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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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.