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Rowen
2010-Oct-23, 10:17 PM
There's no need to link to the post in question. But there was one of them that was quite long and I felt the need to chop it down to less than 5% its original size, losing a whole lot of support data in the process. This is a science forum, and on one hand support for a claim or view is required (of course, unless you're just having fun). On the other hand, I noticed people have a limited attention span. Put too much info in a post and you lose your audience. If a line or two is posted one avoids losing the audience but at the same time one stands to face much criticism for not supporting, and even if one replies to the criticism with support, much of the potential of that criticizer agreeing with one's premise is lost.

At least, that is how it seems to me.

My questions are:

How much information is too much?
How much information is too little?
How much is just right?
Is there such a thing as too much information here?

I dunno, maybe I am an article writer and just can't get out of that rut in a forum. Any help in understanding how much, or how little, is expected of a poster is appreciated.

Thanks

AstroRockHunter
2010-Oct-23, 10:43 PM
I don't think that you can have too much information AS LONG AS (this is the "but" part) the topic is sufficiently defined and the information is directly related to the topic.

For me, too much information usually takes the form of side-long explanations that can later be declared "not relevant to the OP".

Rowen
2010-Oct-23, 10:55 PM
I don't think that you can have too much information AS LONG AS (this is the "but" part) the topic is sufficiently defined and the information is directly related to the topic.


Thanks for the reply. It sounds like you have seen the post in question. But even if you haven't, I did declare its relevance in the post. But, do you not see a potential problem with a post that's too long even if all the data and info is related to the topic and why your view is the way it is?



For me, too much information usually takes the form of side-long explanations that can later be declared "not relevant to the OP".

These are not the problem with me. I have been told that I explain far too much and, well for lack of a better way to say it, bore people out of interest in my posts. In a way I can understand. If I see a post that's too long I'll try to skim through but can quickly lost interest in the effort, especially if I am trying to catch up to current comments on a lengthy topic several pages long.

Shaula
2010-Oct-24, 07:52 AM
I'm a great believer in keeping posts as short as possible. But at the same time there isn't really a fixed limit - some topics require details and explanation. That said there have been some epically long posts on here in the past which could have been summed up as "Dunno"...

When posts get really long good practice is to put either an executive summary at the start. Let people decide if they need more information but also answer the question for anyone who just has a casual interest.

Swift
2010-Oct-24, 04:44 PM
I have moved this thread from Q&A. This seems neither a space nor astronomy question, but a question about posting style.

Jeff Root
2010-Oct-24, 05:01 PM
If it is about "style", then it is a judgement call by the poster as to
whether the detailed info is helpful or not. Other people's judgement
may be different.

In addition to an executive summary, a clear structure to the post,
perhaps including sectional headings, can give the reader a quick
visual impression of the content to quickly determine whether it is
worth reading, and get a clearer sense of progress while reading.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Rowen
2010-Oct-24, 05:09 PM
thanks for all your replies, guys (and for moving the thread). I have a better sense of this situation than before. Jeff, your idea sound reasonable. Some forums have a "Spoiler" button that one can include in the post that hides a given section that can be revealed after clicking on it. But headers will do the same thing I suppose. I've seen one other that does use headers. The rest of the comments have also been very helpful, like the summary at the top idea. I may use both.

Thanks again.

Jim
2010-Oct-24, 05:47 PM
A really long informational post can be a bit intimidating. As a rule, it's best to follow the entertainers' dictum to "Always leave them wanting more." If someone is intrigued by what you present but thinks it's not enough, they'll ask you to expand on it. Then you know you have an interested audience and what they want to hear.

kleindoofy
2010-Oct-24, 06:47 PM
If I wasn't pretty sure the mods would interpret "tl;dr" as being an unfriendly, infraction point worthy offense, I would post it occasionally. In one case, in fact, pretty often.

Rowen
2010-Oct-24, 06:55 PM
If I wasn't pretty sure the mods would interpret "tl;dr" as being an unfriendly, infraction point worthy offense, I would post it occasionally. In one case, in fact, pretty often.

Y'know, that would be more informative and useful IMO. Odd that it can be construed as some offense worthy of being beat over the head with the dead fish of moderation. ;)

Gillianren
2010-Oct-24, 07:37 PM
It is at very least abrupt. It also, to me, shows a level of disrespect I am grateful is frowned upon around here. Yes, there are some posts I haven't read because they were too long and not interesting enough. However, someone else may have disagreed. My tastes are hardly the only ones out there.

