We Are Community

Today I was planning on writing a summary post of PASS Summit experience but something happened last night that caused me to change up the queue for blog posts and quite frankly bothered me. Today I’d like to address a few things regarding the Community, behavior within it and just general thoughts about stuff. I apologize ahead of time for the word vomit you’re about to read.

So last night a certain individual began ranting to certain folks on Twitter about how what he thought about the MVP Award and how it seems like they “hand it to anyone now” based on “printing out a card for after hours events”. This person (whom for the time being I’m simply refusing to mention) had an opinion, which is fine. When myself and some others started reading this we began defending whom they were talking about, which in this case was Jen McCown (Blog | Twitter) of MidnightDBA fame. What was funny to me was that this person didn’t seem to want to have a reasonable conversation, they seemed to have an almost personal grudge. Even in email format (yes, some of us tried to reason with him in private as well), he kept up the childish name-calling and outlandish behavior.

Now granted, if you don’t like the MVP program or who is awarded, that’s fine and dandy and you can let the folks at Microsoft know (Blog | Twitter | Facebook). Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when you put your opinion in a public forum and others challenge you on your statements don’t whine about it and throw a fit. Don’t break down into childish attacks. Don’t start attacking everyone with ridiculously stupid statements and then claim people are attacking YOU. Yes, all of this happened and more last night. Missed the fun? This guy got a new hashtag generated for him aptly named #sqlidiot.

Another interesting point came up during our “conversations” with this guy, namely he made a statement about us whining and we were taking Community vs Real Life. Let’s think about this for a second. The SQL Community is not exactly huge, and if you attended PASS Summit last week you get the sense that it’s more like a global family. Most of us know each other offline and a lot of us have never met but when we do finally meet in person you know each other so well you actually FORGET the fact that you’ve never met! We celebrate our triumphs together. We share our pain together. We pray together. We lift each other up and support each other. Hell, we even officiate each other’s weddings! This is Community. This is Family. To think that our interactions are limited to digital medium is both nearsighted and flat out wrong, it’s only a small part of a very large (and global) picture.

As witnessed last night you can see how protective we are of each other. Noticed I have not made mention of status at all. That’s because something like the MVP award, while cool, doesn’t mean you can’t/don’t belong in this family. From the person looking to start writing their first SQL query, to the professional speakers, to the folks writing the engine for the products we all know and love we are all One. Yeah, sounds a little over the top existential but I truly feel that way about this Community. When someone goes on a public forum and starts tearing others down, for no apparent reason whatsoever, don’t be shocked when you have quite a few folks fighting back. You may be brave behind a keyboard but I’d love for someone to try that nonsense at a SQLSaturday event or PASS Summit. It’s not Community vs Real Life, Community IS Real Life and I will defend it, and the people that make it up, until the very end.

Finally there’s general conduct. We’re all entitled to our own opinions but how you express those opinions, especially in a public forum like Twitter, is critical. I can have a conversation with someone and not see eye to eye with them, that’s fine. Resorting to childish name-calling and tired/pathetic ‘your mother’ comebacks just makes you look like an absolute idiot and you lose any and all credibility you may have had to start with. Some people tend to forget the acronym PASS stands for the Professional Association for SQL Server, emphasis on professional. While we do tend to have our after hours and colorful fun, you’ll rarely see someone all-out break that professional decorum. That’s a matter of respect, for both yourself and the people you interact with. Think about the consequences of your actions, ESPECIALLY in a public forum. The Internet, as they say, is forever (and Google Bing Bingle has a long and easily searchable memory).

I know some of you followed along closely last night and even chimed in with this guy, some of you lurked, some are probably hearing about this for the first time. What are your thoughts?

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19 thoughts on “We Are Community”

  1. I agree completely.
    I was involved for a few posts (shouldn’t have ITFP) and I was thinking that was all too unreal to believe.
    Brent Ozar and others remained polite and posted without becoming aggressive.
    All of the people involved excluding the #sqlidiot and me are some of the most respectable persons in the SQL world. We learn a lot from them everyday and they are always excited to share their discoveries and experience with us. I couldn’t just be there without doing nothing.

    I do think he’s entitled to his opinion in regards to the MVPs (although unfair and unproven) but then he lost his reasoning by calling people names and offending just about everyone. Respect!

    Keep up the good work guys. You are the ones who share and teach and we won’t find better “virtual” teachers and book writers. Maybe someday I’ll get to meet some of you.

    Best regards,

    Andre Guerreiro Neto (byo)

    1. Thanks. He was absolutely entitled to his opinion but we’re entitled to ours as well. If he thinks the MVP program is crap, great, more power to you. But when you start making outlanding statements like “this person only got MVP by printing out a list”, I’m going to call BS and call you to the carpet on it. I appreciate the comments and thanks again.

  2. Well put, and the SQL Server community is amazing. Much closer and stronger than I’ve seen in other technologies or even areas of life.

    I thought some of the responses were unnecessary. We all know Jen, and we know what she does for the community, which is much, much more than printing out any list. I think the community would have been better served by ignoring this individual.

    The one thing I would caution the people we know and love is that we can make ourselves look just as bad as the person attacking us. Step back, make a rational response and then let it go.

