Turning Archive 2006

"Internet Expert"?

Russ Fairfield
>subtitle: The 10 phases of “Expertness” on the Internet.

We have all known them. There is always a danger that anyone can become one of them. Some of them are victims of the “siren call” of the Internet. Some do it on purpose. Others just get sucked in without knowing it is happening.

I have written this description so that we might better recognize them, and more important, that we can recognize these traits in ourselves that we don’t become one of them.

There are only two (2) prerequisites to becoming an “Internet Expert” on the chosen forum -

1. Prior knowledge of the topic is not required. Owning a lathe or having ever turned a piece of wood is not necessary to become an "expert woodturner" on the Internet.

2. Some time at “lurking” is required because this is where the language and definitions of the activity are learned, as are the buzz-words that define the learned.

The 10 Phases of “Expertness”

1. "Discovery". This is where they find somebody who will listen to them. This is the first step past their "lurking" phase. Any messages they post during this phase are repeats of something they have read somewhere else.

2. "Sounding Intelligent - Safe Mode". This is their humble time. They say little things that are reasonable. These are their first original messages. People start to notice them. They post a few photos if they have something that looks good enough that people will notice, and they will use someone else’s photos if they don’t.

3. "Still Sounding Intelligent - Unsafe Mode". They are still on "safe" ground, but they are starting to say things that are only acceptable to the beginners who don't know any better. Those who do know the difference find them full of crap most of the time and are starting to ignore them. They don't know it yet, but the roots for Phase-8 are beginning here.

4. "Full Speed Ahead - Expert on Everything". No explanation needed for this phase. They are the Universal Genius.

5. "Adoration". This the response they get from those who read their messages. They are the smartest person that a lot of the readers have ever known. They are adored by those who don't know any better, and laughed at those who do.

6. "Questioning". Others are starting to question what they say, and call them to task for saying things that are wrong. Things are starting to fall apart, and they often become defensive. They start using typos and brain flatulence as excuses for their errors.

7. "Challenge". This is final phase of "Questioning", and it can cut both ways. Everything they say is challenged by someone, and nobody believes their excuses anymore. They often go into a full defense and counter-challenge. They often resort to personal e-mails. The extreme cases will go so far as making telephone calls and writing threatening letters to those who disagree with them.

8. "Ignore the fool". Everything they say is ignored by all but the new folks to the forum.

9. "Philosophical". Here is where they start writing about things that nobody understands. Since nobody listens to their technical wisdom, they will start lecturing on the philosophical aspect of the subject, things like form, design, and the wood talking to them. They often discuss the meaning of life, and other things that are totally off topic. Somewhere in here is a diatribe on Internet ethics, validity of information, lack of respect, etc., etc.

10. "Exit". They leave in a huff, often with a passionate goodbye message. Sometimes they will repeat this phase several times before their final exit.

Sometimes they will come back with a different name, and start the process all over again.

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