Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Thoughts on Oracle forums

A new Oracle Question and Answer site has been created by Eddie Awad. Some commentary has been made about the value of this resource, and whether it will result in duplication or dilution.

There are a number of Oracle forums about, and most have their own strengths and weaknesses. It would be interesting to see how big a list we can come up with so see if you can contribute here.

It also opens up some debate about 'fringe' sites, such as AskTom and Steven Feuerstein's PL/SQL Q&A where the vast majority of questions are answered by one individual (although in Tom's case rumours persist of clones) and static Q&A sites such as the Co-operative FAQ

In that light, I suggest that there are several 'customers' for these forums (fora ?).
Firstly there is the questioner, sometimes wanting discussion about the merits of various approaches, sometimes wanting an urgent response to an emergency situation.
Secondly, there are the respondants. I class them as a customer because their participation suggests they are also looking for something too. Perhaps the feeling of helping others, or returning the assistance offered to them in the past.
Thirdly, there are searchers who, like questioners, are looking for an answer but use the forum's search facilities rather than repeat a previous question.
Finally, there are a group I think of as gatherers, who read a forum not for a specific answer but in the hope of picking up a new nugget of information here and there. Many in this group could be or may become respondants.

I don't believe there is general shortage of questioners and searchers out in the Oracle community. There will always be newbies out there needing a hand, and when faced with new functionality or versions, everyone starts off as a newbie again.

I'm less sure whether there is a shortage of respondants. Thinking of people I've worked with, there's plenty of people capable of making a valuable contribution here. Some may be active in forums I don't know about, or under pseudonyms. Others will be too busy with other things, or simply spend their spare time 'oracle-free'.

In an ideal world, the Oracle resources would all be in one place, more questioners could be satisfied with being searchers, there would be less repetition in forums and more 'nuggets' for the gatherers and AskTom would be open for questions ALL the time.

I like the concept of wikis and oradot, where people can log into a common resource and maintain a single body of knowledge (or at least pointers to that information). So I'm going to try to use them more, and will (eventually) reformat a few of my previous blog entries into oradot contributions. That way, I'm not the only one responsible if they are wrong :).

PS. Yes, I'm toying with my blog template. Normal service will be resumed when I work out what is normal.


Unknown said...

I'd very much like to see an Oracle wiki with some momentum. It's very intimidating to try to generate The Definitive Final Answer to a question, but a wiki lets various people each contribute their nugget. A thread of newsgroup discussion or AskTom comments can provide something like this, in theory, but that's much harder to sift through than a wiki entry. Also, some formats seem to invite people to snipe at each others' contributions - a wiki doesn't.

Anonymous said...

What about OTN Discussion Forums? Half a million threads and counting!