I’m thinking about the role of posting length in building a virtual community. I think that long postings put people off, because they look carefully constructed and full of information – they are more difficult to read and they are intimidating because they appear to show that the poster has thought about and knows about the subject.
Posting length is an interesting thing about blogging, because I tend to blog a couple of hundred words. If I want to see more I add another post. I know that’s not how all blogs work, but it works for me, and it makes my thoughts easier to review when I go back though my blog, as information and thoughts are split up.
Perhaps online tutors and experienced community members should model short, speech-like exchanges to encourage students to become involved in virtual communities.
If too many postings are too short, though, it also becomes a pain to read because it stretches endlessly down the page or you have to click to umpteen postings and they’re all fairly boring.
And what about thread length? If a thread is very short, that suggests it’s either new or it’s not very interesting. On the other hand, if a thread is very long it’s off-putting because there is just TOO MUCH INFORMATION. I’m in a virtual community that currently has a thread purposefuly set up to be the longest thread on the community. It’s all light-hearted and amusing and each individual part is easy to read, but 356 postings and counting? Puh-lease!
And what is the role of small talk in virtual learning communities? On the one hand it’s useful because it gets people talking, makes it easier and less threatening to post, promotes knowledge of members of the community. On the other hand, if you have limited time you want to cut to the chase – you don’t want endless discussion of the traffic on the M25 that morning, or of people whose budgie has just died.
Although while I was doing the H80* online courses, the topic of cats was so popular I think we ended up with a discussion or conference dedicated almost entirely to it.
What does that say about us I wonder….
Comment from euphloozie – 18/11/05 09:36