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You want to re-share a post? That's cool. You want it to mean something? Add your thoughts.
My friend told me a story the other night that got me thinking about sharing online -- and offline, too. He's 28, on his way to becoming an engineer, and he recently moved back in with his parents. The economy hasn't been easy on most of us, especially those with families to feed, but the lack of opportunity affects us all in one way or another -- for people around my age (I'm 25), moving back in to our parents' place is sometimes the only option left. And sometimes, it happens more than once.

Anyway, my friend's story started out with a declaration about how passive-aggressive his father is. We'll call my friend A for clarity's sake -- A's father left a clipped out newspaper article on the kitchen counter. It was just an article, there was no note written on it -- no real context, no explanation. The article was about the "Boomerang Generation" (read about it on Wikipedia:, which is a term coined for children who return home to live with their parents after trying their hand at independence.

My friend felt like his dad was passing judgment by leaving the article on the kitchen counter; as a member of an immigrant family where such a dynamic would not be surprising, it seemed perfectly obvious to A that his father was quietly, passively judging him for ending up back in the nest. After a bit of brooding, A decided to confront his dad. Shocked by A's reaction, he quickly explained that he meant only to show his son that he was not alone. "Everyone is going through this, you are not a failure." That was the real message behind the article clipping.

If A's dad had just written that on the piece of paper, there would have been no confusion!

This got me thinking about how we share content on platforms like Facebook or Google+. Facebook is a place reserved for my private communication with real life friends, so what does it really mean when someone I know links to an article but says nothing to go along with it? It ceases to be personal communication, for one. I don't necessarily care to read articles my friends share if their interests are different from mine, but when someone chooses to share something he or she finds important, that dynamic changes, and the only way to communicate that sense of importance is to add a statement or question to the share.

On a network like Google+, sharing behavior is even more complex because many of us do not simply follow our real life friends. Many of us use Google+ to live publicly as well as privately, and when we choose to share content, we may not be simply linking to articles we found off-site, but rather to posts made on the network itself.

Why do you re-share publicly?
#Ripples encourage us to re-share content publicly, but what compelled us to do it before that feature was rolled out? Do we want to show that we are clued in? Are we seeking to give the content in question more exposure? In either case, wouldn't it make more of an impact to add a "review," or at least an explanation of what the content means to us? Sometimes it's as simple as asking your own audience a question about the content in order to start a conversation.

Look at what the "big guys" do. I suspect their behavior is important because it gives us an idea of what generates engagement. +Robert Scoble will often link to another Google+ post rather than using the re-share button, and he has repeatedly explained that this behavior stems from the desire to let others share the whole package over again -- his thoughts included. That gives people the chance to take a very noisy conversation to a new place with an altered prompt, and when you really think about it, that makes perfect sense. Scoble has hundreds of thousands of people reading his posts, and many of them comment so quickly that it's tough to keep track of the conversation. More tools are needed to address this, but in the mean time, doesn't it just make more sense to take the conversation in a direction you're interested in on your own profile? Scoble compared the Google+ community to a restaurant once, implying that at every table there is a conversation. When it's a public table, anyone can join in. Isn't that the beauty of public sharing, really?

+Mike Elgan shares many posts that link offsite, but I don't think I've ever seen him link to something without adding a thought, even if it's as simple as a question he wants to pose to his own readers about the link. Mike is so good at engaging his audience that his posts are often too comment-ridden to jump into comfortably if you come to the party late, so why not re-share with your own comment as the post? It takes nothing away from Mike's post -- in fact, it helps you both. You're showing that Mike shared something compelling enough to inspire you, and you're showing that you understand what he said and that you have opinions about it. You get a fresh start for a conversation about what inspired you. Everybody wins.

You should also comment on the original post if you feel you can contribute to that conversation, of course. On less well-known profiles, in fact, that's usually the best way to show support and engage with the poster.

Personal sharing needs meaning, too.
Google+ has been repeatedly touted as a platform for engagement and sharing rather than a broadcasting medium, although it certainly can do both jobs. If you want to really make an impact on someone, it is my belief that you shouldn't share without context. If my friend's dad had shared that article on Facebook with just his son -- or even with all members of the household -- it would have probably had the same impact on my friend as it did being printed out and left on the kitchen table. All his father would have needed to do to eliminate any anxiety would have been to add just one sentence to the share -- "You're not alone." A shared article then becomes a personal message of hope rather than a possible negative judgment. Consider that the next time you share a post to someone specific.

