DIY

My thoughts on the TR community gathering

On the eve of TechRepublic's community gathering, I thought it might be appropriate to share a few thoughts - and ask for yours.

On the eve of TechRepublic's community gathering, I thought it might be appropriate to share a few thoughts - and ask for yours.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It would be an understatement to say I'm disappointed that circumstances prevent me from attending the TechRepublic community gathering in Louisville this week. I've met (on-line) so many fine folks over the years at TR - both in the blogs and in the forums - and meeting them in person would be the proverbial icing on the cake. There are so many people I would like to meet, but that will have to wait for days to come.

I first set my cyber-foot on TechRepublic's ground in late 1999 or early 2000, looking for elusive answers to any number of questions. At times, because technology was growing with incredible speed, I might not have even known the right questions to ask. Lurking soon became participating; and participating quickly made way for becoming very active.

For me, it started in the Q&A forums back in the days of tech points. A lot of us were on a mission, or so it seemed, to accumulate as many tech-points as possible. What those points could be used for depended on the individual. In fact, a standard joke at the time was commenting on the worthless tech-points. But for me, they were like gold. Since I accumulated so many, it meant that I had more points to offer others as a reward for their reply to my own questions. A 50 point question, for example, might generate a couple of quick answers; a 500 point question would generate more replies; and a 5,000 point question would seem to bring people out of the woodwork. And since the constant replies would keep a question at the top of the active list, I liked to award a lot of points for my own questions - but I also had to answer a lot of questions myself so that I accumulated the points in the first place.

It's said that the best way to learn something new is to help another person learn the same thing. As such, I'd not only answer questions on things I knew about, but I'd venture into areas that were new to me. I might not have had the foggiest idea as to the right answer to some questions, but I searched the Internet and my own technical manuals looking for it. Helping other people find the answers to their questions helped me find the answers to my own. That, I believe, was - and still is - the greatest thing about this Tech Community. It's a place where IT professionals help other IT professionals - and it's truly a win-win.

At the time of my very active participation in those Q&A forums years ago, I had no thoughts or indication that I might someday have the opportunity to write a weekly blog piece for the site. I feel extremely fortunate to have that opportunity.

It's been quite an interesting ride to see how TechRepublic has changed - and grown - over the years, and it's a privilege to have been a small part of it. Many thanks to the TechRepublic editors for their help, hard work, and contributions. I think those folks are the absolute best at what they do. And even more thanks to the TR members, without whom, (and I know it sounds cliche') none of this would be possible.

Please share your thoughts on how TechRepublic has changed over the years - and how providing user support has changed as well? It might also be an appropriate time to ask you, the TR members, what kind of issues you'd like to see addressed in this User Support Blog. What do you see as being the biggest user support issues in years to come?

13 comments
abby61
abby61

I wish I could be there as well. I have only been using this forum for six months and have already found it an invaluable tool. I am amazed at how much it has helped me, not just answer my particular question, but to gain overall knowledge. In addition, this site has made me realize I am not the "newbie" I considered myself to be. I have discovered that I actually have the answers that many people are looking for, or that an unknown technology is actually very similar to an older technology, simply updated and renamed. I am glad to find a group of peers, in which to confide, help and learn from. Thank You, Tech Republic

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

There are some people that I'd like to meet in person. I have developed some real-life friendships here. You know who you are. Louisville isn't too far away for us to drive but circumstances beyond my control prevented us from making the trip. Bummer. I'm relishing my retirement status and I've discovered that things I used to find interesting and important don't interest me much anymore. I've generally hung out in the off-topic discussions anyway. As far as IT is concerned I've never been much more than a computer hobbyist with a couple of certifications. Since my interests have changed I find myself coming to TR less and less. The sense of community, for me, has changed too or maybe I have changed. Such is life.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

I think we started off in a similar manner. I spent a few years just lurking, reading. Then I started working on the questions forum for several more years. This helped me to become a better tech in my opinion. And like you, I answered a lot of questions where I knew not what the answer would be (but had a thought on it). My time on TR moved into discussions I think around '05, and I havent moved away since. The Friday Yuk was, at that time, a real 'big deal', nothing like its current state :( Now I look forward to the TROLOV more than the Yuk. I like a lot of people here, and sometimes wonder about those who left. But all in all, the people at TR are what makes me keep coming back.

