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Jamie Thomson

This is the blog of Jamie Thomson, a freelance data mangler in London

Bootstrapping SQL Server bloggers and blog readers with Twitter!

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

#sqlserver

&

#blogged

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

  • #sqlserver
  • #blogged
  • 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]

image
https://twitter.com/jamiet/status/308351607924486144

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.

@Jamiet

Published Monday, March 04, 2013 12:20 AM by jamiet
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Comments

 

Adam Machanic said:

Jamie, why waste two characters on the "ed"? Won't #blog be sufficient?

March 3, 2013 10:30 PM
 

Sam Vanga said:

Great idea, Jamie! But instead of two hashtags #sqlserver and #blogged, how about using just one, #sqlblogs for example or coin a new hasgtag?

And bloggers can still use #sqlserver and/or other hashtags to define the subject.

@SamuelVanga

March 4, 2013 9:47 AM
 

@spaghettidba said:

Great idea! I find #sqlblog to be a great synthesis. Usually I add #sqlserver too, because lots of people have this set up as a saved search and/or tweetdeck column.

March 5, 2013 11:29 AM
 

Mike Fal said:

Jamie-

Good stuff.  I absolutely agree with the premise of using Twitter to promote blogs and writing.  However, I find the #sqlserver hash tag gets a lot of spam.  As with @spaghettidba, I use #sqlblog as well as #sqlpass.  This helps focus my audience and I've gotten a lot of response because of it.

March 5, 2013 12:32 PM
 

Dan English said:

Sounds like a good idea and I would okay with just #sqlblog as well, either way works.  With a lot of my posts I don't like to spam the #sqlserver list though, so I try to be sensitive and target the specific topic area.  

The feed includes the RT as well though, so if you include a -rt you can filter those out to get a nice clean list if you don't want those. http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=%23sqlserver%20%23blogged%20%23en%20-rt

March 6, 2013 6:00 AM
 

Valentino Vranken said:

Hey Jamie, as the pingback indicates, I'm spreading the word!  I do have to say though that I like the #blogged and #sqlserver concatenation into #sqlblog, so I'll be using that one! Of course, if sufficient characters remain I'll also add #sqlserver.

Regards,

Valentino.

March 8, 2013 12:00 PM
 

@MarlonRibunal said:

I agree with the others about using #sqlblog. Let's all agree to one hash tag and if we want to use singular or plural.

April 2, 2013 3:11 PM
 

Allan Hirt said:

Many of us have been using #sqlblog (no plural) for years. I will also use #sqlserver, or if specifically relevant, #sqlserver2012 or #sql2012 (forget the "official one"), #sqlpass, etc. Depends what my post is about.

So welcome to the party.

April 2, 2013 3:55 PM
 

jamiet said:

"welcome to the party".

I find that comment rather derogatory, especially given that I have advocated the use of tags for years - its not like I've written this blog post after some personal epiphany as to the value of hashtags.

The main point here is that (a) people can coalesce around a hashtag, or collection of hashtags, that can then be distributed via RSS feeds and (b) it levels the playing field as anyone can contribute if they so wish. I didn't expect this to descend into a dull and utterly pointless conversation about why one hashtag is better than another.

April 4, 2013 8:37 AM
 

@datachick said:

I'll probably opt out of the language tag.  With so many translation aids (albeit not perfect) I don't see a need to subscribe to certain languages, nor am I distracted or offended by seeing blogs that are in languages I can't read directly.

So for me, I'll try to tweet with #sqlblog when my posts are applicable to SQL Server.

June 11, 2013 1:56 PM
 

mbourgon said:

Just came across this.  Count me in for the tag #sqlblog.  Now to finish that post on pulling Datasource info from SSISDB...

June 12, 2013 11:21 AM

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