How do you decide what to share? Do you usually just re-share with no comment? What makes you do that, if so?
Joule Tran's profile photoChristina Trapolino's profile photoDarren Miller's profile photomike ross's profile photo
It surprises me when people just share something with no comment, or with a simple "ha!" or something. This is particularly bad for popular things that I've seen a few times already.

The great thing about social sharing is that I get to hear your opinons... I get to start discussing your take on it...
I very rarely reshare without offering some insight. No insight means it's no better than a retweet. That's not what G+ is about, to me.
that is really the only way I re-share something. I did that just now, and given it had been shared widely, I wanted to put my spin on it. :)
I so agree with this post. A lot of people I know share posts because they feel they have to 'use' Google+ as well as the other social networks to get their message out but they don't make any comments about what they've posted and I don't read them.

I try to comment on everything I post or share, even if it's just an indication of whether I agree or not.
I've gotten a bit lazy today with the concept 'add original well thought out comment'.
But it really is good advice.
Thanks for the excellent reminder.

We aren't doing any favors for the English language, or the next generation if the example we set is, "Whaaa... I had the rest in my head. It all made sense to me, I just figggured you knew the rest."
LOL Good grief.
+Allen Firstenberg - It doesn't necessarily surprise me when I see it happen, but it does confuse me occasionally. I just don't see the value. Then again, I think that impulse is part of the "old" social, where people simply shared because there was a button for it. It's like posting what you're eating for breakfast. It's okay to use social media for mindless fun -- we all enjoy memes from time to time -- but if you want to engage meaningfully, I almost feel like re-sharing with no comment counters that. It's just empty!
What an insightful article. I knew I followed you for a reason!

I always try to comment on a re-share or link I post, since I like to get conversation started. Not adding my own input at the beginning of things reminds me of a caricature of sitting in a psychiatrist's couch, who says nothing but expects you to talk openly.
Nice post -- nice explanation. I agree. What are your thoughts on a related topic -- posting to specific circles versus publicly?
+Brian McLoughlin - Hah! That makes me think of the commercial (can't remember what brand it was for) where Lee Ermey plays a psychiatrist. Many laughs on that one.
+Kim Patch - I think it's a personal choice. There are often funny YouTube links or articles I want to share only to a relevant audience, and that's when sharing to Circles is really useful for me. For others, it's a matter of what you want to say and to whom, really. I don't think there is a "should" attached -- when you post in a way that someone dislikes, they are always free to stop following you!
although i seldom reshare, i always add my two cents with things i reshare. there is nothing worse than someone circles you and you look at their post page and it is nothing but random re-shares with no ryhme or reason...what is the point.

if i reshare a photgrapher or artists work the first thing i say is this is not my image and then proceed to explain why i felt like resharing it in the first place and then send them the link to the artists profile
I always add some context, otherwise how will readers know why I am bothering to re-share something. It does amaze me how many don't do this, and I've been in thread discussions where people really complained (rightly I think) about the lack of context with most re-shares. This isn't Twitter and we can do so much better here than treating our reshares as if they were re-tweets.
You're right.
With the average quality of reshares, I wish there were a way to block reshared posts....
+Christina Trapolino - I think even for some of those meme shares, its important to say why. Sometimes its as simple as "I think the cat in this is adorable". Thats fine.

It is particularly important when it comes to sharing video. I'm not going to spend time watching a video just because someone commented on it by saying "HA!". It tells me nothing. It doesn't sell it to me. Even saying "I thought this was hysterical." isn't enough. They haven't really told me why I should care when I get tons of this going through my stream.
I would have trouble sharing a post without adding by 2 cents (or 2 paragraphs plus!)

Part of the reason for that goes back to your story about your friend's father. Just posting something doesn't convey your ideas about it, and also it's very easy to misinterpret things online. If I posted something controversial, people might automatically assume I agreed with it or disagreed with it. Even dry humor and sarcasm are easily mistaken for belief in online comments.
Excellent, well thought out article. Thank you for making me think about why and how I reshare post. :)
A good comment _ ("What do you think of this?") _ when resharing can get a conversation flowing.

