We’re Here to Help

Sometimes we bicker in this SQL Family.. Sometimes we get frustrated with each other.. But we participate in this family because of comments like the one below. Let’s all make it a goal for the rest of this year to remember that. 

A Short Disclaimer…

I’m not the father of this SQL Community – and sometimes I’m a divisive old Uncle spouting off on “the way things used to be” or “how the darn kids and entitled brats are ruining this country!” at Thanksgiving dinner. So I’m not here to be a lecturer or a “do as I say” admonisher… But sometimes I think we all – myself included – can lose site of the goal of the sharing at times.. This came to mind for a few reasons and none of the reasons are spectacularly negative either. Just an observation that gave me pause for introspection.

  • I’m part of various communities, in some of these communities I’m there as a welcome guest of the organizer. Some of these things are special invites that somehow I received, even though there are so many other deserving folks out there. Every so often lately I’ve heard more whining from some of the other invited guests who are also there by the graces of the organizers. They complain about silly things and can get lost in odd arguments and long winded e-mail threads repeating what others say just rephrased. Mind you this isn’t everyone, just a vocal minority. It’s a little frustrating, it’s like we’ve lost the ability to think rationally and consider that there are people on the other end of our electronic rants.
  • It’s my MVP award anniversary next week, so that as me thinking about giving back and it also has me frantically trying to put in a couple nominations for people who contribute a lot that I should have done long ago. I don’t know if it weighs more coming in from an MVP but I want to get those in before next Monday just in case.
  • I’ve been watching a post on Tom LaRock‘s blog and just checked back on a couple comments and they made me smile and inspired this post.
The post on Tom’s blog was about some tips he learned playing around in SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 Server Core. I haven’t played here yet and it was a good read. I’ve heard some frustrations from folks deploying like that. He was admonishing readers who were afraid to try it to, well, try it and not be afraid. He didn’t say it was problem free or the answer for everything, but it was quite clear that his goal and purpose here was to be, well, helpful. He wanted to be useful and helpful (actually the reason I highly recommended the Professional SQL Server 2008 Internals and Troubleshooting book on this blog, and why I was honored to tech edit the 2012 version and get my name on the first pages.).
And then in the comments some sort of breakdown in communication and getting along ensued.  I don’t know what happened and in what order – Disqus’ threading makes it harder for me to follow – and it doesn’t really matter. What sort of happened here is a bunch of people I consider good friends, people I care about and people I truly feel care a lot about giving back to this SQL Family, ummm, fought. There was some passive aggressiveness, there was some bickering, there was some ganging up, and there were some comments that were either written to annoy or ended up reading like that. Fuel was dumped on the fire and it continued.
(Big note - I’m not calling out any comment or commenter.. I think if you read it you can read from them what you want and depending on how you read various comments you may draw different conclusions about individual commenters than others would. In fact I think a lot of things could have been done different. I believe in conflict resolution starting at “ME” and if more did that, there probably would have been a lot less comments here. This post isn’t about this one post or the comments on it. It’s about our attitude and looking within to see where we can do more to be less a part of the problem in life. And it is about us all striving to be more helpful. I use it as an example and trigger point for these thoughts, and to use the comment below to remind us of what is important.)
But then just yesterday the comment below was added and I smiled when I saw it today. That’s what this is all about…

You see? Tom wrote the post for the person out there thinking of doing this or struggling to do it.. That person came to the post, ignored all the garbage in the comments, read the article, was helped along, and is left in a better spot. In fact this person was helped so much they felt it important to say, “thanks”.  Someone was helped – you can delete 80% of the comments and still say mission accomplished.

Now I know Tom. I know the others who were commenting – I know they all do this to help. But when I see threads like that or I see some of the whining in various settings, it makes me wonder - what the heck?!

I don’t really have a point here other than these few thoughts I’ll end with in bullets. But first an Admission -

I love being an MVP. I’m happy that I was awarded, and I hope I get awarded again next week. The powers that be at Microsoft have already decided this weeks ago they just don’t share that until the official date, so I’m not trying to sway anything. In one sense I hope I do get it, I LOVE the interaction with the product team, I love the great dealings I have with MVPs. I enjoy the access. I won’t lie, some part of me likes putting that logo on my slide decks and my laptop. At the same time, I kind of hope I don’t get it. There are so many deserving people out there – many are more deserving than I am. Many pour their lives into giving back to the SQL community – and for the most part none of them do it to become an MVP. They do it because they want to help. I don’t want to turn into someone who feels he’s entitled to a status or award, I don’t want to turn into someone who can fall under lower standards because it is just a “renewal” – I don’t want to turn into someone who gives back to just keep a status. I want to keep the same passion I had when I was first nominated and awarded. I want to be helpful and useful.

