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When discussing something on a forum or a wiki, people have a tendency to break others' posts up into paragraphs, and tear them apart piece by piece. This is such a common phenomenon that many people believe this is how discussions must proceed. Often these discussions become tangled in semantics and end up near to flame wars, as the posters end up TalkingPastEachOther.

However, many people have taken on an attitude that one must reply to the entire post at once, rather than replying and inlining comments. This allows the replier to take the original poster's message as a complete statement to better see the point they were trying to make. This also pleases the original poster, in that they feel you might have read their entire message as one.

Of course, when replying you can still argue the points made, as argument is one way to come to consensus, or at least to learn enough to AgreeToDisagree.

Advantages of ReplyToTheWholePost

Advantages of inline communication

Advantages of communication by annotation

When to use what


A [Counter Point]: I guess it depends on the culture more then anything else. Two factors: (One) In one culture, where people see a post as unified, breaking it up will seem odd. In another culture the post is seen as a collection of separate arguments where one will respond to the parts. (Two) In a culture where people write letters (long monolithic blocks of text) to give a response then there really is no reason to break up the original post, and it's sometimes even technical imposible. But, if you don't already have this culture of writing full sections (not just full sentences)... let say the culture is to be quick and to the point, and don't waste other peoples time with long winding prose, then it would only be natural to write your reaction to the segment you're are reacting to -- Gideon FormerContributor?

I think both forms have their advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the situation people should try to use the right one for their purposes. -- HelmutLeitner

Agreed. It does seem to be a bit old hackers vs. newbees or online vs. offline... I don't know what I have to make from that. Hacker style is clearly inline, unless..., while more and more newbees seem to find this offensive. -- Gideon FormerContributor?

There is a new option now for combining the pros and cons of block answers with those of modular answers. We can ReplyToTheWholePost in the local base wiki and give detailed answers to marked pieces of text in the global hyperspace of annotations. This way the capacity of solving problems is greatly enhanced. -- FridemarPache

I think annotations to encourage discussion or to illuminate a point are not very useful, although I do believe in PersonalAnnotations? (aka marginalia) as a way of getting inspired thoughts out of your head and written down as you are reading. Annotations are by their very nature off to the side, and therefore go unnoticed by TheAudience in most hypertext implementations (e.g. CritOrg, DiiGo, which are different websites). If the annotations were part of the text in a very direct sense, such as in the Talmud , they may be useful. However, reading something like the Talmud is not very easy as any rabbi will attest. Non-linear text flow is totally unnatural. It's like trying to make sense out of a crowded room of conversations. To do so, ultimately, the reader is forced to become TheAuthor and write down their own understanding of the situation in order to OrderChaos, and this written form is usually linear with respect to the source material. -- SunirShah

Thank you Sunir, for making this page a test case, where we can happily AgreeToDisagree, without doing harm to each other. So let me ReplyToTheWholePost, you put in here in the last paragraph and additionally give some annotations [, I copy down for the audience, who are not (yet) users of the DiigoService]. As we already agree, that personal annotations are useful, I am going to concentrate myself on the statements, upon we disagree (currently). I think

When annotating the opposing statements, I won't exclude the case, that you add possibly arguments to my annotation windows as well as I add possibly arguments to yours. Of course additions of (non [yet]) Meatball) peers to the pros and cons (hopefully) help to increase the overall insight.

-- FridemarPache

One of the problems with ReplyToTheWholePost is that one person doing it obligates all following in the conversation to do so or else reply to the same issue in different places, while you can reply to an entire post consisting of inlined discussion!

I disagree than ReplyToTheWholePost makes it easier, as stated, to ignore what one wants to ignore. I like to use inlining to eliminate things that I do not think need a response. An aggressive or otherwise unproductive remark can simply be left out of the reply, and the thread continue discussing points without it.

Inlining also makes it easier to discuss in ThreadMode with multiple people. Individual points break off into their own discussions with multiple participants, and those that generate many responses can continue to do so while those points that do not generate interest or that are better left forgotten get abandoned. (In case it isn't obvious, I am very much inclined toward inlining myself!) I use ReplyToTheWholePost when a thread has gotten so involved that it would be tiring to respond point-by-point and I only wish to contribute some broader comments and observations. -KatWalsh

DiiGo: wiki annotation communication skills conflict CategoryConflict [1]


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