A bad one _ ("Anyone who.believes this is an idiot!") _ would suggest the resharer's mind is closed about the topic and they only want supporters to reply. Though they might get some trolls too.
Thank you for your post - again you hit the nail on the head. There are many people circling me without pics, profile and content (-> my cirlcle rules:, but sharing ten post in ten minutes without comment is worse...
+Esther Hardman Hi Esther! Go to your profile and scroll down to the post of yours you would like to re-share.
Then on the far right of that post click the arrow where you go to Edit.
You will see an option called Link To This Post.
Click that.
It will then open up a tab where the full page is your post.
Then go up to the address bar of your browser, copy the link,
then post it somewhere else.
ReShare done.

:-) But since we are talking about the value of comments and sharing
Did you read my re-share? j/k
Sometimes it's useful to re-share, sometimes not.

Also I think we need to remember Google+ is still new to many members and they are still learning.
Heck, Im a Google Apps person so I have only had G+ 3 weeks.
By next year though, hopefully most here know what theyre doing....
Excellent post +Christina Trapolino . I think this actually puts some perspective on the whole stealing content problem we have going on here too. And what a wonderful story. It resonated with me because I am in your friend's situation currently(moving out in a few weeks though woohoo!) and I empathize with him completely.

I seldom re-share anymore, and when I do, I always add some commentary. Even if it's tagging whoever shared it with me and saying "+______ thanks buddy!" And, I actually think it depends on what you share. For example, if I am sharing something mundane, such as a gif(by the way, you probably will never see me share one of these. They are the computer hard drive's kryptonite), I see no need to add commentary unless I have something witty to add. But, if I go to re-share something like this post written by you, I would probably add with it this comment that I am writing here, and maybe ask a question to get some feedback going on my end. Or, if I don't feel like fielding 200-300 comments all night, I'll just redirect everyone to your stream. I have never done the latter before though.

Perception and impression are tricky things, and sometimes people forget that they are interacting with real people on the internet and not just drones. I fear that one day we will all become drones, and re-sharing will become just a bunch of reposts with no character or emotion. I refuse to live in such a world, and we should continue to push for better content sharing and humanized(is this a word? lol) interaction.
Wonderful thoughts Christina. Your suggestions inspire me to write more instead of blindly sharing. Thanks for taking the time to write this up.
I thoroughly enjoyed this post and the comments that go with it. Certainly got me thinking about my own presence on G+. In a respectful and well-addressed manner, too. Thanks! =)
I used to feel this way too.
That I always ought to say something.
Then I realized one day that I was polluting the original.

Often I have nothing more meaningful to say then the creator has already offered. If someone only had three minutes to spend with me I'd rather they spend it with something extraordinary. I'd hate for the extraordinary to be obscured by the mundane in my own musings.

So I've shifted...and I may think differently tomorrow.
But today, at least, I want to be comfortable in the idea that sharing something truly wonderful doesn't need my voice, it only needs my support.
I find it depends on what I'm re-sharing. If it something informational that I find interesting, I'll simply share it. If it speaks to me more deeply, I'll usually put a comment along with it.

I also find it depends on what device I'm using. On my tablet or computer, I'm more inclined to type something out. On my phone, well, it's just a few finger taps to share. ;)
+Christina Trapolino Here's an 8-minute vid that I like a lot about what it takes to do good "curation" of others' posts. It might be helpful to folks who are following this conversation:

