Sunday, September 4, 2011


Also seen as tl;dr, it means “too long, didn’t read” and is applied to posts/articles/comments that stretch on to a point where people grow bored and stop reading. Or maybe they looked at the length ahead of time and skipped over it.

Unfortunately, the internet has greatly decreased attention spans. I mean, look at Twitter. It’s made for self-contained 140 character posts. Have a random thought? People will read it if it fits on their iPhone screen.

I’m not getting into whether the decay of attention this is a good or bad thing. You can make arguments either way (You don’t take time to analyze the substance! You have to learn to evaluate quickly!). Things like this are shifts in society as a whole. You can’t alter it without making significant changes to the internet.

It’s happening and ignoring it won’t make it go away. With so much information available, in fact bombarding people from all sides, if you’re not direct and to the point, people will file you under tl;dr. Granted there are other factors, such as readability and the subject’s interest, but those are posts for another day.

What do you think about long articles/posts? Good or bad? Maybe a dying art?


  1. What bothers me about "informative articles" I read online or in magazines is that a lot of it is repetitive and fluff, just taking up space. When I find myself saying "just get to the point" that's when I usually stop reading.

  2. Thanks. I had no idea what that abbreviation meant.

    There are days when I have time to peruse long articles, and there are days where if the post is longer than a couple paragraphs, I skip it.

  3. I think sometimes there is such a focus on quantity vs. quality. For example, people complain about long blog posts because they are visiting so many blogs, and hardly have time to read lengthy posts. But, are short posts always better? Can you always get across what needs to be addressed in a paragraph or two. I can't LOL. Great post!

  4. For me personally, it depends on the article/post. If it's well-written about a subject that interests me, I'll take the time to read it through. If it's really poorly written or about a subject I have no interest in, then, sorry, nope - tl;dr.

    Count me in, though, with those who think it's a shame the way our attention spans have decreased thanks to the Interwebz...

  5. Hi, JE, I'm in your scifi group over at the campaign. yes, I agree that attention spans are shrinking. I don;t dare post something on my blog that's longer than maybe five paragraphs. It's sad, but people are still reading. Blogs and novels won't go away, because stories bring meaning to lives. BTW, I love your "hobbies", Nitpicking, ha! Made me laugh.

  6. It's tough for writers now, who have to write for those who have grown up with Twitter and can't read more than a sentence at a time without getting bored. I think I'm going to stick to writing scripts.

  7. I'm not sure I've ever seen that abbreviation! Or if I did, I probs thought it was a random glitch in the interwebs.

    I try, really hard, to keep my blog posts short. Sometimes it doesn't happen. As far as what others have written, I'm with Karen; I'll quit reading if it's just space-filler. But I keep going if it's interesting.

  8. You know, I don't know that I believe that attention spans haven't always been short. I mean, newspaper articles have -always- been written so that all the necessary information is right at the beginning, because they new that people would not read the whole thing. They wouldn't read the whole thing to the point that if all that they needed to know wasn't right at the start, they would decide they didn't need to know.


Please validate me.