TSQL Tuesday #102: Giving Back

T-SQL Tuesday LogoThis TSQL Tuesday comes to us from Riley Major (b | t), He asks us in what ways we can give back to the SQL Community. He suggests blogging, speaking, answering questions, mentoring, or if we have done some of those already, to discuss what motivated us to contribute.

I knew of the helpfulness of the SQL Community from way back in the old USENET days when that was the best way to get help. Some users would download all of the headers and a good portion of information for offline use during their commutes on a train and spend that time reading and responding to others. SQLServerCentral.com popped up during this time period and was a great free to use resource to share information and articles.  The early days of Twitter saw the #sqlhelp hashtag pop up as a way to ping the community for ideas, with several keeping an eye on it and responding.

I learned quite a bit from the regulars on USENET. Jamie Thomson blogged about SSIS and Database Projects, which helped me to overcome some hurdles. We still have people who share regularly – SQL Skills and Brent Ozar’s team both provide regular writings to teach and inform others, even while maintaining a consulting business. Grant Fritchey has now taken to vlogging to share information.  Red-Gate provides a pretty good online newsletter. When attending SQL events, the attendees are often more than willing to share their advice and experiences.  I haven’t seen this level of sharing in many other tech communities.  I’ve had some great co-workers over the years who shared their knowledge to train others and grow/challenge the people around them. They’ve also been great to bounce ideas off of over the years.

I knew I wanted to give back early. I’ve learned from others and can share what I know to help new people grow their skills or not have to learn by making mistakes I’ve already made. I try to keep up with the SQL Community on Slack and answer questions that fall within my strengths. I’ve put together a guide on using SSDT some time ago. It’s old, but the information is largely still relevant.  I still blog as I discover something that could be helpful to others. I also try to contribute on StackOverflow in the DB Project/SSDT category. (I’ve found my response time for the TSQL tag is often too slow to help out too much.)

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be presenting at SQL Saturday Dallas 2018. My topic will be “Getting Your DB Schema Under Control with SSDT”. I have learned quite a bit about DB Projects over the years and the idea of getting your databases into some sort of version control is a passion of mine. I’ve dealt with trying to recreate changes over the years and it’s always been painful trying to handle changes to DB Objects. If you’re planning to go and this is of interest to you, feel free to check out my session in Slot #2. I plan to make the slides and code available after the session is over for anyone who wants to follow along.

Not related to SQL, I also try to serve the church community with my technical knowledge. I’m not a full-time person for that area, but have learned quite a bit over the years and have a passion for helping the local church use technology effectively for their mission. I know my strengths well enough to be able to contribute and advise. I’ve run a couple of tech support workshops to help people clean up their PCs or do basic hardware upgrades that they’d otherwise pay the Geek Squad $$$ to perform. I know that I’ve acquired these skills over the years for a reason, so giving back just makes sense.

I want to close with an encouragement to anyone who happens to read this. You may be just starting out or an old pro. Regardless, you probably know something that nobody else does. Write up your experiences and share them. Check out some of the tech support sites such as stackoverflow or ask.sqlservercentral.com and read up on some of the questions. Answer where you can contribute.  If speaking in public is something you can do, volunteer for a local SQL User Group meetup or meeting or consider presenting for a Virtual Chapter.  Learn a bit about presenting and watch some good presenters to grow those skills.  But don’t just take in all of that information and never share it. You’ll grow as you grow others.

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