Most people consider me an expert. That’s a good thing, since I run and operate CWL Inc. – an IT consulting firm in Toronto. The daily grind (for me) consists of working with various types of technologies and making them work for various clients. While the mission is often simple, the process and eventual outcome may not be. Along the way, I’m approached by many who are thankful for the work, but there are the few that seem to see this process differently. While speaking to one such person, I thought of what it meant to offer help to anyone, what makes me think I can do it – and where trolls fit into this process.
Notably, I recently had a conversation with someone on Facebook named Sam Houston. Much of that conversation I deleted (and eventually blocked the account) because the conversation was getting worse. I would have handled that better by not engaging with him / her at all. Here’s a look at some of the things that were said when the person using this account decided to discuss a blog post on Blogging CWL regarding Craigslist advice entitled Laws of Craigslist: Buyers.
The first alarm here for me was his idea that a buyer interested in an online sale might only say “Is the item available?” as a first contact. In the blog post, the advice is to start simple and ask that very question. Sam here is saying that “real” people would never say that, and that he considers all such messages SPAM. He goes on to say that, by offering that advice, the blog post is “promoting spam tactics”. I should have known what I was going to get at this point and stopped the conversation. Stupidly, I did not.
I won’t use this as a forum to promote the “right-ness” of simply starting a conversation with “Is the item available?”. It’s certainly advice that can be amended to include a phone number or your location. That would never be a bad way to approach first contact. I, however, don’t think it make sense to get into other specifics about buying something unless you know for sure that thing you want is available.
For whatever reason, my snarky-ness was higher than it should be and I responded with the above comment. I edited the above to add more, but the line that seemed to get Sam going was “you are clearly clueless that a human types letters”. After that, Sam appeared to think I called him “clueless” and set off in full Troll mode. The conversation continues and, I continue to avoid lashing out at whomever this Sam is. One of the final messages (before I banned the account) was this:
At this point, Sam says I’m a “generic” blogger, I “promote spam” and seem to have now appointed myself a “lawmaker“. That would make me the triple threat of all that is wrong about the Internet.
The thing about this conversation is that, as a blogger, I am as generic as they come. Sure, the blog would be associated with CWL Inc., the brand, but the advice I try to offer is never really associated with any specific brand. That’s a good thing, because I don’t don’t want to be seen as promoting any brand over another. While generic, promoting SPAM is an entirely different thing. SPAM, is generally considered spending messages to those that “do not request them” or are “unsolicited“. If you are a seller with an ad on a sales site, you are clearly intent on getting email from interested parties. However you might see it, I don’t see the process of contacting a seller as SPAM. Then comes the final idea of appointing myself a law maker. It’s an absurd notion that, because of a blog post, I can appoint myself a legislator. The post describes “Laws” of Craigslist in the metaphorical sense, not the literal sense (but, you knew that).
All this boils down to what’s right and wrong. What gives me the right to say you should do this? It’s important to say that what I always offer is simply advice. I offer this from experiencing lots of these types of interactions. The advice is not always going to be perfect, and you aren’t forced to use it – but its just that, advice. This is advice I offer because I think it will help. If I see I’m wrong, I’m more than happy to fix it. If I’m right, and you use the advice, great.
This is the essence of what I do. Computers, technology, IT, networking, and all points in between are my life. I do this every day. While you might be at home after a day of work thinking about what day is garbage day – I’m thinking about testing a new cloud-based tool, coding a new tool for Twitter or running a fifth recovery on a laptop (because I can).
This is why people call me an “expert”. It will never be because of my great personality, because I’m right more than I’m wrong or because I’ve been appointed by some sort of divine entity. I am simply doing what I love and am most interested in and want to offer what I know to anyone that is willing to read it. So, Sam, I think you for reading.