Just over forty years ago Joseph Owades, working for Rheingold Breweries, invented what we now refer to as “lite” beer; beer that “tastes great, less filling“. His invention eventually became known as Miller Lite, which proved popular enough that other breweries followed suit and started producing their own brands. Today it seems as if every brewery has a lite beer product.
In fact, I am willing to wager that if you asked someone under the age of 25 which lite beer was first to market they would not have any idea about the answer. They also would have no idea about the Rheingold Girls, either. Has that hurt Miller Lite over time? Does Miller Lite still have the market share they once had? No, they don’t, but they are also not going out of business anytime soon. People are still buying their product, and new breweries continue to produce similar products. But the market is now saturated.
Earlier this year I was introduce to StackOverflow. Now, I typically despise forums and newsgroups, but SO was different enough for me to take a shine to it. I hung around for a while, looking to help others when I could, and it became a routine to check in with SO daily.
When ServerFault was launched I was mildly excited to be in on the ground floor of something new. ServerFault was being geared specifically for server administrators, including database administration. It was a natural place for me to gravitate, and I did…for a time. But what I found was that I was no longer going to SO, I was instead using SF exclusively. The reason for this is simple: because my time is limited. I do not have enough time for both, so I focused on the one felt had more value for me. And when my time became even more limited, I stopped using SF as well.
The guys that run SO have decided to whore out their technology to anyone else that wants to have a similar looking forum. Recently two new forums have been started. The first one I recall being announced was http://ask.sqlteam.com, and I registered as a user immediately. My thought process was “hey, this is even better than SF, because it is specific to SQL, and now I will be more inclined to spend time answering questions.” I guess I was thinking I would have some extra free time magically appear in order to allow for me to participate so I could help people with questions such as “why can I insert into a column that is defined as not null?”
It was not long after that forum was started that I was informed about a new forum format being offered over at SQL Server Central (http://ask.sqlservercentral.com). I registered there as well, still delusional that even more free time was coming my way so that I could now participate in both of these forums that are dedicated to SQL. And then it hit me.
I can’t do both. So, I need to choose. Which one will I use?
And I have no idea. I still don’t. In the meantime, I have not used any of the forums, because I have no idea where I should go. They all seem the same to me now. Where should I go to participate in discussions? Where should I go to learn new things? If I need an answer, where will I place a post myself?
This time, the answer was obvious. I’ll just go to my Wonder Twin Junior DBA’s; Google and Bing. And they can then direct me to the answers I seek. As for my participation answering questions in the forums? It will be sporadic at best. I simply do not have the time to participate in all of them, and cannot decide which ones I should even peruse. Which means I will not be active in any of them.
All these forums look alike. Now, does that cheapen the original forms, SO and even SF? If everyone with any niche starts creating similar forums, will people ever gravitate towards the originals? I guess so, after all people still purchase Miller Lite, right? Just as I cannot decide which forum to spend time in, I could not tell you which lite beer is the one to buy. Years ago, the choices may have been clear for some. Not anymore.
Such proliferation of SQL forums does not allow for me to make efficient use of my time. I need to make fewer stops during my day, not more. Perhaps what is needed is a forum that aggregates all the others, let’s call it Uber-SQL…wait, that’s what I use Google and Bing for already.
Forget I said anything.
(BONUS: The title of this blog post is from what movie?)