Rhetoric and Composition/Advice for Writing in Various Venues on the Web

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Advice for Writing in Various Venues on the Web[edit]

Blogs[edit]

Ideally a blog is an informal and low stakes online writing venue where you are able to make your opinion known or workshop ideas. For some, the freedom of a blog can be paralyzing. Especially if you think too much about your audience—who they are, and how they will react to what you write. The following are some tips for writing a blog:

Remember that people like blogs. We are generally voyeuristic by nature and like to see the thought process at work. People also like that blogs are written by a real person with a unique personality. Don't worry about your audience and making your blog perfect, instead write the blog for yourself and concentrate on expressing your opinion and ideas the way only you can.

Make your blog even more interesting by linking to pages that support your opinion or that you simply find amusing and would like to share.

Like a title on a paper, the headline for your blog should be interesting and creative. You could use a funny comment, a non sequitur, a quote or any other text that stands out and creates interest. Also like a paper title, make sure your headline at least hints at what your blog will be about.

Once a reader finds a blog they like, they are usual loyal and like to return to see what new things the blogger has to say. Often this has a lot to do with the style of the writer, so once you find a style you like to blog in, try to stick to it.

Don't forget that with all writing, editing is key. Don't forget to edit your blog. Re-read your post and check for errors.

Chats[edit]

While initiating conversation in an online chatroom, the main goals are to be polite, interested/-ing, safe and aware of the parameters of the particular chatroom. While chats may seem very free and public spaces, most are privately owned, and may be logged, moderated and or monitored by site administrators, law enforcement officials, criminals and other entities.

Good things to do while in a chatroom:

  • Protect yourself and your identity: Create a good pseudonym or screen name for yourself. It should be short and easy to type. However, do not divulge any personal information, in doing so you will protect yourself from sexual predators, identity thieves and other potential criminals. Use discretion at all times.
  • Respect others. Treat others as least as well (if not better) than you want to be treated. While some chatters might engage in insulting, derogatory, rude, or disruptive behavior, you should refrain from replying with such. The better move is to ignore them completely or find another (and more moderated) place to chat. Many chatrooms feature software which allows you to block incoming messages from certain parties, and you may choose to use this to limit or end your interaction with hostile persons.
  • Be kind to newcomers. New or naive readers may be unaware or inconsiderate of the established norms within a chat or online community. Be patient, kind and try to help these newcomers understand the parameters of the virtual space.
  • If you have just connected to a chat, be sure to know what the topic of discussion is before you dive in. Read, wait and listen and give others a chance to talk. Also, either a general "hello" message to the group, or a specific greeting or questions to a specific person who you have had previous and positive contact with is usually a good way to start.

Bad practices to avoid while in a chatroom:

  • Do NOT TYPE IN ALL CAPITALS or Bold face letters. Such behavior is equivalent to yelling. It may attract people's attention, but more than likely you will be ignored, reprimanded or booted from the chat.
  • Avoid asking intrusive questions of other people, particularly those regarding personal information, for the same reason as those listed above. You may well be curious about the particulars of a person's life, realize that privacy is there right, and they have no duty to divulge any such information to you. Also, should they do so, realize that this information may be fabricated and/or false.
  • Avoid caustic, obscene and sexually implicit language.
  • If you are typing longer messages, break them down into shorter, more readable chunks, or alternately, take your conversation into email correspondence with more lengthy content and dialogue.

Discussion Boards[edit]

Discussion boards are an online forum for conversation. Usually they are organized in threads by date, subject, or both. Discussion boards are typically formed around a single specific topic (for example: current events, computer games, even book covers have their own discussion boards), but multiple conversations regarding that topic can and should develop. Because users of the discussion board return often to follow-up on their posts, a virtual community develops.

On an online discussion board your goal is to stimulate others to join your conversation. The trick is to encourage active and meaningful debate. Steer clear of “yes” or “no” questions, instead ask open-ended questions that will spark further threads of the discussion. Tell an personal anecdote relevant to the discussion and try to get others to do so as well. Try not to get too far off-topic and if you find that others are not progressing the debate in any meaningful way, steer the conversation back to the original subject. Keep the conversation interesting and moving.

Make sure that if you are responding to a question on the discussion board you include specific information. Saying, “I don't know” is not very helpful. At the very least give an idea of where the information they are looking for may be found.

Try to be concise. Readers want to know your point and don't want to sit through a boring and unnecessary display of your expertise on the topic of debate. Attribute all your sources. Finally, don't forget to spell-check, words spelt incorrectly hurt your credibility.

Make sure that when you join a discussion board you read and follow their rules of conduct.

