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Forum: Author Hangout

Demands for Strict Rules about Writing

Crumbly Writer

I've essentially given up on the entire filter words discussion, not because it wasn't a worthwhile discussion, but because it's been hijacked by authors who, while deriding any 'absolute rules' also seem to demand absolute rules anytime authors discuss techniques in writing.

Despite laying out just when to use these techniques (filler words like "that", "then", "just" you eliminate if they can be deleted without changing the meaning of sentence, and filter words are removed if they 'distance' the reader, or talk about how character 'feel' or experience things rather than letting the reader experience it themselves), these authors seem to think it's not valid discussing any technique unless there are hard and fast rules for their use (ex: Only use on Tuesday and Thursdays between 10a.m. and 3p.m.).

However, that's simply not how writing works. You can't reduce fine writing to a few simple punctuation rules. What you have to do with these techniques is apply them on a case by case basis. Most of us do this by searching for specific words, and then evaluate each use (I've generally found that 30% of all -ly adverbs can simply be stripped with no loss in most chapters. That's a classic case of 'unnecessary' -ly adverbs. But these are those of us who'll only accept any technique if it has hard and fast rules. They don't like evaluating individual sentences for efficiency.

Frankly, I've got no solution to this dilemma. You either put in the work required to use these techniques, or you just don't use them at all. There's no requirement that you cut any words out of your writing you don't want to. So I'm flummoxed by these demands. If you don't like (or don't understand) the techniques, don't criticize those discussing them, simply ignore them.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I've essentially given up on the entire filter words discussion

I understand why!

However, will you please respond to a lengthy post addressed to you I made there not long ago?
My post does not discuss the issues being fought over there: it explicitly asks for just a clarification of terminology you had used.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

You can't reduce fine writing to a few simple punctuation rules. What you have to do with these techniques is apply them on a case by case basis. Most of us do this by searching for specific words, and then evaluate each use ...


This is exactly true. However, a lot of writers can't make the distinction between writing formal documents and writing stories where the official grammar rules are a bit looser, let alone the informal rules of writing. That's why I started writing those guides some years back, to help new writers understand there is a difference between the two and how they affect their writing.

There's only one clear rule in writing, which is - Do your best to spell all the words properly in the narrative, and as best as suits the needs of the dialogue.

Also, I feel you should try to keep the words as simple as possible to make the story as easy to understand as possible for the widest possible readership. However, there are times when the use of a real fancy words has no simple alternative to use and you get a better effect by using it, while other times you'd do better to say the same thing in a phrase of several words. A classic example of this is the difference between throwing someone out the window and to defenestrate them. In the first the window is usually open, but in the second the window is definitely shut.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I've essentially given up on the entire filter words discussion, not because it wasn't a worthwhile discussion, but because it's been hijacked by authors who


You are the one who derailed the conversation.

I made a comment that was not about the filter words in reply to a question (posed by someone other than you) that was broader than the filter words issue.

You just had to impose and stomp all over my reply and insist that it was untrue because filter words.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Frankly, I've got no solution to this dilemma.

Perhaps you could ask what level of proof they need - not proof enough to convince them your opinions are valid - just enough for them to refrain from characterising your opinions as potentially invalid in their posts stating a contrary opinion.

Ask, "How many quotes from Pulitzer, Booker, and Nobel winners do you need for you to stop suggesting my opinion may be wrong in your posts stating some contrary opinion?"

I'm sure it wouldn't you long to find dozens of quotes by winners of those prizes stating they believe in eliminating words that can be deleted without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

, while deriding any 'absolute rules' also seem to demand absolute rules anytime authors discuss techniques in writing.


NO, NO, NO.

The derision is not for any 'absolute rule' but for the constant phrasing of rules in absolute terms when the rules aren't intended to be absolute. If you can't comprehend the difference, that is YOUR malfunction.

The demand is not for rules that are absolute, but for rules that are clear about their limits, that are clear about when they do and do not apply.

Again, if you can't comprehend the difference, that is YOUR malfunction.

Rules that are phrased in absolute terms but intended to be applied by some kind of unstated fuzzy logic are useless.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Perhaps you could ask what level of proof they need


The problem is not the level of proof, but the type of proof.

Ask, "How many quotes from Pulitzer, Booker, and Nobel winners do you need for you to stop suggesting my opinion may be wrong in your posts stating some contrary opinion?"


Appeals to authority are the problem, more of them is not the solution.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

The derision is not for any 'absolute rule' but for the constant phrasing of rules in absolute terms when the rules aren't intended to be absolute. If you can't comprehend the difference, that is YOUR malfunction.
The demand is not for rules that are absolute, but for rules that are clear about their limits, that are clear about when they do and do not apply.
Again, if you can't comprehend the difference, that is YOUR malfunction.
Rules that are phrased in absolute terms but intended to be applied by some kind of unstated fuzzy logic are useless.

I can see some validity in that opinion.
For many of the things we discuss here I think it is possible to state 'rules (I prefer guidelines) that are (relatively) clear about their limits', but that's not always possible.
There are some rules I can "read" clearly without my glasses, but some that appear 'fuzzy' no matter what I do.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Dominions Son

The problem is not the level of proof, but the type of proof.
Appeals to authority are the problem, more of them is not the solution.

So if opinions of enough so-called experts will not satisfy you, what 'type of proof' do you mean in those cases where no scientific proof is possible?

And in cases where no proof is possible, can't you at least take care to avoid suggesting others' opinions are suspect when you state something contrary?

That's what pushes my buttons, and I think CW's too: not that you state a contrary opinion, but when your statement implies our opinion is wrong when we all know we cannot prove we are correct - but you can't disprove it either.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ross at Play


So if opinions of enough so-called experts will not satisfy you, what 'type of proof' do you mean in those cases where no scientific proof is possible?


1. A chain of reasoning from stated assumptions.

2. Empirical evidence. By this I do not mean something that is formal enough for an academic paper.

ETA:
Not every appeal to authority is invalid.

Experts opinions are valid because the expert can back them with the above kinds of evidence or actual research. When an expert opines without being able to back their opinions as described, often they are opining outside their area of expertise and their opinion is no more valid than anyone else's

That usually gets lost when they are cited by others.

Not every person who claims, or whom others claim, to be an expert is in fact an expert.

A position of authority is not proof of expertise

An appeal to authority can be valid when

1. The authority cited has provable authority to prescribe rules in the area for which they are cited.

Example: Citing a US Supreme Court opinion on an issue of US law.

2. You don't simply name drop the authority with the opinion, but can cite to where the authority has done the work necessary to back the opinion.


