Category Archives: tl;dr

Blog Post #9: Ways to avoid TL;DR

The transition from print to social media has drastically changed the role of the content creator and his/her duty in conveying an efficient yet thorough message to an audience.  The pressures of detailing a message with complex vernacular and thorough completeness has seemingly shifted to short definitive statements and highlighting of important material.  How do creators adapt to creating effective messages with minimal clutter?

Before the evolution of social media and technology, print media was the most reliable mode of communication for individuals and businesses alike. Although considered “outdated” and/or “boring” today, taking the time to read and understand a body of text allows the reader to become more engaged and understand the situation clearer.  According to the article “Print is Dead? Not so Fast”, on, the author states several reasons why print media is still relevant today.  However, although a majority of the reasons given are debatable, one solid point states “consumers are more engaged when reading printed material, unlike websites, which are often skimmed in as little as a 15 second visit.”  From this statement, it is possible to assume that since people were forced to read completely through texts during this time period, they possessed a higher level of literacy then many individuals do today.

Nonetheless, times have changed and technology and social media has evolved into the leading mode of communication in our modern society.  According to the article on, technology such as the internet allows for “cost effectiveness, exposure potential and convenience,” when it comes to marketing and advertising. But what does this mean for the content creators and audience?  Should readers be responsible for longer content or do creators ignore certain rhetorical aspects to accommodate all levels of literacy?  In my opinion, a mixture of both is necessary.

The incessant bombarding of multimedia messages through social media has led to a new mentality of faster is better when it comes to communication.  Social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, allow users to access and view information at the click of a button or touch screen.  Instant deals, news, and/or other relevant information are available quickly and typically, in the palm of your hand.  There is no long text to read or pages to sift through. The hashtag aspect popular on Twitter is significant because it helps spread messages and awareness in rapid time and/or allows people to get up-to-date with the current information surrounding a topic.  According to an article by Jenny Doren and Laura Mandaro on the USA Today website, the recent Ferguson, MO decision sparked almost immediate protests across the nation, partly due to such hashtags as “#fergusondecision”, “#blacklivesmatter”, and “#justiceforMikeBrown”.  People immediately became aware of the decision and reactions simply by clicking on these tags.

Ferguson hashtag

The work my father does as a proposal writer illustrates another example of completing efficient technical communication.  When dealing with more intricate and complex topics, longer text usually is necessary, but finding ways to limit the wordiness allow these texts to still be interesting and engaging.

bad technical writing imagetechnical writing image                       

                       Image A                                                          Image B

Image A above is an example of technical communication that could be improved.  It conveys a message through text but could potentially be more effective if broken down more and utilizes other multimodal aspects.  Image B is an example of technical communication that is more effective today. Understanding and executing ways of sequencing concepts in longer texts will allow the audience to be more interested and engaged.  Combining text with images, including graphs and tables, gives the work more flair and activity.  Concepts and ideas are broken down more so most people can better understand and comprehend the message.

Overall, this new era relies on quick yet efficient communication.  Long texts will always have a place, but it is up to the creator to find ways of making it engaging while maintaining the message it contains.  However, it is also up to the audience to be educated and should he/she wish to explore new endeavors, be responsible for taking the time to learn the ways.


Jenny Doren, WFAA-Texas | Laura M, and Aro. “Ferguson Tweets, Hashtags Spike as Anger Rises.” USA Today. Gannett, 26 Nov. 2014. Web. 08 Dec. 2014.

“Print Is Dead? Not so Fast.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 June 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.

“Technical Writing Examples – Google Search.” Technical Writing Examples – Google Search. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.



TL;DNR–Academic Copout


I honestly have very little to relate to in this post. I have never in my life posted TL:DNR on anything I have been asked to read in the entirety of my academic career. From a purely academic standpoint, baring expressed page limitations for assignments in which case professors or fellow students could be said to be within their rights to forego, I find this sentiment extremely rude and counterproductive. I think a more accurate term instead is TL;TB (Too Long, Too Boring); but if someone does not or cannot be bothered to engage with your work on some level, even if it means skimming until the very end, then they only have themselves to blame for their dissatisfaction in the end. The point of reading something, especially for someone else is to give them ideas about how they can improve. If you never read, how can you suggest meaningful improvements to make it more engaging if that is what it needs?

