Advice Overload

 
 
In my last blog I wrote about the dilemma of choosing between an e-tailer and a retailer.  I should let it be known that I purchased my darts from a retail store–a seemingly one person operation.  I bought less expensive darts than I planned as a result of talking to this person.  Yes, that’s right, he undersold me.  I have never had that happen before.

One of the interesting things that the salesperson told me was to “beware of all the advice people want to give you.” 

I have been thinking of that ever since.  Not because people have inundated me with information and “tips” on how to play better darts.  In fact, most people have been encouraging rather than discouraging.  Nobody has told me what to do.  If I want that kind of advice, I am going to have to ask for it.

However, the warning still holds true, but it needs to be modified.  Yes, I am sure lots of people will want to give me advice, but I also bring it upon myself.  By joining a darts chat room, I am sure I will get exposed to lots of “expert” opinions.  By searching our reviews of product, I will be exposed to lots of “expert” opinions.  I can only blame myself.

In my other hobbies, much the same thing happens.  When I wanted to get into RC cars, lots of people to me what to buy, or at least, what not to buy.  They were sure what wasn’t good, but not as clear on what was good.  They had a lot of ideas on how I should spend my money.  Sadly, very few of them agreed, so I was left with lots of information and little direction.

Sometimes these differing opinions are good.  It is good to hear the voices that are debating in your head, actually do it live and in front of you.  It is so much easier to distinguish the truth from the lies, the plausible from the implausible, and the exaggeration from the cynicism.

The dart store owner’s advice is good, but doesn’t help us fight against our nature.  We do things that don’t help us because we overestimate the need for information.  We seek it out, when we should be seeking out experience.

Hobby Forums and Message Boards

Despite debating the pros and cons (I called it The Gift Versus the Curse) of the internet on hobbies, I probably fall more on the pro side.  Especially where message boards, or forums are concerned.

For those not in the know, the aforementioned forums or boards are places where (in this case) hobbyists can go and exchange information.  They are as simple, if not simpler than, email.  Not only can you post questions and get answers, but you can read other people’s questions and answers as well.  In addition to the answers, you might also get photos which better illustrate the point the person was trying to make.

I belong to several boards.  I belong to nscale.net for my train hobbies.  I also belong to scale auto enthusiast forum for my car models.  For a time I belonged to a forum for remote control cars, but sadly they went out of business.  In addition, I have checked out other forums for my various hobbies.  If I didn’t join, it is more likely that I got what I needed without having to post my own question.

My experience has been very positive.  Many people have helped me, patiently answered my questions, given solid advice, and sent many helpful pictures.  I haven’t come across any insulting behaviour or obnoxious people.  Okay, in truth, once a guy lowballed me on a price for something I was selling, but not in an rude way–business is, after all, business, and like most of us, he was just looking for a deal.  When I suggested he was lowballing me, he wrote back and candidly admitted that was the case and made me a better offer.

I guess that my positive experience is due to both the majority of good and helpful people who make up the hobby and the wisdom of the moderators who keep the haters and the trolls at bay.  I estimate it is an 80/20 split, with 80 percent on the side of good people making up the hobby.

If you have never joined a message board, or forum and are into a hobby there is probably a forum out there for you.  I suggest joining, and increasing your circle of like minded hobbyists.  If it isn’t for you, you can always “unjoin” or just never go there again and ignore them like I do when a salesman comes to the door.

Anyone with a good story of joining a forum, or associated wisdom, is invited to comment.