It’s important to develop experiments and tests to quickly get a general understanding of whether or not something or someone is going to be useful or not.
Snap judgments are never good. Lots of times, we use snap judgments as a survival tactic because that’s really all their good for. If you sense an immediate danger to yourself or to someone you care about, a snap judgment is often the first level “alert” that gets triggered.
I have, over many years, figured out how to tune in my bullshit detector. You have to rapidly move past snap judgment and into the process of validating honest assessment. I think of assessment as that part right before actual research or further study. Probably the best way to illustrate this is with an example:
Take the website, http://threesheetsresearch.com/
Now, to me, this site is pretty funny.
Of course, with a modicum of effort, you could actually turn this whole site into a real mockery of the market research process. If you are sensitive to these kinds of things, you get it. You see what the site attempts to say and you laugh and you post the link on Twitter; everyone gets a chuckle and moves on. The designers of this site probably were aware they could spend months developing it further but why? It works on the level it was intended.
When I found the site, it turned out that, on the same day, the 30×500 group forum was actively discussing upcoming schedules, course logistics, participant backgrounds etc; a very lively group of professionals from around the world really…
One of the group topics started discussing how a Hacker News post quickly devolved into the typical, self-absorbed, self-righteous hacker whining that so many of those baby-faced ding dongs constantly engage in. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hacker News. I read it almost daily. But here’s the catch: you have to possess the ability to quickly determine whether or not you want to read the associated discussion attached to a certain post. Otherwise, you could fall into a vortex of ideological slime, wasting valuable drinking time going down a rathole of time-sinking insignificance. If you’re a HN reader, you know what I mean. You need a dialed-in bullshit detector.
If there is a chance that an interesting discussion could possibly ensue – based on my interests – I open up the comment thread and perform a, “let’s take the temperature of this topic” scan. If it starts off with semi-intelligent dialog, I may read further.
This thread, however, took an incredible turn for the douche. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine where that took place. In the end, logic and fact prevailed and the integrity of the original link was preserved.
Let’s come back to the point:
As more comments were posted to the 30×500 discussion, there was a shift to group-think bashing of the HN post, as well as Hacker News in general, as being, let’s see, how do I put this, “stupid.”
I decided I would try an experiment.
I started a new thread by posting the link to Three Sheets Market Research to find out exactly what people thought of it. Just the name alone should have set off fire alarms.
Now, I am not going to discuss anything personal outside of the group because we all mutually respect that place as sacred, and I have no intention of breaking that trust. But let me just say this:
A lot of people missed the point of this fake website. They honestly approached their assessment of it as if it were a real B2B pitch. Post after post were built around bullet-pointed critiques of an obviously missing, crystal clear call to action, or lacking validity around its research methods, or half-a-dozen other faults that humorless analysis would dutifully uncover. I could sense the hostility in the room. “How dare this site attempt to ‘sell’ me something! It’s full of amateur-hour marketing defects! I, for one, would NEVER use this company’s services! I’m offended that I even looked at it!”
I was kind of shocked really. There were a few who spotted the blatant mockery in the entire setup. Others, I assume, did as well and just moved on without comment. Would an article in The Onion be a good example for long-form journalism theory? See where I’m going here? A lot of comments missed it entirely. Their bullshit detectors were completely running in idle. More than a few of the comments were outright antagonistic towards the site; bordering on incredulous indifference. Some of the comments were so far off-base that I knew that the poster hadn’t read the site at all!
My conclusion? I now know, based on this simple experiment, who may not be a good resource for me and who will be, well, someone who’s likely to respond based on snap judgement. I think the experiment was a success.
(And thank you to Three Sheets Market Research for making me laugh and, most importantly, proving that some people take the internet WAY too seriously.)