HP has decided that you, dear IT person, do not have enough social interaction with your peers. Twitter, blogs, IRC and forums? Pah! They are but mere facsimiles of true IT Social Networking greatness.
Behold: 48upper.com. What does it mean? It’s not immediately obvious to most people that it is a reference to HP’s super-secret labs in Cupertino. But hey! It sounds all trendy, kewl webernet 2.5! Sort of. And besides, any modern site worth it’s weight in blackjack gum must not, repeat, must not have a comprehensible name.
The truly puzzling thing is that the second rule of webernets 2.5 states that product names must be even catchier than pharmaceutical products (“Ask your doctor about Promaxa, Zopotol and Usuxa!”). 48Upper is as memorable as shampoo ingredients. Plus, it’s closely tied with a vendor, which is a no-no for IT people, but more on that later.
In the mean time, behold their YouTube video:
Somehow after watching that I feel like I’ve been transported back to 1996. I also feel like I’ve just watched a patronizing HR video. I also feel like doing flips!
In spite of my skeptical nature, I signed up for it and am supposed to receive some kind of communication from them shortly. Why the wait? Because it’s apparently not ready for prime time. The earliest mention of this community that I could find was from March of 2010. They have a FaceBook page (Good thing I’m not on FaceBook — *ahem*), a YouTube Channel (with only one video as of this writing) and a blog.
There is also a “Manifesto” concerning what the 48Upper community was intended to be about. Nothing particularly interesting exists in it except an eye-rollingingly contrived “Revolution” that is dubbed “SoCool-IT”.
The blog has four EDIT: five posts since March 2010, about one post per month, the last one being over a month ago on March 11th. EDIT: Mere hours before this post went live, a new blog post was published. Discouragingly, there are months old comment spam that has not been taken care of. However, I did learn a new joke about how to be passive-aggressive and call someone a pig even after a court order commands you not to.
Call me suspicious and confiscate my X-Files collection, but it seems fishy to me. It seems like a scheme to cull information from people and attempt to inculcate brand ideals into a targeted group of potential customers.
It also doesn’t impress me that it has so much chatter in major tech publications. Why wasn’t my blog mentioned on ZDNet and InfoWorld when it launched? Because I’m not HP, that’s why. If it’s only pundits and analysts that are talking about it, what does that say about it’s intent? None on my considerable list of independent IT bloggers have mentioned it. *Insert squinty-eyed expression of distrust here*
I suppose I’m not much of a help to the situation just by snarking all over it. So let me attempt to salvage some positivity and kindness and speak to anyone who is thinking about starting an IT community:
- If you’re a vendor, we won’t trust you easily if at all. We know you’re trying to make money. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we also know that you have no interest in people buying your competitor’s products even if they’re better.
- If you’re a vendor, don’t name the community after yourself or a product no matter how obscure it is.
- We don’t need flash and glam. Sure we like polish and professionalism, but don’t go buck wild on the CSS, flash and graphic design. The flashier it looks the more we suspect that you have very close ties to an advertising agency which means you want to sell something to us very badly.
- Don’t patronize or play the stereotype card very much if at all. Yes, we know IT people are known for being cranky, anti-social and with a penchant for passive aggression. It’s funny sometimes. XKCD and Ctrl+Alt+Del play on them and we laugh. But it gets old after a while. At the end of teh day, we’re pros and would like to be treated as such.
- Make it open and community driven. Don’t clamp it down or make the authority structure a black box that cannot be appealed to. ServerFault does a decent job of spreading the authority to those who are involved.
- Be very careful with the advertising that you allow and any subscription schemes that you implement. If it’s an ad-trap or there are vendors who are community members and are given special treatment, the community is tainted. If there are special subscriptions that give you access to more forums, it sounds less like community and more like a racket. Of course the lights need to be kept on, but be careful. There’s a reason why I’ve never wanted to join Tek-Tips or Experts-Exchange.
- Don’t use the word “Revolution”. Ever.
To those involved with 48Upper, thanks for thinking of us! I hope it works out for you. I’ve even signed up and will give it a try when and if it ever gets off the ground. I just hope it doesn’t turn into a HP love-fest with no community control. (This coming from a person who hearts HP DL servers and thinks ProCurve is teh pwn).
What are some good examples of online IT communities? I can share the ones that I prefer:
- Server Fault
- Super User
- Daniel Petri’s Forums
- The SysAdmin Network (Full Disclosure Alert: It is operated by RedGate Software, specifically by Michael Francis and Elizabeth Ayers. Other RedGate tech communities include SysAdmin-Talk.com and Simple-Talk.com. It’s fairly neutral though.)
Did I miss any? What are your favorite online IT communities? Furthermore, what turns you off about the ones that you ignore or have left behind?
If you’ll excuse me, I have to go log into ServerFault now. I’m going to get that Fanatic badge if it kills me!