My First Kill

That's right! I've claimed my first victim-- Director of Product Management for SQL Server, Francois Ajenstat. Shortly after I posted my blog, I got the most fabulous email from him. And I'm sharing it with all of you guys (with Francois's permission) because it's not only good information, it's just funny. You almost gave me a hard attack when I read the “Robert was rude” part… I was going to go off and kill hi

That's right! I've claimed my first victim-- Director of Product Management for SQL Server, Francois Ajenstat. Shortly after I posted my blog, I got the most fabulous email from him. And I'm sharing it with all of you guys (with Francois's permission) because it's not only good information, it's just funny.

You almost gave me a hard attack when I read the “Robert was rude” part… I was going to go off and kill him. J Thankfully, the next paragraph made everything much better.

Forums… good or bad… well, let’s just say that every month in our Senior Leadership Meetings, we review the amount of activity on the SQL Server forums, the response rates, dev team participation, etc. The dev team is measured on engaging with customers/community (on top of other things of course). But again, as I mention below, that only works if customers can find the forums and actually use them.

And here's a snippet from another email you'll find impressive.

As an extra piece of info, the SQL Server product team has committed to recording 35,000 hours of customer contact this year through activities such as Customer meetings, Newsgroup/Forum posts, Customer labs, Customer events (like PASS and TechEd), Blogs, etc. That’s a whole lotta customer interactions. And once again, that’s another metric that we review monthly.

Now, I'm gonna have to say that I'm officially impressed. I had no idea that they held their developers accountable for issues brought to the forums. And my guess is that none you you did either, and that's why I'm printing this for everyone. I think that with all the bad press MS has gotten in the past (some of it by my hand) that the community should know the things they do to restore faith and hold themselves accountable to their customers. So with the addition of this new information, this is less of a forum, and more of an online support mechanism... for free. This is the kind of support we dream about. Think about it... you would ordinarily have to open up a case with support to get solid answers on a lot of things like this, but if you've got an issue that's not all that urgent, a forum like this is the perfect place to get answers from the people who actually write the code. I've known for quite some time that MS engineers shark the forums, but it never really meant that much to me because it doesn't really mean anything. Encouraging engineers to shark the forums is like encouraging your kids to clean their rooms. It won't happen often enough to count on. And getting the majority of your answers from the general user community in the forums is also hit and miss. The general public doesn't have the answers I typically need, and the ones who do are usually too busy with their own jobs to post that often. However, when you start holding engineers accountable for the activity in the forums, then that becomes a completely different story. Now you're telling your kids that they can't go out and play until their rooms are clean. It's all of a sudden relevant to them.

I've often said that devs should not only be held accountable for their code, but their bonuses should be based on the number of bugs that hit production. There are some unseen circumstances, but in general, if you've got a dev who consistently puts code into production that has bugs, then his bottomline should be effected. I bet he starts writing better code next year.

Now, as some of you may have noticed, Francois (oddly enough he doesn't have a French accent) made mention of another email in that snippet above("But again, as I mention below..."). So just for completion's sake, here's a piece of that email too, because I think it outlines the SQL team's attitude towards its community.

1. Setup experience: Upgrade/Uninstall scenarios are critical for customers. If we ask them to test our products we should make sure that they have a good experience moving from one CTP to the next or to the RTM. That doesn’t mean that upgrade/uninstall will always be easy but that it can be done and is well documented. I know that this is a top priority for SQL Server as we think of the CTP process for the next releases

2. Forums/community support: I think that I had mentioned it on the phone a while ago but I’m a big fan of the community and using the community for support. In this case, I know that there are very good forums that are monitored by the development team which is a great place to get assistance. We need to do a better job making sure that customers know about these forums and can easily find them.

OK, that's all I've got this time.

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