12 July 2009

Manila Times column for 12 July 2009: "Of writing and proper online research skills"

original post here.

this column stemmed from an incident that happened to me at the pinoywriters yahoogroups kung saan matagal na akong subscriber. napapansin ko lang kasi ang dalas na ng katamaran ng mga writers regarding research. okay sana kung tamad lang e, kaso wala pang modo. alam mo yun? iba kasi yun e.

gudlak na lang kung magtagal sila sa industriya na yabang muna ang inuuna kesa skill or respect. hay... iba na talaga ang freelance writing landscape ngayon. kay yayabang na ng mga utaw...

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
Of writing and proper online research skills

With the advent of the Internet, one would think that researching would already be easy for writers. Sometimes it is easy, alright—too easy, in fact, that some writers tend to become too lazy to exert extra effort in their research, or even show basic respect for people from whom they ask help.

In some writers’ e-mail groups I subscribe to, I often encounter writers who pose queries for everybody, hoping that someone would answer them. Sometimes this is a good practice, but there are times that this is not. If a writer is just searching for hard-to-find facts they need for their articles, then asking people in an e-mail group is understandable, given that, we assume, she/he has already exhausted all other avenues possible in obtaining what she/he is looking for. But if the writer makes this the first step, then that is just plain laziness. Sadly, though, there are writers who are like this.

There are also times when writers ask for respondents if they need case studies that could provide information relevant to their article. Because of the anonymity in the online world, some writers tend to forget one basic thing—respect.

I experienced something like this before. There was a writer who needed money scam stories for an article he was doing for a financial publication. I e-mailed and inquired about the kind of scam story he needed, hoping I could help by telling him about a small-scale money scam I encountered before. I was just surprised by the brazen attitude he used in answering me. He just plainly told me, “Okay, so what’s your story?” as if he was doing me a favor by listening to me. Ignoring the lack of decorum, I again asked what kind of financial scam he was looking for, because what I had was a small-time scam story, and he again emailed me a one-liner saying he was looking for big time scams. And that was it. No “thank you but what I am looking for is . . . ” type of feedback. He just literally dropped me and stopped emailing when he found out that I didn’t have the information I was looking for.

This experience just made me shake my head. If this were ten, even five years ago, he wouldn’t even have the luxury of looking for respondents that easily, and thus he wouldn’t have that arrogance to just dismiss people so easily if they were not “useful” to him. Writers should still learn how to respect people they encounter online or offline, because they will never know when they would actually “need” those people in the future, perhaps as a respondent again, a willing case study, or maybe a liaison to something they will need in the future, whatever that would be.

And, more importantly, whether they need people or not, writers should just be respectful to all. But I guess this is a challenge in the online world.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com. She is also at libaycantor.multiply.com.

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