Why are we losing these great community resources?

IT Culture

Why are we losing great community resources? Why is everything going commercial, why does everyone want money for their time?

Dear friends,

There is no such thing as a community.

Oh sure, there are many brilliant people, many sociable people, many caring people and really just outright skilled peers that you can talk shop – and if you’re really a great person (or pretty) people might continue talking to you after the event. Every now and then they might drop you an email, or their blog address, or something of relevance… but,

There is no community.

Don’t get me wrong, once upon a time there was such a thing as a community, in which people wrote long emails, helped one another, blogged, put up podcasts, video blogs, wrote amazing books..

Where did they go?

Well, we’re still out there. We’re still talking, still networking, still helping one other out at all hours of the day and night. What, nobody invited you? Well, here’s the funny thing. When you don’t support those people that provide these items to you free of charge under the hope that you’ll learn something from it and extend the same courtesy to the people that have come after you… when you choose not to invest anything in your local community and only pick and choose to go to events where you might get something without ever putting any of your knowledge on the line… when the leaders of this community organize events and you don’t go to them because you’re too busy… when its in your budget to constantly take but never in the budget to contribute or give back… when it’s a community only when it benefits to you but “it’s just business, Vlad” when you have to support someone else… when you constantly challenge and insult those who actually care to contribute their knowledge in the open… when survey after survey comes up and you ignore it because you’re too busy to help the very people that want to help you and are only asking for some direction…

When all of that happens, the leaders lose interest and they share it behind the closed doors or behind the counter as a service. And they aren’t the ones to blame, you are:

  • If you don’t regularly attend your local UG meetings..
  • If you don’t support the people and organizations that support community events..
  • If you don’t support the webcasts and presentations..
  • If you do nothing to share what you’ve learned with someone else..
  • If you don’t have a blog or a wiki or any way in which you’re willing to make your opinion known..

Well, what do you expect?

For a week now there has been a survey out there asking the global SBS community members to post their opininions. The guy that put it together posted today wondering why there has been such a low response rate, given the size of the community? Someone forwarded me Chris’s blog post about how few people attended Microsoft’s quarterly partner summit. Amy sent me a newsletter the other day saying that only 50 people are paying members of the community she has built – and mind you, she has been to more SBS user groups as a free speaker than I can count.

You take the contributors to this community for granted and then have the decency to ask why Microsoft doesn’t care about you, why you have to pay for information, when the next SBS group meeting is going to be, when the next UG meeting is going to be, when the next SBS Show is coming out, when the documentation for something is going to come out, when the next video will be posted?


When you stop thinking only about yourself and how the community benefits you. The community has benefited me and Own Web Now tremendously, but thats because I invested into it. If you aren’t investing into things, you can’t expect any returns.

As Robbie says: It’s that simple.

24 Responses to Why are we losing these great community resources?

  1. Pingback: Vlad Mazek - Vladville Blog » Blog Archive » SBS Chat

  2. dpeters says:

    I think right now there are way to many other factors that you are not thinking about that are causing people to not be interested.

    Like the economy, our rediculous president, lack of health care, the war in Iraq, summer vacations, inflation, very little spending money, the cost of housing etc etc.

  3. Susan says:

    In all due respect to dpeters.. “Like the economy, our rediculous president, lack of health care, the war in Iraq, summer vacations, inflation, very little spending money, the cost of housing etc etc.” …that is stopping you from filling out a Survey? Stopping you from calling into the quarterly FREE SBS conference call?

    If you can’t even take the time to fill out a survey, that seems a bit weak in my book.

    I can’t change the economy. The election isn’t now. I can’t change health care. I can’t change the war. It’s not summer…….

    I can fill out a free survey.

  4. richwalkup says:

    Yay, dpeters, you win one vote for being a liberal hippie. Good for you, since it’s so hard to take a shot at a key public figure who’s pretty capable of making himself look like an idiot.

    The fact of the matter is that all those negative things mean ZIP to anyone trying to run a real business. All those negative economic factors make me think one thing as a business man and that’s “be MORE involved with the community”. As a quality service provider, if you want to put a distance between yourself and the average monkey out there, you want to be visible, make partnerships, drive business. At the end of the day, your participation in the community of professionals you work with/compete against will either help you when times are rough or kick the life out of you when you’re down. The economy is always against you – when it’s good, there are a million people competing for your job, when it’s bad you better be good at your job or know someone who can help you get the job done.

    The point is – networking is always the key. Remember that it’s not what you know, but who. And not always because of favoritism, but because sometimes it’s nice to have someone else to help get you out of a dirty mess you went and jumped into.