And in cases where no proof is possible, can you at least take care to avoid suggesting others' opinions are suspect when you state some contrary.


As long as the others take care to state their opinions as opinions and not as facts that won't be a problem. SB and CW have a habit of stating things that are subjective opinions as if they were irrefutable facts. Then they get bent out of shape when someone calls them on it.

ETA:

Readers don't see "said".

Readers understand .....

The above statements are statements of facts, not opinions.

An opinion would be phrased as "I think that..."

Replies:   REP  Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Appeals to authority are the problem, more of them is not the solution.

So what is your solution?

Imagine this hypothetical exchange:
"I believe doing this improves my writing," pontificated DumblyWriter.
"What evidence do you have for that?" Dominatrix Sin inquired.
"This list of quotes by famous writers."
"Appeals to authority do not satisfy me."

All's well so far, but what should come next?
Surely if Dominatrix Sin wants to contest the opinions of DumblyWriter any further, the onus is them to come up with some other type of evidence supporting some contrary opinion.

Phew! I'm glad I caught my typo in the word 'further' before posting this. :-)

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

All's well so far, but what should come next?


DumblyWriter and Dominatrix Sin agree to disagree and go their separate ways.

However, that's not how the exchange usually goes.

Here is how it usually goes

"Doing this improves anyone's writing" pontificated DumblyWriter

"What evidence do you have for that?" Dominatrix Sin inquired.

"This list of quotes by famous writers."

"Yeah, so what? What evidence do they have for that?"

"Heretic! You are just trying to shut down the discussion of the most holly!"

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ross at Play


Surely if Dominatrix Sin wants to contest the opinions of DumblyWriter any further, the onus is them to come up with some other type of evidence supporting some contrary opinion.


No, that's not how it works. Sure, if Dominatrix Sin has a contrary opinion, he is just as obligated to back it up as DumblyWriter is. However Dominatrix Sin is not restricted to a binary choice of accepting DumplyWriter's opinion or proposing a counter opinion.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


filter words are removed if they 'distance' the reader, or talk about how character 'feel' or experience things rather than letting the reader experience it themselves)


By, George, I think you got it!

OK, this is my philosophy on the subject. If I come across something that helps me write fiction better, I pass it along to the group. If someone wants clarification, I do my best to give them that. Often I give examples I find with Google.

And that's it! I don't try to convince someone to do it that way. And if they want a more specific reason why, after a while I give up. There are just so many ways to explain something.

And this is the key — at that point I let it go. They're adults and can make up their own mind. They can take the advice or leave it, or modify it.

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

If I come across something that helps me write fiction better


Just because it makes your writing different, doesn't mean it make your writing better. How do you know it make your writing better?

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

In the context of SOL, presumably more downloads and higher story scores. But compared to the effect of having an interesting tale to tell, the impact of dropping a few filler words etc is probably minimal.

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

In the context of SOL, presumably more downloads and higher story scores.


Two problems with this.

1. Scores aren't a clear indication of the technical quality of a story.

2. It's never stated in these threads as: "I did x and my scores improved."

Replies:   REP
REP

@Dominions Son

SB and CW have a habit of stating things that are subjective opinions as if they were irrefutable facts. Then they get bent out of shape when someone calls them on it.


I don't know about SB, but stating things as facts without providing substantiation is my major objection to CWs posts. Your objection seem to be slightly different, but basically the same.

From my POV, CW starts a thread with a statement. Supposedly, this statement is posted for discussion, but the ensuing discussion makes it seem otherwise. CW has stated that the purpose of the discussion is to improve our writing abilities (my words not his). During the discussion, he seems to take a hardline as to what is and is not appropriate in regard to his statement. He seems to be trying to train us in how to use the techniques that are the subject of his statement. Said techniques may be valid, but any discussion regarding those techniques that deviates from what CW seems to feel is proper is met with admonishing posts.

To me, this scenario reminds me of a teacher-student relation in which the teacher is in charge and the student must toe the line.

A second aspect of the scenario is: In the original post, CW presents the topic with no information regarding where he obtained his information about the technique or whatever subject he is presenting for discussion. That sets him up for being questioned, and the result is we ask for information about the technique. Our asking for information is what CW seems to call - shutting down discussion.

If you recall, CW said he felt backed into a corner with no way to defend himself by SBs request for numbers the other day. I asked myself: Why would a simple request for information make CW feel cornered with no way to defend himself? Personally, I think the answer to that question is at the heart of the problem.

I've tried Internet searches on many of the subjects brought up in the Forum in the past. What I typically got are links to bloggers, who are expressing their opinions, and people who write what I call 'opinion piece' articles. When I follow these links, what I get are the often conflicting opinions of what appears to be self-defined experts.

That is why I ask (or demand) where CW obtains the information he is posting (or for the information itself). CW is obviously intelligent and well informed, but I do not consider him to be an authority on the subjects he addresses. I think that rather than accept his interpretation of a topic, we should look at his sources' information and credentials. Then we would be in a better position to discuss the validity and application of the techniques under discussion.

REP

@Switch Blayde

I don't try to convince someone to do it that way.


An admiral position to take once you have done what you can to help someone understand.

The difficulty is, we all seem to have our egos involved and we can't just let it go. I know I get that way when I feel someone is trying to shove something down my throat. Yes, I am somewhat of a Control Freak in that regard for I want to be in control of my making the decision to accept, modify, or reject what someone tells me is the 'correct thing or approach. I am also willing to suffer the consequences if MY decision is wrong.

REP

@Dominions Son

It's never stated in these threads as: "I did x and my scores improved."


If you think back about 2 years ago, CW posted that he changed his writing style to improve the quality of his writing, and he felt that it damaged the quality instead of improving it.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

However, will you please respond to a lengthy post addressed to you I made there not long ago?

I've been avoiding the other thread, and since it's exploded with angry people all talking past each other, it's not easy searching for a single post.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

A classic example of this is the difference between throwing someone out the window and to defenestrate them. In the first the window is usually open, but in the second the window is definitely shut.

Defenestrate, huh? Thanks for putting that particular bug in my ear, now I've GOT to try using it in a story somehow. 'D

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I've been avoiding the other thread, and since it's exploded with angry people all talking past each other


You were the angry person talking past other people.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Me:
what 'type of proof' do you mean?
You:
1. A chain of reasoning from stated assumptions.
2. Empirical evidence.

If all they do is cite some anecdotal evidence supporting their claims which you consider is inconclusive, surely it's up to you to find 'hard' evidence if you want to continue debating their opinions. If you're not willing to do that I think you should frame your comments in a way that does not dispute it's quite reasonable for them to have those opinions, whether you agree with them or not.

