In this month’s edition of T-SQL Tuesday, Rob Volk (Blog | Twitter) has asked us to recall a time in our lives when we needed help with SQL Server and where we went to get it. I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Volk that the help space within SQL Server has changed monumentally over the last few years and that help outlets are in fact everywhere. With this plethora of help options, it can be challenging for junior DBAs to find good sources of solid, factual support material. Luckily, once found, you can generally pick up on good support rather quickly.
In my tenure of using SQL Server, not a day goes by where I do not reference Twitter, Stack Exchange, MSDN, or even Reddit at least once for help. Over the years, my search for help has often lead me to finding sources of inspiration which usually entails something cool to do within SQL Server (i.e. sending text messages). Towards the beginning of my journey down SQL help lane, I generally would frequent MSDN Forums. MSDN has been around for many years and their forums offer excellent resources and links to MSFT Books Online (BOL). Plus, all MSDN forums are moderated by industry leaders, MVPs, and Microsoft personnel so you know they are legit. I owe a lot to the good folks in the MSDN forums for helping me out on numerous occasions.
As I began to get worldlier in the RDBMS space, I eventually broadened my horizons into the blogosphere. This foray into using blogs for help offered many advantages over the MSDN forums. Firstly, the MSDN forums are quite narrow; focusing only on SQL Server (needless to say why). Secondly, technology blogs are chock full of real-world problems and solutions deployed on many environments across multiple industries. Lastly, many bloggers (including myself) offer helpful script downloads that supplement their blogs and “how-to” articles. Personally, I was so moved by the amount of fresh knowledge, solutions, and “can-do” attitudes that I felt compelled to launch a blog of my own that attempted to add the same level of value as those that helped me. Although each blogger has their own set of strengths, the collective approach to community support keeps me coming back for more!
Over the last year or so, much of my need for help has been quite finite and unique, so much that I mainly stick to 2 channels of help and support: Twitter and Stack Exchange. Although much of the new knowledge I gain still comes from blogs and news articles, I often find myself using Twitter (#SQLHelp) and Stack Exchange (dba.stackexchange.com) for rapid solutions and quick wins. The SQL hash tags in the Twitter-verse are usually monitored by several Microsoft MVPs and SMEs so the guidance offered is pretty much consistent and accurate. Also, by sending tweets direct to SQL Server (or one of its offspring), you can sometimes get answers direct from the source. For lengthier discussions, Stack Exchange is my platform of choice. Just like Twitter, many SQL Server geniuses hang out there and are available around the clock.
While I continue to frequent the aforementioned knowledge spaces, I am now finding myself offering more help to others. Though I continue to receive more help than give, I find myself spending more time helping others every day. With the launch of this blog earlier this year to my continued contributions on Twitter, this shift will continue as I find new avenues for expanding database knowledge and learning. It’s tough work, needless to say, but fun work nonetheless.
BIG THANKS to all SQL Server gurus, past and present, for helping this DBA advance!