There are several schools of thought on what form our writing should take.

Some, (given arbitrary names,) are listed here:

The forms described here generally apply to DocumentMode conversation; ThreadMode is not considered here.

NeutralPointOfView is a matter of what is said, more than what form is it said in.

The StyleGuide has some guidelines for writing on a wiki; it just describes a good form of writing for a general knowledge-collecting wiki; it doesn't discuss various forms of writing and their respective advantages.


A commercial style of writing is like what you would find in a magazine, or a newspaper. You have a style guide, strict guidelines, etc., etc.,.


RudolfFlesch wrote a book called TheArtOfPlainTalk in which he tells how to write in a style that he calls "Plain Talk."

I haven't read the whole thing, but I can say a few things:

For an example of some "plain talk" writing (as understood by myself, LionKimbro), consider WikiNodes:UnderstandingDelegations.

My personal experience with "plain talk" is that it works well, but takes a long time to read or write. But, maybe it's worth it? Mis-understandings can easily consume hours, or even days, of bitter spent emotion. Spending a minute or two reading more PlainTalk may not be all that bad.


Much of our wiki conversation seems to be going the way of code.

There is a focus on brevity and clarity; See ConsolidateInformation.

Whenever the same argument is recurring, you abstract it into it's own page. This is just like in programming, where recurring explanations are collected into their own "function," "procedure," or "method" definition.

This type of writing looks sort of mathematical. You may need to spend some time learning the new symbols (the names of the pages,) but once you've done so, you've aquired a language for deciphering the remainder of the pages, and you can say a lot in a small space.

In Plain Talk, you might write: "There are many kinds of fruits. Three of them are apples, bananas, and pears."

In Code-wise talk, you would write: "Types of fruit include: Apples, Bananas, Pears," or even:

"Types of fruit include:

Robert Horn's work on Visual Language is, perhaps, the ultimate extent of this angle.

Trends on Wiki

It seems that wiki is headed towards code-wise writing; It seems to be the preferred form of reworking pages.

It might be because it's good at describing alternative perspectives clearly and concisely.


Name of the Page

There is almost certainly already a formal name for what I mean by "FormOfWriting." If someone who knows the real word for it would tell it, we can move all this text to a page under that name. We don't have easy WikiFeatures:PageRenaming yet, so we should probably talk about the name before renaming it.

They're calling it a "mode" of writing over on C2 – see Wiki:CategoryMode

LionKimbro, PlainTalk, and Code-wise writing

I, personally, feel a tension between PlainTalk and Code-wise writing. I am strongly attracted to the brevity and narrow clarity of code-wise writing. However, I am also strongly attracted to the broad clarity of PlainTalk, and how it helps keep us grounded in reality.

I'm in love with Robert Horn's work on VisualLanguage. It's not just about icons and graphics, it's also about the spatial arrangement of text, the layout of text.

Purpose of this Page

The purpose of this page is not to imply that we should require one form rather than another, or that one form of writing is better or worse than another. Rather, the purpose is to have a starting point for talking about these forms of writing.

LionKimbro on Plain Talk

If you try to force the reader to invest time to read your text, the reader may react by skimming, or ignoring. Request re-reading, don't force by repetition.

Two things:

First, when I wrote the section on Plain Talk, I intended for it to be a place for describing RudolphFlesch?'s ideas about how to write plain talk. I didn't mean that we should argue for or against those ideas there. Just to explain them.

But, they're things worth talking about, and identifying tradeoffs.

Personally, I don't think RudolfFlesch? would have cared that some people skimmed. He might have thought, "Hey, that's okay." As long as people can follow it, it would do what he wanted, I think. Then again, I may be misunderstanding RudolphFlesh?'s ideas.

I think you are, yourself, in the Code-wise category- focusing on brevity- ConsolidateInformation. If so, it is more evidence that wiki as a whole is moving in that direction. Perhaps I should add that it is "function"- as much to be worked with and "used," as much as it is to be read.

That is, in wiki, we find ourselves rearranging text, reworking it, etc., etc.,. We don't just read it- we reword it as well. This requires that we are quickly able to pick up and put down thoughts. That would push us in the direction of code-wise writing.

Is that a reasonable conclusion?


Define external redirect: RudolphFlesh RudolphFlesch RudolfFlesch

EditNearLinks: StyleGuide DocumentMode NeutralPointOfView