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Editor in Chief Expand / Collapse
Posted Thursday, November 23, 2006 2:54 PM



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Editor in Chief

Last week when we announced the sale of the site to Red Gate Software, Andy, Brian, and myself were rather nervous. We have been working for some time on negotiating this sale with Red Gate and we early on felt that they really had the best interests of the community at heart or we would not have sold. However we knew that this would be a shock to many people and of concern to some. If you've read through the forums and around the Internet, you might have seen that some people are very concerned about having a vendor run a formerly independent community.

And that concerned us. Not because we think Red Gate will do something crazy, but because we thought it was a coin flip as to how the community would react. We thought that most people would be happy for us, but they could just have easily been angry at us. We'd hoped to be able to announce it the week before PASS and guage the reaction so we would be prepared at our reception. As it turned out, everyone was great and willing to give Red Gate the benefit of the doubt that they had no ulterior motive.

This week I've had one of the Red Gate IT team in Denver working with me on the site so I can turn over some of the, ah, less enjoyable administative portions of my job. On Tuesday we were chatting and he pointed out Phil Factor's blog on the sale and editorial independence. If you haven't read it, it's an interesting perspective and balances Brian Lockwood's concerns as a competing vendor.

So in searching for a Friday poll, I thought I'd do what I often do and ask the community.

How independent should we be?

Or maybe more importantly, how can we be independent. I've only had some preliminary discussions with Red Gate about how to make this a better community, but everyone I've talked to, from the owners to the directors have stressed independence and no one has tried to tell me what to write. Actually I'll probably get some comments about linking to some of the items above, but I've always written what I want, so I'll stick to that.

I'm really curious to see what you'd like. Or what you think I can do to run this community and remain unbiased, but meet your needs. We are planning to pull advertising, at least most of the ones on the site and most of the ones in the newsletter. I'm not sure if that's a good idea because I think it's important for you to be able to find and learn about third party tools and it's important for vendors to be able to inform you of their new products. It's the plan for now, however, to reduce the amount of stuff that gets in the way of you learning about SQL Server.

So if you don't mind, respond to this and let me know what you think is a good way to meet the needs of the community and remain an independent member of the SQL Server community.

Steve Jones

Follow me on Twitter: @way0utwest

Forum Etiquette: How to post data/code on a forum to get the best help

Post #325253
Posted Thursday, November 23, 2006 8:07 PM

Keeper of the Duck

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In Red Gate's defense, I received an email through the blogs interface from Simon Galbraith (Joint CEO of Red Gate), asking how to address some of the concerns I cited in my recent blog post. I'm still trying to formulate my thoughts as I only read it a couple of hours ago, but I like the fact that Red Gate is asking the question on how to keep the community vibrant, with an independent voice.


K. Brian Kelley, CISA, MCSE, Security+, MVP - SQL Server
Regular Columnist (Security),
Author of Introduction to SQL Server: Basic Skills for Any SQL Server User
| Professional Development blog | Technical Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter
Post #325272
Posted Friday, November 24, 2006 1:44 AM
Old Hand

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To deal with the advertising issue and demonstrate true independence, create a dedicated advertising newsletter in which anyone can promote their SQL tools.  The main site remains uncluttered if this is the aim, Red gate maintain their exclusive branding on the site, but the community is served in having a source of information available to those who want it.  As this is an opt-in, rates would need to be low but, as this is just a service to the community, it only needs to break even.  That would show true independence and could go some way to refuting Mr Lockwood's concerns.

Post #325288
Posted Friday, November 24, 2006 2:01 AM
Ten Centuries

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You should be as independent as you were before the sale.  Naivety aside, that's the simple answer.

I've never had a problem with the advertising, because it's so well focussed.  I don't mind seeing that continue, but obviously only if everyone gets a fair chance to advertise, and that's unlikely, right?

Post #325291
Posted Friday, November 24, 2006 2:13 AM
Mr or Mrs. 500

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To be honest, I'm happy the way things used to be and am still happy the way they are now, so what if RedGate now own the site, so long as they're not dictating terms every 5 mins and let people continue the way they always have then that's what's going to help the community stay vibrant.

There's not many places that I know I can take a problem at the level i need it addressing at and know that there's people out there that have either done it before or have read an article that I havent and point the way to the solution.

In the end it makes no difference to me who owns the company, all that is important is that the quality of the site remains the same.

Post #325293
Posted Friday, November 24, 2006 2:18 AM

Say Hey Kid

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Steve, thanks for referring to my Blog entry. As you know, I've done quite a bit of writing for Simple-Talk, but I have no financial interest in Red-Gate whatsoever. I have been paid the standard rate for my articles but nothing for my blogs! I am what the site describes me as: a 'Guest Blogger'.