  5. Schrag says:

    You seem to be saying “the reason you can’t get anything good for free anymore is that no one is willing to pay for it.” That sounds like Yogi Berra, doesn’t it? I don’t quite understand your complaint. I know you, and I know you think that you have nothing to learn from the vast majority of people who hold themselves out as small business IT consultants. Surely you’re not upset that those folks aren’t out there posting blogs and wikis … you wouldn’t read them anyway. And I know that you’re willing to pay for stuff that you find valuable. It can’t be that you yourself are upset about losing valuable “free” resources. So what is upsetting you? That not enough people are buying services from you and Amy and other community leaders as a reward for past good deeds? I hope that’s not it, because I hardly think that’s a valid complaint. I don’t think any of them (or you) were giving away free advice in expectation of future sales. And if they (or you) were, well, too bad.

  6. vlad says:

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    I'm doing just fine, thank you.

    What I'm upset about is having to listen to people bitch and moan about not getting things in SMB for free – but are unwilling to contribute anything to the process themselves, share anything they know, provide any of their expertise. The point is that you get what you put into it, and if you don't want to put anything into it you can't sit back and expect people to feed you answers, leads, services and other valuable information for free.

    And as for not paying attention to the small uneducated people – I read your blog!


  7. Schrag says:

    Where are you seeing a trend toward bitching and moaning? And what is it that they want for free?

    I will assume that your use of the word “small” is a reference to the size of my company, not me personally. I don’t mind if you make jokes about my education, but watch what you say about my height. 8^)

  8. Pingback: Care In The Community « Andys Techie Blog

  9. vlad says:

    I get hit up all the time for the things I’m not doing – where is the SBS Show, where are the new articles, when is this going to happen, etc. I see them around Microsoft guys asking for freebies. The local SBS community in Orlando is a group of unsatiable people that ask when the meeting is but never want to present…

    Just give it a few more months with Schrag Inc in the spotlight, you’ll get it too.


  10. Schrag says:

    That’s what happens when you give away crack across the street from the playground. The kids come back wanting more. Reminds me of the song from Jesus Christ Superstar, “See my eyes, I can hardly see ….” (Jesus’s response to the overwhelming horde of lepers and beggars is “Don’t crowd me! Leave me alone!”) The phenomenon you are describing is hardly unique to this industry.

    If you’re tired of giving handouts to your peers in Orlando, just say so, and more importantly, back your words with action. If you cut off the supply of freebies someone else will eventually step in to fill the void. You should just hope that the next Vlad/Chris/Amy/Karl/etc. is not in the hosting and filtering business. 8^)

  11. vlad says:

    Right, but thats my point – that if you only take and never contribute the folks that are actually sharing what they know will wise up and either ask you to pony up the cash or simply walk away.

    And when we do walk away, you don’t get to bitch and moan.


  12. dpeters says:

    “I can’t change the economy. The election isn’t now. I can’t change health care. I can’t change the war. It’s not summer…….”

    I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. When it’s your business you can but when it’s your country you can’t. That’s the problem with the country. Right now we have big problems in this country that are bigger than any of your individual businesses. People need to start looking at the big picture or else there isn’t going to be any small pictures to worry about. I think the smarter people realize that. The rest of you will find out later.

  13. kbeares says:

    Thanks Vlad. I appreciate the kind words of support. I really hope that I can at least give something back from all of the valuable feedback that has come in so far. Still surprised that the numbers are as low as they are, but once you get to a certain number of responses the statistical relevance does not change much. What becomes more important and is always more important to me are the comments. Nothing speaks louder than a host of comments that echo concerns, suggestions, tips, etc.. The voice of the community is important to the product team. My job is to keep the volume up. 😉 The leadership team in SBS completely dig the feedback and I know that they will again this year. We are listening. Thanks for sharing everyone.


  14. Susan says:


    So what are you doing to change the economy, change the election, change health care, change the war, …oh yeah today’s the first day of summer.

    Ensuring that our businesses are solid is a way that we can make change.

    That impacts the economy.

    I vote and have done so since I was 18.

    That impacts the election.

    Change health care.

    I’m starting to exercise.

    So did you fill out the survey?

    I am giving back in those areas as well as filling out a survey. Did you?

  15. dpeters says:

    Wrong. Vlad is right when he says “There is no such thing as a community” only he’s thinking too small. There is no comminity in this country right now and that is the thing we need most right now to fix all the problems. The government certainly won’t do it for us no matter how long people stick their heads in the sand. And capitalism is only a distraction right now. Everyone is so busy worrying about there own little slice of capitalism that they don’t see anything else. We need to use the same tactics that are used to build community in our little computer world to build community in the USA and get done what needs to get done. Then we can go back to worrying about our own individual little problems.

  16. jclyonjclsb says:

    I feel kind of guilty (guilt by association). I promise to do better, because I want the community to not only survive but thrive. I have filled out the survey, and have asked Kevin to add me to his e-mail list so I will know about these things in the future. I always respond to industry surveys when I know about them. I have not blogged and probably won’t for a little while as I am just the grasshopper in the SBS community. However when I get some experience under my belt I will step up and blog, until then I will pay more attention to the community and respond when I know what I am talking about.
    Thanks for the wake up call.

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