No Image Available

Seb Anthony

Read more from Seb Anthony

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Are you a giver, a taker or a sharer?


One or two threads here recently have gone into the realms of exploring the quality of contributions and the ethics behind individuals contributions.

I believe there are a number of 'different' types of people contributing here:
1) the taker - asks questions but rarely adds to the debate for others

2) the giver - the person who just gives without asking anything them selves

3) the sharer - the person who gives more than they take

4) the assassin - waiting for opportune moments to shoot from the side lines - neither a giver or taker just a provocateur

Who are you?

what have you experienced here & on other forums?

Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison

13 Responses

  1. Put me down as a 3).
    I would say I am a 3). I would also say that people are unlikely to admit that they are a 1) or a 4). I assume that some people in the 1) category are new to training and therefore they do not feel sufficiently knowledgable to reply to other people’s questions. I have had some personal experience of the 4) category in that two people attacked me in one thread. I do think it is nice when a question has received lots of replies, which have obviously taken a lot of thought and time to write, that the person who asked the question writes to acknowledge the efforts. At least that indicates that the person who posted the question has read some or all of the replies.

  2. Online cooperation, gifting and reciprocity
    There is a very interesting and extremely informative article on the subject of online cooperation, reciprocity and gifting picks up on outputs and responses quite nicely, has influenced my thinking on this subject for some time and continues to do so every time I read it.
    The article defines cooperation as gifts and public goods.
    The authors raise some very considered types of contributors which I wholeheartedly agree with.

    I’ve got my own more prosaic types as
    1. the taker – one hit question and then never heard of again.
    2. The commercial taker – plenty of hits, uses reponses to win business and gain personal kudos with own managers
    3. The genuinely lazy and bone idle.
    4. The naieve – badly briefed and out of their depth – uses forum for advice and knowledge as is unsupported by company/management
    5. The knowledge expert – enjoys sharing to gain kudos and status from the community
    6. The specialist expert – interacts seldom – but contributions are significantly valuable and would normally cost a pretty packet
    7. The chatters – lots of fluff but little substance
    8. The challengers – query assumptions, misapprehensions and often probe grey/contentious subject matter areas. Often misunderstood. (NB. trainers read ‘reflectors’)
    I’ve experienced all of these on this and other forums, if you take the time to read their conclusions so have authors of the article above.
    I agree with their assertion that online interaction doesnt mean increased cooperation – but it is certainly cheaper!
    What am I? I gave an answer, expanded and explored the issue (curiosity is alluded to as the reason behind the question) and I suggested tweaks – thats altruistic isnt it? On this answer I’m a 3 by your reckoning and an 8/6 by mine. I think my response varies depending on the question and the ‘type of questioner’.

  3. Varies
    I think it varies from day to day for me, I don’t think I fall into category 1, but I’ve certainly been in category 2, 3 and 4 at different times – I think it depends what I feel I can add to the mix, I have asked for help on here, I have also given help on here without expectation of return, and occasionally I have felt the need to shoot something down but I’m not trying to annoy just express my opinion.

    I’d like to think I’m usually a 3 but can go either way occasionally.

  4. Freedom of speech, capitalism and communities
    My experience on other forums is that contributors often have issues with written style. Forums involve informal communication, those responses written in direct style frequently tend to be misunderstood as aggressive. Were it face to face communication then the tone of voice would indicate not aggression but simply directness. I think this possess issues for forums and those new to them.
    I also think people have forgotten about debating and defending their assertions, in a public forum – like any public meeting differences occur, usually there is a Chair to mediate the verbal discussion. Online, in my experience moderators simply dont have the time, subject knowledge or inclinations to mediate – hence a free for all always occurs – this is why the internet remains an anarchy and not a democracy. Moderators assumed absolute power from a vacuum without a vote and then proceed to infer that they are somehow representative of their people. OK they did set the rules of the community which subscribers agreed to upon joining but that doesn’t mean their dictatorship should not be able to be criticised by the population.
    When communities change from being free subscription to paid subscription the moderators can no longer claim independence and censorship results. Control the communication method and you can control the people – its basic propaganda. I’ve seen this happen on innumerable supposed independent networks – the ethos changes from total freedom and high ideals to one of secretively supporting the aims of the limited company. The population never discovers which posts went unpublished.
    I guess that’s capitalism for you. One only has to look at widely publicised Google/MSN/Yahoo censorship of searches in China – commercial interests have likely dictated this.
    The solution – join Amnesty International?

