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?