Suggestions For Effective Posts

Discussion in 'Help Requests' started by Ken Anderson, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    We post a lot of links to news or opinion pieces here, we embed video, and we make references to things that other people have reported or said, and that's fine - I do it too. But what is most valuable are your own words and thoughts. It is wrong to believe that something is not valid until it has been published by a publication that some people might consider credible, or in a peer-reviewed scientific or academic journal. That's a lie that they want you to believe in order to persuade you to let someone else do your thinking for you. That's not true in life, and it shouldn't be true here.

    Your thoughts, stated in your words, these are the most valuable posts that any forum can hope for, and I'd love to see more of it here. If your thoughts are stirred by some news event, or by something that you have read somewhere, by all means, post a link, but if you don't have anything to say about it yourself then why would you think the rest of us would want to talk about it?

    In the political part of the forum, if you have nothing to say that isn't parroting the party line of whatever team you've decided to belong to, then you don't really have anything to say. I don't care if you're a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, a Socialist, a Communist, a Constitutionalist, or if you believe that the government is being run by lizard people, your thoughts are valuable. If I were interested in the talking points of whatever political party you may have enrolled in, I could get that from them.

    I don't belong to any political party and haven't since 2012, and then I only enrolled as a Republican in order to vote for Ron Paul in the primary. I hate Republicans, as a political party. Most of them don't believe a word of what they campaign on and don't even pretend to try to keep any of the promises they made on the campaign trail. At least a quarter of Republicans in office would be Democrats if they thought they could be elected as a Democrat. Republicans are most comfortable as a minority because then they can get in front of the cameras and blame everything on the Democrats, without anyone expecting them to be able to accomplish anything themselves.

    I generally vote Republican because Democrats are just flat out on the wrong side. Given a dispute between the United States and any other country, Democrats will side with the other country every time - unless it's Israel, and that's because the only thing Democrats hate more than America are Jews. Democrats are a far greater threat to our nation than Russia and China combined.

    Politically, I would fall more in line with the Constitution Party, and I once headed the Constitution Party of Maine. However, the Constitution Party is never even on the ballot in Maine, and when they do run a candidate for office, it's usually a Republican who didn't think he would win the primary as a Republican. As for the Libertarian Party, their only purpose for existence is to elect Democrats.

    Until people get fed up enough with both the Republicans and the Democrats, none of the other political parties matter. All they do is siphon votes from one of the two legitimate candidates.

    Trump wasn't my first choice in 2016, and I didn't re-enroll as a Republican in order to vote for him in the primary. I don't think a candidate has ever existed who I would agree with one hundred percent of the time. I didn't vote for GW Bush's second term, and I didn't vote for either McCain or Romney.

    That's where I stand politically. This is not a thread for us to be arguing politics, however. I would love to hear, in your own words, where you are politically, but in the political part of the forum. I am mentioning it here because I am the administrator of this forum, and people keep talking about how this is a Republican forum or a conservative forum, and that pisses me off sometimes.

    First of all, I am just one person in the forum, and I am not a Republican. Am I a conservative? I don't know. That would depend on what it is that you're talking about. Certainly, I wish we would have conserved a sense of ethics, morality, common sense, and lawfulness that we have let go by the wayside over the years, but I certainly don't want to conserve the state of our nation's ethics, morality, common sense, or lawfulness as it is right now. What does "conservative" mean, anyhow? Being a conservative means something different in the United States than it does in some other countries, I think. Even here, we don't have a commonly accepted definition of the term.

    Some people believe that conservatives are people who are in favor of endless wars, and who oppose abortion but love the death penalty, but who would nevertheless refer to themselves as pro-life. I am pro-life, but I am in favor of it in all of its stages. Others believe that conservative is synonymous with Republican, and would refer to people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell as conservatives. If I had to choose between Paul Ryan or Hillary Clinton, I'd rather shoot myself in the head.

    We throw a lot of terms around and even adopt them to describe ourselves, without any appreciation for what they mean. Even in this forum, I would guess that we'd have several different working definitions as to the definitions of conservative, liberal, progressive, libertarian, and so on. I refer to working definitions because anyone can look a word up in the dictionary, but the dictionary definition is rarely the one we use when we assign a political label to someone.

    This is not a conservative forum, and it is certainly not a Republican forum. I don't care what your political views are so long as you are stating your political views, rather than parroting talking points. I may disagree with them because I participate here as a human being with views of my own, but any political views are welcome here, and I don't think I am the only one here who would welcome having a political discussion with anyone here, but it's annoying to find that I am trying to carry on a discussion with some propaganda rag rather than with an actual person. I could probably get an AI program to insert the talking points but I'd rather talk to a real person.

