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How To Vet Clever Ideas Without Giving Them Away? 539

Rival writes "As an inquisitive and creative geek, I am constantly coming up with 'clever' ideas. Most often I discover fundamental or practical flaws lurking in the details, which I'm fine with. As Edison said, 'I haven't failed; I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.' Other times, I discover that someone else has beaten me to the idea. I'm fine with that, too. At least I know that I've come up with a great idea, even if I'm not the first. There are times, however, when I can find no flaws with an idea and nobody else seems to have thought of it. I'm not conceited enough to think my idea is genius; I just assume that I'm not knowledgeable enough to see what I'm missing. In these times, I often want to ask a subject matter expert for their thoughts. On the admittedly long chance that an idea is genius, however, what is the best way to ask for another's insights while mitigating the risk of them stealing or sharing the idea? Asking a stranger to sign a contract before discussing an idea seems like a good way to get a door closed on my face. What are your experiences and suggestions?"

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In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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