Effective communication online

A lot of users on this forum, myself inclusive, have often made comments or written paragraphs that are deemed hard to understand. Majority of us, also do not really find our own paragraphs or even brief comments difficult to understand.

Additionally, there are people on this forum and in the world with conditions such as aphantasia or even people without an inner voice or synesthesia. The world is sure to look different and the way communication is presented is bound to strike a difference when for example one person is communicating an image and the other person cannot visualize an image.

To make things a little worse, a lot of arguments arise from miscommunication. All too often I have been in a conversation saying the same thing as the other person while we both believe to be saying the opposite to each other.

Which brings this post!

How to make yourself more clearly understood online~.

I have been previously told that my sentences would be better understood if they were shorter. Education has commonly told me in my childhood that commas serve as breathing points, therefore that a sentence does not have an explicit limit but that a paragraph should convey a point.

In reality, this is very simple. That is, changing your sentences from long form. Consequently, to a shorter form. To me it doesn’t look any bit clearer, nonetheless it is something that can be done.

I personally find myself better at understanding people that others do not understand than I do the reverse.

So the point of this post, do you have any good resources/tips/tricks/ideas that help you effectively communicate online?

Also subsequently, how do you actually communicate? do you try to describe an image, use ideas, let melodies flow, whatever type of way you use, feel free to share it so others can see it and get a better idea.

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There are many things you can do in order to write more clearly. Using shorter sentences is one of them. Some tips that come into my mind:

  • Try to use more concrete nouns – objects you can see, touch, hear, smell or taste. Teacher, apple, book and brain are more vivid than abstract ideas like education, mind, process and coherence.

  • Use specific nouns when possible and appropriate e. g. German Shepherd instead of dog, carrot instead of vegetable.

  • Active verbs: Run, jump, read and understand are often better than forms of is and have.

  • Keep adjectives and adverbs at a minimum (unless they add something special).
    Often there are more specific nouns or verbs that help to avoid adjectives/adverbs. For instance I’m happy instead of I’m very glad.

  • Avoid passive forms, use the active form instead.
    For example I have been previously told that …People have previously told me that …

  • Shorter sentences. I would advice you to limit sentence length to 20-25 words, at least for a while.

  • A text is harder to read when every sentence has the same length. Hence it’s good to vary sentence length. Like this!

  • Only one idea per sentence. When there’s another thought you want to express, consider to start a new sentence.
    Education has commonly told me in my childhood that commas serve as breathing points, therefore that a sentence does not have an explicit limit but that a paragraph should convey a point.

    Teachers have commonly told me in my childhood that commas serve as breathing points, therefore that a sentence does not have an explicit limit. A paragraph on the other hand should convey a point.

Please keep in mind that this are just rules of thumb. There are always exceptions.

Most of my books on writing style are in German unfortunately, but I can recommend the following:

  • Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark. Some of the tips in the book are rather for authors of fiction, but many of them apply to writing in general.
  • The Elements of Style by Strunk seems to be a fine book too. I haven’t read it yet though.

I am fluent in German so that wouldn’t be bad.

comments on points

The most significant part. A reason is crucial, I am noticing while I agree with these largely, after a few minutes I come back to it then think why does it work? Is there not a better way?


I can see how this works. It is kind of like being more specific. If you say you took a fruit and put it on the table there is no understanding of what fruit(or table) it is.

The only problem with “active verbs” and “concrete nouns” is that, generally, my sentences do not talk about concrete things. This makes it more difficult.

This is a bit more difficult. When I produce sentences they have a sort of fitting sound, that makes them sound nice to me. If I cut all of this out, it ends up very dry. There is also some minor meaning lost. Take for example, if I say the “individual exhibits the very essence of uniformity”, then I say “‘name’ is unchanging”. Even if I add some more words to signify the meaning, I am usually never conveying more than the main point in that dry context.
For example in the less dry context, if I cut out the ‘very’ or even replace individual with 'person ’ my sentence doesn’t mean the same thing to me anymore. Similarly if I add lustrous, the adjective to my above sentence. The meaning to me changes entirely. It is also slightly different from adding luminous.

While I can see it might start requiring computations or memory when someone says
-3 the 2nd last element.
i never really view sentences as things that organize anything. Commas being possible breathing points or brief stops. Such, that, indeed, they cause a difference in meaning. Full stops appear to me more as longer ‘halts’. So effectively, for organizing there is no difference to me from a full-stop to a comma. How is it for others?

This one I don’t quite see the meaning in.

It specifies the source a bit more but this can be actually inaccurate.
For example, if I have seen a tv show or read a book where I have previously been told that.
Saying people have, is a lie whilst saying I have been told is not really a lie. Although perhaps I would have said ‘informed’.

While I perceive a visual length difference, verbally the string is sort of the same? Does this differ for individuals that process text in voices compared to images/visual text?

The way I perceive points is :
Education has told me. Commonly. In my childhood. That commas serve as breathing points. Therefore that a sentence does not have an explicit limit. A paragraph should convey a point.

This sentence appears a bit odd to me.

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I recently heard an interview with Erica Dhawan about her new book, Digital Body Language. It was interesting to hear how communication is heavily dependent on context and social cues that are largely absent from digital communication. I was particularly interested in generational differences in communication, such as whether punctuation is simply proper writing, or perceived as aggressive. She also discusses emoji use and telephone etiquette.

For communication on this forum in particular, I have found that almost everyone follows the community guidelines that make this a thoughtful and engaging part of the internet. Many of us are not posting in our native language and when we all assume the best intentions and ask for clarification when necessary, we all benefit.