SB and CW have a habit of stating things that are subjective opinions as if they were irrefutable facts. Then they get bent out of shape when someone calls them on it.

I do not recall SB doing that to me, and CW not often enough to trigger feelings of frustration.
I know how a fraught history with someone can lead to posts with a much more aggressive tone than would have been directed at others: I've certainly been guilty of directing many such posts at you.
I strongly recommend this when others do that to you. Call them out on stating subjective opinions as if they were irrefutable facts and STOP THERE!

If you include anything more about the issue being discussed they'll probably just continue that debate. I accept you'd feel pissed at that moment, so deal with the problem causing that first - and nothing else.
Have you ever been in a flame war that did not become intense and protracted? What was that definition of insanity you posted recently again? The worst that could happen if you try this is you won't end up engaged in a civilised discussion.

You very much surprised me when I threatened you with doing something similar and you responded with, "Please tell me explicitly."
I responded to that by thinking I must give the first post from you that offends me the benefit of the doubt. I should respond as if it was inelegantly worded by someone with poor interpersonal skills, too! - not as if it showed you were spoiling for yet another fight.
So, can you try giving CW and SB the benefit of the doubt, and assume they might be guilty just of doing something stupid. :-)

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

How do you know it make your writing better?


When I read it I can tell. Like the filter-word example I posted. The second version without the filter words is stronger and more engaging.

Now maybe that's not true for all readers. But they aren't my target audience. Reading level has been discussed, but reading comprehension level is also part of the equation (maybe they're one and the same — vocabulary, sentence structure, and comprehension). There's a reason children's books are all telling (although they often show with pictures).

My first novel, SEXUAL AWAKENING, is in the Kindle Unlimited program so I see pages read (LAST KISS isn't so all the page reads are for SEXUAL AWAKENING). I don't market it so not many people find my book, so when I see pages read for a day I assume it's one person reading. It happens, but rarely does someone start reading the novel and abandon it. Usually it's read completely all in one day or spread over two consecutive days. That means my writing kept the reader's interest. And for all I know, the ones who stopped reading were disappointed because they wanted more sex, not because of the writing style.

A teenage girl on wattpad asked how she could make a short story longer. LAST KISS was a short story that became an 84,000-word novel so I told her some of the things I did. My target audience for that novel is teenage girls (12–18 or so), but an adult woman who is traditionally published said that I did "an awesome job converting it to a novel." She said she read it in one sitting and gave another copy as a gift to a friend.

So I'm using feedback.

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

This is a copy of my post on the thread you quite reasonably prefer to avoid. As I said, I'm just asking you to clarify what you mean by a particular terminology. Email me privately if you think the risks of posting a response are too high.

the idea that (authors should) try to SIMPLIFY their language


Would you clarify/provide examples of the kinds of things you mean with the phrase 'simplify their language'?

I am not trying to pick any sort of fight with this post. I'm asking about the meaning of the terminology. Yes, I do list some style choices available for authors, and I state my preferences, but I do not want to imply others with different preferences are wrong.

What I think of of when I see the expression 'simplify their language' are things like:
* looking for the order of phrases within sentences that flows most smoothly.
* eliminating words that add nothing to meaning, e.g. 'that' when used as a conjunction, quantifiers such as 'quite', 'some', 'very'.
* restructuring sentences to have the same meaning but requiring less 'glue words'.
* employing parallel structures so more words may be inferred in the latter clauses.
* correct use of your (non-)Serial Comma style to minimise the number of conjunctions used.
* cutting detailed steps of actions that readers are capable of inferring.
* choosing the right subjects for sentences, which resolves any passive voice problems.
* choosing the right clauses to combine into long sentences.
* care in choosing the most precise word for your meaning, e.g. replacing 'that' with 'which' or 'who', choosing the preposition phrases naturally 'take'.

I am convinced those types of things do make writing better, and I would use the term 'tight'. It cannot be proven these things improve writing and I sympathise with your plight when others here have demanded evidence they do. The evidence I see is in the writing style of many great authors through the ages, and some opinions they express, but there's no way I could prepare any sort of case showing that is what they have been doing. And yes, it's undesirable these things are done every possible time. They need to be employed judiciously.

There are some things it appears to me others might think you mean, but I doubt you do. They include:
* reducing the grade level of the vocabulary being used.
* cutting the amount of descriptive detail, e.g. using less adjectives, cutting phrases that provide added detail but aren't essential.
* reducing the level of detail shown to the minimum needed to convey the action.

This list are things I consider do not necessary make writing any better or worse. They seem like valid options some authors may prefer and authors should base their choices more on their target audience than anything else. I doubt you meant to include these types of things, because I think you would use some other terminology when discussing them.

So, CW, is what you mean by 'simplifying language' making the language what I call 'tight'?
It seems some people think you're suggesting everybody should be trying to write like Hemingway. I think you are actually recommending authors attempt to make their writing tight, and that does not mean they need to change their preferred style. Writers like Gabaldon and Nabokov use a florid prose style and include many details not essential to the story - but I still think their writing is very tight. As an editor, there are few ways I could find to reduce their word counts without diminishing the meaning they were trying to convey.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

If you think back about 2 years ago, CW posted that he changed his writing style to improve the quality of his writing, and he felt that it damaged the quality instead of improving it.


That can definitely happen. A long time ago I enjoyed a series of stories by an author. Then he blogged that he was going to show more (vs tell). I guess he didn't understand what showing is because his writing went downhill.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Switch Blayde


That can definitely happen


I know. That is why questioning is so important before adopting something new that you may not fully understand. A gradual changeover, if possible, is preferable to all at once for it allows your readers to adapt to your new style. That also makes it easier to backtrack to your old style if the new style is not liked by your readers.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

* eliminating words that add nothing to meaning, e.g. 'that' when used as a conjunction, quantifiers such as 'quite', 'some', 'very'.


I wouldn't consider dropping those words as simplifying the sentence. They simply don't add anything to the sentence and the sentence is stronger (not simpler) without them.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

If all they do is cite some anecdotal evidence supporting their claims which you consider is inconclusive, surely it's up to you to find 'hard' evidence if you want to continue debating their opinions. If you're not willing to do that I think you should frame your comments in a way that does not dispute it's quite reasonable for them to have those opinions, whether you agree with them or not.


They've never even come up with anecdotal evidence. I would accept that as a valid basis for their opinion.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

So, can you try giving CW and SB the benefit of the doubt, and assume they might be guilty just of doing something stupid. :-)


Sure, but if they jump all over me for pointing out that they did something stupid I'm not going to just sit there and take it.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

When I read it I can tell.