  5. with tounge firmly in cheek..
    Can I add 3 extra types of contributors:

    the time waster – the person who asks entirely irrelevant questions

    the serial contributor – the person who has a comment to make on every answer – quite often more than one!

    the delicate flower – the person who takes offence at any contribution that slightly disagrees with their own.

  6. cheek….terminal serisouness
    Nick no you cannot 🙂

    That must put me as a “time waster” using your criteria!

    Are some people a combination of your “serial contributor” & “the delicate flower” ?


  7. Interpretation
    I guess I would be a 3 but following on from others comments it is a timeline that you follow.

    At the start you are the taker as generally you don’t have the experience to help with others issues and are perhaps a little scared of being ridiculed others.

    Then you move into being the sharer , personally i don’t think I will ever have a time when I become a giver as I’ll never have to ask questions. As for teh assasins. I would hope that these are either 2’s or 3’s that are just having a bad day!!!

  8. We are warned to be on our best behaviour
    In theory there should only be one type of contribution: “Responses to Any Answers MUST provide helpful comments to assist both the questioner and other interested readers which must be visible on the site.” Hopefully this response falls into that category!

  9. Take aim…

    This is just the sort of pointless time wasting question that gets forums like this a bad name.

    Now get back to work… all of you!

  10. one more for the pot…
    the school teacher… who says stop copying (one of the only REAL ways humans learn) and to get on with your work.

  11. Take, shake or break?
    These questions have been raised on many discussion forums and I found the reference Juliet provided both entertaining and informative.

    We need all of these 4 characters or even caricatures for a discussion board to survive and thrive. Sometimes it is helpful to have what you term an assassin since they provoke debate provided it is done with the degree of levity rather than as a diatribe.

    I saw this on the ASTD discussion forum “Takes all sorts………..cutting and anodyne.

    Short, pithy responses or long, eloquent essays.

    Lurkers are invisible, posters are not and if posts are not well received or deemed inappropriate then the board (or its posters) should self-regulate or if that fails refer to the [ASTD] moderator.”

    Ideas are supposed to be hard currency today which may explain why some are reluctant to share them yet discussion boards provide an excellent opportunity to bounce ideas off fellow training professionals and hone such ideas or even a loan them.

    Like learning styles a mixture is always better than a solitary preference and by sitting in different shoes we get different perspectives. However, a category missing from the original list is the rather disparaging term lurker — there will always be many people who choose to browse/lurk but if these are the only people who visit discussion boards then the latter will soon become extinct.

  12. Wrong perspective
    A further development of the issue is the nature of the forum itself and what the moderators allow.
    eg for instance whilst this forum is set up supposedly for answers – ie. a Q&A forum – there are many contributors who adopt a wider brief and use the forum to postulate and opine.

    If you think about it postulating and opining is what happens on Speaker’s Corner, where many a healthy debate and barracking take place. This parrallels our forum however for some reason contributors dont like to be challegned robustly its as if the medium itself should defend them or its simply not fair to do it online. Why ever not? Perhaps its because they’ve never put their viewpoints or opinions to such a diverse and populous audience before and simply arent used to that reaction -they hadnt thought it through that they were speaking to a global forum.

    Therefore its wrong to label those who disagree as ‘assasins’. Bearing in mind we arent speaking in a democratic forum (unlike Speaker’s Corner – which is) we should be grateful that they arent censored.

    To summarise I’m suggesting that there is a wrong perception coming into these forums – it is Speaker’s Corner and to expect something more altruistic is somewhat misguided.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!