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[at-l] The Anatomy of Flame Wars (was: Evidence Of Trailplace Effectiveness)
I added three more observations to the end of the list. The last two were
kind of implicit in the whole message, but IMSUO are among the most
(1) Ryan's five minute rule is a good one.
(2) Don't assume that other people know what you are feeling.
(3) Realize that there may be multiple interpretations of posts and spend
some time figuring out what they are. It's more fun that doing crossword
(4) Don't make assumptions. Ask questions.
(5) If someone's post bothers you write about your own feelings, not about
"what they did wrong."
(6) Go look up "I Statements" and continue looking until they make sense. I
just took a quick look and like the page
http://home.earthlink.net/~hopefull/i-statem.htm . It has a nice, four
part, way of formulating them that I've seen elsewhere as well.
(7) Remember that "I think you are a jerk" is not an "I statement!"
(8) "Honesty" does not imply a disregard for other people's feelings. I've
seen too many people use the "truth" of their statements to excuse the hurt
that they cause. It is almost always possible to tell the truth in ways
that are respectful of peoples feelings.
(9) People use more than words to communicate. They use body language,
facial expressions, tone of voice, and, for all I know, pheromones to get
their meaning across. Only the words show up in email.
(10) People can communicate because they develop a mental model of what the
other person is saying and feeling. We do this so naturally that we aren't
even aware of it. The down side is that if the mental model is wrong it is
almost impossible to figure out what the other person is saying.
(11) Without body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and maybe
even pheromones it is very easy to get the model wrong.
(12) Many of the techniques of formal writing arose to compensate for the
lack of body language, etc. in written communication. That's why written
language and spoken language are so different.
(13) Remember that email is written communication, even though it feels very
informal and immediate.
(14) Irony does NOT come across well in email posts.
(15) Smily faces are helpful, but are not a replacement for courtesy and
well thought out writing.
(16) When presenting information it is very helpful to include references.
URLs are particularly nice and are effective in bolstering your points.
(17) Before you post think about what affect you want your message to have?
Are you trying to make yourself understood, or are you trying to "score
points" with some outside audience. Are you trying to explain, inform, or
attack? Re-read your message and ask yourself how you would react if it was
sent to you. Is that the reaction you want to have? Remember that you will
almost never win a convert with a "point scoring" message, though you may
well "score points" with an explanation.
(18) If you decide that you're trying to score points or attack, most people
would prefer that you keep doubling the time in Ryan's "five minute" rule
until you change your mind. ;-)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim Mayer" <email@example.com>
To: <RoksnRoots@aol.com>; <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2001 10:54 AM
Subject: [at-l] The Anatomy of Flame Wars (was: Evidence Of Trailplace