I HATE DOING RESEARCH!

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If you, at some point, find yourself shouting that exclamatory phrase, rest assured that you are not alone in that sentiment. Many people would rather eat dirt than spend hours immersed in a seemingly endless quest for information. Many innocent seekers have been trapped in the research black hole where time and space have no meaning, only to be released hours later frustrated and mentally drained. If you have ever done any in-depth research, you know what I mean.

First of all, I have to come clean with you and make a confession. Brace yourself… I love doing research. Yes, my name is Rick, and I am a research-aholic. It may be the result of my science background or love for learning new things, but I can spend hours searching for those illusive nuggets of information. Sure, some searches end in frustration, however, if I don’t find exactly what I'm seeking, I usually find something interesting.

The internet is a wonderful tool for researchers and it has made the task of finding information relatively easy. That’s both good and bad, as too much of a good thing is often not a good thing. Information overload is a real problem. When an innocent search request returns 57,569,456 results, you don’t know whether to be happy or overwhelmed.

Misinformation is also a big problem, and the internet is full of it… literally. But wait a minute… if it’s on the internet, it must be true... right? If everything posted on the internet was true, then the world would be a strange place indeed. Robert Staughton Lynd said, “Knowledge is power only if man knows what facts not to bother with.” So how do you separate the good, the bad, and the ugly?

The most obvious way to get good information is to use credible sources. One reliable website is much better than hundreds of sites with dubious intents. Common sense is your best tool here. Has the information been checked and vetted by other sources? Can you find other sites that can provide confirmation? What is the motivation of the information provider? Are they just trying to sell you something? Can you find other information that is a direct contradiction to your findings?

Concise, accurate, and reliable research is essential for many businesses, organizations, and individuals. But, good research takes time and effort, and a discerning eye. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi said, “Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.” In some ways, researching is an art form, and… a voyage of discovery. To know is to seek, and as Albert Einstein remarked, “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”

 

Rick de Vries is the one of the principals of FunFrog Creative Communications, a company that provides a full range of communication services. For more information, please go to funfrogcreative.com.

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DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR… THAT?!!

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A few years ago, I looked into hiring a writer to do some… well, writing. I owned and operated an e-commerce site and thought it would be good to have some content to post on various article sites. That was when posting content on article mills benefitted SEO… hint, it’s not good to do that anymore. Although I was quite capable of doing the writing, I just didn’t have the time to do it myself.

To find a writer who could do the work, I went to one of those freelance job sites where employers post jobs and freelancers look for work. Let’s call it the Acme Job Site (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent). I had never hired anyone from Acme before, so I thought why not try it out once. The Acme site said articles produced by their writers are checked to ensure they are not copied. So, I felt good about that, albeit cautiously.

They had different categories of writers you could hire­­—beginners, moderate, and experts. I can’t remember if those were the actual names they used for the classifications, but you get the idea. The cost varied depending on the classification, expert having the highest pay rate. I thought, well…I think I’ll go with the moderate experience level. The description Acme had for that class of writer seemed to be appropriate for what I wanted (i.e. these were by no means expert writers, however, they were supposedly proficient—at least that’s what the Acme site said).

Well, I signed up for an account and proceeded to post my job request. I explained exactly what I wanted in terms of article style, length, and subject matter. Then I waited. In a short time, I had a few responses and chose a writer who assured me he could do the job. I hired him and waited, not knowing what to expect. Hey… how bad could it be?

I watched my inbox with anticipation, and perhaps a little trepidation. Little did I know it would turn to consternation. Not only was the resulting article not what I wanted, it was also not written particularly well. However, I thought, hey…I’m all for turning lemons into lemonade, so why don’t I just edit it a little (or maybe a lot), and use it anyway. It’s just too much trouble to go through the whole process of getting a re-write done. Then I made another discovery.

I copied a few of the sentences and pasted them into Google search and guess what I found? Most of the content was copied virtually word-for-word from a Wikipedia article. It seems that Acme’s original content guarantees were somewhat… okay, very… false. Either its system was ineffective, or the article was not checked.

The “writer” no doubt hoped I wouldn’t catch on to his particular “writing” style. He must have thought…hey…why do the work myself when there are perfectly good articles already written just waiting to be copied. Nice try guy!

So what is the moral of story, you ask? Well, maybe you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway. If you have neither the talent nor the inclination to do your own writing, then hire a professional. The copy-and-paste plagiarists of the world are not professional writers. Good writing takes time, and good writers take pride in their work. They are artists, and the blank page is their canvas. What sort of art do you want your customers, clients, or constituents to see?

In closing, I’ll leave you with this thought. The written text you show the world on your digital or printed materials is a reflection of your individual or company image. Regardless of whether you wrote it yourself or hired a writer, you will be judged based on what people see and read. Additionally, if no one wants to read your content, you are just wasting your time and money. There are many good writers out there. Make the right choice and find someone who can create art for you.

 

Rick de Vries is the one of the principals of FunFrog Creative Communications, a company that provides a full range of communication services. For more information, please go to funfrogcreative.com.

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