Have you seen this?
The Yahoo Style Guide. For writing and editing on the web.
What I really wish is that someone would write a style guide to discussion board posting. In my online course, I have seen a range of styles. A few of my favorites:
- Personal Letter – This is generally in response to someone’s post, although sometimes people just bust this out for their original one. It goes like this: Dear fellow student, I loved your post! It echoes my own experience in this fashion. Don’t you love/hate/feel indifferently toward that? Me too! Best, Personal Letter Poster
- Practicing for my Thesis – This is a very professional type posting. It may even contain citations. References to the teacher will use either the Doctor or Professor title.
- Practicing for my Novel – Similar to the Practicing for my Thesis posting, but with more emotion and fewer citations. Generally very very long.
- What are Spel Chek? – This style flows freely from the student’s brain, without the artificial limitations of spell check or attempts to self edit.
- OMG I FORGOT!!!! – Generally a very short post, anywhere from an hour to weeks after the deadline.
I have used every one of the above styles during my time at SLIS. In an online environment, discussion boards act to emulate the in-class student-to-student exchange of ideas. But without the mitigation of body language, writing tone takes on a whole new level of significance. I’ve agonized over phrasing, and then over compensated by dashing the next post off cavalierly. If there was a formula, a set number of lines, a glossary for word choice, a prescription for headings, a style guide to posting, things would be so much simpler.
But part of learning is learning how to communicate within a context. Each professor is different, and each student is different. Responding and participating within the course is a process of feeling things out. When learning gets serious, we forget that school is a place to make mistakes. It is a place to discover how to speak and be understood, as much as it is a place for theory and concepts.