Posted 4 months ago

Top 5 Reasons We Pros are TOTALLY Ignoring Your BP Forum Questions

I do love BiggerPockets! What's not to love about an international community of real estate aficionados and enthusiasts all committed to mutually beneficial collaboration and networking? I've made friends, done deals, found investors, and learned many clever strategies all right here on BP.

So, amidst all of this sharing and goodwill, why are there literally thousands of Forum posts that go unanswered?

Certainly, there is no shortage of knowledge here. There are TONS of experts in every facet of real estate imaginable, and they are eager to share their hard-earned wisdom.

So, if you're not getting the attention of the Pros when you post your Forum question, you're likely making one of these 5 deadly mistakes.

MISTAKE #1: You Clearly Haven’t Done Even Basic Homework

"How do I calculate net operating income?"

"What does Subject-to mean?"

"Are there real estate investment groups in Atlanta?"

There's no crime in not knowing things. None of us Pros were born with a working knowledge of all things real estate: We were all newbies at one time.

But, there's no excuse for not taking a few minutes to research your question first.

BiggerPockets provides a superb search capability that lets you seek answers across forum posts, podcasts, webinars and blogs. And then there's always Wikipedia, which has definitions for just about any financial term you can imagine.

The fix is simple: If you want a high-quality answer, be sure to ask a high-quality question! If an explanation can be found within 2 minutes on Google, do that instead. Reserve the BiggerPockets Forum for your truly critical, relevant, and specific queries.

MISTAKE #2: You Don't Appear Coachable

I'm not on the Forums looking for a fight or to make anyone feel foolish. When I give my perspective on a topic, I do so based on my personal experience in the business. There's no reason for me to knowingly give bad or inappropriate advice. I believe this is true of the majority of Pros here.

Given this, if your response to the honest advice of others is to lash out, go negative or become sarcastic, I'm skipping your thread entirely.

Life is too short to waste time on the unworthy.

MISTAKE #3: You’ve Made It Impossible to Help You

Real estate investment is a local activity governed by the laws and regulations of a particular city, municipality, county and state. When you need specific help, be sure to provide enough detail for someone to give an informed response.

For example, an eviction in New York City is vastly different than in Atlanta, yet I've seen many forum posts that ask a specific question about the process without providing any information on where the property is located. Even worse, the profile of the poster doesn't include any hints about where they operate geographically.

Guess what? No Pro is going to skip-trace you just to answer your questions.

Complete your BiggerPockets user profile to at least include a real first and last name, and a city and state. While you're at it, there's no excuse not to use a real photo of yourself. Seriously, do they even make cellphones anymore that don't have a camera?

MISTAKE #4: You’re Asking for a "Mentor"

First, let's clear up a major misconception. Most people who are asking for a "mentor" really mean a "full-time, unpaid real estate coach."

It’s not the job of a mentor to teach you the real estate business. A mentor is there to answer your tough questions and to give you occasional guidance. It's your investing journey and you need to take responsibility for driving it forward. A mentor can't be your engine, nor your fuel. They are more like AAA for necessary emergency roadside assistance.

So stop asking for a mentor. The kind of people you’d actually want are way too busy doing actual deals, and the people who are interested might not have your best interests at heart.

MISTAKE #5: You’re Clearly a Taker, Not a Giver

You're not fooling anyone: I can see from your BP profile page that you joined all of 10 minutes ago and now your first (and last!) Forum post is a desperate, Hail Mary question. Once you have your answer you'll never be seen again.

If you've decided to join my beloved BiggerPockets community, I expect you to contribute when and where you can. You might not be able to offer many answers to others in your first few months here, but there are many other ways you can give back.

One of the best ways is to ask really great questions. I love nothing more than responding to a Forum post that is both thought-provoking and meaningful to the poster. The best way to thank a Pro for their advice is to take it and actually do something with it.

But even if you don't ask the question, you can chime in when the answer given is particularly useful and well explained.

