If you have not already, read my article entitled How to Have Productive Philosophical Conversations
. That article elaborates on what I see as the four most important elements of conversation on these forums that we all need to improve. Those four elements are: being a good listener (or reader in this case), asking questions, being clear and concise, and being nice and polite.
Frankly, I cannot stress the importance of the last two enough. In this thread, I will focus on the importance of being clear and concise.
Almost all of us are members of these forums because we want to have in depth discussions about complicated topics. But we make it almost impossible to do that by muddling the conversation with too much rambling, with long-winded posts and with unclear language.
Perhaps we mistakenly think we will better prove our points if we back them up with a long-winded, rambling post that includes every half-good thought we have that is even remotely tied to the original topic.
However, a long-winded and rambling post actually makes it harder for readers to understand your main points. Besides, most people will not pay as much attention while reading a long-winded post. For illustration, I think a post that's half as long will tend to get twice as much attention paid per sentence. So instead of writing a long-winding, rambling post, make your post as concise and clear as possible. Increase the quality; decrease the length.
Do not fill your posts with lots of loosely related and tangential subjects. Stay focused on the specific subject of the thread in which you are posting. If that subject makes you think of another loosely related subject, consider starting a new thread about that new subject. When starting a new thread, make the subject very clear and specific. If you have more than one subject to talk about, do not stuff them into the same thread; post two or more new threads, one for each subject you wish to discuss.
Also, do not write your posts as if they were poetry or riddles. Write in complete sentences and paragraphs with the intention of making your posts as clear and understandable as possible.
You can also make your post more clear by correcting spelling and grammar mistakes. It is required by the forum rules that you use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
As the forum rules say, if you are not putting enough effort into your post to correct the spelling and grammar, then do not post it.
Of course, you need to proof-read your posts. Do not make any post without proof-reading it.
Generally, I recommend proof-reading your posts several times before posting them.
Proof-reading your posts not only allows you to fix spelling and grammar errors, but it also allows you to make sure it is as clear and concise as possible. While proof-reading, try to find changes you can make that will make your post more clear. Will others understand what you are trying to say? Try to find out ways to shorten your post to make it more concise and avoid rambling. Try to remove comments and sentences that are irrelevant to the thread. Try to find ways to get the same point across with less words.
I recommend always proof-reading the whole post again from beginning to end after making a change.
While some of us may need to do it more than others, we can all benefit by making our posts more clear and concise
. So let's all work harder on being more clear and concise. And let's all proof-read our posts a little more.