Frank's Blog - Yes, Finally
Advice - 27 January, 2016
In my opinion, there are three types of advice. There is solicited advice, unsolicited advice and off-topic advice, which usually
results from soliciting advice and getting back unsolicited advice. I believe that most advice is opinion and, as I tell my
students when they ask me for advice, The only unbiased opinion is your own. Now, I am not saying that someone's opinion
is wrong. It may be 100% correct, for them, in The situation they were in when they developed their opinion. But for me, in a
different position with a different set of needs, it may be anywhere from 99% correct to 0%.
Solicited advice is where you actually ask someone for their opinion. You may think you are asking for facts. For example,
when you pay a surveyor to inspect a boat or you ask a doctor what to do about your itchy feet. You want to know The "plain,
unvarnished truth." More importantly, you are willing to pay for it. But what you actually get is their opinions, based on their
education and experience. If you stop and think about it, that's all anyone is giving you. As The old saying goes, you pays
your money and you takes your chances.
Unsolicited advice, I think we all know, is The annoying kind. It's The kind we most frequently ignore, because we didn't want it
in The first place. One of The best examples of unsolicited advice, in my opinion, is The television commercial. A sexy
woman comes on television and tells me that her bowels are irritated, so I should talk to my doctor about using something she
did. We understand that, if you happen to be a sexy woman and you happen to have irritable bowels, this is wonderful
information. However, most of us have absolutely no use for this information - but we all had to listen to it anyway.
Most unsolicited advice comes to us The same way. Someone has a solution to a problem and they want to tell us about it.
We might or might not have The problem, but they are going to tell us anyway. For example, you may or may not care about
unsolicited advice, but I am going to give you my opinion of it anyway!
The problem with unsolicited advice is not The advice itself, but when it interrupts us from what we are trying to do. I am
working on my dinghy engine, for example. It won't start and I have ruled out The three most common problems and am now
about to get started on troubleshooting The fourth most common problem. I am deep in my troubleshooting process. At this
point, my father-in-law giving me advice on what to check is not only not helpful, it will stop me from what I am doing to actually
resolve The problem. This is particularly true if I have to stop and explain to him why his solution won't make a difference.
The only thing worse than getting unsolicited advice - at least to me - is getting off-topic advise. Off-topic (my definition,
anyway) is when you actually solicit advice from someone and, instead of giving you advice related to The subject or admitting
that they have no advice, they give you some opinion on something tangentially related to The subject that they do know
This happens all The time on The Interwebby. You are having a problem with your Ajax battery charger. You have exhausted
all of your own knowledge and The company either can't or won't give you anymore. So you go out on The cruising forums
and you post a description of your problem. You do your best to be as clear as possible on The details. Within moments,
you get back a response from SaltySaviour123, telling you that he has no idea how The Ajax battery charger works, but The
Acme battery charger has a switch that fixes that problem.
So, is The advice that you should pull out The Ajax charger and replace it? Should you look for a switch on The Ajax?
Should you ignore SaltySaviour123? Who knows? You could spend time researching Salty's other posts to see if he or she
actually knows what they are talking about, you could spend money throwing out what might be a perfectly good charger or
you could hope that someone else will come along and give you better advice. Who knows what to do?
Take my advice - understand that it is all opinion anyway and whatever you do, you will have learned a little bit that will allow
you to give better advice in The future...