And finally, there's the power of the vote. Forum votes are free and unlimited, so when you receive value from someone's post, be sure to let them know by giving them a vote!

So, am I being unfair? Have I become the "cranky old guy" yelling for the kids to get off my lawn? Let me know in the comments below!



Comments (107)

  1. "Cranky Old Guy" definitely not. Loved, the article especially about people with an ax to grind. Keep up the good work.


    1. Cathy, just knowing this was helpful puts a big, goofy grin on my face!


  2. I enjoyed the article Mitch and believe it is spot on. Mistake #1 is especially vexing and It's problematic across various sites, groups, associations, etcetera. 


    1. @Michael Shabazz, thank you for the encouragement! I only know all this because I MADE some of these mistakes myself, early on, and got brutally IGNORED!


  3. This is truly a great post....if you want to get the most out of any system of networking...do your homework first before you begin asking the pros to teach you basic stuff....this belongs in the "must read before joining" file.


    1. @Chuck Bauman, thank you for reading and for your kind words of encouragement!


  4. Mitch,

    Thanks for your posting . This information is great for anyone, starting in any field of endeavor.

    We all (regardless of level) should do our own investigation and research before asking questions in order to not waste anyone's precious time. And I agree, your post should be required reading for beginners. Your perspective shows many thoughtful insights. Keep up the great work.

    Joe Z.


    1. Hey Joe, I truly appreciate the kind words!


  5. Mitch, I noticed most of your points after a cursor review of the forum topics.  I do also appreciate your simple feedback and reminder to self educate and avoid being spoon fed everything.  


    1. @Patrick John Culpepper, thank you for reading!


  6. Great article... Thanks for your insight Mitch.


    1. Thanks, Brent, I really appreciate the positive feedback!


  7. Great article, I hope people hear you!


    1. Thank you, Rachel! Let's hope the message gets received!


  8. Really  great post. TRUTH!  


    1. Thanks, Ken! I only want us all to get more of what we want here!


  9. That was a great post, I would hope that all the people out there would really read and appreciate this post...


    1. Mike, I really appreciate your words of encouragement!


  10. Mitch awesome post. Very insightful and real. Thank you as it was eye opening to me as a newbie. I think it’s  great that you challenege newbies to do their due diligence on BP forums / resources before asking a question, espically if they want quality feedback. I actually added more detail to my profile and will be updating it more because of this post. Thanks for sharing!


    1. @Jason James thank YOU for reading! Let me know how else I can help you succeed!


  11. I think this is great. I hope no one is genuinely offended by any of this. It’s important to remember that most sites/forms (ex. Reddit) have community guidelines and that’s how I interpret this post. This is absolutely “Read First” material and it’s nice to be reminded of these things every now and then.


    1. Thanks, Matt! I really appreciate the feedback.


  12. I like this post and don't read this as being harsh. One SHOULD be dedicated to always educating themselves, doing research, and applying the knowledge they have learned. As a new person in real estate, the main component one will be missing is the experience that can only be ascertained by doing deals. I believe the PROs are aware of this and try to help these genuine newbies out.  However, the PROs are also aware of individuals who do lack much more than the experience needed to be successful in this business (i.e dedication, education, drive, understanding, many of the points you made in your post, etc.)


    1. Thanks, Dexter! You're right: I wasn't at all aiming for harshness. Still, if I were making my life waay harder than it had to be, I'd HOPE someone would be honest enough to tell me the straight TRUTH, regardless of how it might make me feel initially.


  13. Excellent post @Mitch Messer and very truthful as well as helpful, if the the newbies asking the questions would "actually" read it prior to asking their qyestion.


    1. Thank you @James Stevens! I've taken to posting a link back to this blog post whenever I come across newbie forum posts that have been ignored for a long while. I wish more people would do the same. It's a start, at least!


  14. @Mitch Messer

    Thanks Mitch, very good post I really like how you added that life is to short for the put downs that creep in sometimes here ON BP. All of your info is helpful great job!


