Effectively Communicating in Online Discussion Groups

First things first

Remember, on these discussion groups, the topics are arranged in date order, so the topic with the most recent posting will show on top and older topics will be towards the bottom or on another page.  The webmaster retains the right to delete topics that no longer contain accurate information or are dead topics.

Communicate clearly

Write clearly when you compose a message. Review your message carefully before clicking Send; typos are confusing. Remember, if your message can be misunderstood, it will be.  Our message boards do have a spell check feature.  To use it, just highlight the text and click on the spell check icon on the toolbar. 

Refrain from using ALL CAPS

TYPING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IS FROWNED UPON; IT’S THE EQUIVALENT OF SCREAMING AT EVERYONE.  IT ALSO MAKES MESSAGES MORE DIFFICULT TO READ.

Don’t let it get personal

Keep in mind there will always be differences of opinion. Try to remain objective and not personalize issues, if at all possible. You can disagree with others by being firm and expressing your opinion with clarity, without resorting to name calling, slurs or innuendos just to make your point. Posters that behave in that manner are generally those whose opinions are weak or not based in any truth or facts, and are viewed as such.  (Any posts that include name calling, profanity or other inappropriate materials will be removed by the webmaster.  They also have the right to suspend your access if the inappropriate behavior continues.)

Don’t post meaningless messages

Posting messages that say nothing more than “me too” is a quick way to irritate other members. If you agree with a posting, either enjoy your consent by yourself or reply with an informative comment about why you agree. Imagine how dull a board would get if it contained nothing but hundreds of “me too’s.”

Consider sending a reply by E-Mail

E-mail is typically a one-to-one communications system. Some replies are better sent as e-mail, rather than posted to a board. Personal messages and especially critical comments are more appropriate when sent directly and privately. There’s an E-mail to Author option on every Post Response form; don’t forget this option.

Quote from the post you’re replying to

Include a small section of text from the post you’re replying to, so others will have a quick reminder of the topic. This is especially helpful if you are addressing a specific point from a previous post.

Stay on Topic

Stay on topic and discuss issues only relative to the thread in question. A thread is the term used for an ongoing conversation based on a particular subject. Feel free to change the subject to something more apropos if the thread goes off in another direction, or start an entirely new thread. When you do so, be sure to name the subject field to clearly reflect the revised topic so the other members are aware of the new topic.  This makes it easier for other people to find the information they are looking for.

Refrain from crossposting

Crossposting means posting a single message to several different message boards or threads, and it is almost never appropriate. Such posts tend to reduce the quality of the discussion and needlessly increase the traffic on the board. Find the best place for your post, and please confine your message to one thread.

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