Community Is Easy, and Tough

I wanted to share a bit more about approaches to community contribution. I’ve talked about the mechanics of how I read and write community content. Now I wanted to talk a little about the less concrete parts, the attitudes and approaches to community production. Most of this is about how I view blogging and podcast production. It also applies to in-person activities like meet-ups and user groups. One of the things I see is a series of contradictions, I’m going to frame a few in being easy or tough on yourself.

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Be Easy on Yourself

Things have seasons. Work projects or personal activities can take you away from community activities. This is natural and right, few people feed their families by contributing to the community. Most of the community have a day job to provide for their family. Ill health, small children, and the day job are all reasons why you might need to take a break from contributing to the community. One of the really nice things is to see people welcomed back after an absence. Sometimes it’s a couple of years in a role that does not allow publicity. Other times it is for family or simply workload reasons. Don’t stress about taking a break from the community contribution. It will all still be here when you get back.

Be Tough on Yourself

There is no perfect time to start. You are either too busy or too bored. Just start. Like so many things, if you wait for the perfect time to start you will never begin. You can, and should, start small. One blog post or one published script is a fine start. Often you simply need to get over some inertia and start a roll. Once you start rolling you may find it is easier to keep going than it was to get started. Maybe also push a bit when you start to slow down. Most of my community contribution happens when I travel, or during the day when I’m between engagements. I try to spend my at home evenings with my family, or simply not working. But sometimes I need to head back to the office after dinner and push through to get something done.

Be Easy on Yourself

You need to release your creation to the world. It will not be perfect but that isn’t a reason not to publish. In software development the phrase is “F*** it, ship it.” Remember that nobody else learns from the blog post that you haven’t published. This can become the second piece of inertia. Spending hours thinking about whether you did a good enough job of explaining a point. Whether someone could read it the wrong way. I am a firm believer that if a job is worth doing, then it is worth doing badly. Because if you don’t start doing you cannot start improving. You will get better; your writing will get clearer or you will sound better on the podcast. You will get better at explaining how something works. But if you don’t start then you won’t improve. It’s like Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Be Tough on Yourself

Constantly strive to be better, to learn and to improve. Try to suck a little less each day. This goes way beyond community, we should all strive to be a little better in some way every day. It is related to my previous point of starting and expecting to get better over time. Another angle to this is the humility aspect. No community member is always right, there is always room to learn.

© 2016, Alastair. All rights reserved.

About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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2 Responses to Community Is Easy, and Tough

  1. Raffaello says:

    I started few years ago to approach every side of community world, from forums, to VMUGs, to blogs, and so on. And I’ve to say that every single word of this post is gold. Is FU**ing true.
    Thank you Alastair for your precious contribution, at least to my professional growth (and for Autolab 🙂 )

  2. Alastair says:

    Thanks Rafaello. You will recognize a lot of the content from our conversations at TFD. Now time for more coffee from my Juventus mug.

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