Since the SPTechReport was launched in 2009, we have seen much made of the idea of a SharePoint “community.” People want to know how they can better serve the community, how they can better engage with the community, or how to become a part of the larger community.
In fact, there was this interesting tweet from a Brian Woytovich the other day:
[May] I suggest, we appoint leadership to the #SharePoint #Community, & have a more organized effort helping one another through elected roles.
While truly an admirable goal, one thing I’ve learned in my years in newspapers, covering “communities,” is that there is never, EVER one community. The fact is, too many people have their own view of the “community” and their own interests, and often those don’t mesh with someone else’s ideas.
We cover what has become known as “the open-source community.” These are folks who advocate the free (as in beer) exchange of code with limited restrictions, where anyone can contribute to a project with the reward of knowing they’ve done something for a greater good.
Yet, looking closely, the so-called open-source community is really a collection of smaller, fractured communities. There’s the Eclipse community for folks working in Java; the Linux community for people working on that operating system kernel; the Hadoop project for handling huge volumes of data; and the list goes on and on.
It’s no different in SharePoint. While the software is the common banner under which we all work, some folks come at it from a developer standpoint, while others are administrators and still others are business users. Some people are designers, working on external websites; others are data managers, looking to keep information organized. In fact, on Facebook, there are discrete pages for SharePoint developers, architects and administrators, as well as Microsoft’s general SharePoint information page. They clearly see themselves are part of smaller communities under the SharePoint flag.
And that’s OK. The one true leader of the SharePoint community is Microsoft. The company gets to decide on new features, new directions and release dates. We can band together around the parts of SharePoint that are relevant to us, and that’s fine. But to suggest one group of leaders, one website or one type of training can serve “the SharePoint community” is not the case. There’s a place for everyone within that community, and all of those voices can and should be heard.
One place where a large community has formed around a resource is at endusersharepoint.com, where Mark Miller has brought together experts who can write and offer up how-tos to SharePoint end users. The series of articles he presents have become so popular that he has created an eBook store, where he’s compiling the articles into easy-to-navigate and read eBooks.