Educate users about paragraphs - avoid "walls of text"

If we agree that avoiding walls of text is good forum practice, it would make sense to educate/help users achieve that. A common “mistake” is that users press enter only once to start a new paragraph. How about an education message that is shown when the text in the editor contains a single enter surrounded by text?

The message could say something like: "To create a new paragraph, press enter twice (once is not enough). "


I’m leaning towards it not being Discourse’s responsibility to educate members on grammatical style.
Where would it stop, improper use of apostrophes, run-on sentences, incorrect tense, etc, etc, etc?

On the other hand, I think a feature allowing for custom educational modals could be a good thing.
Maybe the best way to start would be a plugin that could detect extremely lengthy paragraphs and ask if it was by intent?


I don’t think this is about style. It’s Just like teaching them how to do bold or italics. If the user doesn’t attempt to start a new paragraph, there will be no edu-notice.

This is about style. :slight_smile: While I wouldn’t mind that feature, my response would be:


A better way to do this would be to detect that a ‘wall of text’ has been posted with no linebreaks, and nag about that.

Even then I suspect a lot of false positives and virtually no chance of this catching anything in the real world. I see this behavior … almost never.

If you want to write a plugin to do this, go for it.


The problem with warning about “walls of text” is that they already happened at the time you warn.

The :european_castle: composers are very unlikely to care about such a warning after they invested so much time in the wall.


I’m fascinated by this topic.

I frequently see questions get completely ignored because the way they are asked makes them an insurmountable read. Below is an example.

As a community manager it’s my job to educate members about etiquette and support them in getting the best possible responses to their questions.

Discourse is a unique product in that it takes a lot of the onus off CMs (and other members) when it comes to educating and forming behavioural norms.

I think we need to be careful about how far we expect that responsibility to go though.
We can’t fix all of the stuff for all of the people all of the time.


So the takeaway from that is, potentially warn new users when they post a long topic as their first new topic.

As @Sam points out to avoid loss aversion you’d need to do it in the middle of composition too …

I like the concept and agree with it, but I think it is quite subtle and hard to get right without lots of false positives.


I’m still on the fence. While there are use cases like the one above, I’m not sure it’s a big enough issue to warrant adding another warning. People end up becoming blind to them.

I’m curious – how frequently do you see examples that you think would warrant a warning in your community @tophee ?

My community is still small and you know well how much it takes to get people to post, but - without going back an checking exact figures - it feels like I’m editing about every other post to add a second enter for the paragraphs.

Maybe my framing of the issue in the OP was a bit misleading. My point here is not the total length of the post (although that can also be a problem) and not that people don’t care about inserting paragraphs, but that they do so incorrectly: they press only enter once. (I suppose MS Word is to “blame” here, because it by default inserts white space after CRLF to make the paragraph visible, and people are used to that.)

That’s why my suggestion was limited to identifying single occurrences of Enter with text before and after them. This would mean that the edu-notice pops up when people wrote something, hit enter once and continue writing.


I have a few (mostly email) users who separate paragraphs with double enter, but then use 5 spaces to start each paragraph. I’ve considered asking for a filter that would autostrip whitespace from incoming mails, but that would mean that nobody could use Preformatted text.

Other than reminding users not to add whitespace, the only other practical solution I can think of is regular beatings, but that isn’t the kind of community spirit we strive for.


In writing, the use of one enter is much less than the use of two. is it possible from code-point of view, that when one entered an enter; two simultaneous enters happen?

I mean, imagine I’ve only entered once between this line and the above paragraph, but the editor considered it as a <br>.

Most of my users, when press one enter, they intend for a paragraph. I’m also in favour of such behaviour (considering one enter to create a paragraph), especially when we are dealling with mixed direction content (ltr alongside rtl content).

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