Why I End Up Sharing Without Reading [en]

[fr] Pourquoi je me retrouve parfois à partager sans lire.

A few weeks ago, I came upon an article (which I’m too tired to hunt for right now) which said that a huge number of articles shared through social media (understand: Twitter and Facebook) had not been read by those who share them.

I wasn’t surprised, because I do it regularly.

A few weeks after that, but still a few weeks ago, I shared an article I had just skimmed, and which was a pile of sh*t — and I missed that (also because it was on a topic I hadn’t done my homework on.) Thankfully I was quickly challenged by some of my followers, saw it, went back to the article, realised my mistake, removed it from my timeline (I didn’t want to spread it more), and apologised. I felt really bad.

Just like a car accident is waiting to happen if you habitually text as you drive or take other similar risks: it’s not because you manage to do it 50 times without getting into an accident that you won’t on the 51st.

Since then, I’ve been thinking really hard about this. I consider that being a reliable source is really important. I’m aware that as somebody with a bunch of followers/readers, I have a certain influence. It’s a responsibility. And I take it seriously.

So why do I end up, again and again, sharing links before I read them?

Tonight it dawned on me: it’s because of the way I browse — and maybe also because of how browsers are built.

As I scroll through my Facebook or Twitter timeline, I see article titles and summaries that look really interesting. I see who is sharing them and with what comments. Just as I am a trusted source for some, I have my trusted sources. I open said article in a new tab so that when I am in “reading mode” I can read it (and yes, I do do that). But right now I’m in browsing mode, so I continue scrolling down my timeline.

Do you see the problem, if I don’t share the interesting article right away? When I read it in a few hours or sometimes a few days, there will be no way for me to head back to the post or tweet that brought it to my attention to share it from there — and give credit to my source. So I take a small risk and share an article I know will be interesting and important, right, because I’m going to read it. (Yeah it’s faulty reasoning. But it makes sense in the moment.)

What’s missing here is a way to trace how one got to a given page, sometimes opened in a new tab. It’s even worse in mobile. Or “that page I stuck in Instapaper 5 months ago” — where did it come from?

When I’m “scanning”, I like to stay in “scanning/discovering” mode. When I’m reading, I stay in reading mode. The problem is that the “share” function is tied to the “scanning/discovering” mode. Exception: the stuff I put in Digital Crumble, which is excerpts of what I am currently reading, as I read it.

Do you sometimes share before you read? Have you tried to analyse why?

4 thoughts on “Why I End Up Sharing Without Reading [en]

  1. Doesn’t solve the problem I’m afraid (plus I tried buffer for a bit and find it kludgy). Because I’m not reading minutes after sharing. And also, am I going to keep in mind what is in my Buffer queue? Creates a whole new problem 🙂

  2. I have given up keeping track of my sources. This is how I solve the problem.

    Leaving tabs up for days is also how I get articles read. I decide quickly that it is something I want to look at later, then I get back to work. When I have time to casually read, I open up the many tabs I’ve collected one by one.

    Not crediting the original finder when I share on Twitter is pretty sad. It’s bad Internet etiquette. But I do my best to credit said discoverer when I blog about the link. I simply cannot deliver quality links and credit the sender each time. I go through so many crap links over the course of many days that I lose track.

    One way to avoid this is to blog about the link first. That keeps your blog tab open and it is easier for me to hit the “Back” button to see where I found it first. I have lost a bit of sympathy for raw link sharers. It doesn’t take much to tweet out a link. It takes more time to think critically about it and then blog those thoughts. That deserves more of the credit than just a “hey! I found it first!” whine for recognition.

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