I appreciate Cecil going thru all the trouble to explain an answer in all its detail, really I do. However, does he have to take the long way around every single time? I’m just saying it gets a little tedious pouring thru all the facts and figures to something which can usually be sumed up in one or two paragraphs. Im not critiquing Cecil, just voicing my voicing my opinion on the matter. I would really like to see shorter, more simplified answers.
The Straight Dope is a syndicated newspaper column generally appearing in alternative newspapers. As such, he has to make his column the same size every week.
I think that he has once mentioned his column length, though my search of the archives couldn’t readily locate it. I think that I recall that it is about 800 words, though.
So, his answers are always about that length.
Billdo is correct. I help sort through Cecil’s mail, and we pretty much instantly discard any questions that can be answered by one word or one sentence (like most trivia questions), or any questions that would take pages. There have been some exceptions, though, when he’ll take two or three quick questions to fill a column.
I have to say, one of my favorite answers breaks the rule big-time: Do you need a key to start an F-16?
If you think that Cecil is long-winded, you probably haven’t read all of the Staff Reports.
:dubious: So… fact and figures are getting in the way of reading what is, on the average, a rather small sized newspaper column you consider too wordy?
Not saying anymore so as to stay out of the Pit.
Moriah, I’m referring to the “Today’s Question” section. I’m not sure if this is the same column that appears in a newspaper or not. I should have clarified that to begin with. In any case I think you can get too deep into the facts, history, statistics, whatever, which makes it too technical.
Well, today’s Today’s Question, if that’s what you’re talking about, is not one of Cecil’s columns at all, but one of my long-winded Staff Reports. Weighing in at 1,700 words, it’s twice as long as one of Cecil’s columns. But it’s actually pretty concise by my standards; my answers average around 2,000 words. Staff Reports are online only and are not printed anywhere. The ink bill alone would ruin Scrooge McDuck.
Which means that the Staff Reports don’t have any length restrictions at all. So we staffers are free to say as much as we need to on a subject. But extra-long Staff Reports are often broken up into several parts, such as Dex et al’s classic on who wrote the Bible.
Of course, you’re free to skim, if you’d like.
Long winded? Hardly. I usually wish there was more column space accorded in newsprint to answering The Straight Dope questions. Cecil does an admirable job of cutting to the chase of a question, with a few extra lagniappes of style. I see the column as being pretty tight. I’d much rather have the option of viewing all the facts and figures filtered through a great source, than having a whittled down pre-fab little piece of knowledge.