Which is useless for anyone else trying to evaluate if they should consider using the technique or not.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I strongly recommend this when others do that to you. Call them out on stating subjective opinions as if they were irrefutable facts and STOP THERE!


It's not that simple.

If someone states something as if it's a fact, how do I tell if that's just their opinion, or if they actually believe that it's a fact? Maybe it really is a fact?

How do I tell which it is?

I ask if they have evidence to back it up.

They could respond with a polite "No, I don't, it's just my opinion."

More often I get back "How dare you question the holy writ. Why are you trying to shut down the discussion?"

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Which is useless for anyone else trying to evaluate if they should consider using the technique or not.


Did you not read the majority of that post rather than responding to the first line?

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

They've never even come up with anecdotal evidence. I would accept that as a valid basis for their opinion.

If that is so - and you're prepared to accept quotes from a number of famous writers as anecdotal evidence - then I hope I'll be there supporting your right to say they should shut up if they're not prepared to put up anything.

Me:
So, can you try giving CW and SB the benefit of the doubt, and assume they might be guilty just of doing something stupid. :-)
You:
Sure, but if they jump all over me for pointing out that they did something stupid I'm not going to just sit there and take it.

If that is so - and you replace 'something stupid' with some matter-of-fact statement describing how they've failed to engage constructively in a debate - then I hope I'll be there with you sticking the boot in as hard as we can.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Did you not read the majority of that post rather than responding to the first line?


Yes I did. I read it all before I responded. I don't see how any of the rest of it is relevant to the question of how you can tell if X technique made your writing better or not.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

and you're prepared to accept quotes from a number of famous writers as anecdotal evidence


That will depend on the specific quote and how it's being used to support the proposition.

Famous writer Y said X is not evidence, anecdotal or other wise that X is true. What make Famous writer's opinion more valid than anyone else's opinion?

Expert opinion can be valid evidence, if the alleged expert did the hard work of properly supporting that opinion with either evidence or reasoned argument.

However, if you are going to use second hand expert opinion as evidence, you have to give enough for others to evaluate if the person cited has valid expertise on the issue they opined on and that they have in fact done the heavy lifting to back that opinion.

X said (one line quote) will never pass muster as evidence.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

I don't see how any of the rest of it is relevant to the question of how you can tell if X technique made your writing better or not.


Think back to your childhood. Your mother spanks you. That means you did something bad. She praises you. That means you did something good. That's how it's relevant.

But as I've said in the past, it's not my job to convince you of anything. Maybe it was your mother's job, but I'm not your mother.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

If someone states something as if it's a fact, how do I tell if that's just their opinion, or if they actually believe that it's a fact? Maybe it really is a fact?

With something like:
It appears to me you are stating a subjective opinion as if it were an established fact. Do you have any evidence to support or prove your claim. Also, if it is only an opinion, I would appreciate you being more careful in the future to make clear in your statements whether you regard your claims as facts or opinions. Without that, others here could be misled because they assume different opinions do not exist, when they in fact do.

As long as I see you trying to steer exchanges back to calm discussions about the issues, I will try to help you with as best I can.
If I see something that looks like a self-appointed oracle stating opinions as if they were facts, I'll try to jump in and calmly state precisely that, even though I respect and agree with most of said oracles' opinions.
And if you get there first and make a post calmly state precisely that, I'll happily jump in to say when I agree with you, but then I must also jump in to say when I do not agree with you.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Think back to your childhood. Your mother spanks you. That means you did something bad. She praises you. That means you did something good. That's how it's relevant.


If your mother hauls off an whacks you out of the blue for no apparent reason without telling you why, you learn what exactly?

I have limited time to spend writing. I don't have time to experiment with various techniques just to see how they word.

If you can't give me something positive to evaluate if a technique is worth trying or not, that is useless to me.

If you can't be bothered with doing that fine, but don't throw trite useless answers at me when I ask.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Famous writer Y said X is not evidence


OK, I'm not trying to buy in on this dispute on one side or the other. However, in a lot of these writing / English / grammar rules discussion we often end up with three major types of authorities being cited, and I wonder where, and how, you draw the line about which is valid and which isn't.

1. Famous author said ....,

2. Writing / English blogger said ....,

3. Style Guide said ...,

Now the thing is, in the first two cases we have an author or blogger saying what they believe or were taught, while in the second case we have a group of people who got together to set a standard for a specific group usage saying what they believe or were taught (this last is also true of a lot of modern dictionary definitions, too).

So, at what point does the statement of a single person or number of people or a group of people become an accepted authority valid to be used as a citation? In each case there's only the opinion of one or more people.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

@DS #1
Just because it makes your writing different, doesn't mean it make your writing better.
How do you know it makes your writing better?
@SB #1
When I read it I can tell ... (post continues)
@DS #2
Which is useless for anyone else trying to evaluate if they should consider using the technique or not.
@SB #2
Did you not read the majority of that post rather than responding to the first line?

I agree with DS on this one.
I think @DS #1 is an entirely reasonable question, stated in a reasonable tone.

Your 'When I read it I can tell' asserts that you know it to be true. I cannot see any justification for stating you know it's 'better'. I think, at best, you could say that you know you have used showing, not telling. You could then state you strongly believe that showing makes writing better, an opinion supported by many respected writers. Still, I think the support for showing carries the caveat that it must be used in appropriate ways and places. It does not always make writing better; it sometimes makes writing worse.
You then described some feedback you've received in a way that suggested it was evidence supporting your claim. Those anecdotes may be evidence that you're stories are well received by some, but contained nothing lining that to being the result of your efforts to use showing techniques.

I think DS would have been best served by responding here with something like, "I did not ask if your stories are popular; I asked how do you know it makes your writing better? Do you have any evidence to support that.
The point DS did make was a valid one. Should others try a technique if the only way they can know if they're using is by having enough experience to know???

SB #2 dismissed the comment DS had made, suggesting he had read the entire post. I have read - carefully - and I'd feel mightily pissed off if that posted had been addressed to me.

To SB:
I am strongly supportive of your opinion that showing, when used judiciously, improves writing. I do not doubt that you have that judiciously in your stories, and they were improved because of that. However, I do not think you're entitled to tell others you know that is so. It is only your opinion. Also, I think you've made statements which purport to be evidence of that which are at best evidence of something quite different.

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

Defenestrate

As in the defenestration of Prague. However Prague is where it happened, not the person defenestrated.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

So, at what point does the statement of a single person or number of people or a group of people become an accepted authority valid to be used as a citation?


Three things, and all are needed, not one or two out of three.

Qualifications.

