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Posting Cultures in CAP: A Guide for Veterans

Discussion in 'Create-A-Pokémon Project' started by Pwnemon, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. Pwnemon

    Pwnemon judges silently
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    Approved by Birkal

    So, this is something I've been harping on for a long time, and Birkal suggested that maybe I could turn it into an article or something. So i kinda wrote up a rough draft, Birkal looked it over and said it looked good, and suggested I post it here for ideas. Remember, the goal of this article is not to air pet peeves, but to attempt to make the CAP forum more accessible, and improve our optics, by trying to "look outside the bubble." If you have any suggestions for ways to reword the article, bring it. If you have suggestions for other cultures that are turning good men away, bring it. If you want to say "no pwnemon you're wrong and also stupid," bring it (but realize i'm actually right). If i did anything wrong in posting this thread, blame birkal sorry.

    Posting Cultures in CAP: A Guide for Veterans​


    CAP is a very unique segment of the Smogon community, and with this uniqueness comes some unique posting habits. Many of us, steeped in CAP tradition for a long time, tend to forget how these cultures look to the world around us, and this is incredibly detrimental to its recruitment of new members. So I implore all of the CAP veterans who’ve been around for at least a project or two to look at this guide, and take the principles within to heart, both for the long-term health of the project, and for my sanity.

    Too Long; Didn’t Read:

    CAP discussions are lively, full of info, theorymon, and most importantly, arguments. This often means we have a lot to say, and CAP posts can grow rather large. But when it comes to convincing someone of your viewpoint, while it may seem counterintuitive: brevity is key. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying length is always worse - sometimes it's unavoidable - but it is never better. Even the most well-intentioned user, such as myself, will waltz into any given thread, go “holy crap, forty new posts, and each at least three paragraphs,” and skim them, often just looking for the ones that already support what I was thinking so I can feel good about myself. Think it doesn’t happen? Remember, you, as a veteran, are a special case. 90% of people in CAP are not veterans, and they refuse to devote hours on end to reading the nuances between a 129 and 130 base special attack and how the latter contributes to the concept. And believe it or not, people don’t need to be hit over the head with a paper thick enough to leave a concussion, full of examples, damage calcs, winding logic, rebutted counterarguments, etc. The beauty of the forum, as opposed to the essay, is that it’s a live medium. Use this to your advantage! You don’t need to provide and rebut counterarguments in your post – if someone disagrees, they can come in, post with those counterarguments, which you then debate. And because they’ve got a personal stake in the argument now, they’re much more likely to actually pay attention to what you say! (As are other people: I mean seriously, people at each other’s throats are fun.) There’s a line between engaging in a debate and thread-hogging, but as you’re already experienced users I trust you to know where it is.

    Not only is it a bad way to get your point across, posting “tl;dr:” is just plain bad for the health of the project. New and old users alike will likely be intimidated by how much there is in a discussion thread and be less likely to join in themselves, providing more viewpoints and, the ultimate goal, more good contributors. So don’t do this. If you find yourself doing any of the following, your post can probably be pared down: bolding individual words or phrases (sentences are generally a different matter), brainstorming counterarguments, breaking one point into multiple paragraphs, writing a summary at the bottom. These are all signs that your post is saying more than it needs to, and that most people won’t, in fact, read it! Remember, you don’t have a captive audience with your posts – there’s a whole world outside the computer screen and another whole world at their fingertips. If you want to be a good contributor, the number one thing to remember is to make sure that people think that reading your post is the best possible use of their time. Otherwise, you could make the best points, and nobody would know.
  2. Deck Knight

    Deck Knight A Knight for the Aegis
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    Problem:

    It's not just vets who tl;dr, we have a fair share of n00bs that post exhaustive lists of abilities or moves with commentary on every single one.

    As a one-time copy-editor I definitely agree that most posts on Smogon in general and CAP specifically could use some pruning. On the other hand not reading a single post with three graphs in it isn't an indication that their post is tl;dr - it's an indication the viewer is lazy as hell.
  3. jas61292

    jas61292 used substitute
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    To add on a bit to what Deck just said, while I agree that we want to not scare away potential contributors, if some random noob doesn't read a post then it is not the end of the world. We want good contributors, not lazy ones. I know there are often times when people write more than we need to, but at least in my mind, if someone is ignoring good points because they are too long, then they are not really the kind of contributor we want.

    Basically, what I am trying to say is that what you have here seems like it is missing a lot of the point. Long is not bad. Taking long to say a little is bad. It seems like this is trying to say that long over multiple posts is better than long in one, even if they say the same thing, which I find to be absurd. I think, if we need an article like this at all, it should focus more on how to be concise, not how to be short. We should not be telling people not to give examples or explain reasoning in detail because it could be long. We should be telling people how to do these things efficiently.

    Face it, CAP posts have always and will always be long. Making an article that is basically saying "shame on you for going into details. you are scaring the people too lazy to try and understand anything other than short posts" is not going to help solve anything. If we need an article, it should be about post content, not post length.
  4. Deck Knight

    Deck Knight A Knight for the Aegis
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    Smogon's Writer Base:

    To build on jas (and make a slightly more constructive post) you also have to remember Smogon's base is primarily teenagers and twenty-somethings, which means there's going to be some issues as far as clarity, conciseness, etc. in English usage. There are few people on Smogon who were essentially paid to maximize their ability to communicate in a fixed number or space of words like I was. Heck, I even had huge problems with comma splice for most of my life.