For myself, there have been several papers and assignments of others that were about as entertaining as watching paint dry as far as their overall style was concerned, but I still read enough to grasp what was important, so that I could make those suggestions. People who simply write out TL;DNR are shirking their responsibilities not only as readers but as critiques; it gives the impression not only that they are bored, but that they are lazy, unwilling to take the time to truly analyze and give voice to their objections; if they write something to that effect who is to say they read the piece at all in the first place?


Good working relationships, no matter what the project require reciprocity. If I felt like my school readings were too long and dry could I simply put TL;DNR at the top of the page of every in class quiz over the material? Of course not. Doing such a thing would not would not only indicate failure in the general sense of making an excuse, it would also indicate an extreme lack of personal responsibility and initiative.

All this being said, the working world can be somewhat different, especially when it comes to advertisement. In this sense it is very much the business owner’s or agency’s responsibility to ensure short sweet and simple on every piece of ad or flyer. 1. Because it is an investment on their part and 2. There is no real concept of obligation in selling goods. Consumers do not have to buy your product, they have a choice and competition to go elsewhere to, thus the producer has the responsibility of making sure what time they have to spare is not wasted when it comes to reading your ad or finding out more information.

When to Cut It Down

I cannot count the times I have heard a fellow student, friend, co-work, or stranger on the street say, “This is too long!” when responding to content in a brochure, article, newspaper, etc, and decided the information is not important enough to read. In fact, I am ashamed to say, I have said this many times myself. Even while being guilty of this, I do take the position that it is the readers responsibility to engage and examine longer works; however, I do not see this as a legitimate reality. By this I mean it is not a reality for readers not only take responsibility, but also act upon that responsibility. The attention span of the overall public–being extremely short– seems to overrule the readers responsibility and forces the creator to chose to fight against the reality or succumb to it.

Creators now have to decided whether to have their composition viewed by concentrating the content and shorting the readable information, or “fighting the good fight” and publishing a longer work. It seems that the choice would be based off of the necessity the information and demographic of the intended audience. If the
information is vital to the public good or knowledge, the creator will have to take the attention span into consideration. For example, it would be virtually useless to publish a multiple page document, wordy brochure, or text heavy website for disseminating information about Ebola to the public. Though the information is seen as important and desired, it would not be absorb by the reader due to the lack of concentrated information. In this case, a simplified and direct format would be best for the dissemination, perhaps bullet points, short video, or images based information.

I have discovered a download from Google Chrome that will summarize long articles down to a few sentences automatically. I believe this reflects on the current generation. We are not only in need of fast delivery of information, we need the information condensed to such a degree so to absorb only the basic facts and move on to the next. Is the a positive characteristic or negative? Are we efficient and “hyper-productive, ” or are we missing a elements of information?  Does this have an affect on social skills and personal relationships?

Blog Post #9: Who is Responsible for the Burden of Truth?

The internet has made available a plethora of information which can be accessed with just a few clicks. The reason the world wide web is so wonderful is because it allows us to compile and document information in ways different than ever before. However, this has created a sort of saturation of information; suddenly people are able to Google just about anything and come up with hundreds or thousands of webpage results. The user is then responsible for the daunting task of sorting out what’s useful and reliable from what’s questionable and irrelevant.

See, the ease of the internet is also one of its major drawbacks. Because it takes almost no effort to post something online, this means just about everyone can post their opinions, ideas, experiences, and wisdom on the web. Some of these people will be professional critics, journalists, and writers — others, however, will not. Something you may not realize is that there is a large portion of content posted online that is created by authors unaware of rhetorical contexts or the anomalies associated with an online audience. This may be one reason why so much of the content found on the internet can be inaccurate, irrelevant, or simply too long-winded and without a concrete point.

