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February 14, 2006

How Flame Wars Start

The problem with email, other than spam, of course, is that the words on the page do not convey the nuances of the writer's voice and tone.  Emoticons were invented to some extent to add that emotional flavor to casual text.  Emoticons, however, did not gain traction with the email writing public.  Without something better, the recipient has to interpret the meaning behind the text.

Most people think that their recipients will get the tone of the message right about 80% of the time.  Recently, a study by Nicholas Eply and Justin Kruger published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology say that people tend to get it right a little over 50% of the time.  The sender writes with tone and emotion in his or her head and assumes that they are obvious to the reader.  The study paired senders and recipients and tested the levels of accuracy in communication.

More on this from Wired News.  If you want to see a glossary of emoticons, go here, and then try to figure out what --^--,--^-{@ means, or even why it exists.  (Hint:  the last statement was sarcasm.)

February 14, 2006 | Permalink


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