AstroRockHunter
2010-Oct-24, 07:56 PM
I admit that I start to loose interest in long posts, but if the information is relevant to the topic, is clearly presented and initially logical, I can usually forces myself to slog through it. When I give up is when I start reading claims that a) contradict experiment and/or b) display a complete misunderstanding/no-understanding of mainstream theory. Yes, this usually happens in the ATM forum. When it happens in the Q&A forum, I generally read it through anticipating the responses that correct the errors. I always learn something this way.

Swift
2010-Oct-25, 12:44 AM
If I wasn't pretty sure the mods would interpret "tl;dr" as being an unfriendly, infraction point worthy offense, I would post it occasionally. In one case, in fact, pretty often.
First, for those, like me not familar with "tl;dr", it stands for "Too long; didn't read" (thank you Google).

Second, I'll say this not officially as a moderator, (see black text, not purple), but my opinion is very much colored by being a moderator: I would not say its use would be an automatic offense, but it is a little borderline. I think it would depend a lot on context. As a follow-up to a long, hard to follow post by another member, it might be appropriate. The occasional appropriate use is probably OK. But it also could be use disrespectfully, and yes, that could even become infraction worthy. Just the fact that you responded with "tl;dr", (sort of "talk to the hand") rather than something more respectful like "I'm sorry Swift, that was a little hard to follow", makes a big difference.

kleindoofy
2010-Oct-25, 12:52 AM
First, for those, like me not familar with "tl;dr", it stands for "Too long; didn't read" (thank you Google).

Second, I'll say this not officially as a moderator, (see black text, not purple), but my opinion is very much colored by being a moderator: I would not say its use would be an automatic offense, but it is a little borderline. I think it would depend a lot on context. As a follow-up to a long, hard to follow post by another member, it might be appropriate. The occasional appropriate use is probably OK. But it also could be use disrespectfully, and yes, that could even become infraction worthy. Just the fact that you responded with "tl;dr", (sort of "talk to the hand") rather than something more respectful like "I'm sorry Swift, that was a little hard to follow", makes a big difference.
tl;dr

http://www.city-data.com/forum/members/bs13690-83559-albums-animated-gifs-pic43268-smiley-rimshot.gif

slang
2010-Oct-25, 01:17 AM
LOL kleindoofy

Jim
2010-Oct-25, 07:17 PM
kleindoofy :clap:

slang :clap::clap:

astromark
2010-Oct-25, 09:31 PM
:clap: Yuss ! It is good to have a lighter side... is it left or right of centre ? Umm...:wall:

I have witnessed far greater crimes of lengthy over information delivery ...

or no information delivery at all... Just opinion and guess work.

A fellow astronomer has been seen to talk for more than ninety minutes when prompted by a simple question about gravity...

and then questions why the student never came back... and we do it here I have noticed...

Rowen
2010-Oct-25, 09:49 PM
Completely understood. lol. I've often lost the attention of my children inadvertently lecturing them.

slang
2010-Oct-25, 10:23 PM
Argh, somehow in composing my flippant reply I lost the carefully written part that was serious.. I'll try again: how much information is needed depends on the reader.. Sometimes it's obvious that a very deep, well composed wealth of information is overkill, and sometimes it's clear from the way the question is phrased that the poster already did some research.

Another thing to remember is that the current participants are not the only ones reading the thread. There are a great many lurkers, and who knows who might stumble on to the post through Google later. Perhaps not important in the case of very common questions, but IMHO it does come into play when you reply to a less frequent or unique question.

Moose
2010-Oct-25, 11:35 PM
It should be noted that, for what passes for a default internet font, a wall of text, black on white background, can be very difficult to get through. If what you have to say doesn't fit on the quick reply screen, consider trimming it. If it won't fit on the browser screen when previewed, it's almost certainly way (way) too long to be read.

Make your point, break it up into short, meaningful paragraphs as needed, then stop talking.

Messier Tidy Upper
2010-Oct-27, 03:25 PM
This is something I'm never sure of myself.

I like having more in-depth info. and I like to express myself at length so I could be one of the "offenders" here.

I also try to be polite & try to clarify what I'm saying so it is as comprehensible as possible. I know I don't always succeed.

It seems to be a subjective thing with different folks having different preferences and some comments being long but okay and others being too long depending on, well, many things. Just some initial thoughts - as noted this is an area where I'm really struggling myself.

korjik
2010-Oct-27, 08:08 PM
Especially when starting a new thread, shorter is better. The OP is where people come to see what the thread is about and whether they want to stay and read the thread. Make the post short and sweet, with a good indication of what you are talking about. Quite a few of us around here will be more than happy to ask for details and even more than happy to get that detail in a response.