7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Discussion Participants

I’m just starting up a new session of my Online Facilitation course and came across this resource I created over a year ago. Thought I’d share it with you all.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Discussion Participants

1. Use the subject line
2. Quote the other participants
3. Check in (nearly) every day
4. Use highlighting & lists for easy reading
5. Use links
6. Use Right Mouse Click
7. Post in the right place

Picture by Flickr user DailyPic

1. Use the subject line
Be descriptive in your subject line. It should be an accurate summary of your post. If you are replying to someone else’s post, also adjust the subject line. “Re: Topic 1” tells others nothing new, but “Re: Topic 1 / My thought” does.

2. Quote the other participants
Quote the particular phrase or part of the post that you are responding to by saying for example: John posted: “Bla-di-blah” and I agree with him because…
By saying only “I agree with John”, you will make the other participants browse through 50 of John’s posts to find out what you are agreeing with.

3. Check in (nearly) every day
It is a good habit to check into the online discussion on a regular basis, particularly if a discussion is only designed to run for a couple of days. For instance, at the beginning and end of a working day, 15 minutes each time. This will help you keep up with what’s happening online. Log in only once a week and you may end up with a MMM (Multiple Message Mountain).

4. Use highlighting & lists for easy reading
You’ve probably experienced that reading from a screen is more tiring and difficult than reading from paper. Spare yourself and your fellow participants the headache, and highlight key phrases & keywords by making them bold. If you are making a number of points, then order them in a list. This will make it easier for others to scan your messages.

5. Use links
You will undoubtedly run across a web page, blog post or article that you want to share with others. Avoid copying and pasting entire sections into your post. Quite apart from the copyright issues, it seems unfair to add to your fellow participants reading load. Instead quote or paraphrase the pertinent parts, relate why you think it is significant or useful and include a link to the original resource.

6. Use Right Mouse Click
If someone has included a link in their post, click on the link with your right mouse button and select the option Open Link in New Window. This will open the link in a new browser window and give you continued access to the discussion forum in the existing window. In newer internet browsers, you can choose to Open Link in New Tab.

7. Post in the right place
Make sure that the forum or discussion thread you are posting to, is the correct place for your post. If it is a social enquiry, it should go in the Social Forum, if it is a request for help, the Help Forum. If it is a reply but the messages have gone a bit off-topic, you may want to start a new topic.

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6 thoughts on “7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Discussion Participants

  1. Nancy White says:

    Aye, yer blogging again. Yay!

    Hey, did you post the tweetup pictures you took anywhere? I have not (yet) seen them on flickr and hope that yours or Hans’ are better than ours!

  2. Aoi says:

    Great list of tips. For Mac users, it’s control-click to open new windows in browsers, and a few other habits I find useful include “snipping” out the content that begin the discussion if it is a very long one, and suggesting that a thread by closed when it has run its course.

  3. Happy New Year Joyce! I have tagged you to join me in special meme among our Professional Learning Network.

    “To maintain engagement with creative forms of self-expression throughout adult life”, I hope you will join me by: A) writing a “7 Things You Don’t Need to Know About Me” post and B) tagging 7 other people in your PLN by listing them at the bottom of your post. See 7 Things You Don’t need To Know about Me

  4. Hi there! Just wanted to let you know that I think this is a great resource! I run many online classes with discussions embedded and this will be a great resource for me to share with them! Thanks for writing it sooo long ago and it’s a testament to what you wrote that it’s still relevant now!

    Great work!
    Jessica

  5. Joyce Seitzinger says:

    Thanks for kind words, Jessica!

  6. […] 7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Discussion Participants by Joyce Seitzinger Categories: Uncategorized post | Leave a comment May 12, 2012 ← Tips for Time Management […]

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