Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Getting the Most Out of Internet Articles

This might seem an odd choice for a personal finance article; however, many of us waste a lot of time on the Internet, time that could otherwise be used for more productive things -- even making more money. Much of that wasted time may be spent reading -- often inefficiently or unproductively -- Internet articles.

Whether an article isn’t all the title makes it out to be or for one reason or another, you just aren’t taking the full message away from what you’re reading online, there may be ways to get the most from the Internet articles you read.

Here are the main ways that I ensure I get the most from the online offerings I read.

Consider the Source
Doing a quick scan of the article author’s background or even considering the site you’re on could provide some important information as to the quality of the content you’re reading. Education, background, experience, and whether the site is simply an informational site or is running an angle on certain topics or subject matter to make a buck could mean you’re getting an ill-informed or biased opinion in the article content.

Look for Trends
Sometimes it can be hard to know if the information you’re reading in a particular article is backed up by fact or is even accurate. In such situations, doing an Internet search for related content can help you clarify whether your source or sources are indeed on the right track.

If you find articles with similar content and findings or suddenly see several unrelated Internet sites all running similar headlines or subject matter, it might be a trend that tells you that the articles you’re reading are based upon or written by reliable and knowledgeable authors.

Make it Your Own
You can’t assume everything you read on the Internet is applicable directly to you. Sometimes you have to take the information provided and make it your own, applying it to you and your personal situation.

Just because an author has written about how he paid off $200,000 in credit card debt --more such debt than many of us will ever hope to see in our lifetime -- this doesn’t mean that the tactics and techniques he used in doing so won’t be applicable to you, but maybe just on a smaller scale.

Don’t Expect the World
I find that many people expect information served to them on a platter and hand-feed to them and their exact personal situation. It’s important to realize however, that an Internet article author can’t write to everyone’s direct personal situation. The author prepares and presents the information that is available -- often in a quite limited or directed way (e.g. “less than 500 words” or “easily scanned topic headings or bullet points”). It’s up to the reader to determine whether the information in that article is worthwhile to their particular needs and at times mold it to fit their personal situation.

READ the Article…All of it
You can’t expect an Internet article to give you its best, if you aren’t giving it your best. Scanning through the first few lines or paragraph doesn’t mean you’ve read an entire article, and if that’s how you read an Internet article, you might as well not even bother in many cases because you’re likely missing the meat of the subject matter or only getting part of the story.

Reading an Internet article thoroughly (unless you’ve decided it isn’t applicable to you or you just don’t have time) can be important, especially if you plan to comment upon it.

Comments…or Lack Thereof
Personally, I don’t know why the majority of people who comment on Internet articles actually do. To me, it’s largely a waste of time, and unless I’m trying to network with other sites or authors, I don’t do it.

From the vast number of comments I’ve seen over the years, most people haven’t taken the time to fully read or understand the entire article anyway. They often base their comments off of assumptions based upon the article title or a quick scan of several sentences.

If there isn’t time to read the entire article in the first place, why is there time to waste commenting on it, especially when a large portion of those comments are ignored or illicit snide, sarcastic, and sometime hateful remarks?

Wasting time on a poor Internet article is one thing. Wasting time (time that could be used productively creating or doing something) to comment on a poor Internet article -- or worse yet, spending time to find flaws in that article and then commenting upon them -- is something else altogether.

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