Writing good articles that have much better chance to be seen by others

Discussion in 'C++' started by tanix, Jan 16, 2010.

  1. tanix

    tanix Guest

    People may not realize that majority of article views come from
    the search engines and not directly reading the Usenet.

    First of all, to find some information for some specific issue,
    you may be dealing with, is pretty much a hopeless excersize
    if you just read Usenet or some disorganized archive.

    It may take you days to step through all sorts of threads reading
    it all sequentially, without any kind of filtering offered by search
    engines.

    When people need to resolve some issue, the first thing they do is to
    use a search engine.

    So, when they click on some link in the SERPS, they only see
    one article. They can not even follow your thread in most cases
    unless they are willing to spend minutes of their time, the chances
    of which are slim as it gets.

    So, from this standpoint, try to keep the context of the article
    intact. Do not delete some section of the article you are following
    upon because you think it is "insignificant" in YOUR opinion.

    Because it may turn out to be significant in readers opinion.
    Plus it contains the context.

    Notes on writing style:
    -----------------------

    Your articles are available on many different web sites, servers,
    search engines and libraries as web pages and will stay there forever.

    When you write something, you may not even consider that it is better
    to take your time and describe some topic completely so it becomes a
    reference material to be used for years to come.

    If you write cryptic articles that are viewed by themselves,
    and not in a thread, and may not even make much sense to someone,
    who is not reading it on Usenet by following a thread,
    or as competent as the writer is, then they are virtually useless.

    Some people strip most of the article they followup on,
    and it becomes virtually impossible to understand what
    they are talking about. Because this article may just
    appears somewhere by itself, without the preceeding
    articles in a thread.

    Especially if there is some code involved.

    Keep it in mind.

    Again, it is better to write a thorough and detailed article
    to put the issue to rest once and for all,
    instead of saying the same thing again and again.

    You can simply refer people to that original article
    instead of doing it from top again, wasting your own
    time and energy and producing very little additional
    information with net effect close to 0.

    Unfortunately, some people write pretty sloppy articles
    with huge blobs of text, without line breaks between
    their followup and the original article, long line lengths,
    and generally careless style. The result: their articles
    are not a great pleasure to read or understand, and the
    chances are high they are going to be skipped in less than
    a couple of seconds of viewing them.

    Generally, the paragraph size should be limited to separate
    different concepts into clearly defined blocks. That makes
    it much easier to digest. In today's hectic world, people
    are very impatient and will push the next button as soon
    as they see the first ugly blob of text.

    General suggestions on writing on Usenet:
    -----------------------------------------

    1. Do not use lines that are longer than 70 characters.
    This is NNTP standard limitation. All the lines longer than 79
    characters will be wrapped around in in quite an ugly way.
    So, considering there may be followups to your article,
    and sometimes MANY followups, consider this: each followup
    adds at least one character to the line length.

    2. Do not "top post", meaning writing your entire response
    BEFORE the article you are following up. Do it in place,
    commending on a particular statement in the article you
    are following on.

    Fist of all, it is simply insultive. It looks like you couldn't
    be bothered.

    Secondly, it is simply sloppy.

    Thirdly, is makes it hard for a reader to put YOUR comments
    in the proper context. Unless they read the preceesing articles
    in a thread, the chances are high they are going to skip your
    article.

    3. Watch the white space around your comments and the
    original article. It is best to have one blank line before your
    follow up and one blank line after.

    Extra blank lines do not help anything.
    No blank lines makes it all dense and hard to read
    as things run into each other.

    4. NEVER use tab characters. They are not going to be properly
    expanded in many cases. Even if you post some code that uses tabs
    in your source, replace them with spaces.

    5. Try to provide a sufficient description and rationale
    for things you are saying. Simply making some statement
    without reasoning why do you think it is valid is just a
    waste.

    Readers are not necessarily mind readers. They may not be
    on your level of competence or may not know some issues
    as well as you. So, if you do not explain why are you saying
    this or that, your article will be useless to them.

    6. Do not worry about "on-topic" issues for some thread.
    Again. Most of the page reads will be done via search
    engine and in the web format and not from a news reader.

    It does not matter to search engine what is your subject
    line more or less. It will still be able to find your
    article by looking at its body.

    Sure, having the same keywords in subject header and body
    will increase the chances your article will come up in
    higher postition in the SERPS. But no need to be paraniod
    about it and to keep splitting the discussion into new
    and new threads unnecessarily. It is better to see how
    some subject evoloves.

    Secondly, threads might drift into other things and then
    come back to original one. You never know.

    7. Do not waste your time on personal attacks, humiliation
    and insults. That does not buy you anything. It just gets
    the discussion deluted with unpleasant things.

    If you think YOUR ego is the most important thing in the
    world, think again. Because it is about the last thing
    the readers would care for. They need answers to THEIR
    "problems" and not your "holier than thou" image.
    They could care less.

    --
    Programmer's Goldmine collections:

    http://preciseinfo.org

    Tens of thousands of code examples and expert discussions on
    C++, MFC, VC, ATL, STL, templates, Java, Python, Javascript, PHP,
    organized by major topics of language, tools, methods, techniques.
     
    tanix, Jan 16, 2010
    #1
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