I got it from a post made recently on +Robin Good 's blog. Since I consider Robin a King of curation, I took time to watch the vid and I highly recommend it.
To imply that one should always add value by adding h/her two cents implies that there is not inherent value in the original. What if I want to share without adding my two cents so as not to affect the share recipient's experience? I am troubled that we've found a way to be critical of the fundamentally kind act of sharing. If it bothers you (at large, not meant confrontationally) then simply uncircle and allow others to make their own choices instead of establishing arbitrary preferences.
+Jim Preis I'm sorry but your statement that adding value implies there is no inherent value in the original does not make sense. Why would giving your opinion on something mean there is no inherent value in the "something"?
+Christina TrapoIino I know I should know this, but why would I share an article that you or Scoble wrote? Aren't you followed by thousands of people? I'm not dissin' you, I'm trying to understand. Now, if I read something by someone whom I know has few followers and is really charming, I'll always say, "This is great!" or whatever. But for those whose followers are legion (as they say), why would I share? (I know I sound like an idiot asking this question so long into this experiment, but I honestly do not know.)
+Meg Tufano Just because you're following Christina doesn't mean all the people who have circled you are. When you share her posts, your people may find out about her and, otherwise, they may not. It's a big world with 40+ million of us... Does that make sense?
+Meri Walker You mean public is not public? I've shared CIRCLES with friends who are just getting started and absolutely... Christina actually has two circles, one all by herself (so I can make sure I don't miss any of her posts) and one here. But if she posts publicly, where does it go? Just to the people who have circled her? (I feel like an idiot, but I really need to know. I'm loopy from studying.)
+Evan Brody Definitely wrong to do the latter. If you can't say anything nice . . . No, that's not quite it. But it's like Sarah Palin (boy am I gonna be sorry about this reference) but I kept thinking that the press kept pushing her because she was so odd. Odd is always interesting, I guess. But that means her stuff just keeps going out there. If you read something silly or stupid or mean? Definitely do not share.
+Meri Walker Just want to tell you what I did with this reference site I put it on my "Things to do" list because I don't feel like watching a video right now. Is there any way to "reference" it in G+ so I can come back to it? (See? I have been playing the game without learning the rules.)
+Meg Tufano You're not an idiot. It's a little difficult to visualize all this private - private/public - public conversation stuff floating along all in one stream.

Christina's public posts are public ...which means that people who have circled her see them. But unless you're watching when she posts, if you've got a lot of people circled, you could EASILY miss the post.

(For instance, I got looped into this conversation because someone who just circled me had linked to it in her most recent post. When I went in to Kim's profile to check out her stream and decide if I wanted to circle her back, I saw her post about this conversation and came over here to read the whole post from Christina. I'm following Christina, but I don't always see all her posts because I've got a bunch of stuff in my stream now and I'm in a lot of conversations in private circles with clients that have been keeping me really busy lately. This minute, my stream is just blasting along with posts - and I've only added about 900 people. I haven't checked the circle that has Christina and a few other people in it for several days because I've been too busy...So I missed this whole conversation until today. Bottom line: I'm here because of Kim's share of Christina's post.)

So, when we reshare each other's posts, we increase the likelihood that the post we're sharing will be seen by all the people who have circled us. And, because we're sharing at different times, we also increase the likelihood that others will see the post.

Does any of this make any sense?
+Meg Tufano When I want to "reference" things, I use G+ like a rich bookmarking app. I'll reshare the post (with the link in it) and then I can find it in my own stream (on my profile page). This works if I'm going to get back to it in a few days because there won't be that many posts for me to scroll through in 3-4 days. If it's going to be longer than that, I'll put it into Diigo. Do you use Diigo for bookmarking? I can't live without it...
I've re-shared your post on my profile as well as emailed the link to family and friends not on G+. I think it's a well-thought out and well written piece and that enriches everyone's online experience. Thank you for this post. :)
great post +Christina Trapolino well thought out and meaningful, the best type of writing. I have a lot of thoughts along this line but not sure how much I should put here. I do reshare things I find of interest and I always re-share from the person usually with a few comments. I believe in giving a person all the credit they deserve.
+Geoffrey Wiebe The very first line of the post says, "You want to re-share a post? That's cool. You want it to mean something? Add your thoughts." Therefore it follows, "If you don't add your thoughts, then your share means nothing." I never said that adding value implies there's no inherent value; you stripped the context from my assertion which was, "[To imply that one should always add value by adding h/her two cents] implies that there is not inherent value in the original."
That's why context matters. :-)

My intention was simply to suggest that it's more meaningful to give context to a share. It doesn't communicate anything meaningful, in my opinion, to simply link to something. Tell me why I should click or read it. If you don't have an answer to that, why are you sharing in the first place?
Because the author has already provided that answer beautifully and for some posters simply taking the time to stop, come to Google+, and share is already an implicit comment of importance. The reason you share in the first place is because you've found something extraordinary and you want someone else to be touched too.

Unless your goal in sharing is providing editorial I would ask why you are sharing something that is not meaningful enough to speak for itself? Providing vapid commentary to accompany something great out of obligation just creates noise. Noise distracts and detracts from the original.

