Microsoft is losing the community battle - against itself

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Published Saturday, July 10, 2004 11:49 PM by RoyOsherove
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Comments

Saturday, July 10, 2004 7:59 PM by Johnny Hall

# re: Microsoft is losing the community battle - against itself

I don't think community efforts should, or even can, be led or organised by MS themselves. Sure, they should listen, and assist. But if the local "community" (s) can't or won't organise themselves, then there's nothing MS can do about it.
Saturday, July 10, 2004 8:26 PM by Robert Scoble

# re: Microsoft is losing the community battle - against itself

Roy, interesting stuff!

Johnny, I agree with you. In Silicon Valley user groups are part of the culture (Apple Computer's founders, for instance, belonged to a user group and that's how they perfected their early ideas).

With meetup.com or geekdinner.com it gets even better. Anyone can put together a small group. I know .NET developers who live in Iran and get together on a regular basis.

I'd love to hear from those running user groups overseas, though, how we can help better.

A great group to work with is INETA.org, by the way. They support hundreds of user groups all over the world.

Anyway, I'd love to know how to help from inside Redmond. I'm sure a few other people here will read this weblog. :-)
Saturday, July 10, 2004 9:07 PM by Scott McCulloch

# re: Microsoft is losing the community battle - against itself

"The only problem right now is this: It doesn't feel like the foreign embassies are truly listening."

Here in Australia, we receive great support from the local office in regards to user groups.. we have 10 INETA groups here in Australia, which is great considering our population..
Sunday, July 11, 2004 6:21 AM by Jackie Goldstein

# re: Microsoft is losing the community battle - against itself

Johnny and Robert are right on the mark - you can't demand Microsoft to RUN a User Group that the community itself doesn't/can't run itself. As the founder and leader fo the first and longest running MS UG in Israel, I can say that my experience has been very good. It has always been important to me for the UG to be independant and stand on its own - even though our venue and refreshments are sponsored by Microsoft. MS Israel has always supported us (at least my UG) in this fashion - despite the funding/sponsorship, it is our group, where we/I set the agenda and speakers. Yes, MS does occassionally suggest topics and/or speakers, but they have never been imposed on me.

The issue of combining some UG (eg C# & VB) was raised, discussed and polled among UG members. There are enough members against such a combination, such that, at least for now, we're sticking with our current setup.

And of course, we are all members of INETA !
Sunday, July 11, 2004 10:40 AM by Roy Osherove

# re: Microsoft is losing the community battle - against itself

Jackie - I'm not saying MS Israel is not supportive. I'm saying it can do even better.
Just like MS USA has done plenty before the blog boom - now they're doing much more and it shows.
Unfortunately - Israel's situation is still considered pretty good in comparison to some other countries. My post was about these facts. and the facts as I wished them to be.
Sunday, July 11, 2004 2:32 PM by Ian Cooper

# re: Microsoft is losing the community battle - against itself

We get a lot of support here in the UK too. I just came back from a meeting on Friday with other user group leaders in the UK hosted by MS. We spoke with each other, with MS and even had someone come and discuss 'marketing for user groups'. The user groups have Microsoft technical contacts in the UK if they need them. So they definitely take working with us fairly seriously. If we have any problems here in the UK it is perhaps because we have not really sorted out our INETA relationship.

But it must be said, while MS can facilitate, outside developers have to step up to the plate and run the group in the first place. you don't get community without contribution. MS isn't going to run the group for you, but they will help you out if you do.
Sunday, July 11, 2004 9:41 PM by Colt

# re: Microsoft is losing the community battle - against itself

Good point Roy! As you may know that I'm actually from Asia, I don't know what's the "strategy" and "direction" of "Developer/Community" around Asian countries from MS point of view, but what I can say is.. it's more or less the same as your area, and MS can do even better.

I created my local user group and ask for a seminar room (pretty common and easy task, right?).. well.. it look like I'm breaking the normal schedule and operation of MS office; the MSDN/Developer Group managers even ask "What's INETA?" , "What's the difference/relationship of local user group with INETA?". See? I'd like to know is there any briefing about user group / INETA for MSDN Group internally?
Monday, July 12, 2004 2:55 PM by Bill Evjen

# re: Microsoft is losing the community battle - against itself

INETA definately tries to get the local Microsoft offices to understand the user groups in their area(s) and how they might be of help. Though paritally, INETA came into being because of the lack of response in getting local Microsoft offices to help user groups start/grow/foster. Sometimes they want to help, but have no resources. Sometimes they don't care to help. And sometimes it is a political thing in a city where they will only help one user group in town as it a group created by a partner that is important to them. Though, there are cities where the local Microsoft office/user groups relations are outstanding. It definatly needs more work and more recently the folks in the regions are getting "scored" on their involvement with user groups - so we should start seeing more and more involvment from them.

Bill Evjen
Executive Director (INETA)
Monday, July 12, 2004 3:17 PM by David Totzke

# re: Microsoft is losing the community battle - against itself

HORSE HOCKEY!

Roy,

I don't want Microsoft more involved in driving the user group community. It misses the whole point of *user* groups. Sure they can provide support and resources but in the end, it should be up to the people involved to make it happen lest you end up with an artificially created community. I think Ian Cooper said it best: "you don't get community without contribution."

As far as the evaluation/feedback forms go, if it's important enough to someone, they will take the time to fill out the paper. Could there be a better mechanism for gathering this information? Sure. But at least it's something.

Paschal:
I'm sure you must know some like-minded people. Perhaps together you can build a group. I feel your pain, but nobody is going to do it for you.

So - MS Branches around the world - *listen up* - DON'T take charge! Support and encourage certainly, but if you try to take control, the only community you will have is the one you build yourselves, and it's just not the same thing. The minute you turn your back, that community will vaporize.

User groups were around long before MS paid much attention and as Bill Evjen pointed out, the Community took charge and built INETA and MS helps to support us. But, they don't control us.