Short guide to keep messages concise and meaningful

The character limit in Twitter is a feature for greater reach. Make each character count, for your readers and your visibility. Long texts are not necessarily more valuable or useful, they have a greater extension to do so, and they have more sentences to try to get quoted and get visibility that way. If that works, short text may not be a good idea. This may be a matter of opinion. At the very least, this is a short guide to always be revised in the future, by me, and primarily for me.  YMMV.

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Mark Twain

My opinion is clear, keeping posts short is important:

  1. Brevity is the soul of wit.
  2. LoC spent,
  3. Long posts are never finished, and never published. Do or don’t, there’s no try.

Short posts can always become long. Single tweets can become long discussions, and tweet storms are not so comfortable to write, or read, or discuss. To keep the process faster, more rewarding, and less boring, I am going to:

  1. make many assumptions about what readers know and can understand (less explanations), including Spanish, (not-so-pop) culture, and any acronym I know (but not too many),
  2. limit posts to 500 words, and
  3. stop striving to provide answers, because I still have a lot of things to figure out. Food for thought is not bad.

Current options (e.g. Twitter) are not the final form discussions on the Internet. Assuming zero or few replies (my case), blogs are fine despite of their “asymmetry”, when written with discipline. Twitter is successful for a number of reasons, but one is the discipline it imposes. Here are some suggestions for discipline to achieve similar results (in addition to the 500 word limit).

  1. The title is a sentence and an idea. It should fit in a tweet with the link. If reach is important, try to make the preview interesting, i.e. title and fist sentence.
  2. The whole post is about that idea, for clarification, explanation, presenting supporting information, proof, evidence, educated guesses,… If there is any related idea that could be necessary for the background, either link to some explanation, or write it if needed and then link to it. There are no excuses for digressing, edit and fix. Think of the single responsibility principle. If it is too short for a post (less than 200 words), then add a comment in the comment system.
  3. No fillers. 500 words is the limit, not the goal. You may think that lists are nicer with some number of elements (3, 5, 10,…). The best number is one. If that is not possible, the number that is closest to one is the best.
  4. Read and reword. Could you write shorter sentences? Each character counts. Remember Twitter. It should be as short as possible, if it is shorter than possible, that is fine. Misinterpretation may be better (e.g. accurate) than original intention.

Clearly, 500 words is plenty, maybe too much, so no excuses.


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