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I think we need a contribution:bitch system...

If we only used these more than 
the holes a few inches lower... I hear people that frequent the IBM Lotus commuity complain all of the time, and while I'm pro-communciation and collaboration, I find it quite counter-productive on a whole. Perhaps a weighted bitching system is in order!

To clarify, I'm all for people sharing their frustrations, their concerns over the today and the future of a given platform... but at the end of the day, does complaining-sans-doing anything about it actually help your fellow geek? What does it do for the IT professionals that work with the given platform? What the hell do you get out of it?!

Knowing -- sadly -- the answers to these questions, I propose the following:

We need a system in place that can track our contributions to the well-being a given platform. Once you've successfully contributed to becoming part of the solution, only then can you moan, gripe, wine and otherwise complain.

A few examples of things that we could consider contributions off the top of my head:

  • Participate in the IBM developerWorks Forums. Pick a product, and jump in. There is always a need for someone that has an opinion on what is the best way to get something done with the given platform... this is an excellent place to both share your knowledge and prove yourself a subject matter expert.

  • While you're there, write an article in a platform/product wiki. Hell, answer a question by first writing an article in the wiki and then linking to it in response to the question in the forums.

  • Be active in By this, I'm not saying that you have to chef any projects... but simply by downloading them, playing around, and providing feedback to the chef -- and trust me, as a chef of multiple projects on OpenNTF, it's absolutely invaluable -- improves both the given project and the overall efforts.

  • Participate in things you're invited to...

    As an example, the IBM Lotus Technical Information and Education team work hard to host monthly conference calls to discuss the well-being of the wikis, what's new in the community, showcase at least two testimonials per meeting, and have been not only an excellent resource for getting the inside track of new features and functionality for the platform and solutions built for the platform (think the IBM wiki template, for example), but it's also an excellent place to network with IBMers, IBM business partners, and customers.

    Last month, I think we had 90-something attendees.

  • And if all else fails... at least try to fix the thing that's broken. Speak openly and honestly through whatever medium you choose, but I'd suggest doing so in a way that welcomes support and community instead of the tactic that I often see: yeah, you suck -- who's with me?!

    (Queue the uproar of Burn the witch followed by murmurs of what're we doing here again?!)

Where a kid can 
be a kid... Any contribution of the like will give you 1 credit.

Hell, if you run a LUG, I'll give you 10... but it's against their nature to participate in such behavior...

Once you have your credit, you're entitled to complain. Pretty simple, huh?

Complain that IBM Marketing isn't making it easier for you to explain to your family whatever the hell it is that you do for a living.

Complain that the product developers are busy creating an enterprise-accommodating product that's damned-near completely backwards-compatible with major releases for over a decade... but that you don't have this one niche solution available to you via RAD techniques without having to -- egads -- learn something today that (if you stick with the platform) you'll use for years to come.

Complain that there are no killer apps that make the product a must-have for every organization, and never once contribute to initiatives like OpenNTF or support micro-ISVs that are pushing consumer-priced apps.

Call anyone who questions someone's motives and tactics an Attack Kitten (I prefer the term Thundercat... but whatever).

... because even if you are spewing FUD, spinning here-say, and totally missing the point of being a community - your actual contributions will outlast the 15 minutes of limelight that ASW post might bring you. Your act of helping a fellow IT professional and sharing your considerable expertise will go further than a snarky tweet.

I'm thinking a 1:1 ratio will serve everyone quite nicely... just make sure you hold up your end of the deal!

About the author: Chris Toohey

Thought Leadership, Web & Mobile Application Development, Solutions Integration, Technical Writing & Mentoring

A published developer and webmaster of, Chris Toohey specializes in platform application development, solutions integration, and evangelism of platform capabilities and best practices.

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