Nerd Guru

Because technical people need good soft skills to get ahead.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Running Diary: The online community article, Part 3

Originally, this was going to be a 2 part series on my experience writing an article for the Java developer community website The Server Side (TSS). But, enough happened in the week after the article went live that I thought it warranted a third entry. In Part 1, I went into how I got hooked up to write the article in the first place and some of the struggles I had in the first draft. Part 2 discussed the review process and how easy it is to get defensive when you get feedback on something, especially when you spent a lot of time on its initial creation.

Here, I'll cover the aftermath. There was a lot of interaction after the article went live, some expected, some unexpected. A random list of what happened:

  • You never know who's reading. It turns out, a whole lot more friends and coworkers read TSS than I thought. I got several nice comments from people I never told I was writing the article, who stumbled upon it because they are regular TSS readers.

  • Breaking up fights. It's almost a rule that if you have enough people on a discussion group that eventually a fight will break out. Somebody will disagree with someone over something which leads to insults, finger pointing, and people trying to outsmart each other for smarts sake. It didn't get too bad in the thread for my article, but there was a heated disagreement which I made my best effort to extinguish.

  • Pre-answering questions through blogging. I intended all along to blog about the experience of writing this article, but it didn't occur to me to post a link to the entry on it in the discussion thread until the thread went live. It turns out, by doing so I answered a question somebody had about why I didn't get into as much detail as you might expect. Check out the comments on Part 1 and you'll see what I mean.

  • Building somebody else's performance evaluation. Rather unexpectedly, I got a cold email from an architect working for a major insurance company with a request to get together and discuss the details of the Authentication and Authorization services mentioned in the article. While I can speak to those topics pretty well, my friend Jeff is our Identity Management Architect and I passed the request onto him, giving him an opportunity to work with an external customer he wouldn't have otherwise had. By paying it forward, he's got an outside consultation to put on his performance evaluation now.

  • Making better inside contacts. There's a saying around the hallways of HP, and I'm sure around other big companies too: "If HP only knew what HP knew". While the new processes mentioned in the article have improved the distribution of information nicely, we still struggle with that sometimes due to our size. The article led to another Chief Architect in a part of IT I almost never deal with reaching out to me and offering to share ideas more openly. It's a contact I would have made eventually (my team uses his hosting services for several applications), but his catching my article expedited it by quite a bit.

  • Improved personal branding. Before the article got posted, if you did a Google search on "Pete Johnson" this site would come up on the 2nd or 3rd page. With a pointer from TSS, it's now the 7th result on the first page after entries for the jazz musician, former pro football player, and current children's author by the same relatively common name.

  • Possibly getting another article. Friday, I got approached by a similar Java community site to write an article for them, giving me a shot at perpetuating this whole thing all over again.

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posted by Pete Johnson @ 8:36 AM   0 comments links to this post

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