1. I will stipulate that a famous author is an expert in writing. However, a famous author is not automatically an expert in how reader read or perceive what they read.

2 What makes writing / English blogger an expert rather than just someone with an opinion and internet access.

3. What makes the author an expert? Are you in a situation where you and your listener/readers are all obligated to follow the specific style guide.

Applicability: Experts are specialists and their opinions on other topics are of no particular value. Is the appeal to authority on something within the experts area of expertise or out side of that area.

Famous Author's opinions about readers are outside of his area of expertise.

99% of style guides were written for specific types of writing. Most for either journalistic or academic. In my opinion, a style guide written for journalistic or academic writing has no particular weight on issues of writing fiction.

Supporting argument:
Typically, when experts expound expert opinions, they do the hard work of supporting said opinion with reasoned arguments and evidence.

If an alleged expert has not done this, that is evidence that they are not an expert or the opinion is outside their area of expertise.

To make a valid appeal to authority, it's not enough for you to know that all these conditions are met. Your appeal to authority needs to show your listeners/readers all three qualifiers so the listener / reader can evaluate the expert opinion for themselves.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

In each case there's only the opinion of one or more people.

Is the opinion of others proof that something is valid?
NO! It never can be, no matter how many opinions, and whose opinions they are.
However, is a statement someone bases their opinion on the opinions of other sources, and they cite their sources, enough to be treated with a list respect and courtesy?
It should be, but it rarely is.
Citing references does not prove someone's opinion is valid, but it does prove it's reasonable for to hold their opinion.
If others do not agree with that opinion, they should not direct a post at person who made it stating they don't accept the reference which was cited. That is needless, negative harassment. The person the direct it to could not care less if others are not satisfied by the references which satisfy. That type of thing happens here constantly, and it results in some feeling too frightened to express any opinions.
What others who cannot constrain their need to express a contrary view should use a Post to Thread, not a reply to the post. If they copy the statement they disagree with inside their post as a quote, the other person will not take that as a personal attack. It would be easy to view that as someone wanting to debate the issues.

This is a serious request to Lazeez for a change in the system features.
I request you remove the option for highlighting text in a post, hitting Reply to Post, and having your post directed at whoever made the quoted statement.
I think its mere existence results in people feeling others' posts are challenging them and then compelled to defend themselves.
If they really want it, it's easy enough for people to replicate the same thing with a copy and paste of someone else's words and typing in @ and their name.
I am certain this simple change will result in a marked reduction in the general level of hostility on these forums.
I'm aware the existing backward links would disappear if you did this. I don't give a damn about those.
I'm sure it won't be particularly difficult technically. Ideally, you could limit it to the Author's Hangout. That's where all of the rabid Pedanticosauruses hang out.
Please test it for about a month and then ask if we prefer that or the way it is now.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Dominions Son

WTF??? I'm not going to do a law degree just so that I can understand the criteria needed to have an opinion.

Can't you just accept that if I cite a reference it is good enough for me.
If it's not good enough for you, I don't care!
All I ask is that if I cite some reference, you give me credit for it being reasonable for me to hold my opinion.
By all means, state any contrary opinions you may have - just do it in a way which does not imply I am wrong for holding myt opinion.
It's not hard. It doesn't restrict what you can say. It just requires a little effort to show due respect to those who quite reasonably hold different opinions.

Replies:   Dominions Son
REP

@Switch Blayde

Reading level has been discussed, but reading comprehension level is also part of the equation (maybe they're one and the same


Essentially they are. Reading level, also called Reading Grade Level, is based on students being capable of comprehending reading material associated with specific grade levels

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

WTF??? I'm not going to do a law degree just so that I can understand the criteria needed to have an opinion.



Sorry, there is a misunderstanding here. Why do you think you need cites to validate an opinion?

I'm quite sure you are capable of forming your own opinions with out needing someone else to spoon feed them to you.

The criteria I listed are only relevant when you are trying to use a cite to prove something. That is, you are using it to support an assertion of fact, not an opinion.

Replies:   Ross at Play
sharkjcw
Updated:

from the filler word forum

Just my 2 cents worth on this.

PS

You all get very entertaining at times!!

Ross at Play

A cite to a reference is only needed at all if you want to convince someone else to adopt your opinion or if you are claiming it is a fact not an opinion.

I truly don't care about whether others adopt my opinions. I care about what I do. I care about whether I've done my best to present a case I consider convincing. That's what gives me satisfaction and supports my ego. Caring about what others, who I cannot control, then do strikes me as being silly, not even worth considering. I suspect that's an Asperger's thing, but if 99% of the world's population don't do that, I would be convinced it is they, not I, who are being irrational.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Sorry, there is a misunderstanding here. Why do you think you need cites to validate an opinion?

Not validate, but to describe the basis for my opinions to others, so they will be well informed when forming their opinions.

I'm quite sure you are capable of forming your own opinions with out needing someone else to spoon feed them to you.

Selecting which opinions of others I choose to accept is in my opinion forming my opinion, sans any spoon feeding.

The criteria I listed are only relevant when you are trying to use a cite to prove something. That is, you are using it to support an assertion of fact, not an opinion.

Sorry, I missed the bit about the criteria being limited to assertions of fact. In truth, I took one look, assessed it could not possibly be worth the effort required to read it, and then skimmed over it. As it turns out I was right about never needing it. There are so few things about writing style that I consider to be facts, and I'm always careful to be clear to state what I think are only opinions, I am never going to need it.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

There are so few things about writing style that I consider to be facts, and I'm always careful to be clear to state what I think are only opinions, I am never going to need it.


Yeah, I've had very few problems with you that way over writing style issues. You are always clear on fact vs opinion.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Selecting which opinions of others I choose to accept is in my opinion forming my opinion, sans any spoon feeding.


I prefer to look at the primary sources and build my own opinions from scratch.

It's probably why the appeals to authority are such a hot button issue for me.

joyR

@Ernest Bywater

A classic example of this is the difference between throwing someone out the window and to defenestrate them. In the first the window is usually open, but in the second the window is definitely shut.


WRONG. To defenestrate is the act of throwing someone out of a window. It does not only apply when the window is shut, so the statement, "in the second the window is definitely shut" is entirely inaccurate.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@joyR


To defenestrate is the act of throwing someone out of a window.


Why do we need a word for that?

Might make a cool movie though, 100 words for how to die?

Replies:   joyR
StarFleet Carl

@Ernest Bywater

There's only one clear rule in writing, which is - Do your best to spell all the words properly in the narrative, and as best as suits the needs of the dialogue.


I would add an addendum to this - make sure it's the proper word in the first place. You can spell all the words correctly so that even the most finicky spell check is happy, and have your story make no since.

