Obviously, I can only speak for as much of the culture that I’ve experienced both online and offline so I don’t mean this to be an overly general statement, but I think it’s fair we live in a highly polarized culture – if not offline, and if not in the west, then certainly online.

That is, we have no problem telling one another if their policy, their ideas, their implementations, or whatever sucks, or if it’s terrific. Unfortunately, it seems to be much more of the former than the latter.

I tend to be more on the pessimistic side – I know, probably not the most flattering personality trait, but I try to fight it :) – so I don’t know if it’s getting better, but I can definitively say that over the past few days, I’ve personally experienced some criticism – all constructive – that’s respectful and that has generated a lot of food for thought.

The Polarization of A Free Theme

Specifically, I’m talking about when I announced that I was placing Mayer on GitHub, I received a number of great comments that provided food for thought as I continue this move into this new model with which we’re experimenting.

Mayer on GitHub

  • WPTavern shared and announcement post which had some really interesting comments (at least as far as I was concerned) that have spurred some thoughts that I’ll be continuing to think about over the next year as I try this experiment. I consider this to be a good thing.
  • Scott Bolinger, the lead developer behind AppPresser and a developer of whom I have the utmost respect, published a rebuttal (for lack of a better term) on some of the dangers in going this route. And I respect everything he’s written, and take it as wisdom and food for thought as I continue this route.

These are two examples of how we should be talking about issues from various angles and doing so in a non-polarized manner.

Conversely, I also received my fair share of tweets and other inputs where people offered their candid (read: blunt) opinions, that that’s fine, too. At this point in my career – and I think I can speak for many of us – when I say that we’re used to it.

Keep calm and carry on and all that jazz.

But the purpose of this post isn’t to highlight the various forms of feedback that have come with experimenting within the WordPress economy. Instead, I’m trying to use it as an example of some of the ways in which we can go about having respectful, even positive conversations about things even if we don’t fully agree with them exactly like I’ve tried to demonstrate above

The Inundation of Unsolicited Advice

Technically, I could take all of the aforementioned things above and write them off as unsolicited advice, but when you share something online, you’re implicitly asking people to share their opinion on what you’ve shared, as well.

And in doing that, I think it’s fair to say that you have an obligation to take into account what they are saying. People generally – not always – but generally have good reasons for saying the things they do and offering the advice that they have.

Some of it is the usual negative drivel that doesn’t warrant a response, other things can be viewed as wisdom and that’s something that should always cause us to tune in.

First, we work in a weird economy. I mean, here’s a number of us all selling products within the same space but offering advice to one another on how to be successful while also, in some cases, being competitors.

Weird, right?

Secondly, when people are able to write thoughtful comments and blog posts, it’s usually rooted in something far more than just an opinion. They’ve experience with something like that. That’s something worth focusing on and taking into consideration as you move your business forward.

So is the advice really unsolicited? Some, maybe.

But not all.

And although I believe that our culture is far more polarized than it should be, I think that it’s worth trying hard to separate the signal from the noise, appreciating and considering the former while ignoring the latter (and there is a lot of the latter).

When you end up releasing something new or experimenting with something new with what you’re doing with you’re business, prepare to have a bit of a thick skin because there will always be those who are going to have something to offer that doesn’t contribute anything back to your effort.

Even still, don’t fear the push back you may receive. It’s not always offered in a negative manner.  It’s actually on the contrary and that’s a welcome, less polarizing thing.