First, let’s discuss what advice is. I’m using the word advice in this post to mean directives (as in, “you should…” or “get rid of…” or “do this…”). This DOES include ranting about something in a public forum. You know, “I hate X, people need to stop doing X.”
Right. Here is the thing: advice is generally born from personal experience and preference. That means whenever someone–anyone, including me–gives you advice (solicited OR unsolicited advice), it may not work for YOU. Just because something works for one person, it does not mean that it will work for everyone. And while this is generally applicable to life in general, I want to talk about blogging, specifically, since that’s what we’re here for.
We all have different motivations for blogging. Even when we have the same motivations, we have different personalities and ways of operating. I can tell someone to keep a blogging schedule, but if you struggle with organization or you tend to just post when you have something, my advice is not going to help you.
Taking advice from someone who has different motivations and methods is a recipe for disaster. If you fail to employ the advice, you feel like a failure. If you successfully employ the advice, you may still be unhappy because it’s not a method that works for YOU. When I receive advice (or read advice being given to the general public), I consider the source. Where is the person coming from? What are the person’s motivations? What is the advice telling me to do? Does the advice line up with my motivations and how I operate?
In other words, I don’t just follow advice; I think about it first. When I give advice, I try to frame it so that people understand why I give it. During Bout of Books, Kelly and I were very careful not to say, “Get rid of CAPTCHA! CAPTCHA is evil!” (Even though both Kelly and I are not fans of CAPTCHA.) Instead, we said that if you are not receiving comments and would like more, consider turning CAPTCHA off for the duration of the read-a-thon because many people refuse to comment on blogs that have CAPTCHA. This is still advice. But we provide motivation: receiving more comments. We provide reasons why: people don’t like commenting when a blog has CAPTCHA. In a way, I’m doing the critically thinking work for you. All you have to do is decide if you want to receive more comments and if turning of CAPTCHA is the way to do that.