And yes, I did that last sentence on porpoise (and this one as well.) I've scene stories on SOL with all of the words correct, but due to the vagaries of the English language, especially when the writer isn't a native English speaker (or worse, when he or she IS a native English speaker, just has no clue) that just meshes up a story.

(Yes, I made these errors deliberately - I just read a new story on here where I'm quite sure the author didn't.)

joyR

@Dominions Son

Why do we need a word for that?


We don't need it. Although when you eject a bunch of clergy from a building the quick way, it helps to have an obscure verb to make the act sound more heinous.

StarFleet Carl

@Dominions Son

99% of style guides were written for specific types of writing. Most for either journalistic or academic. In my opinion, a style guide written for journalistic or academic writing has no particular weight on issues of writing fiction.


They're actually pretty good as weights for holding your stack of papers down so they don't blow away.

I took several creative writing classes in college years ago. Okay, decades ago. But I'm also a bit of a pack-rat, in keeping many of my old reference books and notebooks from class. One of the things I did this past weekend was go through them, because I remembered a story I'd written that I wanted to re-work to post here eventually.

Anyway, in my old class book, I had notes from the spring quarter of 1980, where the professor had written this on the board. "In technical writing, you write for your audience. In creative writing, you write for you."

Guys, quit with the dick beating. We're writing fiction, liberally laced with porn. Yes, it'd be wonderful if we happen to win the Nobel Prize for Literature - and if they can give it to Bob Dylan for his songwriting, then pretty obviously NO style guides apply. (Actually, I just looked back at the list of who's won the Nobel Prize for Literature for the last 100 years. I only recognize a handful of the names. Whereas I look at the list of Hugo Award winners for the last 50 years, I recognize most of the authors, and own many of their books.)

Dominions Son

@StarFleet Carl

They're actually pretty good as weights for holding your stack of papers down so they don't blow away.


It's 2017. You still have papers? Luddite! :)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

I request you remove the option for highlighting text in a post, hitting Reply to Post, and having your post directed at whoever made the quoted statement.


The easiest way to do the same thing without making any changes to the system is to click on the Reply to Topic link at the bottom of thread. That way you can say something without pointing to an earlier post - I often do it. However, there are times when you want to include what someone else has aid, pointing to that as a quote usually means you're not involving the rest of the post in what you wish to discuss or respond to.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@joyR


WRONG. To defenestrate is the act of throwing someone out of a window.


According to my large old print dictionaries (one from the 1960s and one from the 1980s) the word means to throw them through the window and is used when the window is still shut. It originated back in the 1600s when someone was thrown out of a window, but there is no clear record from that time stating if the window as open or shut, and it's from a time and place where the majority of the windows were fixed shut.

However, as to modern usage, i again wonder about the Mirriam-Websters dictionary because when I just looked it up:

Definition of defenestration

1: a throwing of a person or thing out of a window assassination by defenestration

2: a usually swift dismissal or expulsion (as from a political party or office) the defenestration of political leaders

the mass defenestration of middle management — Jane Bryant Quinn

I've never heard of the second definition until now, and it's not in any of the old print dictionaries I have.

edit to add: Wikipedia has this to say:

While the act of defenestration connotes the forcible or peremptory removal of an adversary, and the term is sometimes used in just that sense, it also suggests breaking the windows in the process (de- also means removal). Although defenestrations can be fatal depending on the height of the window through which a person is thrown or throws oneself or due to lacerations from broken glass, the act of defenestration need not carry the intent of, or result in, death.

Replies:   joyR  joyR
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

It's 2017. You still have papers? Luddite! :)


Most government agencies still require printed documents with original signatures in ink - is why you use papers. Don't need it for money, as it's either metal or plastic notes or electronic transfers now.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


The easiest way to do the same thing without making any changes to the system is to click on the Reply to Topic link at the bottom of thread.


I knew that and had mentioned it in the same thread.

I don't expect anyone to agree with me, but I seriously think these forums would be more harmonious if the system simply stopped displaying the name of whoever made the post being responding to - and forced us to decide and enter the name ourselves when we want it.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I request you remove the option for highlighting text in a post, hitting Reply to Post, and having your post directed at whoever made the quoted statement.


Absolutely not.

The first is critical to know what they're replying to. I hate when I read a post without the highlighted part. I wonder, wtf are they referring to?

The second part comes in handy. I pay more attention to posts responding to something I said.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Absolutely not.
The first is critical to know what they're replying to. I hate when I read a post without the highlighted part. I wonder, wtf are they referring to?
The second part comes in handy. I pay more attention to posts responding to something I said.

Have no fears! I know what I requested will never happen, but I honestly think it would make the forums better.
My preferred remedy for the problem I see is for people here to show care in choosing between Reply to Post and Reply to Thread when they want to quote and debate something.
Reply to Post is appropriate when they want to say something specifically to the person who made the comment they are responding to.
Reply to Thread is appropriate when they want to inform others about an opinion different to the one they're responding to.
Directing a post at someone makes it seem like a personal challenge and the other often feels obligated to defend themselves. All too often here it provokes a needless personal war, when the real intention of the person making the response is just to provide information for the benefit of others.
Why do people here routinely address comments at the one person they know is NOT interested.
The solution is simply: Copy the comments you want to debate, hit Reply to Thread, Paste the clipboard into your draft post, Highlight what you just pasted and hit Quote, then insert a comment above the quote like '@... said above:'.
Yes, it is a few more keystrokes. But is that such a burden when the result will be that you show courtesy to another and that you respect their right to hold their opinion, and potentially avoid another needless flame-war?

Replies:   joyR
joyR

@Ernest Bywater

According to my large old print dictionaries


Which dictionary? And what exactly does it say?

the word means to throw them through the window and is used when the window is still shut.


No.

You are confusing the passing of an object through something with the state of the object. Going through a window, (or out) does not give any information about the state of the window.

Look at the origin:

defenestratio(n-), from de- 'down from' + Latin fenestra 'window'.

Then test the logic, would the term defenestrate be incorrect if the window were open? No.

As for your wiki quote... (wiki being so renowned for it's accuracy.)

it also suggests breaking the windows in the process (de- also means removal)


Someone is trying to infer much more than exists, the person is 'removed' by being defenestrated, but nothing suggests breaking the window.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
joyR

@Ross at Play

But is that such a burden


Obviously it's too much of a burden for you to have practised what you preach.

In the very post you make attempting to justify yourself you chose to do exactly what you are arguing against.

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@StarFleet Carl

In creative writing, you write for you.


