|How much do you know|
how much will you reveal?
An expansion on this discussion: [webmasterworld.com]
What is it that constitutes the free sharing of information vs the need to maintain a competitive edge?
I think the answer lies less in how much one is willing to share and more in how the original question was posed. And that certainly does speak to the experience of a user in a forum like this one. Newcomers are sure to always ask that one question that sparks flames, or yawns. Questions dealing with generating revenue are quite different from questions about programming or stylesheets. But the answers still need to meet a standard, one that encourages the questioner to seek the best solution.
What do you think about it?
Sharing technical knowledge/experience is different to sharing overtly commercial knowledge. Whilst it may be reasonable to ask for commercial information, it is not reasonable to expect everyone here to be willing to share such information - some may share and others will not.
Going slightly offtopic...
I am happy to share technical knowledge but I expect questions to be clear and concise. Some people post huge chunks of code saying "it doesn't work - why not". Clearly they have put zero effort into working out the solution for themselves (otherwise they'd have chopped out all but the critical code). If someone is not prepared to make an effort, then I'm not prepared to do so on their behalf.
A question often has a number of correct answers. Take revenue, some sites (claim at least) do well with Adsense, others generate no revenue at all from Adsense but large amounts with CPM banner adverts.
Naturally I never reveal commercial information, and that includes revenue details, but I am happy to reveal the names of associated companies, such as advertising agencies, with which we have a satisfactory relationship.
From my perspective, anything that I've learned from any public source I'm well willing to freely divulge. Anything that I've learned through hints that required me to test for confirmation, I'll always pass along the same advice that led me to the answer and will sometimes divulge the information itself depending how I feel that day. When it comes to out and out private information, I'm not usually very forthcoming. That being said, I have no private knowledge worth anything to anyone, so I haven't really come accross that issue :)
With regards to the previous discussion, I don't really think that every piece of knowledge a member has is fair game for sharing. A lot of it is, but not all of it is. I think everyone' tolerance for sharing some of the more sensitive information improves the more you feel someone has done their homework. That's natural, and I think it all draws back to how you ask a question as previously mentioned.
The Two Rules that Lead to Success
Rule 1: Do not reveal everything that you know.
I think the other thing is, even if you shared everything, how useful would it be? I learn loads from these forums, but I always put it through a mental filter to see if it will fit with my business, not only my goals but the way I like to do things. If you followed every piece of advice here you would probably end up with an unsuable site, because few of us are trying to do everything.
None of it will make you rich with no effort on your own part, but lots it will really help, or spur you in directions that you weren't thinking of before.
grandpa - I agree that how much of what I share depends upon the question (and occassionally the poster).
Reasons to offer minimal help:
* poster obviously not bothered to read the TOS, i.e. posting personal url instead of code and/or describing problem.
* poster obviously not bothered to do a proper debug themselves first, i.e. enormous code dump in place of minimal required to show problem.
* poster obviously not done a simple search or basic research as question has already been asked and answered mutiple times on multiple sites.
* poster has miniscule business knowledge and no plans to learn or plans to pay experts.
Of course such people are unlikely to be a competitor beyond taking up space, for a while, until replaced by another wannabe web entrepeneur.
No one "gives" trade secrets away. Yet by careful reading of hundreds of threads one can often glean some fabulous gems. As can delving into site stats and writing analysis programs, etc. I have little patience for those who won't take the time to (or learn how to) research, study, analyse, and learn for themselves.
However, I am pleased to reply to specific technical or general business questions that show prior thought/effort. It's fair payment for similar assistance I've received over the years.
Thanks for your replies. It's probably more obvious to a professional what will and will not be received well in a forum such as this.. most of the time. Some questions are obviously lacking effort, others can be leading. A PM once requested specific info - sorry, no can do. My resources were earned, once I learned how and where to look for them. Thanks for all the fish.