When is it wise to crowdsource for info professionally?
September 23, 2016 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Since AskMeFi is one of the OG crowdsourcing platforms I know, and since I love irony, I wanted to take this question here for an article I'm working on. With the proliferation of Facebook professional groups (particularly for writers), it's so easy to ask a large group of people a question in a short amount of time. But that's not always a good thing. Sometimes you get good info or helpful insights but sometimes you get unhelpful information, or get sidetracked in a side conversation, or get sucked into a drama vortex. So who has mastered the art of knowing when it's a good idea to toss a work-related question (like this one!) out to a huge group of people? When is it better to do your research in other ways?
posted by clairezulkey to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I actually think that AskMe's guidelines around chatfilter are useful here - basically, a question that's specific, answerable, and framed with the minimum possible emotional baggage will get you specific, actionable, low-drama answers. (If you've ever wondered *why* AskMe has a no-chatfilter rule, that's why!) Certainly there are times and contexts when it's interesting to see general discussion on the topic, but if you want specific information, asking specific questions is the right way to do it.

(Of course, the other major factor is *where* you ask. I'd argue that a community where you know people well enough to identify the people who source their answers from the vicinity of their own rectums is more useful than an unknown community, even if the latter seems more targeted to your topic.)
posted by restless_nomad at 3:42 PM on September 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

1) Have you already googled it or otherwise tried to find an answer and come up empty?

2) Are you good at breaking problems down to specific parts so you aren't asking people to "solve world peace" or similarly overly broad/impossible to answer questions?

3) Do you have good boundaries and good awareness such that you aren't accidentally badmouthing your boss, coworkers or place of employment essentially to their face? Also, you need to not be violating the privacy of clientele or spilling the beans on industry secrets, etc.

4) Do you know how to leave out irrelevent and inflammatory personal details or otherwise reduce the odds that it turns into a drama vortex?

5) Do you have some familiarity with the community where you are posting so you can ask it in a way that works with that group of people?

6) Can you accept a certain level of negativity and contrariness without taking it too personally and remain focused on the goal of the question?
posted by Michele in California at 4:06 PM on September 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

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