The authors here seeking to 'improve' their writing to increase their downloads and story scores shows that isn't always true :(

AJ

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Ernest Bywater

@joyR

Greater Oxford of the 20th Century and the Readers Digest Universal Dictionary. However, since the Wikipedia article supports it and is easier to copy in what it says, I'll note that again.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defenestration

The word comes from the New Latin [3] de- (out of or away from) and fenestra (window or opening).[4]

While the act of defenestration connotes the forcible or peremptory removal of an adversary, and the term is sometimes used in just that sense,[6] it also suggests breaking the windows in the process (de- also means removal). Although defenestrations can be fatal depending on the height of the window through which a person is thrown or throws oneself or due to lacerations from broken glass, the act of defenestration need not carry the intent of, or result in, death.

The references are:

2. Swedish encyclopedia NE2000, digital version, article "defenestrestrationerna i Prag"

3. same ref.; "New Latin" could be said to be the collection of "Latin" words which wasn't in use by the Romans

4. Douglas Harper (2001). "defenestration". Online Etymological Dictionary.

6. Caracas Metromayor's 'Political Defenestration'

......................................

StarFleet Carl

@awnlee jawking

The authors here seeking to 'improve' their writing to increase their downloads and story scores shows that isn't always true :(


Actually, they're still writing for themselves ... or at least one portion of themselves, their ego. Otherwise we wouldn't be seeing the arguments on here about how many silver dollars they can knock off the bar. (Hopefully everyone knows that joke, so I don't have to explain it.)

Hey, it's okay to take pride in what you do. Hopefully that means you're doing the best job that you can do AT THAT TIME, and it's also okay to strive to do better. In my professional, bill paying job, I'm certainly better at it than I was five years ago, when it was my fill-in job until something better came along. Once you have that mind set change, to borrow the expression, that you're going to be all that you can be - then yeah, go for it.

But keep in mind the same thing applies at my job that also applies here - all of these guides and things are just that - they're guides. They're NOT hard and fast rules. The only 'rules' that apply are the ones that are actual laws - everything else you make your own and make it work for you. (By actual laws, I'm referring to underage stuff, of course.)

Just because Person A doesn't write the way that Person B thinks he should because of some guide Person B thinks is the absolute be all-end all is no reason for Person B to get his panties in a wad about what Person A does. As long as no LAWS are broken, fuck it, who cares? Is Person A successful by the measure that Person A has set for himself? Again, fuck it, who cares?

joyR
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Thank you.

Did you happen to notice that in the picture on the wiki page you linked, the window is open?

Link here.

but there is no clear record from that time stating if the window as open or shut, and it's from a time and place where the majority of the windows were fixed shut.


As the picture shown was created shortly after the events from which the term originates, then either the artist used poetic licence' to depict the windows not only being capable of being opened, but both windows depicted as in fact being wide open. Or perhaps those doing the throwing were so incensed and so wealthy as to be willing to repair the damage done to what at the time would have been expensive windows.

So, open it is then.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@joyR


Did you happen to notice that in the picture on the wiki page you linked, the window is open?


Yes, and did you notice it was the dated as having been drawn some 2 to 5 decades after the event by someone who wasn't a witness? Did you also look at modern photos and older paintings of the castle have no windows matching that image, or go even close to it. Artistic license is what he used.

Replies:   joyR
joyR

@Ernest Bywater

5 decades after the event


He died 32 years after the event, so fifty is pushing it, don't you think?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ross at Play

@joyR

@Ross at Play
But is that such a burden
You:
Obviously it's too much of a burden for you to have practised what you preach.
In the very post you make attempting to justify yourself you chose to do exactly what you are arguing against.

That is a complete load of crap ... and this post is specifically directed at you.

The full quote of what I said was:

But is that such a burden when the result will be that you show courtesy to another and that you respect their right to hold their opinion ...

I am interested in achieving a 'result', not particularly how that result is achieved.
The post which includes that, which was direct at SB, begins with:

Have no fears! I know what I requested will never happen, but I honestly think it would make the forums better.

I think that very clearly demonstrates my respect for SB, and my 'respect (of his) right to hold (his) opinion!
I do not think SB would regard anything else in my post as being directed at him.
I'll listen to SB's opinion about whether I have done so, but I don't give a damn what you think.
If SB thinks I have and says so here, I will give his reasons all the consideration they deserve. As with all comments by SB, I will assume he is attempting to be constructive and avoid anything remotely offensive unless sorely provoked, and I will assume they are probably wise and insightful.

You, on the other hand, I perceive as a whole other nest of vipers. I cannot recall anything you've posted here I considered to be constructive, or relevant, or remotely interesting. You have made some posts that I am sure were attempts at humour, and I never object when I see that. I thought a few were funny but more fell flat. I consider the majority of your posts here to be needlessly sarcastic, and all too often, downright nasty.
My strong impression is I have managed to gain your antipathy, and you actively look for opportunities to make denigrating remarks to comments I have posted. If so, please continue doing that. I am very happy for you to continue showing your true character for all here to see. I would wear any personal animosity you have towards me as a badge of honour!

Even REP, with whom I have a very fraught relationship, I regard as a thoroughly decent human being, in most circumstances. The exception I see with him, which is common to many of us here, is he sometimes misinterprets things as personal attacks and he can then become quite unpleasant. Some of us strongly disagree with some of his opinions about writing style, but I think all regard him as a valued member of the community. In recent times he has made considerable efforts to solve problems caused by plagiarists on Amazon. He has nothing to gain personally from that. :-) I am sure who have gained from those efforts very much appreciate him taking the time they may not have to counter the problem.
What have you ever contributed to this community?

Replies:   joyR
joyR

@Ross at Play

that you show courtesy to another


Enough said.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@joyR


He died 32 years after the event, so fifty is pushing it, don't you think?


The event in question happened in 1618, while the information page on the image states it was first published between 1635 to 1662. I don't know why they don't have an exact year for the first publication, but that's nearly 20 to almost 50 years later - rough figures based on the decades.

Ross at Play

@joyR

I will reset my clock with regard to all of my past perceptions about you.
You may have noticed my efforts in recent days to resolve past differences with Dominions Son.
I am disinclined to back off from fights - but I try very hard to avoid starting them.
At this moment, I regard you as someone with whom I have a totally cordial relationship.

robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

Defenestrate, huh? Thanks for putting that particular bug in my ear, now I've GOT to try using it in a story somehow. 'D

Another author got the drop on you at that one. FinalStand in his story 'Life as a New Hire'. A very good author and a very good story, although not yet finished.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Me:
I request you remove the option for highlighting text in a post, hitting Reply to Post, and having your post directed at whoever made the quoted statement.
You:
Absolutely not.