    Moving on from politics, I don't often listen to someone talking from behind a pulpit for more than fifteen minutes before I find that I disagree with something that has been said or, more likely, it's not so much a disagreement as it is something that I haven't found to be persuasive. I am a Christian, and I don't doubt my Christianity, but that doesn't mean that I am necessarily going to agree with someone just because they're speaking from behind a pulpit. I've been behind a pulpit, so I know better than that.

    The fact that some pastor is wrong about something discredits him, not the Bible and, most often, it's not even a discredit to him, given that we are all fallible. I consider it a discredit to the man behind the pulpit only when he is deliberately wrong, or when he has little interest in being right.

    I have a pretty good idea as to what I believe in when it comes to my Christianity, and central is the firm belief that I could be wrong. When I feel the need to use a label, I say that I am an Anabaptist because I chose that before I ever even met an Anabaptist. But since Anabaptists don't all believe the same things, neither do I. Throughout the centuries, many learned Bible scholars have contradicted one another, and that began even before they closed the canon. Does that discredit the Bible? Because we cannot be sure what was intended by one passage or another, does this mean that the Bible has no value? Of course not. The Bible is fairly clear about the important things, and I don't think anyone is going to hell because they misunderstood one part of it or another, as long as they are honest errors. But then, I'm not sure about that either, so it's best not to take chances.

    When it comes to errors that were made intentionally in order to excuse sin, or to avoid doing something that you don't want to do, or because someone thinks their ideas are more valid than God's, I am pretty sure that God will view that more harshly than He would an honest misunderstanding, and I strongly suspect that some mainstream Christian denominations have gone down that path. But that's for God to decide. If they want to call themselves Christians, it's not for me to dispute it. This is not the thread to discuss religion either, but if you'd like to tell us what you really believe in the part of the forum that has been set aside for that, I'd love it.

    In fact, whatever it is that you want to discuss, that's what this forum is all about. Tell us what you think and why. Post links if you have to but please remember that your own words and thoughts are far more valuable than any of the experts you might be tempted to refer to. You'll come across things from time to time that you might want to share with the rest of us, and that's fine. Of course, there is a place for links to news articles in the news section of the forum, but what does that news item mean to you? Sometimes someone else has put something in a way that you find interesting, or that might make your argument for you, and that's okay. I do that, and I will continue to do that. But please don't let the experts do your thinking or your talking for you.

    This is a discussion forum, and I'd rather discuss things with real people than with talking points or with highly edited opinion pieces in a partisan rag.
     
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  2. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    Here's a suggestion. First, read this thread if you haven't already. Then, when you come across something in a news report, a blog, a magazine, or somewhere else that speaks to you, before running over here to copy and paste it for our edification, read it yourself. Read it carefully, and give it enough thought that you can state the part of it that you want us to know about in your own words, preferably supplemented with your own thoughts and ideas.

    Otherwise, if you post a link to a blog or a magazine article, only a few people are going to click on your link and, even then, if it doesn't speak to them immediately, they will click away just as quickly as they came. It's okay to post the link, but it's not particularly effective.

    If you copy and paste the part of the story that you'd like us to be aware of into a thread here, we might scan it quickly, but most people aren't going to read it if it's clear that it's copied and pasted. Again, you would be far more effective if you read it yourself, taking the time to make it your own so that you can discuss it here in your own words, supplementing it with your own ideas. Quite frankly, if you aren't interested enough in it to do that, there's no reason to expect that we're going to.

    Much of what we believe is derived from things that we have heard or read, but simply copying and pasting the words of someone else isn't adding anything worthwhile to a discussion. There's nothing wrong with links and there's nothing wrong with quoting something that makes a point you'd like to make, but please don't forget to add your own points. Someone else's words do not represent your own thoughts. If you can't discuss it in your own words, then it appears that you haven't wanted to waste your own time actually thinking about it, so why should we?

    However faltering they may be, your own words are more effective in a discussion than someone else's.
     
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  3. James Hintze

    James Hintze Well-Known Member
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    This is important!!! Think about reading a magazine, Time, Sports Illustrated, etc. The first paragraph tells you whether or not it's worth your time and effort to read. The person posting something should in her/his own words tell us why he/she thinks it's interesting enough to read.
     
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  4. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    Since topics touching on some of the issues in this thread have come up in another thread, I thought I'd pop this one up. Although it's already anchored near the top, I don't know if new members go through these threads. There are some very good suggestions here and I am not too humble to point out that some of them were made by me.

    If you're thinking that making this forum more successful than it is already will benefit me, please be aware that this thread is not monetized, and I have no intention of either monetizing or selling it, so a successful forum will benefit all of us, as members of this forum.

    I can only assume that if you are starting a new thread, you'd like it to be successful, which is to get replies, resulting in an interesting discussion. That's why most people start threads, and if you put a little bit of thought into your thread title, your opening post, and subsequent posts, you can enhance the likelihood of it being successful.
     
