I seldom take the time to respond to a blog post directly but in this case though I feel that I must.
Before I get to the actual commentary a little background on what's going on in the Danish Microsoft developer community: Microsoft Denmark is very eager to reboot their community effort. In that vain they're trying to engage the people who are active in the community. Central to this initiative is Daniel Mellgaard Frost, the new developer evangelist with Microsoft. Since he came on board two months ago he's been very visible and has shown lots of energy and enthusiasm for which I have nothing but praise to sing. All is well and good up to this point.
As part of this effort a number of people was named Microsoft Designated Information Providers of which I am one. This Wednesday all the MDIPs where pulled together for the first time in a community event set up by Daniel Mellgaard Frost.
I honestly didn't know what to expect and so I was rather shocked when Daniel stood up first thing and started rattling of all sorts of demands for content delivered by the MDIPs. Now don't get me wrong I'm happy to help out but I do so on my own time and because I enjoy the work I do with ANUG a great deal. Not because I seek to please Microsoft thank you very much. I'm sure that Daniel meant it well when he stood up and tried to take control of the meeting but he came off very matter of fact and became defensive when challenged on his point.
Bad start aside we did get a good discussion going and it seems that Microsoft is very keen to help us out. Now my only problem is that when we get right down to it all we got from the meeting was a whole bunch of fluff. I understand that we're in the early phase of this thing but honestly if the MS evangelists are so eager to make stuff happen in the community it would have been so much better come to the meeting with concrete initiatives instead of a lot of "we'd like to do this...", "we could do that...", "We don't want to step on anybody's toes...". In short I'm missing purpose and direction on this one. I simply didn't take away any sense of an overall strategy for the initiative which is a crying shame given all the energy put into it.
Case in point we wanted to create a place where the MDIPs could communicate about ideas which everybody felt would be a good thing. Now the MS guys seemed at a loss as how to make this happen. While the we were discussing various avenues of making this happen Morten Jokumsen simply whipped out his iPhone and created a new group on DotNetForum. See here's an example of "Do! Community!". Don't talk about it. Do it!
Another example is the community event scheduled for the next day open to anybody and everybody. A meeting set up by Daniel although he apparently didn't deem it necessary to come prepared or even well rested. He spent five minutes there before leaving the scene to the attendees. What happened after he left? Odense .NET User Group was formed by the attendees, web sites went up, and a core group of people committed themselves to getting the group off the ground. That's "Do! Community!". Don't set up a meeting like that, sit back, and wait to see if something might happen. Set something up and make it happen!
There is a lot, a lot! of good intentions within Microsoft to do good in the community but I feel that they're paralyzed from taking action. Everything seems to be a committee and they don't want to cause a stir by favoring one initiative other another. That's not doing. That's not even trying.
And finally we come to my point with all this. I'm not trying to bash Microsoft, the evangelists, or Daniel specifically. What I am trying to get across is the fact that before you can start acting up in the community you need to prove yourself. Prove that you want to make a difference. Even more importantly make an actual difference.
I know that Daniel is very active with ActiveDeveloper.dk, both now and prior to his job with MS as evangelist and he is trying to do good, not doubt about it. His latest post though seems to indicate that he feels that he personally is the driving force behind the Danish .NET community. I'm flabbergasted when I see comments like these , "you just have to kick people over the knee to make things happen", "the new Odense .NET User Group that I helped kick-start", and my personal favorite, "it's incredible how much I've accomplished over the last two months".
Now Daniel, I personally don't feel that you've accomplished anything as of yet. Yes, you've put heavens and seas in motion but that's a simple matter. Before putting comments like those online I'd like to see some follow through on the initiatives. Essentially it's all for naught until something is proved viable in the long term and we have yet to see that.
The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent
my employer's view in any way.