argument can be hypocritical, and and also be right. [/color]

So “That’s hypocritical!” is a fine statement as far as it goes – but if consistency is held up as the highest virtue, and if hypocrisy is considered inconsistent, then many a fine discussion will be killed before it is even begun. And the result will be name-calling and insults rather than discussions of issues. The last thing we want is for someone to go on the boards and feel that they have to take the position “Mass murder is good” just because their country has been guilty of mass murder in the past (and most countries, I submit, have).

[color=black]Final note[/color]

I have no reason to believe that JD disagrees with any of this – I just think that when consistency is lauded, the other side of the coin should be given a quick showing at the same time.

No I don’t disagree with that at all Hobbes. Using a public forum to admit that one has grown to accept a new position or revise an older, long held position is a wonderful benefit that one sometimes is capable of acheiving.

Being consistent does not automatically mean one is stubborn. Yet being stubborn may cause one to be TOO consistent even when facts are presented that refute what Mr./Ms. Stubborn has previously written.

The fact is, is it NOT hard to change. It is just hard to want to change.

Yup, I agree here too. Sometimes I see this forum, these forums as a way to talk our loud in an effort to define my position, particularly in the Teaching English forum. I’m not shy about admitting a mistake. I now call my ESL class an Immersion class. Thanks to Joesax. lol

jdsmith, great topic.

Hobbes, I really like the concept and intent of your post above, regarding looking for prior posts with “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” in them. I’ve similarly had feelings that such was sadly lacking, but never took it to the point of looking for examples. Glad you did.

People use the forums for different purposes at different times. Sometimes it’s just to vent. Sometimes to fence a little. But I have hoped, maybe naively, that they were also used to learn from each other. I know that purpose interests me. That consideration mixed with Hobbes’ reflections put me in mind of something I read years ago.

In Steven Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective Posters” (nah, really it was “People”), he made an excellent case on this point. What he said, in short, is that in a debate or negotiation or discussion, a person should first seek to understand, and second seek to be understood. He explained it in a lot more detail, but the basics where that everyone wants to be understood, and once a person feels understood, he/she is more willing to understand someone else. I’ve found this to be true as far as it goes.

I bring this up because it tracks with Hobbes’ observation. While it is harder for people to admit mistakes, it might be easier to slow down and try first to understand. From a practical standpoint, this takes place when the listener acknowledge points, asks non-barbed questions, and repeats points to see if he/she understood properly. And interestingly enough, all of that can be done without agreeing necessarily.

It would be great to see more of this. Forumosa.com is a great resource and meeting place. This type of interaction would only make it better.


Seek to understand then try be understood…words to live by. And being able to separate one’s reaction from one’s response is always nice too.

I guess I’d have to add tact to the list. There is a lot of jesting that goes on between old timers and friends on here, yet it still remains (for the most part) within a certain range of politeness. Also, on some of the more sensitive/very personal issues that some people have brought forth, a large helping of tact prevented the thread from becoming chaotic and pointless. I can only recall how well the “anal injury” thread was handled, with tact. Thank god. But, honestly it could have gone either way.

I disagree with consistency being a virtue, too. Something about hobgoblins and little minds comes to mind. Especially in the IP Forum, ideological consistency is the major problem with most of the most frequent posters in that forum. When discussing politics, an open mind and the ability to weigh someone else’s viewpoints is more important than jerking your knee to whatever the editorial page of the National Review or the Guardian Unlimited are saying that day.

ah yes, but that is FOOLISH consistency…

I think restraint is a good quality. Just because you think of something doesn’t mean you have to post it. I can’t count how many times I’ve had a post all written out and just never hit the submit button. Like the one I was going to post that said a good poster is one that sticks to the wall and doesn’t pull the paint off when you take it down.

Or the ones with jimi hendrix in them. That was the first thing I thought of. Perhaps we share the same strain of schizophrenia Richard.

I have had those moments too…and others where I shouted an expletive because I actually did hit the submit button.

I think a good poster takes the time to read the all posts in a thread before adding something new. It shows that you have taken the time to see what’s going on in the conversation and can contribute something to it (hopefully). Consistency is important as well as being aware that you are writing to an audience and knowing that what you post reflects their impression of you, especially if you happen to meet them offline.

Also spelling and grammar counts if you want to make your posts credible. No one’s perfect all the time (even if they edit their posts over and over to fix any of these mistakes they see when viewing their posts), but I find it hard to take someone seriously if they can’t take the time to write their words in standard English…I even go so far as to look at my keyboard to see if it’s just a typo (usually forgivable) or a flat-out orthographical mistake (especially unforgivable when it occurs with common words). And then there’s me taking on bigger words than I can handle sometimes. :blush:

Also new posters who jump into a forum (or those who are new to a particular forum) with great information or something good to share score higher points than those who make their debut by putting up insults, negative generalizations, accusations against regular posters and/or the local culture without substantial evidence to back it up, etc.

