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A Guide To Presenting Arguments

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BenMillard
  • BenMillard

    aka Cerbera

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  • Joined: 22 Jun 2002
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Posted 21 January 2005 - 01:31 PM Edited by sivispacem, 08 August 2012 - 03:27 PM.

A Guide to Presenting Arguments
quotes, links, sums, diagrams, etc

Introduction
There is a growing trend for people to make posts which are very difficult to follow due to poor presentation. This thread is to offer a simple guide to writing posts which are clearer, allowing other members to concentrate on the content of the posts in D&D instead of their technical appearance.

There are a few extra ground-rules to consider in this forum:

Keep idle banter to a minimum
There's an entire section of the forum for idle banter. Think before you post in D&D, "am I adding anything to the debate?" There's no limit to how much you can say if you wish, but if you choose to post please contribute something worthwhile- a brief sound byte or short comment is not acceptable. Also, the posting of videos, images, sound files or any other form of media is actively discouraged without both a clear link to the topic at hand and some kind of explanation and discussion of the relevance and content of the media.

"I think" does not mean "I'm right"
Decade-long wars have been fought because individuals have been unable to differentiate between an opinion and a fact. D&D deals primarily with opinions (as there are few concrete facts in the world" and it is evident that people's opinions are going to come into play. But it is important that these opinions are either (or ideally both) substantiated with evidence, sources or examples, and/or presented as opinion rather than fact. It's not necessarily to caveat everything with "I think", but use your head and double-check posts to make sure they don't read as if you are dictating reality- because there are bound to be people chomping at the bit to disagree with your "facts"!

Paragraphs
There is no first line indentation on these forums, nor on most internet sources. Therefore one must leave a blank line between paragraphs so that the user can distinguish between them. If you have more than about ten lines in your paragraph, you should consider breaking them into smaller ones. However, creating new lines or using blank lines should not be done for every sentence. Use a new paragraph when talking about a different aspect of the subject but if you have many short paragraphs you should think about combining them into normal paragraphs.

Also be careful of punctuation and spelling. It is very easy to make a "typo" without even realising. However, the reader will notice and it can make the content of posts impossible to understand.


Quote
These boards have an excellent, standard QUOTE tag which allows text to be displayed in a box within your post. The author name and even the time they posted can be added to these to make them a really useful way to highlight key posts or sources relevant to the subject. There is an automatic QUOTE button at the top of every post. If you click this, the text will be added into your post when you click Preview or Add Reply from the page you get sent to. You can remove parts of the quoted text but be careful that you don't remove part of the QUOTE tag..

For long posts it is often helpful to split them into several quoted sections and respond to each individually or if there are several people you want to quote and respond to. You will normally need to create the QUOTE tags manually to do this. When you use the QUOTE tag you should always specify the author. If you do not, people will have no idea who you are talking about. To create a simple quote with the author specified, type some forum code like this:
CODE
[QUOTE=Author Name]This is the quoted text[/quote]This is the response
Be sure to respond to the quote immediately after the /QUOTE tag so that the response appears next to the quoted section.

Quoted sections can be placed inside each other to represent parts of conversations. The basic principle is that you place all the opening QUOTE sections at the start with the author names, then add the messages from the first to the last. Close each quote level as you go. When creating layered quotes you should also give the date so that people can understand the order of the conversation:
CODE
[quote=Author Name,Jan 03 2005, 02:00][quote=Another Author,Jan 02 2005, 01:00][quote=Author Name,Jan 01 2005, 00:00]This is the earliest message.[/quote]This is the middle message[/quote]This is the newest message[/quote]This is the response
The newest quote should be the one you start with, which will make the oldest quote appear at the top of the list the code creates. This means people can read through the conversation from where it started down to where it finished.

Code Samples
If you are discussing mathematics it is often difficult to present sums or equations in a way which is easy to read. By using the CODE tag you will get a font style in which all the letters are the same width, allowing you to align equation steps with each other, write vectors and so on. The CODE element has no author or date because it will be contained within the post or within a QUOTE tag which contains this information.

To create a CODE element which displays a simple equation, use this code:
CODE
f means Force in Newtons (N)
m means Mass in Kilograms (kg)
a means Acceleration in Metres per second, per second (ms/s)

when:
m = 1000
a = 1

f = ma
f = 1000 x 1
f = 1000 x 1
f = 1000 N


Links
Sometimes you will want to create a topic about something which has an internet version, such as a news bulletin, or you might want to respond to someone by linking them to a scientific article. Large images should be linked to rather than displayed using the IMG tag, which is explained later.

Links are normally used within a sentance to turn normal words into a link which relates to them. For example, when talking about D&D I could call it the Debates and Discussions area and make its name into a link to it. To create a hyper link like that, this is the code:
CODE
For example, when talking about D&D I could call it the [url=http://gtaforums.com/index.php?showforum=77]Debates and Discussions[/url] area and make its name into a link to it.



Images
Sometimes a discussion will get into things which are best described with an image, such as showing a map of where a particular country actually is. In scientific or mathematical conversations you could make your own diagrams, graphs or complex equations. Please do not use IMG for images wider than about 500 pixels because many people use narrow browser windows. Sometimes a website will prevent IMG links from returning the image. You can link to images from sites like this using a URL tag. Readers would then click the URL tag to bring up the image.

For example, to use an IMG element to display my avatar, you would use code like this:
CODE
[img]http://projectcerbera.com/avatar.gif[/img]


Tables and Lists
Sometimes you might want to create a table to show a series of values in a logical manner. Truth tables, experiment results or an organised series of data can often be made much clearer by a good table. If you are familiar with HTML tables the TABLEB, TR, TD and TH tags on this board should be easy for you to use. If you are not familiar with the HTML equivalents, here is a sample of the code for a simple table:
CODE
[tableb]
[tr]
 [th]Table Header, Left[/th]
 [th]Table Header, Left[/th]
[/tr]
[tr]
 [td]Table Data, upper left[/td]
 [td]Table Data, upper right[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
 [td]Table Data, lower left[/td]
 [td]Table Data, lower right[/td]
[/tr]
[/tableb]
There is also a normal TABLE tag which has no borders or background colours. If you cannot figure out how to make tables, you could use the CODE tag with spaces between the values to create columns.


Combinations
You can all of these methods in your posts and some can be combined together. For example, you might use an IMG to display a thumbnail or preview of an image, with a URL allowing readers to access the full version. If you are quoting a message which has images in it, you could rewrite them to be URL links to save space.

These methods can be used on most forums. If you learn to use them when writing posts in D&D you will be learning something you can use on all the other forums you visit. You will often find these tags are useful for other posts you make around the forums and even your signature.


(EDIT: 2005-01-21) Updated topic title to suit the title change of it being pinned.
(EDIT: 2005-01-23) Revised the equations example to demonstrate indentation of sums.
(EDIT: 2005-04-22) Made headers bold since the sizes are not that different to normal text.
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