/ Technology

Do you hope for karma when you give online advice?

Are you a giver of online advice? Millions of Brits are. In fact, according to a TalkTalk report, someone pops online to give or share information with others every six seconds. Why are they doing it? For the karma.

And no I’m not talking about the karma points you can amass on social sharing sites, like Reddit. I’m talking about the “what goes around, comes around” kind of karma.

A survey of over 2,000 UK adults by TalkTalk has found that just one in ten Brits share their knowledge with others on the web. And that’s despite four in ten people popping online to get their problems solved, whether it’s by asking a question or reading solutions to previous queries.

Why make the effort?

Where are they going for this advice? Forums, social networks, sites like Yahoo! answers and blogs, like the one you’re on right now. We try and help out as much as we can here on Which? Conversation, but that’s part of our job. However, we’ve not missed the fact that many of you, as members of the Which? Convo community, also post your own helpful advice.

There’s no financial gain in doing this, so why are you making the effort? TalkTalk’s survey puts it down to the desire for good karma (i.e. the hope they’ll get help when they themselves need it in the future) – almost half the survey respondents recited this as a reason to share their wisdom on the net.

As for the rest, around four in ten said they give advice for the feel-good factor and a quarter said it was their duty to help due to their specialist knowledge.

Are you a sharer or sponger?

According to the study you’ll fall into one of four groups – givers (who give advice online) sharers (who direct others to answers) fishers (who ask questions) and spongers (who absorb previously resolved issues). You’re most likely to be a sponger, with the few givers and sharers reaping karma by jumping online twice a day to advise others.

As for me? Apart from here on Which? Conversation (and on our @WhichConvo Twitter account), I’m more likely to be a fisher or sponger (a spisher?) either scouring Google for answers to my problems, or asking a question on a specific forum. Usually it’ll be related to a specific tech product I’m trying to get my head around.

However, if you do happen to be generous with posting your advice online there’s a good chance that you’re a 45-year-old Scottish man, according to the survey’s results.

So are you a giver, sharer, fisher or sponger? And if you have given advice online, do you do it for good karma or something else?


I am very grateful for all the information available online, even if some of it is not very reliable. What encourages me to contribute is reading comments that are wrong, biased or selfish, though I am probably guilty of the same. Contributing on a topic that interests you is likely to generate feedback that will extend your knowledge and understanding.

I like this this site because u lot generally communicate in English rather than text speak, and there is plenty of constructive criticism and useful debate.

I’m a scientist and find it interesting to read discussion that relates to science, irrespective of whether comments concur with my views. I think that’s more interesting than watching TV. I don’t feel compelled to help others. Keep up the good work and thanks for not reprimanding me and others who drift well off topic.

It depends, a lot of advice online is sage, well thought out and well delivered, but some of it is just utter baloney delivered by trolls. Much of it is subjective too.

Online advice, much like a newspaper, don’t take at face value.

I don’t believe in karma but I still give advice. The reason I do it is because I remember that some time ago people worked together to tackle life day to day in something called a society. This only comes in a reduced flat pack size now though but extras are available at additional cost.