(Since I'm writing this as a personal reflection, I'm not going to make any attempt to format or organize this post... just read as you will, as you wish.)
One of the hardest parts of blogging (or, indeed, writing any sort of instruction) is covering all bases and making yourself as well-understood as possible. Your mind may be thinking one thing as you type your words out onto the screen, but the meaning behind those words can be lost as a reader skims over them, picks out the important points, and possibly misses other equally important ones.
Communication hiccups have been a problem stumbled upon to varying degrees by anyone who has ever written something for the purpose of instruction or explanation. I myself am relatively new to the blogging community, and already have had to go back and re-word several of my posts to better explain my meaning, or to highlight points that commentators seemed to miss. I'm quite certain that I am not alone in this experience.
My own work is in Distance Learning, and quite a bit of my college degree was focused on the importance of being concise with your data. Technical Writing was one course I took that lead to great insight on how to best arrange your thoughts, but it was only through experience comparing guides or course materials and then writing some myself that I can see just how much the reader's own interpretation can impact their entire understanding of what the author is trying to say. Assumptions in particular are one of the deadliest trip-wires out there.
Much of what we write will be skipped over, skimmed by eyes speeding to find the points the reader cares most about. This happens when we read news articles, books, blog posts, and even trade chat. I can't help but wonder what eyes may miss even this one lone sentence, lost in the midst of a paragraph. We can color words, emphasize them with bold, italics, or underlines, and even set them flashing on a computer screen, but if the reader doesn't interpret it correctly or even choose to read that section of the document, they may misinterpret your entire point.
What does a > sign mean to you, and what does it mean to your reader? Or a = sign, or that you left out something else to compare, or that by "players" you simply meant "friendly targets counted as being in your raid group" but felt that was too much of a mouth-full to continuously type? How extreme will a reader take what you say, how far will they cut it down to black-and-white? Will they later remember your clarification on it, or that there may be factors beyond what simple math can describe? Will anyone even read it?
Who is at fault? Is it the reader's job to take the time to fully read every word, see every letter? How esle wluod it be pbosisle to iretprent tihs stnence? Is it the writer's job to summarize and organize their documents as accurately as possible? I think it is some of both. Most of us know about "TL:DR," Too Long: Didn't Read: a lot of casual readers will have entirely skipped this paragraph by now. Yet if the author doesn't go into explicit detail on their math, comparisons, and reasoning, they can be questioned on that, too. If the author doesn't repeat a point multiple times as a conditional to their statement, it may be missed the one time that they did say it, and get questioned for it, or their whole post may be misrepresented by others, particularly if they are making a bold statement.
As bloggers for a widely-popular video game, it seems we must cater to all kinds of readers, and that makes the job incredibly difficult. Many blogs are looked to as sources of experience and answers to how exactly someone must play or to make themselves better, or what to do in the delicate social situations that the game--and life--sometimes leaves us in. It is an incredible responsibility, one that brings me to admire various bloggers for their shouldering of the burden and scrutiny. We have to figure out how precise we have to be with our words, and remember that not all of our readers will hold the same assumptions that we do. We know that we all make mistakes, or that someone who does read our words may misinterpret them in some way. We also know that inevitably, there will be someone who disagrees, be they right or wrong.
It is a tight line to walk, but one that we all must be aware of, be it as writers and readers alike.
(As a point to reflect on, this post has been edited 5 times since publishing.)
Episode 2 of Media Mavens
1 week ago