In embracing the internet we must also embrace that, due to the free-for-all nature of the web, it is the responsibility of users to discern the good from the bad. This realization sheds light on just how unfortunate it is that people are no longer taking the time to read lengthier pieces of text. Regardless of our desire for instant gratification and conciseness, sometimes it is necessary to engage ourselves in more substantial pieces of writing. Some subjects simply require a large amount of background information or explanation in order for a truly coherent and informative piece of writing to be produced on the topic.

Of course, it’s understandable that internet users are looking for short answers online. With the popularity of sites like Twitter that are based on short bursts of thought in 140 characters or less, it makes sense that people expect truly valuable ideas to be expressed in a concise way.

However, those unwilling to take the time to consider larger texts will have misconceptions and knee-jerk reactions. Take online news stories for example, which are often lead by a misleading title meant to foster attention and shock value. If someone only sees the title without reading the whole story, they will more than likely draw a lot of false conclusions and assumptions. I myself have been guilty of relying on titles alone for information about current events.

If users are unwilling to consider the whole story they are missing out on key information. It isn’t realistic to expect that everything online is useful information, so instead that must be replaced with an effort to sift through what exists and find the facts whether they are brief or verbose.

Don’t waste your time

“There’s too much noise, too much poorly written, overly written, defensively written and generally useless stuff cluttering your life.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. Texts that are too long distract the reader from important information, and far too often sway off subject. For this blog, I will propose that in certain cases long texts distract the reader and make it harder for the author to connect with his audience.

In article on, an author argues that some words are unnecessary because they “describe words whose meanings are clear.” An example of this could be: the tall building. Every building is tall we do not need the word tall to accurately describe a building, unless of course it is surrounded by buildings that are shorter than it and we need some sort of specificity in deciding which building. However, normally we conceive of every building as tall. So using the word tall to describe a building is unnecessary. Similarly, the addition of words to communication can worsen the ability you have to reach an audience. While in class yesterday I couldn’t help but notice that a fellow pupil of mine was using horrendously ambiguous vocabulary to describe a very simple idea, which is normally the case in most undergraduate course. The pupil used words including “voyeurism,” “existentialism,” etc. These words do not make the conversation any easier for the rest of the class to understand and using such a harsh vocabulary makes it harder for people to understand where you are coming from. The same can be said of using too many words. Say I ask you a question: “How is the weather today?” If you respond “Oh the cumulus clouds, and the propensity of the sun shine shooting downwards creates a beautiful serene landscape from which I can easily conclude that there is an omniscient creator whom serves his creations with the best intentions. Reflective of this sunshine, I can see myself wearing an outfit that would match the types of temperature and precipitation levels in a desirable, as well as, cute way,” then you are not communicating with me at all. I asked “how is the weather today?” not “what’s going on in that crazy head of yours?” Similarly, if I’m looking for a way to change a light bulb, and you begin giving me the ideology behind electronics, I’m not going to be too pleased. The problem with lengthy texts is that they often sway off topic, and start entertaining other ideas not relevant to what the author’s aim is. Similarly, lengthy texts are boring and more often then not waste the reader’s time. Of course this is only my opinion. But honestly, would you rather read the book or see the movie? If you choose the first, then you’re choosing it for some reason other than efficiency. If both of the following texts contained the same amount of information, which one would you read an 800-page novel or a 1 page description of the novel? You would be insane to pick the first.

As far as the internet goes people don’t want to read 100 page descriptions of a movie, or 25 page descriptions of directions to the nearest gas station. They want information that gets to the point and stays there. Think about it in this context, if you pulled over to the side of the street and asked for directions to the nearest gas station, because your gps died or something else happened leaving you to approach a complete stranger on the street. And the stranger proceeded to give you a 45 minute explanation, how would you feel? You would feel like your time had completely been wasted, and you should have never even tried to speak to a stranger on the side of the street. That’s how I feel with most of the readings I encounter. Get to the point already, I don’t have time to read this 400 page book that has no specific aim and just arbitrarily moves from subject to subject. Instead, give me the summary and 3 days of my life back.