    1. @Henry R. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement!


  15. Mitch ! Thanks for these insights they were very helpful and I could only imagine the ignorance you feel as a PRO mentor when newbies contact you asking googleable questions. I have been in touch with you and know you'd only like the best for all your beginner investors. Updated my profile and will be contacting you soon !


    1. Saje, thank you for reading! If this post helps ANYONE get even a LITTLE more out of BiggerPockets, then my mission here is complete!


  16. Mitch this post was super insiteful. First thank you for giving us the do's and don'ts for seeking help. I know that I do my best to make sure that I value other people's time and let them know how important they have been to me. I am for sure going to take this list, print it out, hang it at my desk at work and share it also with my teenage son who will be entering college in the Fall. 

    I really appreciate the jewels that you shared with me this afternoon. Our short but very impactful conversation reduced my anxiety just by you sharing another finance option, "subject-to". You also armed me with tools to ensure that I had the right realtor and empowered me by letting me know that I could take the lead on my own deal. Although I am still nervous becase the deal has not been completed, I feel more confident in knowing that my research, my informed questions and little experience was enough to make you want to take some time to pour into me. I grately appreciate you and your knowledge shared with me.


    1. Shun, thank you for reading and for your kind words! Just know that we were ALL anxious when we stepped out into our first BIG DEAL. The important thing is to feel the anxiety and still do the thing ANYWAY!


  17. Yes, I definitely agree with Mitch and Michael Wanger's comment that this post should be the "Read This First " section of BP. Sometimes the questions we have can easily be answered by doing a simple google search. And in most cases, the questions have already been answered over and over again through other posts. Thank you for your advice, Mitch. 


    1. Thank you so much for reading, Rediet!


  18. Great post Mitch! 

    You're absolutely right about giving more than you take, in this community and just as a principle. Adding value to others is always a better way to connect with people and to grow in anything you want to do. Keep dropping the jewels for newcomers line me!


    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Simeon!

      As the Beatles' Paul McCartney says:

      "And, in the end
      the love you take
      is equal to the love you make."


  19. Great article Mitch. 

    As I was reading each of the 5 mistakes,  I thought to myself well yes that's just common sense right? Wrong, common sense is not that common and this is an excellent must read article for new members like myself. 

    Now,  about that profile picture...

    Monair


    1. Thank you for reading, Monair! I've got to update my OWN picture: I lost the 'stache ages ago!

      That said, not having a real picture in your BP profile is like going to a high-powered networking event with a paper bag over your head!


  20. Hey Mitch, 

    All 5 of these reasons are very insightful and I think the conversation you're having with the community through this article is one that is vitally important for the long time users and the new guys to understand. 

    There's a level of dehumanization that happens when people communicate via technology and this article really helps to put this back into perspective. It took the person asking the question time as well as the investor answering it and neither would like their time to be wasted. These 5 reasons will do a world of wonder in saving people time and confusion if people in the community take the time to read it. 

    Thank you for taking the time to write it! 


    1. Megan, thank you for the kind words. By the way, I think your observation about the potential for technology to hinder courteousness is right on target!


  21. Mitch. 

    Thank you so much for setting us all straight. Is this hurried world we sometimes look for the easy answer. True knowledge comes from doing our homework and asking the real hard questions. 

    This community is again showing why we love it here. 


    1. Hey Ed, thanks for the encouragement! I just imagine how awesome it could be here if ALL questions asked were thoughtful and EVERY question yielded at least one quality answer! Even better, what if the original poster then followed up later with how they used that new information to actually get a deal done. BiggerPockets would be even MORE life-changing!


  22. Great article! Very insightful. I will definitely be using these tips when joining real estate forums. Thank you for the great advice. 


    1. Thank you for reading, Lauren!


  23. The first thing I did after reading this was stop and think about my past BP posts lol. I must say, in regard to mistake #2, it is a complete turn off to jump into forums and see sarcastic comments and negative energy. I have posted on forums and received advice that I didn't feel was relevant to what I asked, but I've always ramained humble thanking whoever replied for taking the time to provide feedback. Everyone's time is valuable and BP is not the place to argue back and forth in a way that's mean-spirited.

    Mistake#5 is really important to take note of as well. This community works best when members are contributing and seeking to add value to others, not just asking questions and leaving once someone gives an answer they like.

    Great post Mitch!


    1. Thank you, Gabe! I'm with you: Whenever I feel inclined to get snarky or unkind in the Forums, I remember that we were all newbies once and that we're all here to help and be helped. That puts things in perspective.

      Well, that, PLUS I realize that every BP Forum post appears to be searchable in Google, so who really wants to be captured for ALL eternity as an angry, short-tempered jerk?!?


  24. Being new to BiggerPockets, I really appreciate the insight you offered.  I'll be mindful of your good advice each time I submit my own posts.  It's also clear to me that you spent a good deal of time crafting your message.  Thanks for taking the time to do this!


    1. Alan, thank you for your feedback. As a new BP member, what would you say is the MAIN obstacle to you taking your Next Big Step as an investor? (Yes, I'm shamelessly hunting for ideas for future blog posts...)


  25. Great advice. Double Snap to your comments!

    And I totally agree with @Andrew Angerer on his reply to you:

    “People who often ask for coaches really just want a human version of google, free advice for nothing.”

    Your feedback is helpful to newbies and those of us who have been around the block alike. 

    Can’t wait to see your next post!


    1. Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words!


  26. I really like what you have said in this edition of your blog.  You are so right.  Thanks for writing it.  This would be a great "sticky" post at the beginning of the forums.  

    I see the same questions asked over and over again, such as how to find sellers or how to find buyers.

    A well thought out question is interesting and maybe all of us can learn something from the answers.  I sometimes see an answer that never crossed my mind.  That makes me think Hmmm.....  I know others have told me that happens to them, also.  


    1. Thanks for reading, James! Yes, coming across that one intriguing idea or thought-provoking question or clever hack is what keeps me coming back to BP: There's so much to learn!


  27. Mitch - As always, your insights are spot on. This post offers practical how-to information not only for Bigger Pockets but for any online or offline community where people value building relationships! 


    1. Thank you, Toby! I can still clearly recall having MY BiggerPockets posts ignored back in the day and having no idea why.


  28. Wow, what a great post! If the "Kids" are not clear on how to behave when using this forum, Shame on them!!  This system only works if you are willing to listen to the answers provided and take action.  Thanks, Mitch  (Sorry no picture)


    1. I do appreciate your kind words! Let's hope those who need to see this get their chance.


  29. Hi  Mitch..

    SPOT ON! An honest assessment worthy of consideration. Great job.


    1. Thank you Marcia! My sincere hope is that brutal honesty will help us ALL get more out of this great community.


  30. Thank you for writing this, Mitch!  This contains so much of what I think when I don't answer questions!  This should be very helpful to members with a lot of questions, especially new members.


    1. Much appreciated, Alexia! And the truth is that folks like you and me really WANT to answer legitimate questions, we just don't want to do someone else's homework.


  31. Great post! I completely agree - particularly with researching basic questions prior to posting. The tone of a post is quite different and makes you want to help if someone has put forth some effort is is asking for clarification of what they found.


    1. Many thanks, Sarah! It STUNS me how much encouragement and support is available, if only more people knew how to properly ASK for it.


  32. WOW! Who new the Pro's felt this way. Thanks for the great article and insight Mitch!


    1. Thank you for reading, Kelly!


  33. Thanks for the information! How can anyone expect to learn and grow if they don't take the time to put in some work? I'm am brand, spanking new with dozens of questions floating in my head. However I learned a long time ago, to get the answers you "NEED", you have to ask the right questions! 


    1. Thanks for reading, Antonia!

      I'm curious: What's the biggest, SCARIEST question you have right now? (I'm hunting for future blog topics!)


  34. Mitch, Thank you for the great information. I am new to this site and appreciate any tips to help navigate along the way.


    1. Hey Jeff, thanks for reading. If this post helps you get even a little more out of BiggerPockets, then my mission here is complete!


  35. Awesome post! Mitch has always been so helpful in information that he has given on BP here. I agree with points made here and I believe if newbie and even not so new investors would take heed, it would help them to grow And be beneficial to there RI business. Look forward to other great post/info. Thx.


    1. Thank you Marilyn! I consider it an honor to be able to help where I can. Even more rewarding for me is when, as in your case, you're paying it forward by actively helping others here on BP!


  36. Great post, and I would say your advice is true for all forums not just real estate, the pro's of any subject don't want to constantly coach for free the very basics of the subject matter.  People who often ask for coaches really just want a human version of google, free advice for nothing. 

    Maybe my generation growing up with google/internet has lost the ability to ask real people for real advice? 


    1. Thanks, Andrew! Yes, I agree that this dynamic is way bigger than BP.

      And I do wonder if access IS too easy, too available. What if, in order to ask one question, you had to first vote on 10 forum posts?


  37. Respect?! what are you crazy?


  38. I just posted a blog along similar lines that was inspired by some who made many of the mistakes you cite. I may not have posted mine if I had seen this blog first. You addressed the issue better than I.


    1. Hey Jeff, thanks for the read and the encouraging feedback! I also enjoyed reading *your* blog post ("What is the Meaning of Life?') and I think ours complement each other well.

      Yes, 42 indeed. And thanks for all the fish!


  39. Good summary and good advice, Mitch.

    Glad to see other helpful veterans commenting as well as some new folks.

    I sometimes look at unanswered discussions as I don't often offer my little opinion if it's already been said.  Often  8 out of 10 unanswered discussions are faceless. A huge row. Coincidence? It matters to me, too.  Can't take a sec to upload your pic?  Touche.

    Anyway, I hope some new folks get some tips out of your article and they understand a lot of us are here to help,  more so if they also help themselves first! 


    1. Thank you, Steve! Of course, now you've got ME thinking about what ways *I* might be "blocking the blessings" in other aspects of my life.

      I guess there's ALWAYS room for growth!


  40. Excellent blog, @Mitch Messer! I love helping people but many times have to just keep walking because they clearly are not in a place of receiving help.


    1. Thanks, Nathan, yes it's crazy how so many of us truly WANT to give back! With just a few mindset tweaks, newbies could get ALL the encouragement and support they need right here on BP!


  41.  =Mic Drop= These knowledge bombs should not just be reserved for the BP community.  These are "Navigating Digital Forums 101".  Thanks for the wisdom... and the mustache pic. ;) 


    1. Thank you so much, Kristin!


  42. This post is thoroughly accurate. Thank you for sharing and showing great concern to help other investors grow and learn. This business is not for the lazy. Over a year ago you help me as I was trying to learn the industry, however, many interruptions such as sickness and other things interfered with moving forward. I look forward to learning more and I have subscribed.


    1. Thank you,Valerie! I've received the benefit of so much helpful advice here on BP and elsewhere over the decades. I'm just delighted to be able to pay it forward even a little, and to encourage others to do the same!


  43. This is such a great, honest and to the point post Mitch... no different to any other facet of life...sport, career, friendships. i'm kind of new to all of this but contribute where i can.


    1. Thanks, Brett! Like you, I believe contribution is key: The more you give, the more you get. And everyone has something to offer, whether it's advice, validation or encouragement.


  44. Hi Mitch,

    You were one of the first “Pros” that reached out to me when I joined BP and provided advice/wisdom that pointed me in the right direction. Even got me connected with a great connection. 

    I enjoyed this blog and appreciate all that you do. Salute!  


    1. Hey Lisa, thank you for that! Now that you're experienced too, I hope you'll join me in spreading the knowledge around!