Now, this is not to say all commentary is vapid. Of course not. But many times we have neither the time, the inspiration, nor the clarity of mind to add something truly stimulating.

What is unclear is whether you are advocating for banal accompaniments to these otherwise silent shares or instead advocating against sharing all together except by those capable enough to formulate truly inspired commentary.
+Christina Trapolino While I understand your point, I simply don't agree with it, but I do so respectfully and still appreciate you/your posts. Your post did provide me an opportunity to consider something from another perspective and that is something I can should always do more of. Kind regards.
I think the split here is the assumption that there is meaning I wish to convey.

If I'm sharing then it is often the case that there is no additional meaning that I personally need to convey. Instead I'm simply sharing so others may revel in what the creator is offering, and take meaning from what the creator him/herself is trying to convey.
For the most part I agree with this post, but I also agree with +Max McNally. I sometimes re-share without comment if I don't have anything to add to the conversation beyond the post itself, and I'm re-sharing for no other reason than I believe it's content that more people should see. Sometimes I want to help spread something but I don't necessarily have anything to add that wouldn't be just me reiterating the same thing or saying something with way less value than the post itself. Also, I usually have trouble just shutting my mouth and enjoying something, so sometimes I specifically try to combat that for the sake of others haha.

I come to Google+ more from tumblr than from facebook/twitter (I seem to be one of few people who keeps talking about how much more similar G+ is to tumblr rather than the others), and this is just sort of standard practice there. I'm not saying that makes it okay, or good, or bad, but I'm just noting that because it's interesting to me to think about what works best for what platform.

I also love seeing long, thoughtful, FULL posts on G+ more than anything else. This is the first one I've seen in a little while. Thank you for writing it.
Great post. As much I believe that leaving something with what you share is important to put things in context or to show that you are "there", it is also important to know that you have different types of "communicators" on such a big community like G+. And this is what it makes G+ a great place: different types complementing each other.
When it comes to me, I am not the writer / commenter / conversationalist type of person. Having been a professional sport (and natural) coach, I listen, observe, intervene/point to a direction and empower people. As I always say: I don't "work" the Google+, I work for the Google+ (community).
Thanks again for your post/thoughts.
P.S.: remember also that for some plussers, English is a second language (like me who is french speaking) and it represents a significant barrier when it comes to write, comment, have a conversation, etc. ;)
Nice post, and agree with many comments here to the effect that adding just the tiniest bit of context often makes for a much more meaningful communication or experience. Not sure I agree that posting or even re-posting a photo or image is always enriched by explanation, though. Isn't a picture worth a thousand words already?
I'm on my phone and am looking forward to answering in more depth after lunch, but had to say (before it flies out of my head) that I think photos might not exactly fit. Even very short Google+ posts may not require explanation if it it's something with no required context, like an aphorism intended to inspire or uplift. It's when you get to links, video, or long posts that it becomes more important. It's by no means universal or a rule, of course.
+Denis Labelle Important point for us to remember about commenting around shares, that not everyone is here using English as their primary language. And, while the translator is pretty darned amazing, it's a long way from perfect. Sharing with others using a non-native language can be very challenging (and often, time-consuming). If I had to share everything in Spanish or French (2nd languages for me), I would be using a lot fewer words, that's for sure.
+Max McNally, +Jim Preis - I have watched much of this conversation evolve via mobile, so I've been unable to participate as quickly as I've wanted to, but I'm sort of glad because your back-and-forth has shed light on a really interesting point that I hadn't considered or addressed in the original post. That point is that sometimes you just want to re-share something because it moved you enough that it shook you a bit, and you feel your commentary is somehow only capable of poorly attempting to explain that feeling. I understand. I've seen photos on this network that have taken my breath away and I've read articles by people that have made me overwhelmingly sad or touched me in ways that left me quiet and thoughtful. For those of us who appreciate beauty, there is a reverence that sometimes washes over us. I understand not wanting to mar something lovely and perfect.

But think about the most wonderful book you've ever read. No matter how deeply it touched you, if you handed it to someone else and indicated that they ought to read it, too, you might be asked what you liked about it. Think about how you respond to that question when you don't want to spoil anything -- you say things like, "Just trust me, this is worth the time investment. It's about life. It made me think of you." Any variation of that -- but the sentiment is still expressed in a more involved way than simply handing someone a book. That's all I'm suggesting, here. You don't have to editorialize, you don't have to make an argument, you can just say, "This touched me." It can be simple and earnest. To me, that is far more compelling than just a link or just a re-shared post too long to judge by a quick scan. But it's all about preferences, and there are no rules. If you decide not to comment on what you re-share, I won't think you are a lesser member of this community.

