Effective use of emoticons to enhance online communication

hari

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hari submitted a new Article:

Effective use of emoticons to enhance online communication

Why are emoticons important?

One of the few areas of online communication that doesn't seem to attract much attention from forum owners or users alike is the effective use of emoticons to enhance online communication.

Communication - textual or verbal - is not only about sharing information but also carries an inherent emotional aspect with it. Whether we appreciate it or not, we are subtly influenced by the use of non-verbal cues to interpret communication in real life. The same goes for online communication as well. We always try to "complete" the communication from all aspects and apart from the informational value carried in messages, we also look for the emotional cues that lie beneath.

Classification of emoticons and how they affect online communication

I tend to think of emoticons as the "visual" aspect of online communication that gives us emotional cues. There are two broad categories of emotional messages that an emoticon can carry: positive or negative. Each has its own use in online communication and I'll try to explain them in more specific detail here.

A more detailed classification would be:
  1. Emotion "sharing" emoticons - positive/negative. ( :), :(, :D, :rolleyes:, :mad: etc.)
  2. Cue emoticons :)confused:, :eek:, :cool:, :eek: etc.)
  3. Ornamental emoticons (all custom/animated emoticons)
However, bear in mind that because of the widespread and careless use of emoticons these days, certain smilies have almost zero emotional content while certain other non-standard emoticons just serve as amusement value for the end users and don't have much effect in delivering emotional messages. Standard emoticons are generally more effective because they are visually simple and have a direct relation to facial expressions of different kinds.

Many of my explanations are based on subjective analysis and experience and have no backing by objective research. But with experience, I'm sure many forum users will agree that emoticons are definitely an important aspect of online communication.

Basic emoticons and their underlying emotional messages

  1. Happy Smile :)
    The most common emoticon, the happy smile is essentially positive in nature and conveys cheer. The important thing is to note that it should be used only when you would generally smile at the other person while delivering a message. Use of this icon in contradictory situations - namely while delivering negative or aggressive messages can...
Read more about this article here...
 
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hari

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Hi, any suggestions or feedback on this article? :)
 

ronoxQ

Eye In The Sky
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Feb 25, 2006
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Wow. Very nice guide!

It isn't everyday that we see guides on making emoticons matter. Thanks. :)
 

shaon

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Jul 30, 2005
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Never knew an article could be written on emoticons:D You have done well in explaining how emoticons affect an online communication. Thank you :)
 

msimplay

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I liked this article very much would it be ok to use it on my site for a bit of quality content as a lot of my members are near clueless :p
 

DodgeFB

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I got in trouble a couple of years ago over emoticons. I had one flamer that wanted to know what I was smiling at. And then I had another member on a board really take me to task for using more than one emoticon in a post.

I could really have used this article then. I just thought they were fun. So I think it is a great article.:tiphat:
 

arnie

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Aug 18, 2006
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Emoticons can often save misunderstandings. Our forum contains mostly members from the USA and the UK. British members (like me) quite frequently use irony in posts, which can sometimes lead to offence being taken by others, who are less accustomed to the use of irony, and take the posting literally. For instance, if I were to write that GW Bush is the greatest American president ever, I could almost guarantee an irate reply.

I have learnt the hard way that the winking emoticon ( ;) or similar) is very useful; even if it removes the subtlety from my post, it shows that I do not intend my statement to be taken literally.
 

DodgeFB

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I see that happen too. And here in the US people that know me say I have a "dry" since of humor. So I too get taken wrong. And then there are the ones that are just looking for trouble.:)
 

ILTK

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^tell me about it, I'm danish and for some reason when danes write english it has a way of comming of as jerkish sometimes, especially to people from the US, english people seem to not be affected by it as much, we use a lot of sarcasm and irony when speaking and it's used a lot in everyday talk to poke fun at eachother in a very dry way, but it does not translate very well, so I use emoticons a lot to counteract that.
 

DodgeFB

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ILTK said:
^tell me about it, I'm danish and for some reason when danes write english it has a way of comming of as jerkish sometimes, especially to people from the US, english people seem to not be affected by it as much, we use a lot of sarcasm and irony when speaking and it's used a lot in everyday talk to poke fun at eachother in a very dry way, but it does not translate very well, so I use emoticons a lot to counteract that.
My hat is off to anyone who speaks a 2nd language. And to write in a 2nd language. is great in my opinion. I would probably start a war if I tried writing in another language.:unhunh: I need to double check my post as it is.:D
 

jinzleftbuttcheek

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When I am scanning a forum to see if I want to post there, one of the first things I do (if possible) is look at the smilies. While there is no good or bad group of smilies, the ones picked for a particular board says a lot about the personality of that board. Is the board a no nonsense board? Goofy? Intense? Friendly? The smilies often tell what words do not. I find it a resource (but not the only resource as I look at other things also) in finding if the board and myself would make a good match.
 

Jichino

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May 21, 2008
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Wow, i think this is the first article i have ever seen written about emoticons. With that said, it is a very good article and may change the way some webmasters feel about them.
 

Baldilocks

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:) You went way back huh? LOL. Yes, it's still quite a good article and still just as valid 2 years later.

However, there are easier ways to get us to buy insurance. ;)
 

amoona

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Really an interesting article. From no matter what you will get something valuable if we pay more attention to it;)
 

Shelley

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Interesting article. nice work. I think I would be writing an article like this for weeks if I had to write up for each of my emoticons. Noneoftheless, very good. :tup:
 

MisterPersonality

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Nov 29, 2008
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Great article indeed!

I usually use the rolling eyes smiley when I'm being sarcastic/trying to heat a debate more than it needs to be heated.

But generally, I like that you taught me which situation each should be used in.

Cheers. :)
 

gogoblender

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Celebratory Bump for you Hari!

I read this a while back and was completely floored with the skill with which this article was written. You hit everything right on the head.

So glad you're back at Taz!

:)

gogo
 
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