I am a firm advocate of the StackExchange network. It does good work and it allows us all to take less time to do something it took a bit longer several years ago. I have been following answers.startups.com for a while now and its one of my favorite StackExchange sites. I love startups and I am also attempting one right now for my self.
The problem I have with this site though is not the answers it gives, but with the answers it doesn’t give. I personally think the FAQ of the site needs to be updated and changed. They are closing too many questions that have to do with startups in one way or another.
Lets take for example, this question on pricing for a startup. Lets look at the FAQ to see where this falls under. The FAQ specifically states:
Topics include financing, hiring employees, renting an office, legal, marketing, sales, compensation plans, banking, payroll, benefits, and more. This is the place to come with specific questions or to seek specific advice from your peers.
The question here, is about pricing and sales of their particular startup. How am I going to sell this product better than what I currently sell it at? Yet, it was closed and proceeded to be voted on by three people who think they have read the FAQ thoroughly.
Lets take a look at another one. This one asking for tips on marketing. While a pretty general question, but if we look at the FAQ again. It falls under marketing. Again, it was closed by four people who think they have read the FAQ. The problem here is they haven’t. Things like marketing an application or startup is a pretty good question. I would personally love to market my start up differently if I only knew how.
One more, just to prove a point. This one asking what type of offer to provide new members of a company. This has to do with hiring an employee, but they say it is too localized. I ask them, when has a start up ever been started by just two people and adding the third on some time later? Have you ever heard of a start up that doesn’t do that? Definitely not me. (sarcastic) This person wanted to know if the offer they provided was sufficient enough. I would look at this question if I brought in a third person for my startup. I can then get a much better gauge at what to offer them. Therefore, I have used this question to help answer my question of hiring someone else. Not localized at all.
Now, lets look somewhere else. Everyone knows about YCombinator. At least everyone I talk to in the startup world. One of my friends actually got accepted to this latest group and just had his demo day. I personally asked him, what he thought the best part of YC was. He said it was the people. To know, he can post a question to any one of them about any part of his startup and get the advice needed. It didn’t matter what topic the question was on, he would get some honest and good feedback and even some help if he needed it. Sadly, that's not relevant here at answers.onstartups.com, even though they clearly state “seek specific advice from our peers” in their FAQ.
On the front page it self, I count 5 closed questions alone. That means, that this answer forum is throwing away 1/4th to 1/3rd of their user community. What person wants to see this site for the very first time, asks a question and then gets told its not on topic. I would be pushed away never to return.
I ask you answers.onstartups.com, what are you actually trying to accomplish? Are you trying to accomplish me coming to your site, because I don’t know anyone else to ask, and ask a question that I can get real answers to? Or are you trying to just have the business end of the startups answered?
I personally don’t think this site has a specific goal in mind and needs to reign in their moderators. They are pushing too many people away when they can’t even be that exclusive. One day, this site could be the Forrst for startups, but not today. Not while they have problems without specific goals in mind.
There is a problem with some of these Q&A sites. Its that there is no correct answer. Its not a programming site, where I can show you solid logic to back up my claims. Its advice. Advice on what we have done and what worked and what didn’t. I think that's the real problem with answers.onstartups.com. It expects logic, and not actual advice to be the correct answer.
Like all my other posts, I think short and to the point is the best way. We are all busy people, so no need in going into a long drawn out post.
Ive talked to several managers, CEOs and big wigs at my company about the best way to advance in a job. I decided to compile a list of the big hitters, the things that struck the most. This list was confirmed by many other managers and executives at a few more companies, so I figured after much research and insight, I would share it here.
Here is the Dirty List on How To Advance In Your Job.
Technical Excellence – Know your job. What is required of you. This is the only thing that takes time to figure out. You need to know what they want of you and do it. Plain and simple, Find out what is required of you and then master it.
Deep Understanding of Customer Domain – You need to know your customer. Know who your selling to, know who your making your product for and understand their needs and wants. When you know this, you can easily make their lives better. You can easily sell them more product.
Shown Leadership – You can be inspiring, motivating, consensus forming, challenging, a team builder, an accepter of responsibility and you can meet commitments. Thats how you show leadership. Thats how you succeed as a leader.
Ability to Work in a Team – You see team success as the path to individual success. You multiply your effectiveness through a team which you should fully understand. This reminds me of the famous quote “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” You are that team builder? Do you see the success that can be achieved if we all work together?
Ability to Translate Tech Skills into Business Skills – Can you take what you learned as a technical person and translate those into business wins? How to solve a problem is a tech skill, but can you move it into the business world?
Are You On The List? – No, not this list, but your managers list? Are you the go to person? Are you taking all the tasks that nobody wants? Do you see these tasks through as well? Can you handle doing a variety of things in order to earn your spot on the list your manager uses when picking someone for a new job. You need to be the person your managers and your bosses go to, to get something big done. You need to be on their list of people they trust will succeed at the job.
Something I always say when we need to complete something big, Lets Cowboy Up! Lets get on that list.
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
This famous statement was about the inactivity of the intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power. That word, Inactivity is exactly what has happened. The inactivity of man to stop a purging of chosen targets. Right now, Congress of the United States is trying to purge another group of people. Backed by powerful and wealthy companies investing much of their time, effort and money to convince this Republic that your freedom of speech is not as guaranteed to you as the law to enforce copyright.
SOPA and PIPA. They will be the wrecking ball that crashes through the Internet. They will be the destroyer of the Freedom of Speech that is so rightly deserved for every single individual on this planet we call Earth.
To me, I have never really been an activist of sorts. I have never really fought for the cause. But this cause has come to a point that one must either stand up or lose their freedom. I am not about to lose my Freedom of Speech over some companies need to enforce copyright.
So, on January 18th, for one Full GMT day, All my websites I own will go dark. I am protesting that fact that SOPA and PIPA should not be made into law.
I ask that anyone else who owns a website, who makes money from a domain, who uses the internet to host any sort of material join me in this endeavor. If we put a halt to the internet on January 18th, then the people that use our sites will know what it could be like when this law is created and enforced.