10 reasons why we should all be reading more (you won’t believe what they are!)

The problem with the sudden influx of easily digestible information and the rise of the phrase TL;DR is a multi-faceted problem that cannot be easily solved. In my opinion, many authors on the internet tend to use a whole bunch of completely and totally unnecessary words in their posts in order to sound like they are actually really very smart. Or perhaps they are trying to fulfill a secret word-count quota that only they know about. In fact, this very paragraph could be edited to somewhere between a third or a half of its current length. With technical communication, wordy documents are especially grating since the real object of technical writing is to convey meaning in the most direct way possible. Many poorly written articles on the web are simply too long and deserve the retort TL;DR.

The flip side to this, however, is the unholy plague of listicles (an “article” in the form of a list) posing as real journalism. Seriously,stuff like this  is quickly filling the internet, making it harder and harder to find anything of actual value to read. Now, I know what you all are thinking..”this old codger needs to get hip to the new and the now, we are young and we are leaving dusty old print media and anything over 140 characters in the dust.”  I would caution against such a brash philosophy. Are there any scientific studies that show people who read entire books regularly are way smarter than people who read tweets and status updates all day? Probably, but I don’t need to reference any of them to tell you that that statement is 100% correct. (please note that the internet is awful and I hate everything. After a quick google search of “Do smarter people read more?,” the first twenty results were listicles. If you need information to be crunched into a list so that you can digest it, you should go back to preschool where your mommy and daddy will also cut your pb&j into triangles and remove the crust for you as well.

I can provide real data too, not just snarky conjecture. Apparently, all this googling and wikisurfing is changing how our brains process and store information. Instead of keeping all those interesting tidbits of “knowledge” in your memory, your brain creates a database entry point instead. What this means is that your brain does not remember the information that you went to look for. Instead, it remembers where you went to look for it.

The solution is simple yet also probably impossible. Everyone needs to set a higher standard for what they are willing to read. Buzzfeed isn’t rotting your mind, but it is wasting your time on, at best sub-par entertainment, when you could be doing literally anything else. As the famous philosopher, Drake said, “You only live once.” So why not make the best of our lives and strive to challenge ourselves intellectually and creatively every single day?


Sources used;_didn%27t_read#GFDL.3F.3F.3F


Delivering Chills and Engaging Readers




I’ve always had a certain propensity towards the things that go bump in the night.  Maybe it was because of the countless summers I spent at sleep-away camp, swapping ghost stories around a dying fire; or maybe it was my father’s immense collection of HP Lovecraft that I was forbidden to read as a child (and, of course, read every chance I got).  Whatever the reason, in the years since, my love for the horror genre has only grown.  And recently, it led me to the virtual world of “Creepypasta.”


Image displayed on the homepage of Ted’s blog.

Creepypasta, an unquantifiable forum in which both amateur and professional authors create and share scary stories, has deep roots in folklore and urban legends, and seems to hold Lovecraft to the highest possible esteem, has provided a complete overhaul of the methods in which we seek fear, and seek to fear others.  With the advent of the technologic age, and the rise of digital communication media, word of mouth has given way to word of user, or website: “These days, instead of the campfire, we are gathered around the flickering light of our computer monitors” (Wiles).

The most successful creepypastas, in both ratings and eliciting fear, are the lengthier ones, as they rely on time-tested and true rhetorical strategies that promote user engagement.  Drawing from Lovecraft’s 1927 definition of “weird” fiction, the authors of these long works know that, in order to keep the reader engaged, “A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain” (Wiles).

Two of the oldest and most respected long-form Creepypastas, “Ted the Caver,” and “BEN Drowned” keep the reader engaged, and guarantee that they will see the work through to the end, both utilize the same rhetorical strategies: a format that breaks from the traditional narrative and fabricated multimedia evidence.