The final thoughts:

  • Think before you speak.. Don’t let yourself get worked up if someone disagrees with you. Apply a test – is the disagreement worth losing a friendship over or causing an uproar over? If it is well then have that discussion..
  • Don’t be mad if someone was helped by someone else. That’s jealousy. We don’t need anymore of it.
  • You can disagree and correct in public – but you better do it carefully. When you do it in public and in the written word it can be often misunderstood. Sometimes you weren’t misunderstood, you just wanted to be a jerk. Don’t do it.
  • People see through Passive Aggressive – remember that.
  • Don’t do this unless your goal is to be helpful. If you are speaking, blogging, etc to get an MVP status, then you are doing it wrong and it will come out in interactions. If you are passionate about the community and sharing and helping others – then be useful and do it. If you aren’t well then don’t.
  • You really do gather more bees with honey.. I can tell you that I am a cranky and bad person at heart – I’m selfish. There are days where I just am having a bad day and want to shred someone else down. I don’t know where that comes from and I don’t like it. But when I ignore that and build someone else up, and encourage someone else, you know what happens? I end up having a better day and I see the community around me increase.
  • Can’t we all just get along? We all are in it together.

I’ve said this in a few posts and I believe it – All boats rise or sink together in the harbor. I love this SQL Server community. I feel it is the way it is because the early pioneers in it were sharing people who think of others first. They were people who loved to share just to share. Let’s keep that spirit alive.  

Thanks for the post Tom – thanks for helping someone out – that’s why we’re here.

And while I have your attention, I just recently discovered a new blogger. He’s a friend of Bradley Ball (who has an amazing blog himself). His name is Lonny. He is on twitter and his blog is just starting but looks incredibly promising, I think. Check it out and let’s encourage new faces to step forward in this community. Let’s be open and cooperative. Remember when we used to trip over ourselves welcoming new bloggers? I liked that.

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6 Comments

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  1. Thomas LaRock March 26, 2013 at 18:45 #

    Thanks for the support Mike.

    I plan on continuing to write posts that I believe are informative and helpful.

    • Mike Walsh March 26, 2013 at 18:51 #

      That’s all any of us should do who are doing this. If we are doing it for fame or fortune then we need our heads examined. My very first post on this blog (December of 2008! makes me feel old now) said:

      Hello,

      This is the first post on the new site. I am hoping to make this blog a useful one. I hope to post here regularly and am promising myself I will only post something if it meets some of the following criteria:

      It is something I spent time researching/investigating to discover the tidbit
      I haven’t bumped into a lot of posts about the same topic
      I would have found this to be a useful blog post
      This is knowledge that I will probably want to find in the future
      It is a trackback to someone else’s blog that provided benefit to me
      Hopefully I will catch myself missing these objectives and will be quick to stop the madness for your sake and mine.

      Most topics will be SQL Server related but I can’t guarantee no off topic posts

      (emphasis mine – by mine I mean 2013 me) You’re posts have always been useful. Maybe not all to me, but then again I’m sure not all of mine are useful to you – but hopefully we’ve both been useful to someone Keep up the blogging and community involvement.

  2. Edwin Sarmiento March 26, 2013 at 21:15 #

    Thanks for writing this, Mike. And, thanks, Tom for writing that blog post. I run my tests on both VMWare and Hyper-V and I try to emulate a real-world environment as much as I can – stuff like introducing a virtual network switch/router where you punch holes in them if you need to open up port numbers and throttling the network traffic to simulate network congestion. It helps me a lot when I need to have conversations with network and systems engineers, knowing that I know how to fire up Wireshark and figure out if there is something wrong with the network. I’ve done presentations on Windows Server Core and even implemented domain controllers using it. But that’s probably because I come from the *nix world and I love scripting, automating and the command line. My goal is to learn and, in the process, be able to help others learn from my mistakes and failures. If someone has become better (even better than I am) because of what I did or wrote, I’m happy with that. It’s good to always check our hearts to remind ourselves of why we do what we do. I fall short every once in a while. Thank you both for the reminders.

    As a side note, I still don’t feel like I deserved the MVP award. And it’s been like 8 years for me. I feel humbled to be a part of a wonderful group of people, most of whom I now consider an extension of my family. Thanks for making the SQL Server community much better than it already is.

    • Mike Walsh March 27, 2013 at 10:45 #

      Hey Edwin -

      Thanks for the comment. I approved it because I like the thoughts about the similar feeling of not deserving the MVP award and I like the positive thoughts on a good testing approach. That said – I don’t want this to turn into a discussion of the comments on Tom’s post. Those are just an example and like I said – I think all parties could have done things a bit differently if we remember that conflict resolution starts with “ME”. My main point here is that sometimes I feel like we are losing that passion for open giving and sharing and encouraging each other and I want that back. I was even tempted to add comments to that post a few times but somehow I managed not to but I don’t like the thoughts I had and have at various times. Anything that comes off as stern in here is to me first and if it helps someone else too, then good :-)

  3. Chris Yates March 27, 2013 at 12:16 #

    Mike, I appreciate this post and the time you have taken to articulate it. I echo your post and sentiments. Thank you for sharing!

    • Mike Walsh March 27, 2013 at 12:45 #

      Thanks Chris. I believe we have an awesome SQL Family. I want to see everyone encourages to share and participate.

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