People have often told me that I should charge for all that I do to help others. Well, for starters, that's not what a Microsoft MVP is all about...but more importantly...that's not what I am about! I like to help because helping others makes me feel good. Sure, I charge for my consulting when someone wants a big project done, but I do what I can to provide as much free support to others as possible. This is a basic characteristic of what an MVP is all about. But not just MVPs. It's also what everyone who writes for TechTrax is about! We do this because we enjoy helping others learn technology. We are excited about it and we enjoy sharing our excitement with others who want to learn it.
We volunteer to provide this service to you for FREE!
Sure, we hope that, in exchange for all this free help, you'll come to us when you need a consultant in the future. Or that you'll get to know us, trust us and hopefully purchase the items we sell on our web sites to make a living, but we don't force you to pay for the knowledge we share here. And I'm not putting down web sites that ask you to subscribe and pay for their ORIGINAL material. There are a lot of magazine web sites out there. They need to survive by publishing magazines and paying their authors. Obviously, they need to charge for this. That's cool. Not what we want to do here as long as we can avoid it. But I understand that type of process and even do subscribe to many sites like that, myself.
But...what I DO have a big problem with are web sites who harvest free material from the Internet and then hide it away and charge you to see it! OOOOHHHHH! This ticks me off! There's nothing wrong with providing links to information for free on your web site, or even creating a knowledgebase of your own to share and then bombard people with advertising to use your site. Hey, if the user doesn't like it, they can just not visit your site. But to say that...we know the answer you need, but you have to pay us to see it...and then provide links to otherwise free information! Oh...don't get me started!
And I've been watching one of these sites. The Experts Exchange is a web site that promotes the fact that they have millions of solutions. Unfortunately, I know that a handful of those "pay per view" solutions are harvested from the FREE material you get right here at TechTrax. Granted, they don't rip off the content, so there's no copyright infringement and, therefore, nothing we can do about it. But what really kills me is that they are acting like they have all the answers...when, in truth, they have just found them on the web and now they want you to pay just to see their comments and use the links to the real answers!
The other day, I received yet another notice that TechTrax had been referenced somewhere on the web. As you can see, someone is asking about a default search page setting for Internet Explorer and the referenced link is to a TechTrax article.
I click the link to see where it takes me; and yet again, it takes me to the Expert Exchange.
But also note that, although they provide the question free, you must sign up to see the answer. Okay, sure even free Yahoo support groups, some of which I run, too, ask for you to register with their site so they can attempt to send you marketing material (which you can opt out of if you modify your profile to say no to marketing emails). But there's no charge for joining. These guys over at Expert Exchange want you to PAY to take advantage of their wealth of knowledge! And they're not just asking for a few bucks...but nearly $100 a year!
Okay, so they say that they will find the answers for you and I'm sure there are people out there who just don't have the time to search the web and they'd rather just pay someone to do it for them. After all, that's how I promote my consulting services. Sure, I'll point you to all the places where you can learn to program automation on your own and it'll take you several weeks to several months to figure it all out, as I have already taken the time to do. Or you can pay me and I can do the job for you in a few days, depending on the size of the job. That's fair. But at least the work you get back is my own.
In this particular example, notice that when you access the answer that they're providing for the above question, it's a link to Vic's FREE TechTrax article explaining how to setup your default search engine. I feel sorry for the poor sap who paid the Expert Exchange to get this answer when this article is one of the highest hitting articles in TechTrax, which means that it displays at the top of the Google hitlist. Easy to find...and free, thanks to Vic Ferri, who took the time to write up the solution and explain it to us!
As you can see, had the user just typed "default search engine" into Google, you'll notice that our free results are right there at the top.
A little further checking and we see the those Experts over there have even more references to solutions that you've received here at TechTrax for free. Oh sure, they're touting that they have over a million solutions in their database and it appears that they've only swiped 17 of these free answers from us for which they charge their members to read. Not a big percentage. But the fact that others are making money off what we provide for free just makes me want to spit! Not that I'm jealous that they've discovered a way to make money on the fact that some people would prefer to pay for help than look for it themselves. But because they don't even use their own material. You'd think the least they could do is take the time to rewrite the basics to the solution.
I don't know...maybe I'm just feeling whiny? And I guess it does take all types of people to make up this world. I'm just glad that we here at TechTrax are not those types who rip people off by charging then for something that can easily be obtained for free.
Yup...some people say we should charge for all this support and we'd be rich. Well, although money is nice and a necessary evil, personally...I believe our writers are rich. And we have a few million dollars in Thank You emails to prove it.