Friday, April 13, 2007

Do you participate?

Before I started my blog, I asked some folks for advice on what makes a good blog. Mike Potter told me that he recommended having catchy post titles. And clearly, John Nack, Photoshop product manager, and if you ask me, blogger extraordinaire, has mastered this art. So I was going to call this post "Why even bother?" but figured that might just come off as a bit negative.

Anyway, today's question is this -- do you participate in online activity, or just consume information? If you post comments, rate content, tag items, provide feedback, answer questions on lists and forums, why do you do it? Now I also realize that the consumers of info, those who don't immediately participate, may not be immediately inclined to provide feedback, so I'm anticipating that my comments will include lots of participants, but not a lot of folks that prefer to only consume info.

So if you don't normally participate in the conversation, well here's your chance to break out -- why don't you more actively participate in shaping great content, helping other developers, etc? What would it take you stop doing what you are doing, and jot off a quick note, suggestion, some feedback, or even click on some stars to rate content?

And since we're at it, is this whole community participation thing just a passing fad, or is it here to stay? I'd argue that forums and mail lists have been around for years, and we're just experiencing a natural evolution...But like my first post a few days back, this isn't really about what I think, its what you think. So please, comment away....

13 comments:

Aaron said...

I do tend to participate, though certainly not at a frantic pace. The main reason I do participate is this: if no one chose to participate there'd be no content for me to enjoy. It's a simple way to give back I suppose.

Dan said...

My involvement in the community serves a few purposes.

I comment on blogs to point out solutions, correct mistakes or most commonly, to encourage the blogger. The comments really are a motivator and I use commenting as one way to 'pay' the blogger for their time.

I have a blog and I use it to educate, entertain and to provide catharsis. If I've ever saved someone a few moments of banging their head on the desk, it was worth it.

Whereas blogs provide me with 0 day knowledge, Help files and APIs do not.

Chris Luebcke said...

I'm a sometimes-contributor to flexcoders, the Adobe Flex support forums, and a few other Flex-related lists and blogs. What I try to do is provide at least a couple of helpful responses to others for each request for help I post myself (although 'helpful' may be in the eye of the beholder). You could think of it as either joining in the spirit of the community, or paying taxes--either way, I think there's an obligation to try to give if you expect to receive, at least to the extent you're able to help others out.

Abdul Qabiz said...

Interesting questions.

Let me try answering a few of them, it's actually making me think why do I do certain things :)

> do you participate in online
> activity, or just consume
> information?
> do you participate in online
> activity, or just consume
> information? If you post
> comments, rate content, tag
> items, provide feedback, answer
> questions on lists and forums,


Yes. I do both.

I try to participate in different ways, writing blog posts (either my views, opinions, solution to some problem etc), responding to blog posts via comments, mailing-lists.

I used to ask questions, consume more information (direct helps or similar mail-thread or blog posts) in past.
Now, I am consuming information by silently watching some of mailing-lists (RSS, REST, ROME etc) and slowly starting to help.

Now, I hardly ask questions on mailing-lists (flex, flash related), most of time I get answers my own or by searching.

I read blogs to know about whats going on, to track about things (problems/solutions) that help later, to get inspired etc. I mostly search for things other technologies, I am not very familiar with...

I do refer Adobe technotes to confirm things, I do scan through some of the devnet articles to me they are not advanced ones.. Most of things are already known to developers active in community forum/lists.

I believe, over the time you get more experienced, learn new things (using search engines - an art, finding information without asking etc). Also reading between lines in documentations, learning by trying. Also develop core competency, which means good fundamentals and better understanding, common-patterns (problems and solutions) which means less challenges so you start moving towards more challenging stuff (in my case: user-interaction, coginitive abilities of user, web-standards, product ideas, enterpranuar ship skills, some other programming practice/language etc), that's where you need help and information...

It's a cycle that, I believe, repeats in everyone's life. People tend to contribute a lot in lists/forums but there is a point when they move on to do something else, it starts sounding boring... If you look at mailing-lists contribution charts, you would find very few developers contributing for long-long time consistently...

> why do you do it?

I feel good if my answers help someone..With every post I read in blog/list, I learn new things, new use-cases (my interest area). At the same time, there is great feeling of giving back to community because I got a lot of things and still getting in many form. FYI! Over the time, I have been active on flashcoders, flexcoders etc. 2005 was the year, I was very active on flexcoders, that was fun...There were not many flex developers around, now there are many...Good to see people getting help or giving help. Very satisfactory feeling...


> Why don't you more actively
> participate in shaping great
> content,helping other developers
> etc

There could be different reasons for different folks. For me, its mostly time... I enjoy writing my views, helping others and learning...It's mostly time constrains and kind of work I do, I can't talk about it all the time...and I am not doing anything else except that, so nothing to share...I love talking about solutions of some problems, different ways of doing something...that can only come when you actually do things...

So mostly, time constrains..


