T Nation

The internet has spoiled us all

Racer’s post that we should answer every post made me think. He is similar to many others, in that people tend to think that, “Since I know of/have access to an expert, and since I can contact this expert, he or she must e-mail me.” I’ve seen this argument made implicitly in many feedback letters. People get angry when Brock, Bill, TC, etc. don’t reply promptly.

We could argue about whether they have a duty to answer. Let us not, though. Instead, we should take a step back from our computers.

The internet gives us access to instant communication. I can reply to an e-mail in a matter of seconds much as I can talk on the phone. But instead of thinking “e-mail as phone,” maybe we should think of it as a letter. When you get a letter from a friend, do you drop everything to write a reply? If you’re like most people, you put the letter aside; think about a reply - then write later.

Now, what if you got a letter from a complete stranger? Would you drop everything to answer his or her letter? Odds are, you'd look at letter with a strange look on your face, as you pondered how this person got your address. You might, for fun, answer the letter. Or you might not. But would you feel bad if you threw the letter away?

While I realize that Brock et. al. have made their e-mail addresses public, I do not remember their saying, “We will now answer anything and everything.”

One final note: Remember the great Dan Duchaine (I get a tear in my eye - literally)? He used to answer private e-mails. He had only one condition. He would answer the e-mail IF and ONLY IF the question were something new, innovative, or otherwise interesting.

So maybe before a person posts, he should ask himself, “Is this post interesting? Has it been covered before?” If it is one of the aforementioned, then odds are somebody will answer it.


I mostly agree with you, Mike. None of us owe anything to anyone. But that kinda makes you feel cold inside doesn’t it? I think once you build up a rapport with a group, you start to feel emotional bonds and friendships, and many start to feel expectations. I think that’s where things go awry. Yul Brynner said that he took the atttitude that he has no friends. Then when he is privileged to enjoy the company of a friend, he feels blessed. I think we should take that tack too. I do think Racer’s expectations are a bit unrealistic, but I also think his ideals are…shall I say…sweet? Anyway, if you read my reply to his post, then we both agree that posts should arouse enough interest to elicit a reply.

I have read racer’s post and the many replies and I come away with the belief that most have simply complicated a very simple request. This is a message board with the purpose of allowing people from all walks and locations to share their ideas and experiences. If I post a question, I am happy to get a reply from anyone, not just Brock, Bill and the gang. Sometimes a little knowledge can become a liability over time. Knowledge creates ideas, creates beliefs which become convictions. Once a conviction, usually the concrete is set and the conviction becomes like an old if/then/goto statement in a computer code. Does this new info support or conflict with my conviction? Support = accept. Confict = discard as garbage. History is full of examples where fields of knowlege remained stagnet for long periods of time because ideas were longer shared because the experts had allready come up with all the answers.

As far as if a question is interesting or has been covered before, this is all way to subjective. Interesting to who? Covered before? By whom and how indepth, and does this mean that it no longer deserves to be revisited. Some people read a post and it fills the one gap they had in their understanding. Another reads a post only to have it open a new chain of questions. An old saying states “the map is not the territory.” This simply means that no matter how educated you are, your knowlege and beliefs are still only a representation of reality, as you experience reality through your five senses and these are not perfect representations. Take the time to examine someone elses map. You may learn something.