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Not Writing Right with Twitter: An Object Lesson

Post 1

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Some clever person inspired this amusing thread on Twitter. I retweeted and @-ted Robbie, because it's full of AI jokes. Some of them are pretty good.

Of course, there's always one, as the schoolteachers say. The writer who attempts to hijack the thread for personal publicity with a slightly off-topic (and certainly off-mood) contribution. The telltale sign is always the phrase 'here's my piece...' In this case, the sentence continues 'on how a sunbeam almost started WW3 in the eighties.'

Now, I thought that sounded interesting, in spite of the shameless self-advertisement, so after ascertaining that the site was secure, I clicked.

The article is accurate - at least, it matches what I know about the subject. It's not badly written. But it was such a good illustration of what we DON'T do in the Edited Guide that I couldn't help putting the link here.

What do you think? What two enormous mistakes did this writer make, Researchers? You know, the ones we never make ourselves?

PS Yes, we tweet links to our Stuff. But only if they're on-topic, and we think somebody might really want to know that. smiley - winkeye Is that useful? Well, last year, the QI Elves turned around and used the info in the Guide Entries to make up more QI tweets. That happens when you don't bore people to death.

smiley - dragon

Not Writing Right with Twitter: An Object Lesson

Post 2

Gnomon - time to move on

I thought the article was well-written, but it kind of spoiled the point of the story by breaking off to tell an almost identical story about another incident in which the Americans nearly responded to a false signal and launched a counter-attack.

Not Writing Right with Twitter: An Object Lesson

Post 3

SashaQ - happysad

That is an interesting article - I see it is 4,600 words, and it is noted as a 19-minute read, which yields an expected reading speed of approximately 250 words per minute. I learned last year that the average reading speed is 300 words per minute, so the timing is probably pitched about right.

I managed to get through it in 10 minutes - my reading was slowed only a few times when I spotted the odd typo and had to read a couple of paragraphs twice, plus there were a couple of throwaway lines about topics that weren't going to be mentioned so didn't really need to be mentioned at all.

I agree the digression was a bit strange - there was mention of why it had been mentioned, but the build up section could probably have been tightened up so the thread of dramatic tension didn't need to be quite so long and thin...

Not Writing Right with Twitter: An Object Lesson

Post 4

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Yep. Too many diversions, and I wouldn't count on the suspense carrying the reader through. Usually, educational editors will make you go back and change that. They have a rule: never ask a rhetorical question you don't answer with the next 250-300 words.

Remember: y'all are patient (and informed) readers - more patient than most of the rest of the internet. smiley - winkeye

Not Writing Right with Twitter: An Object Lesson

Post 5


I didn't read all of it. My internet time is strictly rationed. I don't really believe in trying to keep someone reading for a long time at a factual article. Make sure your reader knows what you're about, make the point, convey the vital information, get it done quickly. I still don't know what the sunbeam did and I don't actually care much.

Not Writing Right with Twitter: An Object Lesson

Post 6

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

I hear you, Willem! smiley - rofl The sunbeam glinted off a cloud and caused the satellite to think it saw a missile...which should have been said much, much earlier, so that people could get on with their lives. smiley - winkeye

Why does no one learn to write inverted pyramids any more? smiley - rolleyes

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Not Writing Right with Twitter: An Object Lesson

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