Sorry for long and unformatted comment, bloggers comment box is small ;)

Thanks

-abdul

Abdul Qabiz said...

Interesting questions.

Let me try answering a few of them, it's actually making me think why do I do certain things :)

> do you participate in online
> activity, or just consume
> information?
> do you participate in online
> activity, or just consume
> information? If you post
> comments, rate content, tag
> items, provide feedback, answer
> questions on lists and forums,


Yes. I do both.

I try to participate in different ways, writing blog posts (either my views, opinions, solution to some problem etc), responding to blog posts via comments, mailing-lists.

I used to ask questions, consume more information (direct helps or similar mail-thread or blog posts) in past.
Now, I am consuming information by silently watching some of mailing-lists (RSS, REST, ROME etc) and slowly starting to help.

Now, I hardly ask questions on mailing-lists (flex, flash related), most of time I get answers my own or by searching.

I read blogs to know about whats going on, to track about things (problems/solutions) that help later, to get inspired etc. I mostly search for things other technologies, I am not very familiar with...

I do refer Adobe technotes to confirm things, I do scan through some of the devnet articles to me they are not advanced ones.. Most of things are already known to developers active in community forum/lists.

I believe, over the time you get more experienced, learn new things (using search engines - an art, finding information without asking etc). Also reading between lines in documentations, learning by trying. Also develop core competency, which means good fundamentals and better understanding, common-patterns (problems and solutions) which means less challenges so you start moving towards more challenging stuff (in my case: user-interaction, coginitive abilities of user, web-standards, product ideas, enterpranuar ship skills, some other programming practice/language etc), that's where you need help and information...

It's a cycle that, I believe, repeats in everyone's life. People tend to contribute a lot in lists/forums but there is a point when they move on to do something else, it starts sounding boring... If you look at mailing-lists contribution charts, you would find very few developers contributing for long-long time consistently...

> why do you do it?

I feel good if my answers help someone..With every post I read in blog/list, I learn new things, new use-cases (my interest area). At the same time, there is great feeling of giving back to community because I got a lot of things and still getting in many form. FYI! Over the time, I have been active on flashcoders, flexcoders etc. 2005 was the year, I was very active on flexcoders, that was fun...There were not many flex developers around, now there are many...Good to see people getting help or giving help. Very satisfactory feeling...


> Why don't you more actively
> participate in shaping great
> content,helping other developers
> etc

There could be different reasons for different folks. For me, its mostly time... I enjoy writing my views, helping others and learning...It's mostly time constrains and kind of work I do, I can't talk about it all the time...and I am not doing anything else except that, so nothing to share...I love talking about solutions of some problems, different ways of doing something...that can only come when you actually do things...

So mostly, time constrains..


Sorry for long and unformatted comment, bloggers comment box is small ;)

Thanks

-abdul

Jonathan Wall said...

Thanks Abdul. Great stuff - I really appreciate all the time you took to provide this insight

Abdul Qabiz said...

BTW! I forgot to mention, we need to keep updating the Flexcoders FAQ on devnet, which got setup after MAX 2005.

I believe, FAQs are great help.. The idea is to extract (with support of volunteers from flexcoders) commonly asked questions/answers and put them on FAQ..

That would be great. Sorry for offtopic comment.

-abdul

Jonathan Wall said...

Another good feedback point Adbul. FAQs are great, but can be hard to maintain.

What about using Wikis? Are wikis useful in general? Good for stuff like faq maintenance?

mail said...

WIKI sounds great as long as it's like wikipedia. I mean experience of authoring, reading, searching. I don't like labs's wiki, again personal view.

I also feel, content should be reviewed by peers and some of editors (in devnet team). Think, how it happens in Wikipedia..

-abdul

George Girton said...

The more sample code the better. But what about outdated sample code? Amazon has a great Ruby on Rails talks to S3 example, using REST, but Rails has moved up a version, making the code have bugs.

Your point about FAQS being hard to maintain also applies to code samples.

But code samples speed things up so much, especially if they include the import specifications. When you're learring a new technology, it can save a lot of time if you have sample code. Even if you don't use it, sometimes it's just fun to read it and see how it really works, take it apart in your mind.

Sorry I didn't answer any of your questions about whether and why we participate. So it goes.

Chris Luebcke said...

This is only a little off topic, but Jonathan, you should check this forum thread:

http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/webforums/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=585&threadid=1252315#4548996

In it a few different people describe problems with FlexBuilder that are preventing them from using it at all. The thread is a month old, with nine posts on it. There is no resolution, and you can tell the developers are getting frustrated.

I don't know how the bandwidth gets assigned to do it, but it would be really good form if somebody from Adobe could drop in on the thread and provide some assistance. It'd definitely be a plus for developer relations.

Anyway, just an FYI, not expecting you all to rush off at the drop of a hat.

Jonathan Wall said...

Thanks Chris for the flag. I've passed it on to ask for some additional help...

Chris Luebcke said...

...which was immediately forthcoming. Thanks!