Good morning, Financial Slacker readers.
As we ease into 2017, one of my initiatives for Financial Slacker is to increase support for others in the community. For this purpose, I am defining community as the readers and commenters on this site.
I created Financial Slacker with a goal of helping others make better financial decisions. And part of helping people make better financial decisions is by having a community of active readers willing to share their experiences through comments.
As such, I want to do everything I can to encourage and grow engaged participation and to support those who participate.
Groupthink Stifles Creativity
Over the years, I’ve become a big fan of crowdsourced thinking. And while there’s a fine line between “groupthink” and crowdsourced thinking, that distinction is important.
Groupthink is the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.
This is exactly what we do not want.
The behavior that we witnessed during the presidential election campaign is an example of the negative impact of groupthink. I don’t want to generalize too much, but it seemed to me that rather than thinking for themselves, many people jumped onboard with whatever views their peers or a specific cable news program had to offer.
Or alternatively, they would disagree with whatever the “other” side said no matter what.
This led not only to a lack of informed commentary but a focus less on substance and more on accusatory inflamed rhetoric.
Crowdsourced Thinking Leads to Better Solutions
Alternatively, crowdsourced thinking is the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group that encourages civil expresssion of diverse opinions with a goal of finding new and innovative solutions.
But just as there’s a fine line between the definition of groupthink and crowdsourced thinking, there’s a fine line in practice as well. And unfortunately, the negativity in social media appears to be growing.
This trend in social media toward aggressiveness has received a fair amount of attention recently. It’s bothersome as I believe the relative anonymity and asynchronous nature of the internet and specifically community forums creates a better environment for crowdsourced thinking rather than groupthink.
The positive use of crowdsourced thinking can be seen in some of my favorite sites – Financial Samurai, AVC, Wait But Why. These sites have cultivated a loyal community that mostly self-regulates those that don’t want to participate in a positive way.
And while it’s certainly not the case that I agree with everything said on those sites, for the most part, those sites and their respective communities generate high quality discussion around issues that matter to the readers. They are each role models for effective crowdsourced thinking.
Community Outreach Initiatives
To this end, as I look to continue building the readership and value of Financial Slacker, I am focusing on the following community outreach initiatives:
1/ Guest posting – I will be reaching out to other sites and offering to write guest posts. I am also asking readers if they have any interest in writing a guest post for Financial Slacker to please reach out to me. I’ll be revising and posting the guest article guidelines to help anyone interested.
2/ Commenting – I subscribe to quite a few blogs and sometimes it can be difficult to visit and actively participate on all of them. But as a writer, I know how uplifting it can be when others provide feedback and confirmation that they’re reading your material. Comment engagement is one way to show this appreciation and I’ll be stepping up my participation on other sites.
3/ Articles you must read – This is a recurring series in which I highlight specific articles that have captured my attention in some way. I’m always looking out for these articles but please let me know if you have something that would want to promote.
4/ Featured sites – I want to learn more about the readers and commenters on Financial Slacker. Many of you also run sites of your own, others own businesses, and still others work high level professional jobs. If you’re interested in having your site or business featured, I have a list of questions that I’ll send you.
Readers, thank you for participating in this crowdsourced thinking experiment. If you would like to be involved in one of the above initiatives, please let me know. Also, I’m always interested to hear from others on creative ways to drive greater levels of engagement.