This post will invariably annoy a few people but it has to be said, so apologies for anyone that has a gripe with it. If you want to take it up with me, feel free to contact me.

Firstly, i want to thank Edin Kapic and Marc Anderson for finally speaking up about the community and what the going’s on are around the world. It’s refreshing to see that it’s a global thing and not just limited to specific countries. It means that we are all human, all the same, irrespective of race, creed, language and class.

I was brought into the concept of community back in 2007 by my bestie, Zlatan Dzinic. Now, the Microsoft Community is unlike any other community in the world. You must want it badly. I’m going to quote from the movie – The American President with Michael Douglas as the president “America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight.” In the early days of the SharePoint community in South Africa, this is exactly what is was like.

A handful of people controlled the overall direction of the community. And like the movie, the politics was there in full eloquence and anger. Exactly like Edin says in his latest post – The “Inner Circle” syndrome and MVP Program

The “syndrome” is the feeling or an opinion, backed by some evidence, that in technical communities there is a small core of people who share a disproportionally large amount of the “spotlight”, this being sessions in technical events, articles, publications. I have received many, many comments of technically proficient people that don’t bother to propose a talk because “it’s always going to be the same people chosen for the sessions“.

I had the fortunate opportunity to watch Zlatan be awarded his first MVP back in 2008. At the time, i had no idea what it meant or even what it was. The reason for me mentioning this is that back in the day, there was no Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, etc to get your name out in the world so it was much harder to get consumption of your site and blog, to get known in the industry and to get your message out there. The elation in Zlatan when he got the mail was surreal.

I’m going to talk a bit more about what my thoughts are on the MVP program in a later post, well I might, no guarantees. I want however to get back to Edin’s community stuff. I got involved in the South African SharePoint community (The Information Worker Community) in 2010 as a lead in Cape Town. Now South Africa is split into provinces and we occupy space in 3 of the 9, based purely on population density. I was super stoked to be a team lead.

What I experienced then was exactly what Edin has eluded to. It was all very clicky, a handful of people controlling what was going on and everyone on the outside struggled to even understand what was actually happening.

Fast forward to 2016. After moving to Johannesburg in 2013, I was not going to expect that because I was a lead in Cape Town that I would automatically become a lead in Johannesburg. At the same time, the IW program that was in place was imploding. Why, because the fundamental rule in what a community is by definition “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.” died.

This post has been sitting as a draft since I read Edin and Marc’s posts as it was more of a “this is how you feel AL”, not something you want to tell everyone about, but earlier on today I had a conversation with a friend of mine and once again, the politics conversation came up. Not going to get into the details but it perturbed me to no end once again.

I am really, really tired of people having opinions about what happens in the community. The reason why we relaunched the Information Worker community in March this year is and was to dispel the issues that always plague communities, especially in the Microsoft space.

So let me clarify a few things (and this applies to both The Information worker community AND SharePoint Saturday in South Africa):

  • The IW community has a board of directors that actually do not get involved that much in the running of the community. I personally handle what happens with the leads and we operate as a team
  • The IW community is open to anyone.
  • We want people to contribute, get involved, share their knowledge, attend community nights, submit topics, etc
  • The community is not the directors or the leads, its the people that attend and keep it alive.
  • The community “organisers” are there to ensure that the community is managed and run correctly
  • SharePoint Saturday, like the IW community is exactly the same – Sessions get vetted based on topic first, then speaker credentials.
  • There is no favouritism in the community or SharePoint Saturday
  • If you want to get involved in whatever capacity, then ping me and lets get talking
  • There is no “I” or “My Company” in the community. I am vigilant about this. I will personally remove you, should you approach the community with selling yourself or anything else.

Its easy for people to sit on the outside and make assumptions about what happens. I challenge you to get involved, if you want something changed or disagree with someone, my door (email) is always open and we want to hear from you.

In closing, I want to share with everyone, the mailer that I sent to all the newly appointed IW leads so that you get to understand how serious I am and how serious we are as not only the Information Worker Community in South Africa but as SharePoint Saturday organisers as well. Update: I wrote a similar post last year. Seems like its a seasonal thing.

Good afternoon IW Leads!

Yes, you read right, after over 30 submissions, you have been selected to represent the Information Worker Community in your respective areas across the country. 

We are super excited to have you on board. The site will be updated 13 minutes after you have received this mail with a mugshot of yourselves that has been taken from the Facebook.

Your responsibilities will be as follows:

  • Pay a monthly subscription of 100 000 000 000 000 Zim Dollars to the IWLead Fund
  • Sit in on the monthly IW Forum Skype sessions
  • Recruit speakers for our monthly community nights across the country (you are not limited to your region so please, if you know of someone that would like to present, pass that person on to your other Leads)
  • Ensure that you are at the monthly Community nights, for the entire duration of the event. Yes, you have to mingle after the session with the delegates
  • Provide insght into the direction of the community, as we do value your opinion
  • Propose new initiatives
  • Welcome the community each month, we will circulate the template to be used (For now, i will handle the mailer, subscriptions, calendar, etc)
  • Contribute, Contribute, Contribute
The rules of the community are as follows:
  • THIS IS NOT A PLATFORM FOR YOU TO BECOME FAMOUS. WE WILL NOT TOLERATE SHOWBOATING OR THE PROMOTION OF YOUR OWN GOALS!
  • Let me reiterate the item above. If we find out that you are selling yourself, you will be removed. This is not about companies, personal aspirations, or wanting awards, recognition or consulting fees. 
  • Having said that, if you are approached for advice, feel free to engage. Also, delegates should not expect for you to provide free support and or additional engagements. You will need to decide on how far you are willing to go
  • You are allowed a maximum of 2 sessions, per year, where you can have your own session. You are otherwise a facilitator only
  • Have fun. If you are not enjoying it, please let us know so that we can either change the format or for you to step down gracefully
  • Your IW status is not guaranteed. It will be reviewed bi-annually and re-awarded yearly

Now that we have covered the rules, i would like to say the following:

  • Thank you for giving of your personal time. It does not go unnoticed and the success of the community lies with you. 
  • The community is not 1 or 2 people, its all of us
  • We are super excited to have you as an IW Lead, as we value your knowledge and experience in all things SharePoint and beyond.
  • If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask
  • As i (Alistair) have spoken to most of you, i’ll be calling you in the morning to have a chat.

 

Best Regards, 

IW SA Regional Directors

Be cool my ninja’s.