The SQL Server Community, Philanthropy, and Repentance

Mar 23, 2010

Unfortunately, it has been awhile since I have posted a blog up here, but having spent several hours last night on Twitter with a number of esteemed members of the SQL Server community trying to educate a blogger, John Dunleavy [Twitter/Blog] about the proper way to credit authors when you use their work inspired me to get this post up.  Unfortunately, the issue of bloggers or web site operators using other people’s work without properly crediting them is becoming an increasingly more frequent occurrence.  Earlier in the day yesterday, Aaron Bertrand [Twitter/Blog] had a very similar issue with a SQL Server MVP (you can read Aaron’s blog post and the associated comments here). 

So, the point of my post today is not really to rehash the issue of plagiarism (intended or unintended), but rather to discuss why most of us give back to the community in the form of informative blog posts, volunteerism, and answering questions on the forums and to extend that a little bit, if I may, by offering the services and knowledge of the SQL Server community to educate new bloggers about how to get started, what is acceptable, and what is not.

 

First off, why do we do what we do?  Speaking for myself and,  I think,  many members of the SQL Server community, we do this because a) we were all in a position where we were just starting out and needed help; b) someone helped us, answered our questions, and we feel honored to be able to do the same; c) we take great pride in having one of the most open, collaborative, and philanthropically motivated communities in the world of technology.  These services are provided free of charge to anyone who visits any of the hundreds of great SQL Server blogs out there.  The number of books that you would have to purchase or expensive courses that you would have to attend to get anywhere near the content that is freely available on blogs in the SQL Server community would set you back many, many thousands of dollars and it still wouldn’t provide you with all of the benefit of the experience that this community writes from.  Through our discussions last night, some barbs were thrown our way such as “how can you help if your[sic] linin[sic] your pockets” and “You guys are being selfish.”  I would like to address those as I believe there must be a huge misconception about the motivation behind what we do.  First off, there is “no pocket lining” going on here.  Speaking for our site, http://sqlservertimes2.com, we pay for the domain registration and hosting out of our own pockets which, in my eyes, is an investment back into the community.  We receive no revenue from our site as there is no advertising or services sold from the site.  Now, that is just our choice and I want to be clear that there is absolutely nothing wrong with hosting ads offering services from your site, if you so choose, to help pay the bills, as long as the content of your site is original or you have at least obtained the permission of the original authors or copyright owners to host non-original material.  Our motivation is strictly a collaborative one.  Lori and I post issues that we have come across in our jobs and the solutions that we have come up with to solve them.  Throughout our careers, we have relied heavily on others’ blog posts for our professional development and feel honored to now be able to participate in that and provide something back.  Our compensation is solely the feedback we receive from readers that lets us know that we provided something that saved someone some time somewhere down the road, nothing more, nothing less.

 

So, where does this leave us?  As I have said many times, I think the SQL Server community is one of the greatest technical communities around.  One of the main reasons for this is the lack of egos and willingness to share.  The majority of us are not insecure and welcome new bloggers with open arms because all of us are constantly learning.  If a day goes by where I haven’t learned something new, it was not a very good day in my book and the more people out there sharing knowledge, the more likely I am to learn something new.  This is a very forgiving community and I believe that if you are a blogger who has or is plagiarizing the work of others because, for some reason, you didn’t realize that it was wrong or you don’t know how to get started blogging, reach out to the community and ask for help.  There are many of us who will gladly help you start sharing your own knowledge and gifts with the community, all you have to do is be willing to understand that plagiarism is stealing and wrong and be open to feedback from the group.  I know most technical professionals are proud and do not like to admit being wrong, but  many times being wrong is the first path to learning.

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