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Respectfully Responding

I typically don’t write opinion posts, but given recent events I thought it was important to follow up on one of my tweets. Last week, I tweeted about  Stack Exchange and my thoughts on the lack of respect in the responses to those who take the time ask questions in forums.

I had many people ask as to what I was referring to specifically, including some Microsoft employees. My response was (and still is) that I don’t believe in mob reactions or smearing anyone’s name and chose not to reveal the details. My reason for posting that tweet was just to remind those in the community that we have all been beginners once and none of us know all there is to know about SQL Server or technologies in general. It takes a lot of courage for some to take the time to ask a question and all our responses should be respectful of that.

Unfortunately, too many times I read “shouldn’t you already know that” kind of responses that make the person asking a question look dumb. I also read sarcastic responses that to me tells the readers you’re not taking them or your response seriously enough. This disappoints me and is not representative of what makes our community great. In some of tweet responses, I had more than one “newbie” tweet saying they no longer use certain forums as they feel the forum has become too toxic. They’ve felt belittled or their questions were just ignored.

Now, I have also heard the argument that some questions on forums can seem like homework questions and like they are asking you to do their work for them, which is cheating. Honestly, to me that shouldn’t matter in how you answer the question.  However, for those take issue with it maybe more advantageous in your answer to ask the what have they tried so far, so you can guide them rather than give a rude answer. Or just don’t respond to their post. My opinion in this is that there will always be someone that will read the responses and learn something.  Isn’t that what it’s all about? I do understand the frustration in that, I do. But if you think about it, we help each other daily with our own work, is that considered cheating? Regardless of what our answers are used for we are here to help lift and teach others not make them feel inferior.

I will happily say, that Stack Exchange is very much actively working on making the forums a friendlier environment and I applaud them for that. I had several of their moderators reach out to me to try to identify which post(s) I was referring to, so they could remove it or address the individual directly Again, I choose not to identify it but reiterated what my irritation was.

I want to make it clear and acknowledge how great of a resource Database Stack Exchange and other forums are. I very much appreciate those that take the time to respond and answer questions. Without those individuals that freely share their knowledge, many of us would be lost in the technology world.  Thank you to those who do it with integrity and grace. For those who don’t, please consider making a change or just stop answering questions.

One last note. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect all. Those who took the time to respond to me, thank you. Those who commented with arguing that I take things too serious or it’s not a big deal, I get it. It’s just not how I see it. I am not writing this to stir the pot, I am just following up with some thoughts. Thanks for listening.

SQLEspresso

Monica lives in Virginia and is a Microsoft MVP for Data Platform. She has over 15 years of experience working with a wide variety of database platforms with a focus on SQL Server. She is a frequent speaker at IT industry conferences on topics including performance tuning and configuration management. She is the Leader of the Hampton Roads SQL Server User Group and a Mid‐Atlantic PASS Regional Mentor. She is passionate about SQL Server and the SQL Server community, doing anything she can to give back. Monica can always be found on Twitter (@sqlespresso) handing out helpful tips.

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