    1. Steve I agree, some of the responses were unnecessary and in fact some were just flat out troll bait. While the silent treatment (or no response) is one thing, I can’t stand seeing someone trash someone else based on outright disinformation. I started conversing with this guy on a rational level simply trying to get the point across that Jen has certainly earned her stripes in the Community and to say otherwise is simply false. As for the last statement, I can certainly see that which is why I try to carefully choose which lynch mobs to participate in now (i.e. plagiarizers, #sqlsue, etc.) since even though we see it as protecting each others, it can certainly be misconstrued by others outside the group.

      1. We had some fun with the guy, absolutely. And I respect the people that stayed out of it, or stayed professional. Steve, your comments about making ourselves look bad prompted me to write “Why I Feed Trolls”.

        All that aside…Jorge, I loved the post. I don’t have the words…let me just say, yeah. That’s about right.
        -J

  3. WOW – yesterday was QUITE the day for SQL Server community “activity”! I was in on the first of those but missed out on the second. My darned anniversay dinner got in the way LOL! Anyway, this is a WONDERFUL blog post

  4. Thank you for writing this. All those and involved know how I feel inside but I took the high road. The person in question is local to me in Houston but I have never meet him. He does not participate in the user group that I know of. So having no relationship with him I offered to meet with him or at least get him in touch with the MVP program. I have only heard crickets so far.

  5. I couldn’t believe what I was reading last night. I have no problem with people having opinions (Lord knows I have some), but my desire to listen to your opinions drops to, oh, zero, if you can’t discuss them rationally like an adult. I thought it was incredible how fast this guy went from stating his opinion (albiet somewhat snottily) to outright calling people names (and worse). Looking back on the whole thing, I think it’s evident that he was intentionally trolling from the get-go.

    I didn’t engage directly, because by the time I saw what was going on, there was no way that I was going to be able to address the guy in a civilized fashion. I’m just like that. I took up my spot in the peanut gallery and made fun of the situation from afar, as even if I did try to engage in an adult fashion, he wasn’t returning the favor for the most part. I don’t need that; none of us do.

    Honestly, mad props to everyone who did talk to him & try to reason with him. I’m pretty happy with how the community responded–protecting our own. Steve, I agree with what you say (comments above) about how we the community should remain civilized, because we don’t need to act like this, either. But, in a medium like Twitter without moderation or kickbanning, when people cross the line as seriously as they did last night, sometimes you gotta fight fire with fire.

  6. I didn’t witness the twitter exchanges the other night but I agree everyone has and is entitled to their opinions. However when the opinions turn into attacks then that indeed is personal. I really don’t know a great deal about the MVP program but I believe it is valuable because it does recognize the efforts and the lengths people are willing to go for the community. Not just from a MS standpoint but how the person is looked upon by our peers. For the most part I think a majority of the MVPs (and this is my opinion) could careless about the status because they are genuinely selfless people who truly enjoy helping others and sharing their knowledge. The award is just the icing on the cake so-to-speak.

    Unfortunately I didn’t get the opportunity to meet Jen (or Sean for that matter) while at the Pass Summit but I highly respect them. Not to mention they are effin’ hilarious. They have contributed countlessly to the SQL community. I know I have learned a lot from their blog posts and their pod casts. I have always been a person of reason and always willing to view things from different perspectives which makes engaging in debate or conversations much more educational. So it’s a shame this came about the way it did but on the bright side it displays the strong relationship the community has with one another… truly great people!

  7. Excellent post Jorge. I monitored the firestorm on Twitter but was busy writing, and so remained out of the fray. Had I joined, I would have been unprofessional in the opinion of many. As it unfolded I believe the SQL Server Community held it’s own.

    Let’s face it, we don’t all agree on everything. I think those who do not engage in social media misunderstand the ties that bind we who do. Call it mutual respect, cred, whuffie, social capital, Klout – whatever. It’s real and it is subject to the same rules of economics as cold hard cash. You don’t have to acknowledge or even like this fact; but you do have to live with it. Especially if you pop onto social media and begin trashing someone who possesses a substantial amount of social captial.

    :{>

    1. Thanks Andy! Great point on the social currency. For many, the internet and what you put out there may be the only way people ever get to know you so it really is an investment on your part on what you put in to that stock. I believe you were the one that made the comment on Twitter that our group tends to be a forgiving bunch and for the most part, that’s true. If this guy shows back up, apologizes for the way he acted and has a straightforward (read also: adult) conversation I think everything would be fine. We’ve seen complete mistakes get fixed by those means (see also: John Dunleavy saga).

  8. Jorge,
    I’m a week late to getting around to reading your write-up of last week’s twitter blowup, but wanted to commend you on an excellent post and for staying “professional”. I, personally, couldn’t believe someone in our community would be that UN-professional to colleagues until I saw it for myself. I, for one, am proud to be a part of the greater SQL Server community. Now, to move on to other more significant things….

    Regards,
    Nancy

    1. Thanks Nancy, I appreciate it. We take the good with the bad but it’s how we deal with it that’s important. Hopefully this guy still benefits from the Community and next time he wants to engage he can do so in a more adult manner.

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