Join a discussion or fire up a new one!
Your content is what makes the forum such an interesting place.
Here are 16 quick tips on how to generate an effective post, guaranteed to engage your peers and elicit thoughtful discussion.
- Be relevant – Include personal or professional experience (when it’s applicable) and support your ideas with evidence when appropriate. Offer real-world application of these ideas to bring added value to the conversation and resonate with other members.
- Make the topic title descriptive – A good topic title is a short preview of your post and is what gets people to click and read.
- Bring something unique to the post – Do something extra that requires others to think and respond to the ideas you’re sharing.
- Prepare your response in a text editor before you post. – In doing so, you’ll have a better chance to ensure the post is cohesive, coherent, and complete.
- Use short paragraphs and spacing to your advantage – No one wants to read a wall of text. It is the convention to put spaces between each paragraph. Do this and your writing will be easier to read. Use double spaces between paragraphs to signal a new, but related topic. Use triple spaces or larger to denote any large shift in focus.
- Proofread – Spelling mistakes, typos, and bad grammar will distract readers from the point you’re trying to make. After you’ve posted, there’s no shame in re-reading what you’ve written and clicking the edit button to correct syntax.
- Use minimal formatting – Overly formatted posts can also distract from the message.
- Post in the right category – The right category can be the one that has a relevant category name, or it can be a category where this kind of post is often made.
- Use tags – Tags are helpful for others to find keyword related posts. It also helps the site admins get a sense for what topics are popular.
- Call to action – If you want responses, ask for them. If you want others to comment, you can encourage them by asking them to do so. If your post is just an FYI, then don’t.
- Present a logically sound argument – You won’t always be trying to demonstrate something when you post; often you’ll simply be relating an experience or fact. Generally, the best you can do is simply present a large amount of evidence that is in line with your point. Feel free to bring in relevant facts, figures, and outside sources.
- Avoid logical fallacies – Logical fallacies are an error in reasoning common enough to warrant its own terminology. Knowing how to spot and identify fallacies is a priceless skill. It can save you time, money, and personal dignity. Some of the most common ones found in forum arguments include:
- Ad Hominem: Attacking the character of the person making an argument rather than the argument itself.
- Appeal to Ignorance: An appeal to ignorance doesn’t prove any claim to knowledge. If no one has proven the existence of ghosts, that’s hardly proof that those things either exist or don’t exist. If we don’t know whether they exist, then we don’t know that they do exist or that they don’t exist.
- Circular Argument: When a person’s argument is just repeating what they already assumed beforehand, it’s not arriving at any new conclusion.
- False Dilemma: (False Dichotomy): Presenting something as an either-or or yes-or-no situation when other possibilities exist.
- Hasty Generalization: A general statement without any single agreed-upon measure for “sufficient” evidence to support it.
- Questionable Cause: Assuming that correlation equals causation.
- Slippery Slope: Claiming that one event inevitably leads down some path to more extreme events.
- Straw Man: Providing evidence that demonstrates something that sounds relevant, but actually is not.
- Attack the argument, not the person – In a casual conversation, direct address and use of the word “you” when responding to posts is entirely reasonable. It is necessary, however, to be careful when doing so. It is surprisingly common how often posters inadvertently sleight other posters when addressing them. If the poster is wrong, then prove that they are wrong by attacking their argument with good counterarguments. It keeps your post more succinct, on topic, and at a level of maturity that better transmits your message.
- Leave readers wanting more – Post your response, engage with your peers, and continue to ask follow-up questions. Be an integral part of the conversation and add value to what is being discussed. Some of the best online discussions continue in the minds of others long after you post to the discussion forum.
- Mention others – Credit other members if you are building off their previous comments or if you want to draw them into the discussion.
- Own the topics you’ve created – Respond to comments promptly and thoughtfully. You wouldn’t ignore someone speaking to you. Treat your posts the same way!