Collective Intelligence in the SQL Community

How does Collective Intelligence manifest itself in the SQL Server community? In case you are wondering, Collective intelligence is intelligence that emerges from the group, and shows itself in the collaboration and competition of many individuals. The way I look at it, this can be easily translated to the SQL Community which is a lively ecosystem, where the collaboration of many clever people accelerates the flow of knowledge and information for the good of everyone. If you’re interested in collective intelligence and new ways of thinking about this intelligence in an egoless environment, then I’d suggest that you take a look at Ledface.

In particular, the Ledface article on ‘Knowledge is not mine, not yours. Only the arrangement is ours’   is interesting, because we can see these concepts manifested in the SQL Server community. For me, Ledface make a very subtle point about helpers seeing an improvement in the overall domain in which they care about. I think that’s true in the SQL Community: I can see the passion where people really care about the next level for SQL Server, and pushing it forward for the benefit of SQL Server, its users, and the people who look after it. It’s about making it better for everyone else, as well as for individuals.

In order for this to work in a social environment, however, there needs to be minimal organisation with little or no rules. For example, if you use the Twitter hashtags incorrectly, then the community may sanction you by voicing this directly in a robust 140 character riposte, or by simply unfollowing you. If you’re really unlucky, you’d be blocked! For this to work, then I think that there is something in swarm intelligence to the SQL community; we organise ourselves, we help ourselves, and we sanction ourselves. The community is decentralised since we work all over the globe, which means that help is available 24 x 7 in a ‘follow the sun’ methodology.

In the SQL Community, we see examples of this helpfulness in many different ways.  For example, a newbie SQL novice contacted me recently to ask for links to T-SQL forums on the Internet, where they could post up some T-SQL questions. Here is a quick list of some useful resources:

SQL Server Central
In case you haven’t explored this site, it also has a dedicated scripts section which is a good place to look for scripts

Microsoft forums – This is a dedicated T-SQL forum, which is always useful

– I use Twitter in order to answer questions sometimes. I like doing this, because it means you are helping someone in ‘real time’ at the point at which they need it. The Twitter hashtag is #SQLHelp and if you need to know the very informal rules around asking these questions, a useful resource by Brent Ozar is here.  Although the help is ‘real time’, Jamie Thomson looked at this issue in his blog and I’d suggest you take a look.

Brent Ozar rightly points out that, as a courtesy, it’s nice to thank the Twitterati who have helped you via the #SQLHelp hashtag. I’d extend that courtesy out to the people on SSC and the Microsoft forums.

In my opinion, the SQL Community is stellar, partly because of our collective intelligence, but the ‘helping hand’ that we extend to one another. Long may it continue. I look forward to your comments.

2 thoughts on “Collective Intelligence in the SQL Community

  1. Great point on the general good of involvement, and how helpfulness leads to problems solved and a showcase of what can be achieved.

    My usual second thought (following the first of How do you fit it all in?!), is Why do you find time for the SQL community.

    Now I can see that you are benefitting everybody involved in SQL – from blogs and articles which help developers, to making the selection of SQL Server an easier choice for decision makers.

    Why wouldn't we promote the technology we utilise & benefit from every day by increasing take-up & confidence in SQL Server.

    My only worry is the inefficiencies of information management. There are so many subtle variations of the same questions and problems faced that even a commerical website such as ExpertsExchange can be a welcome break from trawling search engines, twitter, blogs, msdn, connect etc.

  2. Hello Richard,
    You raise some great points and they are worthy of a blog in themselves!
    If it's ok, I'll do that? I think that your points are worth exploring in more detail.
    Last but not least – thank you for your detailed reading of my blog. The feedback helps me to write better and more clearly the next time.
    Kind Regards,
    Jen

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