The following are some common things to remember when posting on discussion boards:

  • Even though lively discussion and debate is encouraged, attacking an individual is not. Do not personally attack others. Messages that are profane, racist, demeaning, threatening, about illegal topics, or generally offensive (you may have to use your common sense about what you think is “offensive” considering the topic of discussion and the other members participating in the conversation) are usually prohibited and can be erased by the discussion leader. If you don't want it said to or about you, don't say it to or about others. Members who post those type of messages will often be kicked out of the discussion.
  • Keep your posts consistent with the theme of the topic and the purpose of the thread of discussion.
  • Most discussion boards require that you use your name or handle when posting. It is responsible to attach a name to what you are saying. If you don't want to put your name behind something you post, reconsider whether or not it is something you really want to say or something that really needs to be said to move the discussion along. In some discussion boards anonymous posts will be deleted by the discussion leader. Also, make sure your username is not offensive or meant to intimidate others.
  • Do not use discussion board to advance your personal agenda. For example, don't advertise or promote surveys, contest or chain letters in a discussion board.
  • When quoting information from others give the source and a link when possible. If you do link to another site, make sure it is relevant to the discussion.
  • Don't post the same thing more than once. This is “spamming” and is usually not allowed.

Emails[edit]

Email is short for electronic mail. They are a form of rapid communication used in both business and in everyday life. There are four main parts when formatting your email messages: guide words, salutation, body and closing lines. The order of these formats vary depending on your email provider.

Guide Words The guide words include: To,'From,'Subject,'Cc,'Bcc,and Attached.

  • To: The recipient's email addresss is included here. If the receiver's name is included enclose address in angle brackets.
  • From: Your name and address should be written on this line, if the program does not insert for you automatically.
  • Subject: The subject line gives the receiver a clear description of your message.
    • The subject line should summarize the central idea of your email as well as provide quick identification. It is usually written in abbreviated style, omitting articles (a, an, the), and does not need to be a complete sentence. Good subject lines are often attention-getting and are often written in verb form.
      • Effective Subject Lines
        • Three Promotional Items to Showcase at Our Next Trade Show
        • Beefing Up Our Messaging Capabilities
        • Staff Meeting to Discuss Summer Vacation Schedules
      • Ineffective Subject Lines
        • Trade Show
        • New Software
        • Meeting
  • Cc (Carbon or courtesy copy): Any other receiver's address should be written on this line.
  • Bcc (Blind carbon copy): This line sends a copy of the message to another recipient without the addressee's knowledge.
  • Attached: Attachments are optional and can include everything from business reports to papers to photographs. If using an attachment, be sure to clarify its purpose in the body of the email.

Salutation. Unlike a memo, it is often necessary to include a salutation in an email. This is because emails are more like letters than memos. Therefore, a salutation, such as Dear Beth,'Hi Beth,'Greetings, or just Beth, is appropriate.

Body. The body of an email should be typed in both with uppercase and lowercase characters and never restricted to one or the other. In addition, you should never use bold or italics when writing an email. They may create a string of control characters that may cause chaos in the recipient's computer. Also, the body/subject of the email should be kept to one topic with the total message being under three screens in length. To assist you, many email programs include basic editing features, such as cut, paste, word wrap and copy.

Closing Lines. If you are writing from within an organization, closing lines and/or names may be omitted. This is because the recipient should recognize them from identification in the opening lines. However, for outside messages, writers may include lines such as Sincerely or All the best along with their names and email address. If the recipient is unlikely to know you, it's wise to include your title and organization at the end of the message.

EXAMPLE EMAIL

To: Hugh Beerman <hbeerman@hotmail.com>

From: Arnold Enuff <arnoldenuff_21@gmail.com>

Cc:

Bcc:

Subject: Business Internship for Summer 2007

Attachment(s):

Dear Mr. Beerman:

I would like to inquire about the business internship being offered by your company this upcoming summer. The company's website gives some very general information regarding the position; however, I would like to know more about some of the specifics.

  • Do you need to have any specialized training in order to apply for the position?
  • Would an internship this summer give me an advantage with possibly joining your company in the future?
  • What would be the general hours of the position?
  • Is this a paid or unpaid internship?

If you could get back to me with this or any other pertinent information, I would be extremely grateful. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Arnold Enuff arnoldenuff_21@gmail.com

Games and Simulations[edit]

Games such as World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, and other massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG) have their own terminology spoken by players in game. In these games players make use of abbreviations and acronyms in order to communicate more efficiently. Quick communication can mean the difference between success and failure.

Generally, conversation in these games is casual, but there are a few rules. Never type in all capital letters, this is seen as bad form by players of the game. Also, avoid swearing. Most of these games have built in filters, but many players do not use them and some are offended by strong language.

