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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Get Help - Spam?

This month's ASTD Big Question on the Learning Circuit's Blog is about Network Feedback. You might want to take a look at the question by way of background. The basic question is how do you reach out into the vast network of people to get help. A lot of my basic thoughts are captured in:
Karyn Romeis has an interesting model. She goes from people she already knows who might be experts then to consider other sources. It's almost distance vs. likelihood vs. experience vs. cost. I'm sure there's a nice graph there that could explain this concept. Where's Kathy Sierra when you need her?

Karl Kapp's response sparked some things for me. First, he tells us that there's not one right place to get help. I think that's part of the question. We know of several and may have different levels of experience and we go through some process when we decide. Then he makes a great point:
With Web 2.0 and social networks, the cost of asking a question and seeking advice from several different channels simultaneously is so minimal that it no longer matters whether or not you know the right place to ask the question. Ask it in multiple places because you never know who might have the answer and the overall cost is negligible.
So, the cost graph with Web 2.0 and all the tools make it such that you can push your question into many areas. Maybe spending time choosing is not the way to go at all. Just get good at quickly pushing the question out to all the networks you have. He has an example of where he sends it to five places simultaneously.

What I wonder about sending out to all of these places at the same time is that likely the same people will see the same question going by. What is their perception of multiple questions by the same person? Do they think of it as spam?

I'm curious what people think on this.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Karl Kapp. We each have our own preference as to which tool(s) we prefer to use. For example, if you asked the same question on twitter, your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, Plurk you will get different responses from a wider more diverse audience.

People won't get upset because they tend to pay more attention to a couple of tools rather than a wide range of tools.

Karl Kapp said...


I agree with you:)

I think people tend to use one tool more than other on a daily basis and, I think, that if someone sees a repeated question, they will just skip over it.

I don't agree with Tony that its spam unless the person excessive about asking questions. But I think most people seeking information on a specific topic are careful about how many times they "spam" the network with a question and even people who ask a lot of questions can be ignored with no problem by simply not reading the question.

In fact LinkedIn provides a nice overview of who is asking a question and giving just enough info on my dashboard so I can decide to dive deeper into the question or ignore it...all on my own time.

Tony Karrer said...

Karl or Sue (or future readers) - Does it depend on who it is? Or what the question is?

In other words, if I see Sue or Karl post a question in three places, no big deal. Especially if I see it as not a spammy question. If I see someone I don't know posting in three places, I wonder if I don't have a more negative reaction? Who is this person posting all over the place?

And, certainly the content of the question makes a really big difference. Please come try my tool/take my survey/vote for me vs. an interesting question on an issue that someone is facing.

Yes, spaminess is all perspective.

Anonymous said...

Karl and Tony

I think Tony is also right it does depend also to some extent on the question and who is asking it.

There definitely is a need to build up relationships -- just asking, asking, asking without any relationship does come across as spam.

With regards to the question you do tend to make it slightly different depending on which tool you are using.

Karl Kapp said...

Sue and Tony,

It can depend on the person asking the question but more, I think, on the question and on the frequency. If someone is always asking questions and not contributing then there is a problem. But I've responded to lots of questions from people I don't know...even through email and I didn't consider that spamming. I guess spamming is in the eye of the beholder but I think with a tool that let's you ignore a question if you want, then it is no big deal to ask in several places and it is not as much of an intrusion as email or even a phone call.