    This means you'll run into run-on sentences, rambly thoughts, random tangents, and other fluff as people attempt to communicate. Hopefully people look at posts that strike the right balance of informative and concise and try to emulate that in their own posts. People have posting tics online just like they have verbal tics in their speech patterns.


    Discussion Content:

    When we're talking content, some discussions lend themselves in the early phases to a lot of consecutive multi-paragraph posts. Every time a typing discussion comes up, I without fail post a multi-paragraph argument for the typing I prefer that is both informative and as concise as I can make it. If three other people do the same, that is twelve paragraphs of reading. Since I can't coordinate posts or time zones with other CAP veterans, you basically get whoever shows up first, well, first.

    The same thing occurred in the Typing Discussion for CAP 3 when I gave a specific outline for questions to be answered. People who used that form made informative, concise posts and one of their ideas was slated and eventually won.


    Conclusion:

    I get where you're coming from, but I don't think you explained it well. There is indeed a "vet" culture in CAP but it isn't necessarily one that flocks to tl;dr posts like they are inherently good. Some topics just demand more explanation and argument than others. It can also be helpful to break up posts, like I did with this one when I realized I was in my 5th graph. That's a presentation skill a good poster should also notice in others and improve in themselves.
  5. SgtWoodsy

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    Essentially, use "less is more" as a guideline and you'll be fine.
  6. ginganinja

    ginganinja Dating Haunter
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    I disagree to some extent with what you are saying here. As someone just starting out on smogon, I stayed well away from CAP because I was intimidated by the length of some of those posts. I got it into my head that you needed to make posts that big or else get ignored, or suchlike, and had no idea how to achieve this. Even recently, while I followed the CAP process religiously, I still didn't like posting much during the process due to the length of so many posts almost "setting a standard" for people to follow.

    After chatting to Birkal I actually realised that you didn't need to post large to "get noticed" or suchlike, and I when i did start posting in CAP, my posts were large enough anyway, but by then the damage was done, I had held off CAP for so long due to the intimidating length of the posts that were being made. Some people might look on this as a good thing, to prevent 1 post users from posting poorly in CAP but I do believe it is perhaps limiting the interest of new players, in having large posts commonly being used in CAP. Heck, it was prolly a DJD post that encouraged me to stay away xD

    So, I disagree that its "people being too lazy to read" but merely people being intimidated and as such not willing to post. Of course, the former does occasionally apply to people who are well developed into the community, but don't come to CAP due to the large amount of posts, but if we actually wanted new blood, new contributors, and suchlike, working to decrease post size would perhaps make CAP less intimidating to get started in, which might need to an influx of new contributors.

    Anyway, some of you might feel differently or something, idk. I am really just drawing on my own experiences so yea :/
  7. CiteAndPrune

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    I want to wholeheartedly echo what jas and Deck Knight said. Especially the lazy as hell part.

    Moreso than that, I can by no means be counted among the veterans (started posting during Mollux's Movepoll stage, after a period of lurking) and yet I am not intimidated in the slightest by long posts - I embrace them and read happily. However, I realize I may be in the minority here.

    Nonetheless I believe that encouraging new users to 'post shorter and then debate individual points in the topic' won't do us good. It's those users that don't know the line before thread-hogging begins - early in Aurumoth's process I got the advice from more experienced members that each post is like a speech before a big audience as you address not one member but the community at large - you need to think it through and make all the points you want, and not nitpick individual people's points. I've been following that ever since - and even if I have comments, I save them across a page or two, then post once, delivering them in bulk.

    It still pays to be concise, but you have to make every word count. Also, when the post gets long beyond help, bolded headers and HIDE tags help. Befriend them.
  8. capefeather

    capefeather YOU CAN'T STOP THE FORDS
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    I think that people generally should strive to say only what they need to. Brevity contributes greatly to clarity and the likelihood of a given user to read the post at all. I'm sure just about everyone has room to improve on in this respect. I agree that there are people who especially should probably shorten their posts because I think some people use theatrics and subsequently lengthen their posts. Some people go crazy with formatting. I actually agree with ginganinja in that I was intimidated by the posts for a while at first.

    That said, like Deck Knight said, post length is not dependent on integration into the community. Making a good post - which includes regulating post length - is a learned skill that people have to develop over time. It's also not a problem that's limited to this forum. I used to read suspect threads in their entirety and there were definitely some stupidly long posts in them. It's just that people forget about those because people typically don't read threads like that in their entirety.

    That is not to say that concerns like ginganinja's aren't valid (I just said I used to share them), nor does it mean we can't do our part to improve the general posting quality of the CAP forum. However, this is part of the general advice to be a good poster, which is limited neither to veterans nor to CAP contributors. Even now on IRC you talk about how ginganinja's post "holds the most weight"... which could be true in a way for optics reasons, but considering your dismissive attitude lately (a context that gets lost when only looking at the responses to this thread), it seems more like you're only paying more attention to ginganinja because he seems to agree with you. Can we please talk about policy and culture without throwing out blame like some kind of lynching mob?

    <+Pwnemon> ugh i think that my post got ignored because i didn't format it pretty

    Like, there is such a thing as too cynical...
  9. Pwnemon

    Pwnemon judges silently
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    Calling this off

    Jas has made me aware that trying to regulate this is like trying to carry water in a sieve

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