When “Google It” Is Bad, Lazy Advice


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In audio groups and forums, people ask plenty of questions. Some of these questions are advanced, and some of them are entry level. That’s the nature of a community where people come to learn and expand their understanding of their passion.

But sometimes a question gets asked a lot. Someone scrolling through the feed may notice the frequency of this inquiry, and grow frustrated with how often they are seeing it. This is when they decide that they’ve had enough of people “wasting their time” with “noob questions” and decide to make it known that they are tired of people asking questions that are easy to find “by a 5 second google search”.

If you’re thinking about being that guy, hit pause for a sec and think about a few things.

First:

Remember that the majority of engineers today aren’t enrolled in an educational program, nor are they apprenticing with an expert to learn their skills. They are autodidact’s, teaching themselves this craft and asking fellow users for help along the way. There is no road map for them to follow, there is no structure to the order in which they learn things, and they are left to their own devices to navigate an endless sea of potentially bad information. Asking questions is a great way for anyone to find their north star, helping them navigate through the bad information to find the correct information.

Second:

Not everyone learns the same way. I’m a non-linear thinker living with ADHD. There are times when trying to read a manual is harder than trying to walk up the entire stairwell of the Empire State Building. I get around this by asking questions, and helpful people direct me to the exact points of information I’m looking for. In those unfocused moments of mental noise, it’s easy for a wall of text in a boring article to be as useful as a bunch of squiggly lines. Understanding that non-linear thinkers like myself do exist will help you understand why some people aren’t always able to just “Google it.”

Third:

No one’s asking YOU to “waste” your “precious time”. You chose to engage. You’re the one wasting your own time by engaging when you clearly have no interest in assisting the person in finding an answer. You COULD keep scrolling. No one’s going to die because of it. It’s not your responsibility, after all, to chime in with an answer. But instead, you’ve chosen to “waste” your own time by choosing to be arguing with someone who is doing nothing more than asking for help understanding something. It’s even worse when you decide that the best use of your “wasted” time is to make a new post calling out these supposed “time wasting” posters who are “too lazy to google it!”.

If you’re annoyed by posts asking the same questions over and over, and you don’t want to spend the time writing up a reply every time, here’s some helpful suggestions that could maximize your time investment in helping said individual.

  • Contribute! Write a blog! Make a youtube video! Start a podcast! And put your take on this information out there for people to find! Post your take on the topic, and bookmark the link for quick access. Now when someone asks the question again…and you know it’ll happen, you’ll be armed with information that you trust to help them find the information they need!
  • Suck it up! Sometimes people need help. We learn in different ways, and if you’re truly interested in being helpful you should be willing to help.
  • Keep scrolling! Just ignore it. You’re not obligated to address that person’s request for help. Keep moving. There are countless groups and countless individuals out there who are glad to chime in. The only one wasting your time, should you choose to engage, is yourself.

We’re part of a community based trade filled with freelancers who learned in different ways from different sources. The whole place would be better if everyone would just help one another, but I know that’s not realistic. But if you’re truly trying to be helpful and provide a way for people to learn, then do exactly that. Be helpful. If you don’t, then don’t. No one’s making you do either one. But please don’t EVER discourage people from asking questions of their peers. YOU may think the question is “too basic”, or that they are being “lazy” by asking it since it was so easy, but you’re not them. You don’t know what attempts they’ve made to find the information they’re looking for. And you aren’t required to respond.

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