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Delivering the Bad News

It’s a Friday, the day governments & companies traditionally deliver bad news. I recived the bad news earlier in the week, but I’m passing it on now:

The Standard is dead.

Let me first say, a couple of authors are right in the middle of finishing up articles. Those will be completed and published and you’ll get paid.

Andy sums up some of the reasons why the Standard failed very nicely in his blog post. I agree with them, if not where the responsibility lies. Andy takes most of it on himself because, well, he’s that kind of guy, may the gods bless him. But, the fact is, I took on the job and just wasn’t prepared for what it would entail. The “editing” part of the job was hard. If you think it’s easy to tell people, “No, we’re not going to make you famous and give you $500,” think again. It was tough. But, actually, that was the easier part of what was needed.

The real difficulties were two-fold. First, pushing the documents through the pipeline. Frankly, that was a pain. Sometimes, I was the bottleneck, sometimes it was other people. But it required a great deal of attention and diligence and I wasn’t always giving it my all. Second, and this is the biggie, it really needed to be marketed, constantly, and widely. It needed to be up in people’s faces, all the time. I needed to be the one pushing that, hard. I blogged about it occasionally and I tweeted about it a few more times, but, here again, I didn’t give it the real attention it needed.

Yeah, I’ve got excuses for the shortcomings, some are valid, some aren’t. I’m not going to bother with them because frankly, they only really matter to me and Andy. Suffice to say, I did the job I could do and it wasn’t adequate.

So, the SQL Server Standard is dead, again. I think that makes it’s third death, depending on how you count them. Who knows, the thing keeps coming back like Dracula in the old Hammer films, we could see it again.

Thanks to everyone who wrote for it. Thank you, the few people who clicked through and logged in to get the chance to read it. Thanks to all the editors and photographers and everyone else involved. Thanks, a lot, for magnificent work as the head technical editor, to Brad McGehee (blog|twitter). Thanks, most of all, to Andy Warren (blog|twitter) for giving me the opportunity. Sorry I dropped the ball on this.

The Scary DBA

I have twenty+ years experience in IT. That time was spent in technical support, development and database administration. I work forRed Gate Software as a Product Evangelist. I write articles for publication at SQL Server Central, Simple-Talk, PASS Book Reviews and SQL Server Standard. I have published two books, ”Understanding SQL Server Execution Plans” and “SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled.” I’m one of the founding officers of the Southern New England SQL Server Users Group and its current president. I also work on part-time, short-term, off-site consulting contracts. In 2009 and 2010 I was awarded as a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. In the past I’ve been called rough, intimidating and scary. To which I usually reply, “Good.” You can contact me through grant -at- scarydba dot kom (unobfuscate as necessary).


Posted by Jason Brimhall on 10 July 2010

That is quite unfortunate.  I liked the standard and was getting ready to submit an abstract.

Posted by Jeffrey Yao on 10 July 2010

Though this is unfortunate, I believe it is a good move. To be honest, my opinions about Standard are:

1. The article is too long to read

2. There is no eco-system around Standard, for example, I do not see there are places that readers can raise questions / comments about the article, i.e. no interface for users to interact with authors / other users with questions / comments centered around an article

3. It is inconvenient for users to read the article (you need to log in at least), how about sending the pdf file as an attachment to the registered directly?

4. There is no enough brand-building efforts to make Standard as a must-read magazine within SQL Server community.

5. It is debatable whether it is a good idea that each issue has only one article. This narrows the potential reader base for each issue.

Well, these are just my 2 cents, the "accusations" may not be valid.

Posted by Grant Fritchey on 11 July 2010

Thanks, great comments. I disagree on items 1 & 5. However, I think all your other points are valid. I didn't even think about the issues around the lack of an eco-system, but I think you're right. That was probably a contributing factor. Wish I'd had you around earlier, it might have made a difference. I'm not sure we could have set up that sort of thing at PASS, but it sure would have helped.

Thanks again.

Posted by Steve Jones on 11 July 2010

Sad for me since this was my baby a long time ago.

1. I like the long ones.

2. Agree

3. Very much agree. This is a fundamental issue and I'm not sure this is enough to drive PASS growth. Should have made it "register to get notified about new issues"

4. yep

5. Torn here. As someone that managed this, I'm not sure how you could get more unless Grant had a lot of help from others managing/editing content.

Posted by edwisdahl on 12 July 2010

I don't know how much more you or Andy could have done.  I just don't know that this was the proper format for this type of information.  I think it would have been best as just an article for PASS, similar to how they are published on SSC or simple-talk.

As an aside:

1. I also like the long articles, they allow the author and the reader to explore the subject in a more comprehensive fashion.

2. I think that the ecosystem was one of the things that made this a doomed project.  

3. I think that the login was another major issue.  Even if it is free to register, it will still drive a lot of people away.

4. I agree with this point, although I don't know if it contributed to the standard being abandoned.

5. I think that this was the other major issue.  However, I don't know how this could have been rectified without a lot more resources thrown at it.  If this had been more of a full fledged magazine, with a half a dozen or so articles a month, I think it would have had a better chance of surviving... and of becoming the "must read" brand as mentioned in point 4.  But I don't know that the magazine format, even if it is non-print based, can survive these days.  

Posted by Roy Ernest on 12 July 2010

Oh No... It should not have died like this. I really enjoyed writing for Standard. TBH, I think you guys did a great job with the editing. It was quick and with very valid points/Criticism.

And I was planning on writing another one.. :-(

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