On 17th December 2009 Aaron Nelson (you may know him as @sqlvariant) had a great idea – he invented the #SQLHelp hashtag; with a little kickstart from Brent Ozar the idea grew and #SQLHelp became a successful QnA channel in the SQL Server community and is today going from strength to strength.
I’m a great advocate of SQLHelp and not just because it builds bridges between those needing help with the people that are able to provide that help. It is also a great exemplar of the power of Twitter and, more specifically, the power of coalescing open data around a shared interest. As I thought more about this I figured there must be a way that the SQL Server community could further leverage what I think is a nascent opportunity around hashtags and as my mind wandered I thought about Steve Gillmor’s post from 5th May 2009 Rest in Peace, RSS in which he opined that RSS (the syndication technology that bootstrapped the blogging craze in the first decade of this century) should be replaced by Twitter feeds. Here’s a choice quote:
It’s time to get completely off RSS and switch to Twitter. RSS just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Steve isn’t averse to putting the cat among the pigeons with his blog posts and in this case I think he has a salient point. Whilst RSS isn’t a consumer technology (i.e. none of my none-techie friends have a clue what it is), Twitter most definitely is. One downside of RSS (in my opinion) is that most blog authors simply publish their outpourings then hope that it gets some Google juice and catches people’s attention. On the other hand, there are still a lot of people that use RSS readers and those people have a problem too – where do they find good bloggers and good blog material?
So, consider this:
- Lots of people are blogging great stuff but don’t have a way of telling people about it
- Lots of people want to learn from great bloggers but might not know where to go and find that material
Is there an opportunity to use Twitter to build bridges between bloggers and blog readers in a similar manner to how #SQLHelp has done between questioners and answerers? I think there is and that’s when I hit upon an idea – perhaps we as a community could (as https://ifttt.com/ expertly put it) put the internet to work for us.
Here is my suggestion. If you as a blog author tweet a link to a newly published SQL Server related blog post and use the hashtags
and also a hashtag to indicate the language then that tweet (and the all important link) will be available at https://twitter.com/search?q=sqlserver%20blogged. One can then use Twitter’s ability to make search results available as an RSS feed and subscribe to that RSS feed in one’s RSS reader of choice.
Is that a good idea? I think it is, but then again its my idea so I would, wouldn’t I? I hope a few people out there will get on board with this initiative (perhaps even blog and tweet about it) and hopefully if it can became a fraction as successful as SQLHelp.
Call to action for bloggers
If you as a blogger want to get involved with this initiative then its really very simple. Tweet a link to your SQL Server related blog posts along with a title and the following three hashtags
- ISO 639-1 code indicating the language that the blog post is written in
*ISO 639-1 is a standard for 2-digit language codes. You can view the complete list on the International Standards Organisations (ISOs) website at http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/English_list.php although here are a few to get you on your way:
- en – English
- de – German
- fr – French
- es – SPanish
- zh – Chinese
I would also encourage you to use other hashtags to more specifically define the subject matter as this might make for some interesting analysis later.
As an example, here is a tweet that I just tweeted for my blog post Obtaining rowcounts when using Composable DML [T-SQL]
Also, please blog about this yourselves (at the very least that gives you an opportunity to add your first tweet to the SQL Server twitter RSS stream).
Call to action for blog readers
If you are someone who enjoys reading SQL Server related blog posts wants to get involved in this initiative simply subscribe to the appropriate RSS feed in your RSS reader of choice and watch as (hopefully) great content flows into your RSS reader without you having to lift a finger. Here are a few such URLs:
Thanks to Dan English for pointing out in the comments that the search URL can be amended to remove retweets.
That’s all there is to it. Fingers crossed that this initiative catches on because there is a fantastic knowledge sharing opportunity here – let’s put the internet to work for us to make it happen.
I have one more thing to say, a line that I stole from my ex-colleague Howard van Rooijen, one which I am a great believer in and which I believe is very pertinent here:
Work smarter, not harder.