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Your responses to what you thought about that little quarrel the other day are very interesting.

It’s almost like watching spam filters operate. The information goes in, and then it’s subject to a number of rules. If it breaks one of the rules, then, like a spam filter, the message gets (pretty much) tossed.

Everyone had a different set of filters, but some of the more common ones were:

No personal attacks: Calling somebody a rotten so-and-so was usually a very bad idea. People turned off at that point.

What was noteworthy was that it did not seem to matter whether or not a reason was given for calling somebody a rotten so-and-so, and whatever came after “He sucks because . . . .” didn’t register.

Criticism of specific actions or statements were considered more acceptable, but some didn’t even like the idea of that.

Do I like this guy or not? How the piece was judged, who was “right” or even whether or not you noticed who was involved depended highly on previous impressions on the person, more so than what was actually said by the parties.

A rather surprising common theme was the long memories associated with personal opinions. One person expressed disapproval about one party because of a recommendation he wrote four years ago. When the straw breaks the camel’s back, it doesn’t heal.

No tangents: This was a three-party dance with two active participants. Any comments made about the wallflower were hardly noticed unless the reader previously disliked him.

Some people had a very strict definition of “tangential.” They essentially said, “This was about BAPCO, what does hypocrisy have to do with it?” One person even said basically, “Don’t bring up hypocrisy unless it interferes with objectivity.”

More than a few basically said, “I just want to read about hardware, nothing else.”

Just the facts, man More than a few respondents seemed almost allergic to “opinion.” A few even suggested that anything that was an opinion should somehow be distinguished from facts, like putting them in italics in the text.

Again, there seemed to be little distinguishing between “You suck” and “You suck because . . . .” or, more formally, between stating an unsupported opinion and stating an opinion on the basis of facts and reasoning.

You just can’t trust those websites As we’ve noted before, there is a significant and growing percentage of the audience who do not look at reviews at all, or just mine them for nuggets of information, but rather use forums to get their major input about a product.
This trend exhibits itself in “How do you really know what’s going on behind the scenes” or “I take them all with a grain of salt.”

Conclusions

It’s always important to realize what and how you think may not be what and how other people think. Communications is not just
getting a message out, it’s sending a message and having it received properly. To do that properly, you have to know not only what you’re
saying, but what your audience is hearing.

I found this very informative and enlightening. Thanks to all who took the time to answer!

Ed

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