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Give More Details, Don’t Guess And Don’t Hijack The Thread

Hey there!

If you’re going to go online to get info, I say, be a world-class info seeker. If you’re going to complain, be a best-of-breed complainer. If you’re looking for support, why not be excellent at looking for support?

And that all depends upon how skillfully you message on social media and via email, and the way you post and comment in those exchanges. My method for success certainly applies here: do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Here are three things that, if you stop doing them, you’ll be much happier and satisfied with your online exchanges. And you’ll get much better and faster response to your postings.

Social media has been around a lot longer than most people think. Some assume that it started with Facebook and Twitter in the mid-2000’s, but it actually goes back a lot further – to the 70’s with CompuServe’s CB channels and GENIE’s and AOL’s chat rooms in the 80’s.

(There’s a great book that argues that social networking actually began with the invention and widespread use of the telegraph.)

And way back then, users had to create some basic rules for effective communication when posting and chatting. And those rules are really useful today, especially with the “go ask the Internet” approach many people have to getting help.

If you want the very best help from any forum, like the VO2GoGo ProConnect Facebook group, become a world-class complainer with these three simple rules:

1 Give as much detail as possible. It drives me absolutely crazy when someone sends me an email, tweets at me, or posts in a group I’m active in on Facebook with something like this:

I can’t log in. Help!

or

Your app doesn’t work. WTF?

No. Just no. That’s just lazy.

Give details – don’t just be short with us because it’s too time consuming (or you can’t be bothered) to tell us what you’re experiencing. I get that you’re probably very frustrated, but that’s really not our fault. And we can’t help you until we have the information we need.

And it only delays you getting what you want (the solution!) if there’s another round or seven of posting or emailing, with you eventually providing the info needed to help.

So give as many details as you can, right from the start, with your initial post or email. Answer these and any other questions you might think of:

What actually happens when you try to log in?
What errors are you getting?
What browser are you using?
Have you restarted your device?
What are you trying to do with the app?
What isn’t working?
Can you post a screenshot?
Have you tried anything that didn’t work?

The more details you provide, the more likely it is that you’ll get an accurate and helpful answer. And you’ll get that sooner rather than later, or not at all.

So go for it – tell us what we need to know to help.

2 Post what you know, not what you’ve heard. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to review a question, only to see a litany of guesses from other people, many of which are completely incorrect and useless, and in some cases, dangerous.

Don’t do that. It’s not at all helpful to the OP (original poster, the person who started the conversation), and it can potentially even create more problems.

If you know the answer, post it.

If you’ve heard tell, don’t.

I know that when you make what seem to be likely suggestions, you’re just trying to be helpful. But don’t add to the confusion with maybes, I-thinks, I’ve-heards and someone-at-work-claims type comments.

3 Don’t hijack the thread, start a new one. This is a big one. Whether you’re the OP or just contributing to a thread, do NOT veer the conversation off in a different direction.

Instead of hijacking the thread with your new issue, just start a new conversation with a new post.

If you don’t, you severely limit the number of people who will see the new issue: the further you get into a thread, the fewer people will see your comment.

Say you’re asking a question about your microphone, and you get some great answers (or even not so great). And it occurs to you that you are also curious about how, after you’ve voiced an audition with that microphone, you should normalize your audio.

Don’t post, “Hey, that reminds me…[normalization question]” or, in general, “So, let me ask you something else: [any question unrelated to the current thread]”.

Instead, start a new post. This will give you much higher visibility (it’s a new post, not a comment buried in someone else’s post, so group members are notified via email about it), and a much better shot at a productive conversation.

Hope that helps.

I’m sure there are things about posting and online conversations that drive you crazy. Post them below (and give details, don’t guess what drives other people crazy, and don’t hijack the thread. Jus’ sayin’.)

David

4 Responses to Give More Details, Don’t Guess And Don’t Hijack The Thread

  1. Lawrence Wallison July 8, 2018 at 5:07 am #

    It drives me over the edge when the first (or only) response I receive is, “Never had that problem. Sorry I can’t help.”

  2. Veleka July 8, 2018 at 10:43 am #

    Excellent advice, David! (As usual)

  3. Patricia Napolitano July 9, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    Excellent advise. Might I add something on emails? Before you hit “reply” please change the subject line, even just to add “reply” to old subject line. I get way too much email and like to know which I have read and which I can delete without reading. It drives me crazy when I email a company or person and get answer from them from a different address. I deleted emails from a friend because I did not know her “handle” was Fantasia. I get so much spam that if I don’t recognize a sender I will delete.

    • David H. Lawrence XVII July 9, 2018 at 2:27 pm #

      The good news is, absolutely every email client you’d use, web based or not, does NOT (nor should it) change the subject line when replying, rather they add Re: to all of the subject lines (and should). The advice would be to not change the subject line, including removing the Re:.

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