In a previous post, I stressed on how you can find some very valuable information in comments, especially on big social media sites. Well, If you know what to look for, reading comments can give you free access to advice from actual working professionals. I consider this priceless information, don't you?
I'm going to use Digg.com as an example because it's my favorite, but this applies to any other social site with discussion/commenting. There are well over half a MILLION registered users on Digg. I think right now it's around 800,000, but the point is that there are a huge number of people visiting the site. The whole concept of the social media structure is that the content is voted on by the users and therefore the best content rises to the top. The large number of voters gives this theory a lot more credibility than say, a site with 100 users voting.
To begin, let me say that my opinion as to why people disagree so violently on wether or not the “best” content actually hits the front page, is simple. . . They are looking at the front page.
800,000 users will obviously never agree what is the “best” content, and the front page is a melting pot of the sub-categories. This is why, as a Professional Graphic and Web Designer, I tend to hover around the “Design” category. I find the stories I'm most interested in easier this way, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Working Professionals are part of that 800,000 and there are some good reasons why a professional would use a site like Digg. Personally, I like to keep up to date with new software releases, which diggers are VERY good at finding. I also use Digg to get access to stories that involve web design hints or design inspiration, as well as tutorials and freebies. So, in a nutshell, using Digg helps me become a better designer ( I wish I could convince my boss of this! ) by allowing me to find the best (and newest) stuff on the web for what I'm looking for that is design related.
Where the professionals come into play:
Since working professionals are also Digg users, they are also some of the ones leaving comments. In fact, some comments are even better than the actual story. What! Yes. Comments can be more useful than the actual story because (believe it or not) people actually LIKE to help each other. If you aren't reading comments, you need to. Diggers don't just post links to mirrors in comments, sometimes they post links to additional resources, which can be extremely valuable! Here's an example I used in a previous post with a story about Mac freeware apps.
Even better, some of these comment easter eggs are coming strait from a Working Professional in the story's respected field. There's no real way to tell who's a professional and who isn't, but if you know what to look for you can pick up on it over time, and get more out your favorite social media site.
How to find “Working Professional” Commenters:
Like I said, there's not really a way to tell but here are some tips and trends that I use:
1. Pay close attention to commenters who try to respectfully review, approve, or disprove a given story. These are helpful because, sometimes a story will get popular, but a comment from a professional can warn you on why it's a bad idea. Not all stories are submitted to Digg (and other sites) because the user knows it's a good story. People will submit just to try and get their stories popular, no matter the content.
2. Look for comments with links to rare freebies on highly specialized topics. Chances are the professionals have spent way more time searching, and are more likely to know about these links.
3. Pay attention to commenters that form an actual opinion based on facts and offer advice or links to a better story, freebies, tutorials, etc. If they can back up an opinion with facts, and know about a better tutorial, they just might know a little more about that profession than the story submitter.