Creating Good Forum Topic Titles
We have a large community here at Wowhead and ever since the introduction of our forums there has been a large amount of threads which all share one thing in common: "Help me, please!" Many users looking for help at other sites are often left feeling lost, but thanks to our great community of users (and obviously our staff), we like to think most of you actually do receive the help you need—whether it's in the form of a direct answer or simply being pointed in the right direction. In this entry, my goal is to help lead users away from vague "Help me!" titles and towards more specific requests, so they can get the help they're looking for.
There are three core guidelines for how to receive quality help or advice quickly. These guidelines are simple: a) be concise, b) be informative, and c) be open. The first two deal primarily with topic titles since they are the most important aspect of a thread. The last deals with the message itself. Let's have a closer look, shall we?
Note: Be sure to read and understand the forum
. If an entry is in violation, click the Report button and a staff member will review the issue.
A topic title needs to be interesting. It needs to stand out among a sea of other threads, but also needs to say something important (like the topic of your thread). Ask yourself which sounds better in the following example:
Mary wakes up at 6 o'clock every morning to collect the eggs, milk the cows, and feed the hogs.
Youngster Works Hard on Farm, Pays Off
The title is the most important part of a message so it should be short and sweet. A topic longer than the body of a message, such as a long question, generally leave little to no room for actual discussion. Topics such as "where is lizard help" are usually a dime a dozen and can be found throughout the forums. As such, many users skip right over these topics thinking they are posted by newbies or contain nothing useful to anyone except the original poster. The fact is, lots of users
read these topics, if only they had interesting titles. It's a good idea to also check the most recent three pages of topics before creating a new one from scratch.
The meat of a message must be filling. A simple one-line question "Help! Will this work?" simply doesn't cut the mustard. One must go a step beyond and actually give some information which may be pertinent to the subject at hand. For example, when asking about talent builds one should first search all of the threads stuck at the top of the forums. If unable to find something similar, then creating a topic is a good idea. In the body it would be helpful to know what level character is being played, whether or not the subject is related to PVP or PVE, and a link to the character's
profile. This little bit of info can go a long way toward getting not just a reply, but hopefully a
The third part to the equation is to have an open mind and be accepting. If one posts a topic, consider all options without bias. It's fine to have an opinion, but it's better to have two. :)
Let's try our little exercise again. This part deals mostly with the body of a message. Which is more approachable?
I don't care. I'm doing this my way and if you don't like it then don't bother replying with your criticism you jerk!
This is what I've been doing and so far it seems to work for me. Do any of you have suggestions or ideas to help? Please explain.
A Few Good Tips
In addition to the three basic guidelines,
one should strive to be unassuming
. If you have a question about how to play a talent build, then read the topics which are always stuck at the top of your class forums. If you still don't see any information, check the first three pages of topics. Consider making that new topic after all other options have been exhausted. After all, self-help is the best help.
Another good tip is to use good grammar, spelling, and punctuation correctly. While one doesn't necessarily have to flip through a dictionary while posting, special use of the space bar, Enter key, and the occasional period can cause a
wall of text
to suddenly become broken into bricks, which are more easily digestible by forum lurkers. Most online readers do not read large blocks of text without breaks (they skim downward in a diminuendo).
In order to reach as many users as possible, one should be concise, direct, and able to accept criticism in discussion. Of course, this isn't something which comes naturally to all people. The advice in this entry should help your message become both accessible to more users and more enticing to users who, under vague topic titles, would have potentially never clicked to read that "Help me!" post. Also, having a dozen threads in each and every single forum saying "Help me, I need advice!" in about five hundred different variations is...well, ugly.
How about the rest of you?
What can users do when seeking help which would encourage you to reply?
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