Interesting thread and kudos for posting the reference to Brian's and Phil's blogs. Phil's points on the reality of editorial freedom is right on point - I have experienced this first hand as a vendor/advertiser and have had it work both for and against me.
The level of your independence is yet to be determined - regardless of the reality, the perception of the community - will be the reality, and that will vary by individual and as time and circumstance dictate. As long as I derive value (and sometimes entertainment) from this resource, I will be a regular visitor.
One area that you may consider (that I have not found elsewhere) is a compendium of available products from any source along with any reviews (direct and linked) that might be available. Any vendor could post product information within reasonable guidelines and anyone could link reviews and write feedback on them. Ideally the products are categorized and searchable within this area - something 'Wiki-like' that allows the vendors the maintain the basic product info and others to submit user experience, questions, feedback, etc. If something like this already exists, I would appreciate a link to it.
Currently, I do the usual Google search of certain keywords, check a few known sites to find products that have features I need then begin looking for independent reviews. If the vendor has an online support forum that is always one of my first stops. Still, finding and evaluating products is very time consuming - anything that can serve as repository would be a valuable resource to the community.
Best wishes for the holidays and continued success with this site.
I agree with your comments Karma, just as buying a car, the responsibility is your own.
Without getting philosophical though, a lot of our reality is constructed for us and even if one has the confidence to decide that something is not as it should be; what is that founded on and what can be done to change it?
Advertising (and in this case the potential for the corrosion of impartiality) aims to skewer our perspective on things. Not all re advertising is bad, of course. I have no animosity to those in advertising; they're only trying to succeed in their industry. Before one makes clear the responsibility of a consumer though one should make clear the responsibility of the supplier, in an ideal world that is.
RG have put in a half-harted effort to assure us of their intentions but they have no responsibility to make clear all of them and in particular enter into a contract with us as to what exactly they intend to do with our contact details and contributions (intellectual property we submitted under the auspices of SSC).
In these and other respects a lot of people feel disappointed in SSC - it's not just about independence and impartiality. RG have bought SSC (and not as minority investor) and they will do with it as they please.
Still I wish to use the site and hope none of my somewhat-paranoid-delusions materialise.
First - I appreciate the openness (and the link!). Steve and I have gone a few rounds in the past 5 years but in the last 6 mos. SSC and ApexSQL (Steve, Kevin and myself) really seemed to be in a good groove and 2007 was looking to be a good year of collaboration. I haven't always agreed with Steve but we managed to hash things out and I felt he was at least advocating for his site - not another vendor. Our biggest incident was my complaining about Red-Gate several years ago on reviews. We got thru it although it left an indelible impression on me as to the influence Red-Gate was trying to wield on the site. To SSC's credit they managed to stiff arm Red-Gate on the majority of these attempts - most notable was the offer to pay the site to displace competive ads. This was courageous since I know SSC wasn't rolling in green at the time and could have used the windfall - it would have been real easy to take this deal and outside of SSC, Red-Gate, myself and a few other vendors no one would have known. Not sure who was involved in the decision, what the vote was etc - but the end result was that they erred on the side of ethics. Those are actions, not words - and they mean a lot.
As a side note - my biggest thrill on this site was the occaisonal time when Steve stuck it to Microsoft (i.e. why upgrade to SQL 2005?). I think I sent him congratulatory emails each time! So Steve has an estabilished pedigree of independence.
But now - it's a different world. I'm going to try and keep Steve out of my gunsights as he's not the protagonist here. And I hope he doesn't get caught up in the cross fire. My advice bro - the same as they told me in the Army "keep your head down until the Boom Boom stops".
