Tips for writing posts that other people will enjoy reading
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TOPIC: Tips for writing posts that other people will enjoy reading

Tips for writing posts that other people will enjoy reading 21 Jul 2014 10:24 #9418

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    muench
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Dear all,

I have been working together with other Forum Committee* members on updating the Rules Page of the forum (forum.susana.org/forum/rules). As part of this process I also updated this list of tips for making posts that other people will enjoy reading (a related discussion from last year is here on the forum: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/135-qu...etiquette-netiquette). I hope you find this list useful.

Tips for making posts that other people will enjoy reading:
  1. Include as much background information and context as possible with your post, particularly when asking a question, but also when your post is about a comment, opinion, description of new ideas and so forth. This includes a short one-sentence introduction of yourself when it is your first post (or put some basic information about yourself in your forum profile, see here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/134-user-profile).
  2. Check if your question has already been answered elsewhere on the forum by using the search function at the top right (forum.susana.org/gsearch).
  3. Use your own words. If you wish to use the words of somebody else, quote them, citing the source. Use I-statements (such as “I am of the opinion that…”), do not generalise. You can also put quoted text into a grey shaded box by using the formatting button in the post editor that looks like someone is saying something (balloon). See here for more information: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/133-re...g-bullet-point-lists
  4. Thank those who help you, and do provide “closure” to a thread that you started after some time. For example, if you asked for input on the literature review of your MSc thesis, then do also post the final MSc thesis document when it is completed, together with some explanations on who should read it and why.
  5. When starting a new topic choose an appropriate and interesting thread title. If the discussion in that thread leads into another direction later, then the moderator might modify the thread title (if you started the thread you will be notified).
  6. Do not write in capital letters or UPPERCASE, since they are considered as shouting. Many people find it annoying when a user types entirely in capitals.
  7. Do not add false information in your topic title just to get attention. An example of a bad topic title would be "Help needed!". A good topic title might be: "Low-cost handwashing devices for slums in Kampala, Uganda – any advice?". Do not use a URL as a thread title.
  8. Choose the category for your post carefully when starting a new thread. If you are not sure where to post then use the category called Miscellaneous. Any post deemed to be in the wrong category will be moved by the moderator who will contact you if it is not an obvious decision.
  9. If you want to bring a new journal paper or other publication to the attention of the forum readers, do not only post the title and link but also the summary or main conclusions, and explain why you think this publication is particularly relevant in a certain context.
  10. Do not put other people’s e-mail addresses into a post unless you are sure that they do not mind. This is in order to avoid spam bots getting hold of these e-mail addresses from your forum post. Remember that users can contact each other via the contact button to the left of the users’ posts.
  11. Remember the human: In online discussions it is easy to misinterpret your correspondent's meaning. And it is frighteningly easy to forget that your correspondent is a person with feelings more or less like your own. It is important that you are polite and treat others the same way you want to be treated.
  12. Give other people a chance and space to respond. Encouraging others to respond on the forum by sending them a friendly e-mail can greatly enhance the depth of conversation on the forum.
  13. If you have an unsolved issue with anyone, or if someone says something that is offensive to you, or if you want to inform someone of a mistake - be it spelling, asking something “irrelevant” (in your opinion) - do consider not to respond on the forum but rather in a private mail (you can use the contact button to the left of the person’s post to contact the person by e-mail). In addition, you can also use the “report to moderator” button below the post (you need to log in to see this button).
  14. Avoid using abbreviations without spelling them out at least once when you use them in your post for the first time. Be mindful of newcomers. There are probably only few abbreviations that can be taken for granted, such as WASH, SuSanA, WHO – and even those you could spell out from time to time to make it even easier for the novices.
  15. Make sure your messages are clear and logical. It's better to keep it simple: be short and well structured. For structuring purposes, use the formatting options in the post editor, such as making a word, sentence or headline bold, underlined, italics etc. See here for more information: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/133-re...g-bullet-point-lists
  16. Avoid addressing too many different topics in one post; it is better to write two posts on two different topics
  17. Consider using graphical elements in your post by inserting (or attaching) photos, videos or schematics. Photos can be embedded into your post or attached to the post. See here for more information: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/135-qu...mages-in-your-posts. But keep in mind that embedding large photos slows down the downloading speed for people with slow internet connection (see here for more details on this issue: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/135-qu...-internet-connection)
  18. See also this thread for more information and for the source of some statements (the document "Netiquette" by Dr. Kerstin Danert): forum.susana.org/forum/categories/135-qu...ette-netiquette#6843

Regards,
Elisabeth

* The Forum Committee was formed earlier this month and consists of forum moderators, past featured users and the SuSanA secretariat.
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Community manager of this forum via SEI
(see: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects?search=SEI)
Wikipedian, co-founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation

Location: Frankfurt, Germany
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Twitter: @EvMuench, website: www.ostella.de
Last Edit: 01 Aug 2014 09:13 by muench.
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Re: Tips for writing posts that other people will enjoy reading 26 Jul 2014 19:55 #9502

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    F H Mughal
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Dear Elisabeth,

This is an interesting output of yours. Good work and nice efforts!

Just one minor point: you start off with the point of "asking a question." This may be a bit confusing to the new users, who would think that this forum is only for asking questions. Please re-phrase your point # 1. Tell the users that they can use the forum for many purposes (comments, new ideas, innovative solutions, etc).

Regards,

F H Mughal
F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan

Re: Tips for writing posts that other people will enjoy reading 26 Jul 2014 20:14 #9503

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    fppirco
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Dear Elisabeth

Thanks for your informative issues ,particular it will be very useful because all participants in this forum all from various nationality with various cultures , various Education levels ,something may be is polite and true in one culture but it may be impolite and not to be normed in other culture .
your comments put principal frame .

Thank you .

Mohammad
The following user(s) like this post: muench

Re: Tips for writing posts that other people will enjoy reading 26 Jul 2014 21:27 #9504

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    muench
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Thanks for this feedback, Mughal and Mohammad!
If everyone read this thread, together with the rules page (forum.susana.org/forum/rules), and adhered to it, then our forum would become an even more awesome place!

Mughal, your point was well taken. I have modifed Tip Number 1 now to be:
Include as much background information and context as possible with your post, particularly when asking a question, but also when your post is about a comment, opinion, description of new ideas and so forth.

In addition, Dorothee made the suggestion of:
But in the future: I guess it is more efficient we post here and there a message highlighting only one trick - e.g. "trick of the week"

I quite like that idea and will see if I can implement it. Perhaps not every week but every other week or at least once per month.

It helps if users sent in their questions that they have always wanted to ask but are perhaps too shy to put it on the forum. You could send such a question by e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or send it directly to me by using the contact button to the left of this post.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Community manager of this forum via SEI
(see: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects?search=SEI)
Wikipedian, co-founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation

Location: Frankfurt, Germany
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Twitter: @EvMuench, website: www.ostella.de

Re: Tips for writing posts that other people will enjoy reading 01 Aug 2014 05:45 #9581

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    AsitNema
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  • I am a civil engineer with specialisation in environmental and sanitary engineering (IIT Kanpur & UNESCO-IHE, Delft). Over 25 years of consulting experience in watsan, solid waste management, urban and rural development.
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Dear Elisabeth,

Many thanks for sharing the guidelines/ defining the rules. This is very good and would be of use.

Best regards
Asit
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