Are you a member of LinkedIn? I am, and I have to confess that I find the ‘Answers’ section strangely addictive. If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically a Q&A area for members to ask a question on pretty much any subject and hope for the wisdom of the crowd to provide an answer. There are a number of factors though that make me wonder ‘what’s the point?’.
To help explain: the questions can largely be broken down into the following groups.
- Real, useful, interesting and thought provoking questions or requests for contacts
(about 5% of the total)
- those that can be answered in two minutes via a Google search
(‘what is the longest river in Uzbekistan?’ *)
- questions that make no sense or are unable to be answered in this context, or are so ambiguous there’s no hope of a sensible answer
(‘Tips for creating my own website?’)
- Self-promotion cunningly (or not so cunningly in most cases) disguised as a question
(‘what do you think of eatmyshortsatxmas.com?’)
- Bizarre zen-Buddhism style questions
(‘You are a cupcake. What flavor are you?’)
- Questions about LinkedIn
(‘How do I merge two accounts?’ – about 90% of the total!)
(the same question posted in five different categories, one after the other)
- Completely off the wall questions. I call these the ‘airplane’ questions, if you remember the scene at the information desk.
(‘Should I fake my orgasms?’ .. ‘What’s the best price of wooden limbs in the Ukraine?’ .. ‘Why does my new dishwasher make a high pitched sound?’)
So why do people bother? And why do I keep coming back? My theory is that it’s a combination of genuinely wanting to help and our inherent competitive, self-promotional traits coming to the fore. LinkedIn allow you to give someone the equivalent of a gold-star for a good or great answer. Who wouldn’t like that kind of ‘getting-back-to-school-and-impressing-the-teacher’ recognition :-)
I’ve noticed that there’s only a relatively small group of people answering pretty much every question (and, without sounding rude, that most of the really crappy or bizarre questions seem to come from India).
I’d love to know though, whether those people who asked a question feel that they’ve received value for money.
Perhaps I’ll raise the question on LinkedIn ;-)
* Amu Darya