As the 2007 Community Advocate of the Year, I’m taking the “MySQL 5 Wishes” meme and changing it a bit. I hope y’all don’t mind:
1) Everyone has a different level of familiarity. The community does well with this when writing articles, for instance cross-referencing older articles, linking to documentation, the MySQL Forge, etc. Not much background information other than “MySQL usage” is assumed.
However, where we fall down is when we aggregate some writings and call it documentation. The worst form of this is a tool that grows organically, from “look, here’s a script!” to a full-blown tool/patch/add-on. Sourceforge stinks for trying to make documentation, so most folks just link to their posts tagged “mytool” or whatever the name is.
Using some marketing skills would be wonderful — make a page for folks who have never seen one post about it. Voila, you get your code going from something that people only learn when someone else tells them, to something folks wind up getting as a result of a search.
2) Along those lines, MySQL provides us with some great tools that we rarely use. When was the last time you linked your presentation to the MySQL Forge Wiki at http://forge.mysql.com/wiki/Main_Page? It took me a long time to make Technocation’s MySQL 2007 Conference Video page at http://technocation.org/content/2007-mysql-user-conference-and-expo-presentations-and-videos — Even after all the video was edited, I had to make the page.
How much easier would it have been if the descriptions, slides, handouts, video and audio were all available in one place? Obviously we can’t hack on the O’Reilly site, but there’s nothing to say that we can’t make a wiki site with everything about a presentation in one place — including links to everyone’s notes! Make it so that 5 years from now a person learning MySQL can find what they need, when they don’t have the same time/date context that we do.
3) Use (and appreciate) what we have. We have great software, sure. But we also have a company full of folks willing to talk to us. We can complain about the fact that even simple patches from non-employees take several months or a year or so to get into the code, because of existing coding conventions, etc. We can be annoyed that we have to download 7 addons for our software, but instead of saying MySQL should offer them for download in the same package (which of course they should, all the code should integrate nicely, and we should be able to turn on features we want and turn off or not use those we don’t)…….
….we can help that by making a centralized repository of MySQL addons. Run by the community, for the community. On the forge. At the very least we can make an index page of the neat tools we’ve created or found for MySQL and categorize them. Think of how plugins for software such as Firefox have repositories.
4) Volunteer unexpectedly. Got a presentation that didn’t make the cut for the 2007 MySQL Users Conference? Offer to present it at a local user group. Don’t have a local user group? Record the presentation as a lecture and post it online. Alternatively, make a local user group. Do what you’re mostly comfortable with — don’t always stay in your comfort zone, push it a little. Maybe it means volunteering to help the MySQL documentation get a bit better. Contact someone you know in MySQL (or just put the word out in a blog post) that you’d like to help _________ get better, and you’re sure to find a few takers.
5) Contribute! OK, many already do this at http://www.planetmysql.org. But consider contributing to: