A day doesn’t go by when some teacher on Facebook doesn’t ask for advice about which software, computer, or other gear to use, whether to get started or to replace a program they currently use. Ever helpful, a long line of teachers will then chime in declaring their fealty to their favorite program.

These popularity contests are all but useless. I suppose it’s somewhat valuable to see how many people are using each product. But few, if any, have done any sort of comparison of the other products and couldn’t begin to explain why one product is superior to another.

It’s the worst with notation programs. No one even asks what the OP wants to do before offering their sincere recommendation that their favorite program is best. This results in absurdities such as recommending Finale or Sibelius for elementary children when even their entry-level programs are overkill for that age. There are two very good cloud-based products specifically targeted at younger students and had they taken the time to ask or read, they might have realized their suggestions of professional programs were inappropriate.

Lately, there have been a lot of people asking for alternatives to GarageBand. Most often this is predicated by a switch from Mac to either PC or ChromeBook. There are three cloud-based programs that fill the bill and they are all very similar. Unless you know all three and can list the pros and cons of them, the best thing to do would be to recommend all of them and let the OP look into them. If you only have experience with one, please share it, but be honest that you don’t know enough about the others to know if it’s better than them. Just posting the name of the program– “SuperSequencer!” with or without exclamation point–is pretty pointless. It’s not a popularity contest and it’s not a question that was intended to validate your choice. The person was looking for honest, objective information. If you can’t be bothered to write more than one word, don’t waste your time.

So here are my suggestions on how best to contribute to a thread asking for software or equipment advice.

  1. Please, no one-word answers consisting of the name of a product. If you have enough experience with a product to elaborate on why it’s worked for you, share it. If not, then perhaps you should sit this thread out.
  2. Make sure you understand the question and needs of the OP. Recommending 
  3. Take a few minutes to read some of the previous responses. If you don’t have anything new to add, then just like a previous comment or two that you agree with. On the other hand, responding to a prior response and adding something new is a great way to contribute
  4. If you have some fiduciary relationship with a product, make that clear. There’s nothing wrong with promoting your product when you think it’s a fit, but please make it clear that you are not just offering an objective opinion. Personally, I think those that are upfront probably are more likely to make the sale.
  5. The best replies are those that are objective and can offer options and share some of the pros and cons of each.

To the posers of such questions, it’s nice if you engage with the people who do take the time to provide a useful response. Please don’t just post the question and come back a couple of days later to check the responses. And it would also be nice if you let us know what you decided.