View Single Post
  #1  
Old 08-11-2013, 06:35 AM
BarelyAWake's Avatar
BarelyAWake BarelyAWake is offline
Motorized Bicycle Elite Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Maine
Posts: 7,212
Smile Advice about advice - member profile pages

Here on motorbicycling.com we're proud to say we've thousands of members more then willing to help in any way they can, offering tips from the very basics of operating bolt-on kits to the details of highly customized projects and fabrication. The difficulty arises that even the most well meaning advice may not be the best solution or the only option, the member offering it and their relevant experience is often unknown, it's sometimes even inapplicable to the issue at hand.

How can a new member tell if the suggestions they're being offered are the best solutions to their questions? Post count means little aside from the fact that individual is a prolific poster, member titles are automatic based on post count alone and even their join date isn't actually relevant. Compounding this problem is basic human nature, we're all at this very moment as experienced as we've ever been - the things we don't know we're often not aware of yet so most of the advice offered is presented as expertise, but it's the level, even type of expertise that's in question.

For example it's a common assumption that someone who sells motorized bicycle engines & accessories or even completed motorized bicycles has extensive knowledge and ability regarding all aspects of the product - but this simply isn't always true. In fact many merchants don't actually use the products they offer and given they're trying to sell them aren't likely to point out any issues with those items, which by itself causes a questionability regarding the advice. If the merchant builds & sells completed bikes they may well know the details of building quickly & inexpensively - but how much do they ride? Is their advice best suited for quick product turn-around or the long distance, high mileage commuter on a budget? If a replacement or upgrade is suggested is it the only solution or are they trying to sell you something? Is it the best so they sell it - or is it the best because they sell it?

Naturally not all vendors deliberately misrepresent the benefits & liabilities of their offerings and there are some who's fabrication skills and riding ability are unparalleled, the fact remains however that even these few are acutely aware that each and every post they make serves as an advertisement for their business - while offering honest assistance is an exemplary example of good business practices, the question arises that if a replacement part is needed would they suggest a competitor's product, even if that product is known to be superior? Some do, most don't - for fairly obvious reasons.

What about other members? Most clearly have no profit motive with their only reward a feeling of accomplishment, that they helped another the best they were able, sometimes they'll get a "thanks" for their trouble. Very often these helpful individuals will seek out issues they're familiar with, a problem they just found a solution for and want to pass along to aid their fellow builders avoid the difficulties they just faced. Unfortunately this noble intent doesn't infer any actual expertise whatsoever, sadly it's sometimes the case that the intent isn't always as noble as it may seem. We're all human and as such subject to bias, we've all our favorites, our preconceptions even misconceptions and will tend to fight for them regardless of their validity, based on that personal preference alone - but is that preference the best solution to your problem? Are there other solutions better suited to your specific issue? Almost without exception but it's up to you to find them, to not just accept answers at face value but also to actively seek out all possible alternatives, to check the actual experience of the member whom so graciously offered their aid and judge for yourself, in the end no matter their intent it's your build, your bike & your problem, the more you know about it the better.

So what to do? The first step is of course the custom google search engine as it's very unlikely that whatever problem you're having is unique, no matter how dire it may seem. While this forum in particular is somewhat odd in that we frown on those that "answer" questions with a cry of "use the search" this is only because we feel that every member has the right to create their own thread to discuss their bikes, for the effort of typing "use the search" you could have and offered the results instead, a far more courteous welcome to the forum and the activity we all have in common. However, it is true that using the search engine is in actuality the very best first step as no matter how many folks try and help you, you'll never receive the sheer depth & diversity of all possible solutions as has been presented by the thousands that constitutes our community, over all the years this forum has been in existence.

Ok, so you've used the search and created a thread about your bike, now almost without a doubt you're subject to an ridiculously overwhelming amount of information - the search works almost too well and our members eager to help...

...but what to do now? There's no problem that has just the one solution, right and wrong often relative at best and our forum is comprised almost exclusively of such discussion, currently we've something like forty thousand threads all talking about bikes with motors as this is exactly what this forum is for of course, the free and open exchange of any and all motorized bicycle information from parts sources to the gritty details of custom fabrication and anyone at all that wants to talk about it - from those of all ages that have never held a wrench in their life to the ones that have spent decades doing nothing but. The catch is, how can you tell the difference? As said before post count means little, titles are automatic and even experience is relative - as an example they may say they're an ASE certified mechanic but are they? Trickier still, does it even matter if they are? How applicable is even a lifetime of auto repair if this is their first two stroke bicycle? Even our general literacy, our spelling, grammar and vocabulary is irrelevant as no matter the size of a word or how hellishly it may have been butchered, it's the meaning that counts and we've members from all nationalities, all walks of life - just because someone uses a word doesn't mean they understand it, just because someone misspells a word doesn't mean they don't.

There's only one way to get any clue as to whether the solution offered has any validity at all and that's member profiles - no matter who they may be, member, merchant, staff or administrator every post we've ever made, every thread we've created on the forum is there for any other registered user to see. Simply left click the user name, left click again on the pop up menu where it says 'View Public Profile' and you'll be brought to their profile page, where not only is there the option for them to present photo albums & groups they belong to, a little "about me" section - but far more importantly what they've contributed, shared with the other members and the resulting consensus.

We very strongly suggest that no matter who they are, no matter how good their suggestion seems to be and even no matter how much others agree with them - click your way to their "statistics" tab, look up where it says 'find all threads started by' and spend a little time seeing for yourself if they've done what they've recommended, if they have themselves used what they've suggested, what they've actually built & why, how far & how often they ride and whatever else they've provided. While not having a complete profile because they're a new member or just don't have much to say doesn't necessarily mean they don't know what they're talking about - having access to that profile is the only way anyone has any chance to find out who they're dealing with at all.

Click profiles, look for build threads and riding adventures but remember there's more questions than just the one you're seeking an answer for, answers that will provide you with so much more than you thought you already knew, no matter your experience or theirs. Oftentimes those that choose to consider themselves "expert" means it's thought there's nothing more to be learned. This is false. The greatest knowledge one can attain is the acceptance of our lack thereof, to know every answer presents more questions - that as soon as you've stopped questioning even yourself, you've stopped learning and thus can't be an "expert" of any real merit.

Most of all, there's marvels to be found
Reply With Quote