January 5, 2017

Blogging and social media advice that you must ignore

The web is full of advice on all subjects. Good Samaritans put a lot of effort to help others do their jobs better, and others give advice to earn bucks. It is fine in both cases. But what is not good is the advice that does not really help or it harms. 

How do bloggers check whether the advice is worth it or is a shoddy copy-paste job or is meant to mislead them?

1. Copy-pasted advice
There are not many experts out there on the web. Most content gets recycled, either with attribution or by just copy-pasting (i.e. stealing) others' content. Copy-pasted advice may remain good if the original good piece is lifted fully; if it is badly edited just to avoid copyright issues, it might convey something different from what was intended by the original author.
So, please go to tested sites for advice. Go deeper into the site than just browsing one or more posts, and you will know whether the author is an expert or a fake. 

2. Untested advice
At times you find advice that is hypothetical. Most such advice is futuristic, because one can make wild guesses. Sometimes the advisor might himself be testing a hypothesis and serving it to readers for testing. Such advice could come from knowledgeable advisors but might mislead the user. For example, when Blogger platform came out with 'dynamic views', many advised that one should shift to this feature. Regular bloggers on this platform know that dynamic views do not suit all types of blogs, especially professional ones.  

Guard against advice that is based on beliefs that are untested, not true or erroneous. 

3. One-sided advice
Sometimes the advice is based on assumptions that are one-sided. If the author strongly feels that only a particular platform is suited for blogging or that you cannot own a meaningful blog without buying a hosting space, he/ she will argue all things from that perspective and would try to influence readers into believing his line of thoughts. 

There can be genuine cases when the advisor gives practical advice on technologies/ themes/ hosts/ resources/ etc, including paid ones. There are numerous review blogs which act ethically. Even outright promotion of a particular product or service is fully ethical. What differentiates ethical and genuine advisors from the bad ones is that the former come clean about their purpose while the shady ones give you one-sided advice with the motive to goad you into buying something. Even if the advisor giving one-sided advice is genuinely a fan of some product or idea, his advice needs to be taken with a pinch of salt because he does not give the other side of the story.

4. Advice that is too generic to be of any use
You will also find advice that is too commonplace and not of any use. Many big listicles (e.g. 100 best ways to...) are compiled just to come to a particular number of tips. 'Write evergreen content' does not help at all if without further advice on what it means and how to write such a piece, isn't it?

5. Advice solely for own benefit
This is advice that is cunningly crafted to help the author more than the reader. It could be from an expert or a copy-paste master, and in both cases the advisor tries to take the reader to a golden path,  and when the reader has traveled so far, he is told to buy something because that is the only way ahead. Such posts are advertisements presented as expert advice.  

6. Advice to mislead
This is when fraud is served in the garb of advice. The advisor presents tips that are deliberately written to mislead. It could be a paid promotion for a brand or for destroying the reputation of a competitor. Sometimes the post would have fake testimonials to prove one's point. This is highly prevalent on product review sites but happens elsewhere too. Even Wikipedia articles are sometimes manipulated cunningly to mislead about a subject. 

Don't let bad advice hurt your blog; even good advice may not always suit all blogs


In most cases, bad advice comes as a mix of two or more of the above types. It could be a copy-pasted piece edited to draw a misleading inference. It might be an advertorial - advertisement written as a feature article. Or a list of useful, useless and harmful tips compiled from others' websites. And so on. 

When you find a piece of advice on the web, do not follow it blindly and instantly. Pause and analyze. Then check whether it suits your blog (even if it is genuine and good advice)

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