I recently posted a poll on SQLServerCentral.com asking what sites people tended to frequent. So far, there haven't been a whole lot of votes, but those who have, have been unanimous in using SQLServerCentral.com and have indicated that there are a few other sites they may be visited occasionally. What was interesting was one of the questions asked by one of the respondents. Apparently, he thought I may have been considering leaving SSC. Well, I posted my reply, but I thought about it some more and thought that this was something worth talking about a little more.
I have been working with SQL Server since 1997 when I started with SQL Server 6.5. I have worked with every version since then with the exception, for the moment, of SQL Server 2008. After a few few years I thought I was pretty good with SQL Server, but after becoming actively involved with SSC in 2005, I had joined earlier but was nothing more than lurker then, I had found that I had barely scratched the surface of SQL Server. In the past four years I have learned more than I did in the my first eight years with product.
I have also found SSC to be more than just a SQL Server Forum, it is a true SQL Server Community. It is committed to the professional development of its members. It does not tolerate unprofessional behavior from the community. But it goes far beyond that. The more knowledgeable of the community actually become mentors to those that accept such guidance. There is a genuine desire to help each other both professionally and personally.
We have had our share of flame wars over certain aspects of SQL Server, but they are few and generally kept professional in nature. I have even read complaints in a few threads about how we tend to go off topic and discuss things like soccer (football outside the US), martial arts, ancient and medieval weapons, the weather, and who knows what else, but it is just those things that make SSC a community instead of just a forum. There are many times I could hear the theme song from Cheers (... where everyone knows your name ...) as I would read some of the threads, especially our water cooler thread.
Anyone who has spent time on SSC can probably see and feel the sense of community that exists, and hopefully it is that sense of community that keeps people coming back.
I'll end on this note, there are many regulars on SSC that I may never meet but would welcome the opportunity if it were presented. I count these people as friends and mentors for they have taught me more the just about SQL Server, but what it means to be part of a larger community.