1083: Writing Styles

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Writing Styles
I liked the idea, suggested by h00k on bash.org, of a Twitter bot that messages prominent politicians to tell them when they've unnecessarily used sms-speak abbreviations despite having plenty of characters left.
Title text: I liked the idea, suggested by h00k on bash.org, of a Twitter bot that messages prominent politicians to tell them when they've unnecessarily used sms-speak abbreviations despite having plenty of characters left.

[edit] Explanation

Sms-speak is a style of communication which involves substituting numbers for letters and shortening phrases to get a longer idea across in fewer characters at the cost of readability. The practice began first with text messages, also known as SMS, or Short Message Service, which limited messages to 160 characters. Twitter has adopted a 140 character limit since its inception, which allowed any given tweet to be received as an SMS message with enough room for the user's Twitter handle (15 characters max).

The comic is about the fact that many politicians see sms-speak not as a means to remain under a character limit, but as a dialect spoken by those who are "tech-savvy." As a result, many of said politicians use sms-speak in cases when their message isn't in danger of the character limit, but where they are appealing to a younger demographic, thinking it makes them appear to be "modern" to their target audience. In reality, it does the opposite, showing that they do not understand why sms-speak is used at all.

The comic's joke is that modern teenagers, often stereotyped as lacking proper writing skills due to character limits on services such as SMS and twitter, can in many cases write better than politicians, who as discussed above use sms-speak unnecessarily. The sentence attributed to the teenager is the sort of thing that would stereotypically be assigned to a senator, while the sentence attributed to the senator would be stereotypically assigned to a teenager.

The opinion expressed by the teenager is not an uncommon one among people of that age, possibly due to Ron Paul's support for the legalization of marijuana as well as his tendency to occasionally express political ideas that do not fit the mainstream of established US politics.

Technically speaking, neither of the sentences in the comic exceed 60 characters. Indeed, extending the sms-speak sentence to correct punctuation and removing abbreviations only uses slightly more than half the character limit:

  • Ron Paul is the only candidate who offers us a real choice! (59 characters)
  • its gettin l8 so ill b here 4 prob 2 more hrs tops (50 characters)
  • It is getting late, so I will be here for probably two more hours, tops. (72 characters)

The title text discusses an idea that Randall approves of, originally suggested by a user on bash.org called h00k, where a twitter bot be created to message politicians when they use sms-speak unnecessarily. This would presumably embarrass said politicians, which might in turn lead to a decrease in their use of sms-speak. Randall evidently considers this a good thing, suggesting he finds the unnecessary use of sms-speak annoying.

[edit] Transcript

[This is a chart with the above two labeled columns. The rows will be represented below in the same format.]
If you post: you sound like
"Ron Paul is the only candidate who offers us a real choice!": A teenager
"its gettin l8 so ill b here 4 prob 2 more hrs tops": A senator
The internet has wound up in kind of a weird place.
comment.png add a comment! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


Politicians don't seem to be doing this too much nowadays. Don't know about the other runners, but Obama's tweets are mostly coherent, with just a pile of gibberish hashtags appended on the end. Davidy22 (talk) 10:30, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

Additionally politicians may be tempted to use SMS abbreviations in order to come across as younger and aware of youth culture, while their target audience actually doesn't use these abbreviations at all. 23:23, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

There's also a bit of political commentary here, which has so far been skirted over, suggesting that much of the cheerleading for (the highly libertarian) Ron Paul comes from youthful and, by implication, politically naive commentators. 14:15, 15 March 2013 (UTC)Chris C

But how is that much different from the 2008 election of our current president which had a very youthful and as you said "naive" 21:44, 11 October 2013 (UTC)Robert
You seem to be missing a noun and a question mark at the end of your comment. I'm guessing your point is "hey meanie, don't just mock Ron Paul supporters (of which you are presumably one) Obama-ites deserve a kicking too as he is a LIAR". Sure. Consider that Obama heavily implied and at other times outright promised a focus on civil rights prior to election and in the early months of his tenure. For usonian voters of all ages who wanted to do the rest of the world a favor and get the west back on track after eight years of Bush's neoconservatism, Obama was the only realistic choice. The fact that he hasn't fully delivered, especially on Guantanamo, is beside the point. Ron Paul would be facing even more opposition, given that he is starkly unwilling to compromise -- but that unemergent forthrightness is part of his appeal to right libertarians. -- Cockhorse (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I tried to fix the issues with the explanation, but would love someone to look over my edits. If I might say, this explanation was a mess before. It might still be, for all I know. Due to this uncertainty, I'm leaving the incomplete tag. 05:50, 23 August 2015 (UTC)

I reviewed the explanation and it looks great! I removed the incomplete tag. As an additional suggestion, we may want to add references to xkcds 1414 and 1045, both of which are about how sms and twitter actuwlly produce better writers/writing. I wasn't sure how to do it so I thought I'd leave a note.Bbruzzo (talk) 02:46, 25 August 2015 (UTC)


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