In this day and age of FREE advice, suggestions & tutorials on the web....how does one go about determining what's valid and what should be disregarded?
I can't tell you how many times I've heard......"The internet is full of bad advice and information".
Unfortunately, it's true!
There is an incredible amount of misdirection & incompetence....some deliberate, some not.
So what's the answer? What's a poor site surfing seeker of information to do?
The answer is simple.
We need to become more discriminating consumers. We have to force ourselves to examine & evaluate our sources of information.
The biggest obstacle to validation is also one of the biggest advantages to operating online.....anonymity!
The internet offers the perfect opportunity to pretend, or to function in relative obscurity.
As long as we talk a good game, we can masquerade as whoever or whatever we chose.
While there are valid reasons for wishing to hide one's online identity, there are at least as many questionable ones.
That being the case, internet trust should be earned, not given indiscriminately.
For musician/songwriters, the internet can be an incredibly useful tool. Sites like Songstuff.com provide an environment for people with similar interests to learn and interact. They also serve as a breeding ground for posers. Over the past 7+ years, I've gotten to know some great people! Unfortunately, not everyone fits into that category. Some choose to present themselves as more than they actually are. Often, it takes a while to figure out who's who, but that's a necessary part of the process.
So, how does one go about verifying online credibility?
Well hopefully, the individual in question has made that a simple task.
I'll use myself as an example.
- I have little need or desire to mask my internet persona. In a nutshell, what you see is what you get! My name is Tom Hoffman.....I chose the Songstuff member name "tunesmithth" because my primary website is tune-smith.com and my initials are TH. I deliberately avoid exaggerating my musical credentials. What credentials I do claim, are easily verified.
- The "About Me" section of my Songstuff member profile is detailed, historically accurate & publically available. It refers to me by actual name and member name, as does my "Tips & Tidbits" blog. It also provides a link to the Metro St. Louis Historical Site http://www.stlmusicyesterdays.com/Nickels.htm. You'll find my name listed near the top.
- My Songstuff member signature, which displays at the bottom of every post I make, includes 6 links.....3 Youtube channels, my Facebook personal profile, tune-smith.com and "Tips & Tidbits". All clickable & readily available for examination.
- Provided on those sites are 20+ original mp3s, ringtones, drum tutorials / demonstrations, guitar demonstrations, music videos, published articles, photos, etc.
- The Library of Congress website is searchable by song title, or registrant name. Either will yield a history of copyright registrations for Tom Hoffman. They're a matter of public record.
- What I never list on the internet is my exact date of birth, where I went to school, political preference, religious affiliation, etc. Identity thieves, data collection entities & special interest groups are the primary beneficiaries of details like that.
So....given that I've provided all the resources necessary to make an assessment of my musical qualifications, does that mean you should trust my online advice?
In a word, NO!
But it does mean that I've done my part.
All I can do is make the information available. It's your responsibility to research, evaluate & decide who to place your trust in!
No one can do that for you and you shouldn't want them to. After all, you're the one who will pay the price for being wrong.
When it comes to my own online interactions, I operate by a simple rule. Unless you've done your part, I'll probably disregard your advice. Sorry, but if I can't verify that you're qualified to offer me the advice, I won't be taking it seriously! I'll respond courteously, thanking you for your insights. I simply won't act on them! Why would I? If you're a relative stranger and you haven't bothered to provide some sort of qualifying credentials, how would you expect anyone to take you seriously?
In fact....shame on anyone who does!
So where does that leave the individual who's bound and determined to maintain online anonymity?
As I mentioned earlier, there are legitimate reasons for choosing to do so. Unfortunately, those reasons don't outweigh our need to verify.
Bottom line....if people aren't in a position to supply something, they can't be taken seriously!
Life's a trade-off.
People who truly have the need to operate anonymously should be willing to recognize the limitations imposed by that.
Fair or not, it's impossible to "consider the source" when that source is a nameless, faceless internet entity
Do yourself a favor.....take the time to learn something about folks who offer you online advice & information.
If you don't, there's a pretty good chance it'll be worth exactly what you paid for it ........NOTHING!
As always, comments and feedback are welcome.