And know what you are talking about.

I’d have to agree. When I type juts and not just, it’s just me typing too damn fast. The last typo I made Chewycorns nailed me on it not 5 minutes later…and I sent him a sting…which he took gracefully, and by then I was already over it.

Anyway, your point is good: type within your vocabulary/spelling range. :slight_smile:

Add to the list, posters who do make spelling mistakes and do not fall back on excuses for making them, or go on about how they don’t matter “cuz ya new whut I wuz trien to say.”

Spelling and grammar countS? I don’t mean to rub it in but, strictly speaking, would that be considered a spelling mistake, or a grammar mistake, or a spelling AND a grammar mistake? And when you quote someone discussing the importance of spelling and grammar, and not only did they make a spelling/grammar mistake but you fail to notice it, what is that? Sorry kids but something like this happens EVERY time this subject comes up. I think there must be some evil spirit at work. Anyway native speakers read so fast (and some write so fast) that they just don’t notice mistakes. And if they don’t notice them are they really all that big a deal? We aren’t writing a dictionary here.

And know what you are talking about.[/quote]

You are expecting too much here imo. There are thousands of users on this forum. That’s a lot of knowledge. In fact more than I’ll ever know in this life time. I can be proven wrong and it’s up to me to learn a lesson as it was very well illustrated by Hobbes. This place offers a diversity which I am still dicovering. Diversity=differences. Different lives, different motivations, different backgrounds, different success, different struggle, different views and opinions. In fact, I think you don’t have the slightest clue of what you are talking about here… :wink: But it’s great because now I have something to write about you see and you never know, if we actually get past ourselves, we may actually learn something. Who knows, we may learn that we are in fact both right in our own intricate ways. Besides, what would we be talking about if we were all knowledgeable, smart, right and good looking like me.

Then again, I don’t doubt that the above quote may have meant something different than what I’ve just discussed. Something plain like don’t bullshit may have been more like it. That’s diversity right there. Personally I would have written two pages to make sure I’m not missinterpreted…In this case I did not want to take any chances… because a forumosan embasador wrote it. :smiley:

The grammar part… I suck at posting…I don’t mind and I’m sure there are others. I actually enjoy reading someone who makes an effort to communicate with me in an unfamiliar language. Now are we going to fight about it? :slight_smile:

I almost deleted this one before I posted it Richard.

A good poster enjoys diversity.

Yeah, like the one I had of Farah Fosset when I was ten. That was a great poster.

A good poster makes many good posts without making many bad posts.

Bad posts are easier to determine. They may violate the rules of forumosa.com or they might be devoid of humor, handiness or honor. A mod might see a bad post and flounder it. Another poster might see that post and ask a mod to flounder it. There might be some ridicule of or backtalk about a bad post.

A good post is not as easy to see for what it is. On other forums there may be a mechanism for readers to give high marks to good posts. Forumosa’s old guanxi system was also a way to express gratitude for a good post. Some of the best posts are made “stickies” because of their relevance that will last throughout the ages. There are rules about bad posts because people don’t like bad posts. There aren’t any rules against good posts because people like good posts for one reason or another.

A good poster makes predominantly good posts, and as they have made good posts in the past, people secretly or not-so-secretly consider them to be an “important voice” in the community. As for future research, people may want to know more exactly how good a poster is. We may calculate a mathematical equation that could describe the ratio of good to bad posts, like:

good/bad poster number = a*(good posts) - b*(bad posts)^2 + c

Finally I can leave you with a few choice quotes from the internet about “good posts”.

[quote=“forum.neocron.com”]What is a good post ?

A good post is a post that YOU think is worth giving credit, and when you click the add to reputation button, you can either approve or disapprove with what was said in that post, and tell the person why.[/quote]

[quote=“logan from www.sadgeezer.com”]For new members and old members alike, something obvious to bear in mind is that to be a good poster one must post. :slight_smile: And in becoming a better poster (improve your posting ability), one may have to post more (practice makes perfect! Hehehe). I won

for the ones on my wall: one word



Touche Bob :slight_smile:

I WAS WRONG! Now a search will return something.

Touche Bob :slight_smile:

I was WRONG! Now a search will return something.[/quote]

[color=green]Hobbes dutifully makes a positive note in JD’s file[/color]

Some items can be coupled to mean one thing and hence can be treated as a singular subject for example “salt and pepper,” I guess “spelling and grammar” could fit into this schema. So JD you might well be right after all.