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  5. Jo White

    Jo White Active Member
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    Everything I type here is just my view, not advice so much as what I've found works on forums.

    I agree with Ken, participation (and not just one-liners) is key (ideally on-topic participation, although derailments can sometimes be fun). If someone posts a serious thread, it generally should stay that way, and conversely a completely tongue-in-cheek thread is best to be allowed to run freely without scolding and etc..

    A catchy title is definitely important when starting a new thread, for the same reason a catchy header draws people to a news story.

    When posting a link to an article, I find the best way to draw people in is to, aside from the catchy header, include one or two enticing excerpts (posted as quotes and identified as such) from the story. If you have a strong point of view to go with the article (which one assumes you probably have) it's good to do so in a way that leaves room for others to post their view. Assuming a good conversation fires up, it's a good idea to join in regularly to keep things going and to expand the conversation.

    I find that facebook has taken a lot of that back and forth conversation away, the goal there appears to be: post something, say nothing, get likes or dislikes, move on. Everybody else does the same, and nobody is actually talking. Also I find that facebook is more of an echo chamber than a mirror, the idea being to post things that people will like and never stir the waters. This is also known as: boring (at least to me).
     
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  6. Janice Lynne

    Janice Lynne Well-Known Member
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    Thanks for this!

    I realize that I've sort of clomped in here and annoyed people sometimes. The reason I post AP links and quotes from the articles is mostly to show that 'mainstream' isn't automatically 'leftist,' and can often be a clear and unbiased account of whatever event.

    That's the only point I'm trying to make with those posts. Not trying to be a jerk, but I know it can sound that way!
     
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  7. Faye Fox

    Faye Fox Very Well-Known Member
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    I might add that to start a successful thread on this forum, it needs to be of interest to a majority. This forum has some great threads that never went anywhere simply because there was little interest in the topic and not that they were poorly presented, written, or poorly titled. Sometimes a thread never grows until it is taken off-topic.
     
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  8. Jo White

    Jo White Active Member
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    Here's a reputable media check site that I use, you might like it if you don't already use it. It's pretty much spot on (like anything it is not entirely so, but I've found it to be a generally reliable source. https://mediabiasfactcheck.com

    I always find it refreshing (albeit rare) to come across a news story that doesn't use loaded words and offers information without bias. It can be done, but rarely is anymore. A good news story should leave the reader with no clue how the reporter feels about it.

    Part of the problem with biased reporting is that a surprising number of people make it clear that they want to be told how they should react (I've had people actually say as much, and boy did it ever shock me to hear it).

    I want the facts, nothing but the facts, and I'll decide for myself what my view is.
     
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  9. Jo White

    Jo White Active Member
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    Agreed! That is the nature not only of online forum conversations but real life conversations as well. Difference being, of course, in real life body language gives clues that the topic is going nowhere.
     
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  10. Ed Wilson

    Ed Wilson Very Well-Known Member
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    Sometimes my threads land with a “thud”. Other times it’s a “splat”. I do think though, that there may be some threads that don't require discussion but are interesting to know as an FYI.
     
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  11. Janice Lynne

    Janice Lynne Well-Known Member
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    Thanks for that very useful link!
     
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  12. Jo White

    Jo White Active Member
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    You're welcome, Janice! It's a great site, for sure, and is my go-to whenever I come across a news source that I'm not familiar with.
     
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  13. Marie Mallery

    Marie Mallery Very Well-Known Member
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    Well Ken if you consider my popularity aka 'likes' here it's not working for me.:confused::p Must have been something I said.o_O
     
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  14. Marie Mallery

    Marie Mallery Very Well-Known Member
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    All social media has some sort of echo chamber to it. People don't want to stir the pot so to speak. Afraid they will offend their co posters.
    Guess it may be a good thing not to have many friends then you don't lose your free speech or opinions. Of course free speech isn't any good if nobody is listening,;)
     
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  15. Jo White

    Jo White Active Member
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    Funny about the likes, I'm not keen on them only because it turns a discussion forum into something more like facebook (am not keen on facebook), making it less wordy and more full of likes. Makes sense, likes are so much easier to do than comments, and are often handy but I did see that happen over time on facebook, a slow erosion to likes only, nobody bothering to comment. And I am (and was) as guilty of it as the next person, like like like.

    I wish in a way that the like button was a laugh button instead (or both existed). Whereas most 'likeable' posts warrant an actual response, something that is merely meant to bring a laugh, like a meme, usually just needs something to say it is funny, no other response needed. And yeah, I know there's a laugh emoji under the emojis section but it isn't instant the way the like button is.

    Been here almost no time at all and here I am, griping already (seriously Ken, not really a gripe, just a whine, haha).
     
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