Having said that, I wanted to comment on some things Steve said
As to your comment "As it turned out, everyone was great and willing to give Red Gate the benefit of the doubt that they had no ulterior motive. " I'm not sure about your study group but Sean McCown says almost exactly the opposite from his stint at PASS
"Red-Gate says they intend to keep it as a community site and grow it as much as they can. However, they also plan to use the membership list. I didn't ask for what purpose, because why would I? We all know they're talking about marketing. And I suppose that's their right because they bought the site, but I know they're going to lose a lot of users over it. People don't want to be cold called by anyone. Without exception, everyone I talked to said that they're worried about how things will change with a vendor in charge. "
Feedback to me is running very strongly against - so I guess it might be who you hang with or what people want to tell you directly. I would say skeptism is growing - now that we know Red-Gate plans to continue to run their newsletter ads (despite removing competitors) and also plans to review their own and competitor tools. I would re-survey these people and ask them again what they think with this addition news/context. It seems the honeymoon is ending for a lot of people.
As for this comment
"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."
Well, what Red-Gate has indicated is that the most of ads they plan to pull are competitor ads. And the most of the ads they plan to keep are their own! Funny how it worked out that way.
Tony Davis on Simple-Talk
"Buying SSC was a business decision and Red Gate is looking to make a return on that investment. It's true that, in the SSC newsletter, you will no longer see competitor advertising but will continue to see Red Gate tools. How big of a downside that is will be for the community to decide."
Ahhh - pretty big I would imagine unless of course you are Red-Gate. Even Steve here is publicly expressing his concern that it might not be a good idea. Add his voice to the growing chorus of public and private murmoring about this and I think we're seeing some movement of perspectives on this issue.
anyway - I was gonna give up on this a couple days ago (as I have a real job, kids etc!) but I started getting a lot of calls and emails of support telling me to keep fighting and thanking me for lending a voice to the "resistance". If I'm going to live in North Carolina I guess I gotta have Tar on my Heels. So until I'm totally satisfied (and we're getting farther away from this than closer with recent Red-Gate announcements) I'm going to continue to pound away on this issue. If you feel strongly about independent media as I do - help spread the word.
I am just a SQL Server developer. I have no power to choose products for my company so even I go to SQL Server Central everyday, I totally ignore the advertisements (sorry, Apexsql, Red Gate...). I think the majority of the community is in the same boat. I use this website to post questions and I read the article for improving my SQL server knowledge. I sometimes answer the question of the day. Lately I started writing articles.
Some of the articles or discussion people complained about microsoft products or some other products. One of the thread in this forum sometime ago was 'Tools you need', people posted different tools they used.
Steve, I wonder once RedGate in control, could you still write some thread liked that when people praised other tools they used liked DBGhost, SQLDelta. Also what if someone writes an article and complains about Red Gate products, will you post it? I remembered in one of my article or one of my my post, I said Ab Initio was just an expensive toy.
Do we still have the freedome to express our opinion?
Can we post any questions or answer any post without anyone censor it? One time my former DBA David Benoit posted a DBA job and I wrote a post to say how bad the department and the company was. He called you to delete my post but you refused. I was happy about that because in some other website, my post would be deleted. Would this still be the same in the future?
My 2 cents.
I used to think the same thing, but learned that this isn't always the case. Sometimes, if we look at a tool and we like it, we can tell our management about it. If you press the case hard enough and show where the tool can be (or is) useful, you'd be surprised at how much of an impact you can make, especially if you introduce a tool to others and they start using it.
And that's partially the point of folks who are advertising on SQL Server Central. If you see the name of the tool, it'll stick with you, even if it is subconcious. But if you don't see the name at all, then they have little chance to make an impact, because companies don't tend to do elaborate source selections for a programming tool.
Case in point... one of the developers saw the PromptSQL review I did (this was before it was bought by Red Gate and renamed SQLPrompt). He shared it with the other developers where he worked and they ended up all grabbing some copies of it. He was a new employee at the company where he worked (I don't work with him) but it didn't take his management very long to agree with him. We saw the same thing where I work with DBGhost. A DBA, who has moved on to a new city and bigger and better things, introduced DBGhost in and it's a tool our DBAs now use. He first saw it as an ad on SSC.