The tale of “Ted The Caver,” in which two amateur spelunkers excavate a virgin cave, and unwittingly wake a beast of unfathomable evil, is presented as a genuine blog, with the narrator (presumably, Ted himself) chronicling the events of the story in real-time posts.  “BEN Drowned,” the story of a young college student who unknowingly purchases a “Majora’s Mask” cartridge that is haunted by the malevolent spirit of a boy named Ben, is also written as blog post entries, each stamped in real time.

This format—a blog maintained by a clueless narrator—demands the continued interest and attention of the reader. With unnervingly realistic narrative voices and characters, the reader is constantly engaged, wondering if what they are reading is fact or fiction, pushing forward to see how the plot unravels.

In addition to format, both Creepypastas guarantee their readers’ attention throughout the duration of the piece by offering them some form of evidence, which acts as a validation for the readers’ continued commitment to the piece, a method for ensuring that they will continue reading, and a deeper level of meaning and context for the story itself.  In “Ted The Caver,” Ted shares photos of the cave, and their progress in excavating it.  “BEN Drowned” offers videos of the supposedly haunted section of the video game, complete with music and graphics that break from canon of the original game while still maintaining its integrity and validity.  These offerings are fascinating, lend credibility to the content, and help to keep the reader engaged.

A video embedded in the original “BEN Drowned” post.

Owing to the evolution of communication as a digital medium, keeping a reader engaged until the end of a long piece can prove difficult.  But by adapting to the changing rhetorical situation, such as the authors of “Ted the Caver,” and “BEN Drowned” have done with their nontraditional formats and multimedia integrations, it is not an impossible task.




Jadusable. “BEN Drowned.” Creepypasta Wiki. 7 Sept. 2010. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.

Wiles, Will.  “Creepypasta: With a flood of dark memes and viral horror stories, the internet is mapping the contours of modern fear.” Aeon. 20 Dec. 2013. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.


Welcome to the Page of Ted. Angelfire. 19 May 2001. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.

Blog #9: Communication “A Full Time Job”



When is too much….too much? In this day and age, technology has basically overruled our lives. Sometimes it feels like a full time job when responding back to everyday messages on multiple devices. When was the last time you had a quiet dinner with your family without cell phones ringing or the television blaring in the background? How many devices do you have to check Facebook or Twitter on? If I had to guess, then it would be about three to four devices. So, how does this relate to communication overload?

Imagine reading a email sent from your boss with information stating what he wants in a new memo for you to write about for the next big project coming up. Along with that, he wants you to research the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for information to be updated as well. On top of that, you get an email CC’d with your name on it from your coworkers about the upcoming project that the boss wants and what information they should be researching. Feel overwhelmed yet? Also lets consider, that this is ongoing all day with emails going back to back plus phone calls and texts. Take a big breath!!! Theres a solution.

Responsibility. I bet you going huh?? How does that relate to the problem? Lets define it deeper….

“Look at the word responsibility – “responseability” – the ability to choose your response” (Glei 2014).

Get the picture now? It is your ability to choose your response when it comes down to emails, texts, and/or calls. It is your responsibility to how much you retain, but it also depends on the content creator. Going back to the above example….”Does the email contain information important to you?” Lets say you got a email that is five paragraphs long from a coworker. Are you really going to read all that? Probably not when you have other projects going on. You pick and choose what is important throughout the email and write back on what you retained.

In the article “Stop the Insanity: How to Crush Communication Overload”, Glei writes four steps that can crush communication. Its a matter of information retained from a single source. I find it fascinating on how communication and technology affects us. globally. Almost everyone communicates on two or more devices. I am guilty of that. I use my iPhone and iPad to communicate through texts that are sent to either one. I also get my news from Facebook than a regular newspaper. It has really grown on this generation, and we have really forgotten on how to communicate with one another face to face. Think of communication as a full time job….but without pay, your basically doing it for free.

