Question the ‘experts’

Critical thinking is a very important skill in general, and even more so on the Internet. ‘Experts’ are all around telling you what you should do. Many want your money, but others are also looking for something, even if it’s building their own notoriety.

I was reminded of this earlier when a friend said on Twitter that she was going to prune her Facebook friends because @Scobleizer told her to. I’m not entirely sure who he is but I’ve certainly heard of Robert Scoble around the Internet. I followed the link she posted by way of explanation.

I arrived at a facebook post, modestly titled “Facebook tips.” It includes 22 tips, but there’s no prologue to explain exactly what the tips are for. Yea, I get they’re for Facebook, but what does following his advice get me, exactly? This became more and more important as I read through it because, taken as a whole, they turn Facebook into serious work. For example,

17. Most content does not get to you. If you want to see more from specific people, visit their profiles at least once a week and engage on their content. Or, even better, put them in a list and visit that list. Lists show all. Your main feed only shows you the most popular stuff from them (and that’s not really true, Facebook’s algorithms look at a variety of things to figure out what to show you). In general you are only seeing one out of 10 of my posts, if that. So you gotta visit my profile more often to make sure you get it all.

Further, there’s a recurring theme about how you should make sure you are “not crappy at Facebook” and you should avoid people who are:

15. Make at least 400 friends. People with fewer than that number of friends almost always are crappy at Facebook.

and,

19. Mostly post using Facebook’s native tools/apps/web site. Those who repost Twitter into here tend to be crappy at Facebook and engagement.

The thing is, Facebook is not so simple. It has many uses. There is no group of tips that make it better for everyone, no matter what. If you post such a list, you’re either forgetting to post how you use Facebook, or you stand to gain far more from people who take your advice than they will.

I posted a comment in reply. I want to know what these suggestions are supposed to achieve. Given tip 20, I’m sure to receive a response:

20. Engage in your own comments, as well as those of others. For people like me I look for signs you will engage and not just post. Plus, it helps you learn from others and encourages them to comment, which helps get your posts more reach too.

I’m willing to give Scoble the benefit of the doubt, but I admit that I’ll be surprised if he posts a thoughtful reply. I get the feeling he’s more interested in building a following than anything.

If I start my own list of Internet suggestions, the first will be,

If anyone offers you free and unbidden advice, ask what it will achieve and look at what they gain from it.

Actually, scratch that. If they don’t offer up what you get out of it, save yourself the time and just move on.

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