I work as a Database developer mostly, though I've done a lot of different things over the years. In my day-to-day work with SQL Server, I use a range of tools, including Red-Gate's SQL Bundle and SQL Backup. I also use, and trust, tools by EMS, Apex, and others.

I write about things that amuse or interest me. I enjoy writing for Simple-Talk because I can choose to tackle subjects that will generally make editors wince, in the confidence that there will be no restriction on what I can write or the opinions I can express. And I like provoking reasoned discussion.

I have no more insight into the marketing strategy of Red-Gate than any other 'outsider', but I know that whatever is done will be undertaken with integrity. If you have any concerns, why not just ask them: That's what I do.

I think that almost everyone wants to make the new arrangement at SSC work well for all interested parties.

Best wishes,

Phil Factor
Simple Talk
Post #325294
Posted Friday, November 24, 2006 2:54 AM
Old Hand

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My usage of this site and community is largely concerned with SQL Server matters which do not refer to any third party tools at all. This to me is the true value of the site and as long as I continue to learn from it I will continue to use it.

It seems that you have only a few areas outside the normal site focus where you could be compromised.

1. Reviews
2. Advertising
3. Forum discussions

Either get independant contributors to do them and continue to do them for all relevant products or just don't do them at all.

Again either as is. Add free. Monthly mails as current. Something with balance.
Personally they have given me an awareness of the market but if I want to buy a backup tool etc. I will Google for competitors before I buy anything.

Don't censure them. People will notice and it will generate a lot of bad will. Without contributors the forums are useless.

I think the point made about advertisers having access to the site is valid but the reason the site is a success is not because of balanced advertising. I visit for content not advertising. I think most other users are the same.
Post #325297
Posted Friday, November 24, 2006 5:33 AM

SSC Veteran

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Hi Steve, belated congrats on your windfall.

I've been following the debate from a distance this time but considering you did request responses...

I appreciate that you are trying to appear "Master-in-Chief" of the site and in no way am I questioning RG's motivations (although previous threads have alluded to some) but I struggle to see how you will be able to maintain the independence of the site. Phil Factor's article reflects the exception and not the rule and the reason for that is people generally like having steady remuneration.

Like others, I'm waiting to see what will happen in '07 but this could be put on a par with hotmail's sale to MS and those advantages are still vague.

Something that would provide ease of mind to some would be the inclusion of a list of all comparable SQL Tools, with full technical reviews and pricing. Surely if a company is aiming to be market leader in the technical services arena it should be based on technical proficiency and allow the product to speak for itself?

Good luck!

Post #325315
Posted Friday, November 24, 2006 5:45 AM



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As to how independent should you be, how independent can you be. I'm not talking about Red Gate, I'm talking about Microsoft. Personally, where Microsoft leads, I follow. Not because I've got some faith in the company, its leadership or their products, but because they've, indirectly, paid me a lot of money over the years. So, I critique them but I follow along behind them none the less.

I suspect you'll be as independent as you can be. Some may see that as comprimised and others will be more realistic. I guess the occasional critical comment or review of Red Gate will probably be enough to demonstrate that editorial policy is not slanted their way. At some point, certainly not currently, they'll come out with some totally boneheaded product which will richly deserve a fierce beating about the face & neck. Don't hold back. I don't think much more can be asked of you.

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood..." Theodore Roosevelt
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Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software
Post #325316
Posted Friday, November 24, 2006 6:20 AM
SSC Veteran

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As a new comer to this site I didn't feel it was necessary to make any comment either way on the issue of the sale or the possible ramifications to editorial independence. However one thought struck me at the time and I thought it might be worth raising. As a new user of SQL Server I did extensive research into the product before deciding that this was the right one for me. I read articles and books, talked to friends, colleagues and acquaintances and generally did my homework; I’m a thorough type of person and probably no different to 99.9% of people in the IT industry when it comes to looking for solutions to business needs. Advertising does sway our choices evidenced by the fact that companies are willing to spend money on it. However, if we are doing our jobs properly we should make informed choices and that behooves us to look at more than one source for our information. If people fail to make the correct decisions when they buy a product that supports their business requirements then they and their business are at a disadvantage, a disadvantage that others will be more than happy to exploit.

In a free market there will always be an outlet for advertising £'s. If Red Gate were to close the doors on competitors advertising or remove editorial independence it would only be a matter of time before an outlet was found for that money and copy. The fate of many a Goliath is to be slain by a David of his own making.

Post #325321
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