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I have just written my second answer for BH offline in markdownpad, and it is weighing in at 2150 words. I am considering whether to whittle it down a bit before posting. On the other hand, I'm thinking about adding a bit that doesn't add strong support for my conclusion but is interesting regarding the passage in question.

Does the community frown on novels? Is brevity a virtue here? Does it even matter?

If I have one really strong verse that supports an argument, should I just use it and omit the other 4 I might have?

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    @DonJewett-Journalism has taught me to 'get the story' with as much detail as required to convince the reader, along with enough 'paucity' to get it printed. Use enough detail to make your case, however it is not beneficial to bury your audience with a ponderance of data-there's no judge to wake up the jury.
    – Tau
    Mar 25 '14 at 13:15
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Thanks for asking this Don, and for your contributions so far. I also appreciate finding out about MarkdownPad!

Does the community frown on novels? Is brevity a virtue here? Does it even matter?

While there isn't a specific suggested length for answers, there is some guidance:

  • The 'close question' dialog indicates that there is such a thing as "too long":

    enter image description here

  • The "don't ask" section of the Help Center indicates that a question that requires a very lengthy answer probably isn't a good fit for this site:

    enter image description here

  • There is a hard limit of 30,000 characters in a post:

    enter image description here

There are some very long and at the same time very useful answers on the site, for example this one that I love. The answer you posted the other day is not too long in my opinion, and it helps a great deal that it is clearly laid out and makes good use of markdown formatting. If you provide a good conclusion of 'tl;dr' section it makes a long answer much more palatable.

So, brevity does matter, but don't be afraid to post a long answer if it is required. It's more important here to join the dots of your logic for those who might not come from the same hermeneutical background as yourself than it is to cover every base. Tangents can be relegated to footnotes if that helps keep the meat of the answer more focused and accessible.

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Just a few points to build on Jack's answer:

  • The longer your post the more important structure and formatting become. If a post is difficult to scan to even get a handle on whether the quality of the arguments is worth my time, often I simply skip reading it. A well organized post with appropriately bolded or bulleted text lets me evaluate it more quickly to see whether this is something I want to dig into more.

  • Sometimes it might be worth breaking out a section of your argument into a separate question. It's okay to answer your own questions, so sometimes if a post is long I'll ask a secondary question, post my answer to it, and then link it in the original answer to shorten its length. (For instance, I asked this question separate to support this answer.

  • I've read that it's often good to hold off on presenting multiple arguments for a point, especially if they are not as strong as some other argument you are making. Instead of being additive, our brains are tricked into thinking of the strong argument as weaker because it is presented along with another argument that is weaker.

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