There are literally hundreds of acronyms, slang terms, and abbreviations in online games so be patient; it will take some time to learn them. Always remember it is just a game and the main goal is to have fun.

Podcasts[edit]

Podcasts are electronic audio or video files that are available for download from many internet sites. The files can be played back on computers or portable media players.

Originally podcasts were intended to be used as a type of personal radio program. However, today podcasts can contain television programs, class lectures, meetings, or almost anything that can be voice or video recorded. The main advantage of podcasting is that it allows access to information whenever it is convenient to the listener.

The audience for podcasts can vary greatly depending on the purpose, so it is vital that you are aware of exactly who your audience is and how they expect you to use language. Colloquial language may be appropriate for some podcast but not others. For instance, a podcast from a morning radio show may be very informal, but a podcast intending to train people to use a computer program would be more formal. Generally podcasts are read from a script. So, the revising and editing are vital to produce a high quality product. Also, it is a good idea to rehearse the script in advance in order to minimize mistakes in the recording process.

Social Networking Sites (Myspace, Facebook, etc.)[edit]

Sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Multiply and others allow personal users to keep in touch with old friends as well as meet new ones. However, these sites are also sometimes used as a place to start job networking, for locating and advertising for roommates/apartments/etc. and for meeting potential significant others. These sites often allow users to create a space that is unique to their own personality, letting them share their thoughts, photos, interests, activities, favorite movies, books, television shows and music. Also, in many sites, users have the option to join groups that pertain to their particular interests and to meet other users who share those interests.

Although social networks allow users to put their address and phone numbers online, it is ill advised. Placing sensitive information online only makes it easier for hackers and others to steal personal information and for online predators to secure a new target. Also, try to refrain from posting information and/or photographs that could be detrimental to your professional life. Recruiters and employers are now often checking social networking sites to size up potential employees and/or clients.

If you would like to include certain photographs or certain information that could be used against you, you do have options. Many of these sites allow you to choose your own privacy setting to secure your personal information. There is an open door setting, which allows anyone and everyone to see your site, a "friends only" setting, which obviously only allows your friends to access your information and other settings as well. Also, some of these sites let users block other individuals from adding you as a friend. Instead users may have to know your last name, enter in a password or know your email address in order to add you. That said, if you have a limited profile, even if the other user does know your information, you are often asked to confirm your relationship with that person before they can access all of your information.

The following are descriptions and links to four popular social networks in the United States and around the world.

MySpace - The MySpace headquarters is located in Beverly Hills, CA, and run by Fox Interactive Media whose headquarters run out of New York City. MySpace allows users to share blogs, bulletins, photos, groups, music and videos in various networks. It also lets users choose their own background, layouts and play music and videos on their individual profiles. Anyone can join MySpace and it is free to use. For more information or to join please visit the MySpace website: MySpace.

Facebook – Facebook first appeared in 2004. Created by former Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, the site, “the facebook,” as it was originally called, was started as a social project before it exploded into the popular network it is today. Originally Facebook only allowed college students to join; however, due to the rise in popularity, individual users are now allowed to join networks relating to their high school, college, occupation and/or town or city they live or have formerly lived in. Facebook is like MySpace in that it allows users to write notes (blog), share photos, give electronic gifts, join groups and various networks as well as utilize several other applications to connect with friends and personalize their space. These applications include, but are not limited to: movie trivia, 10-second interviews, quotes from comedians and popular television shows, rock-papers-scissors and sports team applications. For more information or to join this network, please visit the Facebook website: Facebook.

Bebo – Bebo is a social network run out of San Francisco, CA, by Bebo Incorporated. The site lets users connect with old friends and make new ones. Users are allowed to share photos, interests or, as it says on their website, “just hang out.” Bebo allows users to chat with one another while they are online as well as answer polls, quizzes and respond to blogs. For more information on Bebo or to join this network, please visit the Bebo website: Bebo

Multiply – Although Multiply is much like the other social networking sites in that it allows users to share blogs, photos, etc., what it prides itself on is continual updating of information. Anytime a user changes a blog, adds photos or information to their individual site, all of the users in that person's network is notified. In turn, Multiply also provides a thread to allow users to provide feedback on the newly posted information. In addition, one feature that is different from other sites is that Multiply provides a space to share movie and restaurant reviews with other users as well as schedule social and business events on a calendar. For more information or to join this network, please visit the Multiply website: Multiply

Aside from the social network sites that allow users to share all sorts of information (blogs, pictures, videos and personal information), there are sites that simply allow users to network through blogs and picture and video sharing. These sites give the user more anonymity. You may just have an avatar (user picture) and username opposed to sharing your real name, pictures, interests, etc. Some of these sites include: LiveJournal,Blogger, You Tube, Flickr, Drop Shots and MetaTube.