Online forums have changed the way we communicate by allowing individuals scattered all over the world to participate in a discussion. Communicating online, however, is quite different than communicating face-to-face or by phone. The sheer number of people participating, combined with the time delay of response can make a discussion difficult to follow. The following are simple suggestions, which if followed by all participants, will help everyone have a productive experience.
1. ALWAYS REVIEW YOUR COMMENT/POST: Keep in mind that whatever you post will be moderated and publicized for everyone to see. Before posting your comment, make sure to take a look “Topic” to make sure that you do not post in the wrong section.
2. CLEAN YOUR MESSAGES: When replying to someone else’s post, try to remove the unnecessary portions of the thread. Quote or keep only the most relevant sections of the message you are responding to.
3. KEEP YOUR RESPONSE IN CONTEXT: When removing unnecessary text, make sure to leave enough of the prior message in your post so that your comments can be read in context with respect to who you are responding to.
4. USE A DESCRIPTIVE SUBECT HEADING: Make sure that the subject heading concisely describes the contents of your message.
5. SIGN YOUR POSTS: Use a brief signature on your posts that indicates your background if it is pertinent. For example, a physical therapist responding to a question should put “PT” after their name. If anonymity is desired, a first name and last initial will help those engaged in the discussion keep track of who is responding to who.
6. WRITE LOGICALLY: If you have a complex question to ask or point to make, think through your message in advance. After writing you message, make sure to read it from the perspective of someone who does not know anything about you. The more difficult your post is to read, the more difficult it will be to respond to.
7. PAY ATTENTION TO SPELLING AND GRAMMAR: After writing your post, make sure to review your message for spelling errors, typos, and poor grammar.