I heard this saying once: “There’s no such thing as a stupid question, just inquisitive idiots.” Keep that in mind as you read this. Since I started doing videos on YouTube for my business Web sites two years ago, I’ve made a real effort to respond to every question I can. If someone asks a question, no matter how basic, I’d answer it. Some days I’ve spent a solid 60 minutes answering questions, typically on a Monday after a weekend of posted questions. As my videos have gotten more views (I’m up to over 1.45 million total views, 97% of those on YouTube) the rate of questions have increased. It’s not uncommon for me to answer 30 a day when I put up a new video, and people seem to really appreciate it – I’ve had many people tell me they’re amazed that I answer questions, since many people who create videos won’t do that.
There’s something I’ve noticed however: YouTube is full of “inquisitive idiots”; people who ask questions without spending even one second trying to find the answer for themselves. For every one question I get from someone who has a legitimate question that requires an answer, which I’m happy to answer, I get 30 from the inquisitive idiots – people who ask questions I’ve already answered in the video. Check out the question below that was posted earlier this week:
When I read that message in my Inbox, I swear I felt about a million neurons groan and die inside my brain. The combination of txtspk, poor grammar, and the string of questions, several of which are answered in the video, made me want to do anything BUT answer this comment. To this person’s credit, it looks like they actually went to the HP Web site and did some research – most people opt to ask me questions that they can find the answer to themselves: size, weight, price, specifications, etc. I often have all that information in the sidebar of the video, but most people don’t look at that.
My all-time most commonly asked question? “Does this netbook have a CD/DVD drive?”. I’ve answered that question easily more then 100 times across all my videos of netbooks. People watch my video, they don’t see me show an optical drive, and they think I must have forgotten it. I’m partially to blame for not putting THERE IS NO CD/DVD DRIVE in 100 point font in my video…but I keep thinking that people are smart and they’ll realize that if I don’t mention a certain feature – such as, “This netbook does not have a Unicorn horn on it” – it doesn’t have that feature. People will ask that CD/DVD question when the top question on the comments section is the same as theirs – they will literally not use a single second of time to scan the comments area and see if someone else has already asked the same question.
It staggers the imagination – sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in an alternate universe where everyone watches six hours of back-to-back Jerry Springer, wears a mustard-stained wife-beater shirt, chugs a six-pack of Coors Light, then logs onto YouTube to ask me a question. Perhaps a better person that I can handle this situation and not get tired of it, but I just can’t take it any more – my level of compassion for the inquisitive idiots has been worn down to nothing. It’s been two years of this stuff. My frustration level impacts my responses to some people, and some of my answers have been downright dickish because it’s something I’ve already answered 50 times and I just can’t hide my frustration behind a veil of politeness. I don’t want to be that guy. It’s better to not answer the question if it can’t be answered with a good attitude.
I’ve already started to ignore some questions, and once I get my “Top 10 Netbook Questions Answered” video published, I’ll start to ignore any questions that I answer in that video…or point people toward the video with my answer. I shot that video on Tuesday, but I’ll probably have to re-shoot it because I think I sound irritated in it – and the idea is to point them toward a video that will answer their questions without sensing frustration from me. I’ll see what the footage sounds like.
Ah, the life of an online tech guy…