The creation of new technology as well as the deployment of existing technology, in many cases, is not trivial. To this end, we find ourselves many times in the position of seeking deep technical information on how to perform certain, rather complex tasks or solve difficult technical issues. The “traditional” way of getting access to technology-related information is the different user manuals, white papers and related documentation issued by the creator of the original technology. However, most of the times, we are looking for something more. Even though the documentation can be comprehensive, is never enough. What we really seek is the experience and feedback of another person that achieved the same or at least similar task before us. That’s where the role of technical communities comes in. But before discussing the role of technical communities we should first try to define them.
So what a technical community really is? Is it a mailing list on which you can post questions on various technical issues you might be dealing with and wait for answers? Is it a platform on which you collaborate by answering various technical questions? Is it a forum, a blog maybe?
Well, a Technical Community is all the above plus much more. First of all, it is not just the platform that makes a technical community. The platforms and related tools make it easier to exchange knowledge and they have a significant role within a community. Though, what really makes a technical community is the people. It is the people who share a passion for technology and have the willingness to exchange knowledge without requesting anything in return. It is the people who spend hours and days and nights from their free time for helping others just because it feels really good doing so. It is the people who constantly get more educated on their area of expertise and present in events, trying to help other people who are interested on those topics for learning even more, answering their questions, discuss with them and guide them.
The role of the community is to serve as an “environment” that helps its members to develop their skills through knowledge exchange via presentations, hands-on labs, forums, online and offline discussions and many other activities. It helps its members to catch up with the latest technologies of common interest, easier and more efficiently. It is a “place” where each individual puts effort and time for helping others because he believes in people. A community is all about people and their need to belong to a broader group of people within which they can share knowledge, exchange ideas, and share the passion and excitement on technology.
Now imagine a world without technical communities. Imagine when searching the Web for a solution to a specific problem and end up only with sets of technical documentation and nothing from fellow people who might have experienced the same problem and found a solution “that just worked”. Would this be enough? For a limited number of cases yes, but for the majority no, at least not that easy. This is the role of technical communities, to complete the global quest for knowledge by enabling its members to share knowledge just the way each one of them perceives it. This exchange of knowledge creates interesting discussions via which all the participants end up understanding the solutions to different technical problems and challenges.