  45. Mr.Messer is an outstanding member of the BP community.  He has helped countless people, including myself, further our careers in real estate!  So definitely take notes if you're new to the site!  He knows what he is talking about.


    1. Thank you, Cimarron! I'd blush, but no one would ever be able to tell!  ; )


  46. Great post,  I agree with it all. 


    1. Thanks, Daniel! Does that make us BOTH "cranky old guys" or not? ; )


  47. Great Post! This is why I keep up with you Mitch. Peace/love 👷👷👷


    1. Very much appreciated, Derrick!


  48. Well said, Mitch.  This is really good insight for folks looking to get started but are going about it in the wrong ways.  With so much information already on BP, it's a waste of both mentor and mentee's time to explore topics that have thousands of discussions already posted.  Good advice -- do the research first and you'll likely get a wide variety of perspectives and approaches that can help newbees tackle their challenges. 


    1. Thanks, Nick, your success and your enlightened approach to BP is a big part of what drove me to write this! Now you get to pass your know-how on to others here.


  49. You covered those 5 points exactly. Nice work on this post.


    1. Thanks for reading, Warren!


  50. Hi Mitch,  The BP smart phone app has trending, I scroll through trending and skip so many titles because they have been answered so many times, the asker clearly has NOT searched and studied / read past threads.   I just hate repeated questions showing laziness.  But on the flip side BP's search engine is very weak.  I use it and am disappointed all the time!   The search needs fixing!! And the filters are weak too.

    Another reason why I skip over threads is if the subject is too short or the question is too terse leaving out critical info they could have typed.   I feel a need to appologize for having my opinions but then why should I?   I've got enough experience helping folks to know where my valuable time will be helpful and when (a guess) it would not move the needle for the asker.

    Don't know where I heard this:  if you are looking for better answers, you need to learn how to ask better questions.   There's tremendous truth to this.

    Yes I agree a new person reading the above might think I was not a giving or helpful person and I'm too hard?   I don't believe this is true.  I help a lot of folks.   But I think Mitch is on to something,  that new BP'ers need a guide on how to ask better questions, how to search and read first etc etc.

    The #1 issue for an experienced person is:  having their time wasted.  

    IE a BP start here guide that one is forced to read (actually read) and acknowledge when they first signup.  And then is always on the right side "How to get the most from BP ...."

    Everyone wins when BP drives up question quality, as apposed to bouncing along at the lowest common denominator.  I don't believe the voting mechanism works for question askers, works great for answer givers.   

    There needs to be a tweek to BP's website for giving feed back to askers, that doesn't waste one of my valuable posts.  IE dropping my post to vote ratio.  yes I actually think about my Post/Vote ratio, and don't post a lot of times because of it.  IE I post on good questions and good issues that I feel I could have a useful impact.  Leaving weak / bad / naive questions without posts....  Maybe this point is the crux of your question Mitch?   But posting on blogs is free, doesn't change my forum post / vote ratio.   :)


    1. Hey Curt, thanks for your comments! Yes, I see you often on the Forums sharing your wisdom and I fully agree with you that having your time wasted makes you want to just move on to someone else. Anything BP could do to correct this would be a victory for all, presumably even increasing their paid membership renewals!


  51. Great article Mitch! This is what i call "keeping it real". I'm looking forward to your next posts. 


    1. Thanks for reading and for the positive feedback, Chuks!


  52. Thanks for the great information Mr. Messer! Since I am still considered a "newbie", this information is very relevant to me. I've subscribed and good luck with your blog!


    1. Thanks, Justice! Let me know what topics would be particularly useful in supercharging your investment journey.


  53. This blog post belongs in the "READ THIS FIRST" section of BP!  Great advice for new members who truly want to get the most out of this incredible resource!!!


    1. Thanks, Mike, I'm hopeful that this will help others get as much out of BP as I've gotten over the years!


    2. I agree  This should definitely be in the "read this first" section.