This wiki was created by an Advanced Expository Writing (W350) class at Indiana University. The topic of the course was digital writing, and members of the class answered the following questions throughout the semester: What is digital writing? How do individuals and online communities use genres like blogs, social networks, and wikis rhetorically? How do they put tropes, rhetorical figures, appeals, and other writing “moves” to use, and to what effect? The following pages explore these topics by using specific examples to explain how and why rhetorical devices are used in online writing. We hope anyone with an interest in digital writing and/or rhetoric will read, edit, add, and collaborate with us.

What is digital writing?

Digital writing is essentially writing that is not done with pen and paper. It is found on the World Wide Web and may include pictures and videos as well as text. It is often informal and public and can be collaborative, as it is in this wiki. A wiki is a genre of digital writing that allows people to build and edit any sort of digital text. It can provide comment boxes or links to other pages. Given that most online writing places are open to editing, many forms of digital writing have the potential to rapidly and continuously evolve with real-time immediacy. Lastly, it serves as a form of community building between users. Within these digital communities , members use digital writing to connect (or disconnect) with one another where they are otherwise separated by space and time. All in all, digital writing consists of a wide range of writing that contains many genres and rhetorical purposes. By exploring this wiki, you can learn about several of these genres and purposes.




In exploring the rhetorical values of digital writing, we discover the rhetorical situation , that is, the writer, audience, purpose, genre, and cultural context in which the writing takes place and how all of these aspects of rhetoric interact. For example, how does the assumed anonymity of the audience interfere with the writers purpose? How does genre determine the audience? How does genre depend on cultural context?

When trying to critically read any type of writing it is necessary to understand the rhetorical situation. The triangle to the right shows how the parts of the rhetorical situation are linked together, and how these parts function together to create the Genre. One part of the triangle is the Writer. This piece of the rhetorical situation addresses the background of the writer, including things like the writer's beliefs, interests, knowledge, credibility, religion, and other important aspects that would affect what the writer chooses to write. Another part of the rhetorical situation is the Audience. This piece of the rhetorical situation addresses the same things as the part about the Writer, except in regards to the audience. It answers the questions about the background, beliefs, knowledge, etc., of the audience. The third piece of the triangle is the Message, or Purpose, of the writing. This piece of the triangle addresses the questions like, "What is the author trying to say/make happen?," "What does this mean?," and "What is the point?." All of these pieces are affected by the Cultural Context, which is also considered when assessing the rhetorical situation. By studying digital writing through some aspect of the rhetorical situation, the following articles help to define exactly what digital writing is and how it functions.

All Articles (Sorted in Relation to the Rhetorical Situation)


A Glitch in Toyota: The Rhetorical Situation
Digital Writing and the Rhetorical Situation of Blogging
Digital Writing in Political Party Websites
Digital Writing:The Rhetorical Action of Experience Project



A Digital Persona
Self Identity Creation
To Leave or Not to Leave: Tensions in a Fanfiction Community


A Humorous Appeal
Public vs Private
Pathos on eBay


Cumberland First Baptist Church
Editing Dynamics in Wiki Articles
Memes as Tropes
Rhetorical Appeals
Online Tropes


Media Ideologies vs. Facebook
Why Facebook is the King of all Digital Genres
Editing Dynamics in Wiki Articles
Job-Seeking Websites