Sources Cited 

Image used:

Glei, Jocelyn K. “Stop the Insanity: How to Crush Communication Overload.” 29 Oct 2014. Web <>


Blog #9: tl;dr–Coping With Communication Overload

Any number of commentators have remarked on how the transition from print to digital media–by making it easier and cheaper than ever to produce and disseminate content–has resulted in what some people might call “communication overload.” Via our computers, our smartphones, and the screens that surround us as we make our way in the world, we are constantly bombarded with a barrage of multimedia messages.

Image “Short Attention Span” used here courtesy of a CC license by Sarah Mae on Flickr.

As Seth Godin describes it in a blog post titled, “Trapped by tl;dr,” we are drowning in an “internet tsunami,” and in order to avoid being swept away, we try to tread water by skimming the surface of all that communication:

TL;DR is internet talk for “too long; didn’t read”. It’s also a sad, dangerous symptom of the malfunctions caused by the internet tsunami. (Here’s a most ironic example of this paradox…)

The triathlete doesn’t look for the coldest bottle of water as she jogs by… she wants it fast and now. That mindset, of focusing merely on what’s fast, is now a common reaction to many online options. I think it works great for runners, not so well for learners.

There’s a checklist, punchline mentality that’s dangerous and easy to adopt. Enough with the build up, wrap this up, let me check it off, categorize it and quickly get to the next thing… c’mon, c’mon, too late, TL;DR…

Godin cautions against giving in to the tl;dr mindset, however:

Judging by length is foolish. TL;DR shows self-contempt, because you’re ignoring the useful in exchange for the short or the amusing. The media has responded to our demand by giving us a rising tide of ever shorter, ever more amusing wastes of time. Short lowers the bar, but it also makes it hard to deliver much.

He recommends instead that we “read incisively, curate, edit, choose [our] sources carefully, and in this way “[l]imit the inbound to what’s important, not what’s shiny or urgent or silly.”

In the absence of gatekeepers–such as newspaper and magazine editors, publishers, and the like–who used to control the flow of information by restricting access to the means of production and dissemination, Godin argues we have to become our own content “curators.”

Yet, where Godin places the responsibility squarely on the reader to engage in a meaningful way with longer-form content, some are stepping into the “curator” niche created by user demand for shorter, more concise communication. The website, for example, uses crowdsourcing to provide explanations of “software licenses in plain English,” for everything from Dropbox toTrueCrypt.

Posting: Group 1

Commenting: Group 2

Category: tl;dr

For this blog post, consider how digital communication media have changed not just how we compose, but also how we receive and process content. Think about whether and how the roles and responsibilities of content creators and content audiences may have evolved or may need to evolve in order to adapt to the new rhetorical context created by digital media. Use the questions below (or similar ones you create) as starting places when you craft your post:

  • Do readers have a responsibility to engage with longer content? If so, when and under what circumstances?
  • Does a content creator ignore significant aspects of the rhetorical situation when she crafts online content that risks a tl;dr response? Are there circumstances in which longer-form communication is still necessary, even in online contexts?
  • What are some rhetorical strategies that one can use to promote user engagement with longer-form content online, hopefully to avoid a tl;dr response?

In thinking about the relative responsibilities of creators and users in online rhetorical contexts, and how to optimize online communication, locate examples–both good and bad–to help illustrate your points about what works and what doesn’t. Use these examples a springboard for discussion; don’t just drop them in at the end.

In your Blog #9 post, you need to take a focused position about how understanding online rhetorical contexts can assist you in your technical communication process, rather than taking a scattered approach (which would happen if you simply wrote a few sentences in response to each question). Please carefully read and follow the guidelines and posting information for this blog. You can quote from additional articles you read as support for your position. You should include specific workplace examples to further support your argument. Make sure to document your sources, either by linking to them or including them in a bibliography at the end of your post.

Featured Image “Short Attention Span Hopscotch” by Janet Lackey on Flickr.

Dr. Robin Wharton | 25 Park Place #2434 | Office Hours: M/W 9:30 to 10:30, T/Th 2:30 to 3:30