I asked in the post to hear from people who like to simply share without adding commentary because I wanted to better understand it. Max and Jim, thank you for giving me a very interesting answer to my question.
The pleasure was mine.
Most days I'm not so certain of what I actually believe. Agreed though, it was a great thread to tease out what people think on the issue.
I pretty much only share with comment. That's partially because I'm too chatty and verbose :) However, I think you nailed it on the head. If I find something worth sharing it is usually because it has sparked something in me. I find it to be particularly important to share that spark with my readers rather than just share without comment.
Maybe it's time for to use that Latin phrase:
Res ipsa loquitur.
(It speaks for itself.)
Shares without the sharer adding their own view are just like email "Forwards" (which I tend to delete) -- they are no communication. Great article, Christina!
+Robin Griggs Wood With email, if someone sent me a link with no comment or a generic comment (that didn't look like it came from *that person*), I would think it was spam or my friend's email account got hijacked.

In a similar way, comments on a G+ reshare could also help prove its "authenticity", though so far I haven't seen any spam-bots on G+.
+Christina Trapolino Gmail filters are good. Unfortunately, my relatives who forward-to-all still use my old (non-Gmail) addresses. I just need to set up some filters for those accounts which support them.
+Christina Trapolino I don't think I have ever shared without adding a comment. If I have really liked a post and think others in my circles would also appreciate it then I re-share but usually write at least a statement about it and sometimes more. I think in the fathers circumstance he probably shouldn't have left the article out for his son to see but showed it to him later. So very many things can be misinterpreted and sadly the person who wrote them, or in this case left the article there, doesn't even think for one minute that it can be interpreted any other way than the way they are thinking. Without tone of voice or body language things can be taken so many different ways. But a note in explanation does go a long way in helping to get the correct scenario across to the receiver.
I reread the title of your post, +Christina Trapolino and I'm realizing it defines what I both agree with AND what I disagree with really well. I think it's extremely important for people to continue and add to a conversation about a piece of content or an artistic piece, or anything really. You're adding value to the piece, and to the discussion, and it's the kind of contribution and responsibility that makes a place like this thrive. BUT! You say "want it to mean something? Add your thoughts" What if it already means so much? This has been said in this thread already a few times, but what I hope might be a new perspective on it is this: some things I see in my stream are presented without comment (by a person sharing it or the person who created it), and I want to share it because of the experience I had seeing it in that form. And in doing so, sometimes it feels right to try to re-create that experience of that piece speaking for itself and being presented without comment or noise, so that more people can have that experience. In this particular case, the only thing I can possibly add would be "I want more people to see this on their stream, the way I just did!" But that comment would actually be a disservice to the original content. I'm sorry if I'm just being redundant, but I thought about this earlier when I re-shared a post by +Mark David Gerson today. He shared a great quote from Constantin Stanislavsky. I looked at it and realized that him just sharing something someone said is a lot like this issue, yet it seems totally normal for someone to just post a famous or influential or helpful quote like that, without comment. I then re-shared it without comment, and I suspect we were both really doing the same thing.

I'm sorry this comment was so long and rambly. You made it to the end. You don't get a prize. You are left with nothing but your headphones and your laptop.
+Darren Miller - there is a comment a bit further up by Karen West that brings up the issue of photos. I'm on my phone or I'd paste my earlier reply, but I think it's important to remember that my sentiment doesn't apply universally. Don't read too much into a title - the point I wanted to make wasn't supposed to somehow invalidate all comment-less shares. It's really just about the importance of context.
Yeah, maybe I shouldn't have even mentioned "disagreeing" with it, because I do totally get and agree with your point. I guess my point was really just bringing up the idea that the idea of "photos" really can extend further to other things too, and maybe there doesn't even need to be a line drawn anywhere. Cause anything can speak for itself that way. Maybe it's really just deciding to be a "broadcasting" mechanism, as opposed to really "sharing" anything?
This is the best post I've read of yours! It was so good, I even told someone about it in person.
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