I did know my suggestion would be rejected because it would have negative consequences. I was trying to play Devil's Advocate to discuss some consequences of how the system is working now.
Most posts we make here fall into two very distinct categories:
* When we want provide information or reply to the person who wrote what we are quoting
* Other opinions exist about a particular issue than the one we are quoting
For the second type, the person we are quoting is often the only person we can sure is not interested in what we have to say - yet the system almost forces us to direct our comment at them, they interpret it as directly challenging their right to express their opinion, and another needless flame-war has begun. :(

I have thought of another technical fix for that problem which has no negative consequences. :-)

I suggest there should be two Reply to Post options at the bottom of each post. The new one could have a tiny 'w/o' at the bottom. The difference would be that the system does not insert and display the name of wrote the post being responded to.

This change would allow users to quote and reply to something without appearing to be pointing the finger at whoever wrote it. Users could easily begin their posts with '... said above', or even 'Somebody said above' when they want to be clear they are not contesting it was reasonable for the other person to have made their statements, and their only intent is to provide additional information others may need to know.

Can anyone see any potential problems if this system change was made?
How about it, Lazeez?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Me:
I request you remove the option for highlighting text in a post, hitting Reply to Post, and having your post directed at whoever made the quoted statement.
You:
Absolutely not.

I did know my suggestion would be rejected because it would have negative consequences. I was trying to play Devil's Advocate to discuss some consequences of how the system is working now.
Most posts we make here fall into two very distinct categories:
* When we want provide information or reply to the person who wrote what we are quoting
* Other opinions exist about a particular issue than the one we are quoting
For the second type, the person we are quoting is often the only person we can sure is not interested in what we have to say - yet the system almost forces us to direct our comment at them, they interpret it as directly challenging their right to express their opinion, and another needless flame-war has begun. :(

I have thought of another technical fix for that problem which has no negative consequences. :-)

I suggest there should be two Reply to Post options at the bottom of each post. The new one could have a tiny 'w/o' at the bottom. The difference would be that the system does not insert and display the name of wrote the post being responded to.

This change would allow users to quote and reply to something without appearing to be pointing the finger at whoever wrote it. Users could easily begin their posts with '... said above', or even 'Somebody said above' when they want to be clear they are not contesting it was reasonable for the other person to have made their statements, and their only intent is to provide additional information others may need to know.

Can anyone see any potential problems if this system change was made?
How about it, Lazeez?

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

Me:
I request you remove the option for highlighting text in a post, hitting Reply to Post, and having your post directed at whoever made the quoted statement.
You:
Absolutely not.

I did know my suggestion would be rejected because it would have negative consequences. I was trying to play Devil's Advocate to discuss some consequences of how the system is working now.
Most posts we make here fall into two very distinct categories:
* When we want provide information or reply to the person who wrote what we are quoting
* To inform others that alternative opinions exist about a particular issue being discussed
For the second type, the person we are quoting is often the only person we can sure is not interested in what we have to say - yet the system almost forces us to direct our comment at them, they interpret it as directly challenging their right to express their opinion, and another needless flame-war has begun. :(

I have thought of another technical fix for that problem which has no negative consequences. :-)

I suggest there should be two Reply to Post options at the bottom of each post. The new one could have a tiny 'w/o' at the bottom. The difference would be that the system does not insert and display the name of who wrote the post being responded to.

This change would allow users to quote and reply to something without appearing to be pointing the finger at whoever wrote it. Users could easily begin their posts with '... said above', or even 'Somebody said above' when they want to be clear they are not contesting it was reasonable for the other person to have made their statements, and their only intent is to provide additional information others may need to know.

Can anyone see any potential problems if this system change was made?
How about it, Lazeez?

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I suggest there should be two Reply to Post options at the bottom of each post. The new one could have a tiny 'w/o' at the bottom. The difference would be that the system does not insert and display the name of wrote the post being responded to.


But that option already exists at the bottom. I use it when I'm making a general comment to the thread. No user's name gets put in the post.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

For anyone interested, this is the result of the "Reply to topic" at the bottom.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

But that option already exists at the bottom. I use it when I'm making a general comment to the thread. No user's name gets put in the post.

I know it exists. If others used that option appropriately I would not have made my suggestion. Overwhelmingly, they do not. There are more steps required to quote something without the system adding the name of whoever those words than the simple highlight text and hit Reply to Post which includes their name. Once a name is there it's impossible to edit it out.
What my suggestion would make it equally easy to include the name or not, and by two buttons side-by-side prompt those about to post to consider whether they really want the name displayed or not - it would make it equally easy to be courteous or offensive.

I agree my suggestion is not essential, but I can see some benefits from it. Can you see anything negative?
I'm not sure, but it seems like something relatively for someone with Lazeez's skills.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

But that option already exists at the bottom. I use it when I'm making a general comment to the thread. No user's name gets put in the post.

Yes, no name - but you can't highlight anything to be quoted before that option.
If others were doing that appropriately I would not have made my suggestion. Overwhelmingly, they do not. There are more steps required to quote something without the system adding the name of whoever those words than the simple highlight text and hit Reply to Post which includes their name. Once a name is there it's impossible to edit it out.
What my suggestion would make it equally easy to include the name or not, and by two buttons side-by-side prompt those about to post to consider whether they really want the name displayed or not - it would make it equally easy to be courteous or offensive.

I agree my suggestion is not essential, but I can see some benefits from it. Can you see anything negative?
I'm not sure, but it seems like something relatively for someone with Lazeez's skills.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

Can you see anything negative?


Someone hitting the wrong side-by-side button.

I guess I'm familiar with it because wattpad does it the same way as this forum. What's nice about wattpad is they have a "notifications" under your name which has links to all the posts with your name in it. You can click on reply in someone's post so his name gets put in it (like here), but you can also click on other people's posts in the thread which adds their names to the one you're constructing (this way they get notified too).

Some people use @all, but that doesn't do anything (as to the notifications).

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ross at Play

the simple highlight text and hit Reply to Post


I added the selection to the 'Reply to topic' link. Now if you select some text it will show up quoted in the form if you're replying to the topic instead of a certain post.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater
Updated:


I added the selection to the 'Reply to topic' link.


Thank you.

edit to add: and this is how it looks.

Ross at Play

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I added the selection to the 'Reply to topic' link. Now if you select some text it will show up quoted in the form if you're replying to the topic instead of a certain post.

Not all I had hoped for - not because it doesn't provide all the functionality needed, but I fear some users will make the "wrong" choice more often.
As ever, fabulous service. :)

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