I am not accustomed to writing in the first person.

My normal writing style is very much shaped by the expectations for undergraduate science essays. The passive voice is prevalent and the third person is used throughout. The writing is formatted for an A4 page using LaTeX. In a daring display of non-conformity, the pslatex and fullpage packages are used. No attempt is made to deviate from conventional sentence structures or punctuation; semicolons — and even the occasional full width dash — are acceptable but used sparingly.

Emulating AP's paragraph style is totally out of the question.

In an academic setting, I am not especially bothered by these constraints. There is still a small amount of fun to be had in playing with words — I recently seized a marvellous opportunity to include both prescribed and proscribed within a single sentence. Ultimately though, scientific essays are there to convey technical information, not be a playground for pretentious literary masturbation.

I can knock together a standard thousand word essay or report whilst on the phone, eating tea or drunk and be guaranteed an A because of the curve. I am competing with zombies churned out by high schools who have been conditioned to immediately recognise alliteration, dénouement, irony and assonance in the works of others but who cannot master apostrophes or paragraphs in their own. The challenging parts of the course, the parts that require imagination and skill, are those which involve doing magic with numbers and code. The writing is an afterthought thrown in with the pretence that it will help in later life.

From a science perspective, this isn't a huge problem. From a human perspective, it is rather boring.

Some complain that E2 is unfriendly to new noders. Some argue that the climate is hostile, that the standards for writing are too high, that too much attention is paid to technicalities like spelling, capitalisation and linking. Personally, I love it.

I know that if I write something, it will not be skim-read by a bored marker who does not want to be surprised. It will be read by people who care about content, who care about style, who care about originality. I know that comments on split infinitives or the Oxford comma will come from people who understand the issues rather than from someone repeating something he read from a book. I know that the feedback I receive will be helpful, that the advice I receive will be sincere and well-considered and that the audience actually wants to be reading. I know that positive feedback will have been earned. I know that at least one person will pick me up on my use of 'personally' in the previous paragraph.

And I know that if I were to write a string of incoherent crap or miss a capital letter, my writeup would quickly be decorated with insulting softlinks, down-voted and nuked.

This is liberating. I can experiment with formatting and structure, play with words and (where appropriate) write in the first person without having to worry about being told that my opinions are valid, that spelling and grammar are a matter of interpretation or that I can use words to mean whatever I want them to mean.

I spent the best part of twenty years learning English. I want to use it.