Datacommguy
Datacommguy

Scummy, you made an excellent point. It's the people that keep me coming back. It's their answers to frustrating questions, agreeing with (or shaking my head at) their opinions on a wide range of controversial subjects, and often wondering what they'll say or do next. TR has indeed changed and grown along with all the rest of us over the years. Like the industry, it's constantly changing and there always seems to be someone in the community who's been where I needed to go - and willing to share their experiences. I too wish I was closer and could come to meet some of 'em in person. But I'll continue to enjoy keeping up with them as I have all along.

DadsPad
DadsPad

The number 1 thing that attracted me to TR was the feeling of community and lively, intelligent disscussions. But what was really the clincher was the Friday Yuk! The gutter and pure crews, the absolutly hilarious jokes and stories I had never seen before. It was an international contibution. Sadly, the Friday Yuk! has been in decline. I hope it picks back up to the lively dissusion is once was.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Seems my wife's 4 year old GM vehicle decided to display its true quality by having the engine self-destruct at 70,000 miles even though it had been well-maintained with no missed maintenance cycles. So I'm going car shopping. And I was, and still am, 100% opposed to the automotive industry bailout payments; more now than before, if possible. It's just throwing good money after bad; and the only people really benefitting by it are the GM executives and board members, not the workers. Last American car I ever bought was a Ford Escort, arguably one of the most versatile and dependable modern cars built. Ford screwed the pooch when they discontinued it due to its being "too reliable". You all notice that Nissan, Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, and all the other foreign car manufacturers don't seem to be having problems? Quality, affordability, forward thinking, and a good, long term business plan.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

Thought they were 5yrs & 100k nowadays. Don't you see the importance of bailouts to keeping all those jobs making replacement cars for those that last less than 5 years or 70k miles? What would they all do it all cars lasted over 10 years and 150k miles?

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

and dropped it to a 5 yr. I got my truck ordered the last weekend of the 10 yr. 100,000 mile warranty. I helped a friend look for a car a couple of years ago, and everything was 5 yr/50,000

AV .
AV .

I would love to meet some of the people I've talked with on TR for 7 years now. I can't be there either, but here are my thoughts on why I love TR. TR is a real community and always has been. I first discovered the TR forums in 2002 because of a post on the outsourcing of IT jobs that really piqued my interest. I had used TR prior to that for technical information only, but I never got involved in the forum underground until 2002. Back then, TR was sort of lawless in a way when it came to the TR watercooler. There were some real knock-down, drag out fights on very controversial issues like politics, evolution and global warming. As time went on, there were also human stories like JD's divorce and Tig's battle with breast cancer. There was real passion in all of those posts and it was an international debate sometimes. I thought it was very exciting and decided to stay. I think TR has matured as a community since, but it hasn't lost its members or any of its sizzle. Its a little more laid back now, but there are so many people that keep coming back for years. I've never met anyone, but I know I have friends here. There are still debates about controversial issues, rants and human stories, and its all good. Same as it ever was. I really love the addition of TR Garden Club and Friday Night Music. Thats just what I need after a day in the trenches. Technically speaking to answer your question, providing user support has increased over the years because of the needs of a mobile and flexible workforce. Today, users want to work everywhere and its up to IT to find a way to accomplish that. It has added a new dimension to user support for sure. AV

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

in my seven or so years. An answer to a linux question I was also asking got me here, a famous post "Why I'm voting for GWB, and then the redoubtable Evolution thread made me stay. Some of the PC stuff since then I've found annoying, the recent invasion of drivel from ZDnet, but I still log on everyday and have a look round, try to contribute and enoy a laugh and a slanging match with my fellow members. Wish I could have gone as well, may be the next one. User support issues, security, security and some more security. How to get it, how to keep it, why you should and what it means...

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I do miss a few of the early posters: Brian Posey chief among them. User support hasn't really changed all that much in the last 10 years. The technology and the tools may have changed, but the people still have the same problems: - They still forget their passwords - They still need help using their primary work applications - They still have trouble printing - Equipment still breaks - Network connections still go down Plus ca change, toujour la meme chose... (my apologies to all French-speakers, but TR just won't support the expanded Unicode character set.)

Joe_R
Joe_R

In regards to the original blog piece: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/helpdesk/?p=770 Please share your thoughts on how TechRepublic has changed over the years - and how providing user support has changed as well? It might also be an appropriate time to ask you, the TR members, what kind of issues you'd like to see addressed in this User Support Blog. What do you see as being the biggest user support issues in years to come?

Editor's Picks