Date: Thu, 5 Aug 2010 09:26:26 -0400
Reply-To: Michael Raithel <michaelraithel@WESTAT.COM>
Sender: "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: Michael Raithel <michaelraithel@WESTAT.COM>
Subject: Re: What do we have to do to SAVE SAS-L
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Art posted the following:
> SAS-L posts, as at the end of July this year, are down 36.7% from what
> they were at the same point in time last year (i.e., 9962 posts this
> compared with 15745 posts last year).
> Has everyone's questions already been answered or, conversely, has
> competition between the usenet and listserv versions of SAS-L, SAS
> and the other posting sites that are now available simply resulted in
> people giving up looking for answers to their questions?
> If it is the latter, what can we ALL do about it?
Art, hey relax; we will see a big spike in postings when school is back in session and we get the inevitable surge of thinly-disguised softball homework questions from hotmail and gmail e-mailers about sorting and summarizing ten-observation data sets with variables such as NAME that contain identifiers like "Susan", "Biff" and "Oglethorpe", or COLOR that contain "red", "blue", "chartreuse" etc.:-)
All seriousness aside, I think that SAS-L, like most endeavors in life, boils down to a matter of motivation. People have to have a _REASON_ for posting to the 'L to tickle their keyboards and hit SEND. I like to divide SAS-L participants into Lurkers and Posters, and then Posters into Questioners and Answerers. I believe that Questioners' motivation is that they really need specific information about a particular SAS feature or methodology or technique. I believe that Answerers' motivation is likely to be that they have the information being sought _AND_ enjoy helping other people. Lurkers motivation is likely to be that they enjoy taking in all of the great information that is out here on the 'L. So, as long as SAS-L remains informational, I think the motivation will be there among most participants to... participate.
To me, SAS-L functions best when:
1. Questioners can feel confident that their questions will be regarded seriously and that they will not be sniped by snarky replies that seem to suggest that they are somehow deficient in their skills or knowledge. That they will be treated respectfully.
2. Answerers can feel confident that their good ideas will be regarded seriously and that they will not be sniped by snarky replies that seem to suggest that they are somehow deficient in their skills or knowledge. That they will be treated respectfully.
3. Lurkers can feel confident that when they finally post, their good ideas will be regarded seriously and that they will not be sniped by snarky replies that seem to suggest that they are somehow deficient in their skills or knowledge. That they will be treated respectfully.
So, to the end that the collective humming mass of SAS-L participants can strive meet the above criteria, I believe people will continue to actively participate in this forum. That is; I would like to see SAS-L remain an informational, welcoming, collegial, amiable, source of SAS information and techniques.
I know several former SAS-L-ers who have told me that the reason they dropped out was specifically because they felt that they were "attacked" when posting a solution. They did not get a "...so-and-so posted this, but you could also do it this way..." or "..that answer doesn't account for..." like we see a lot of thoughtful posters post, but, rather very sharp replies. They apparently didn't see the humor in said situation that I see, and subsequently moved on. Too bad, because we lost a couple of good ones... But, hey, I don't particularly think that SAS-L is a bad neighborhood just because a few outliers may "wander in" from time-to-time:-)
Finally, SAS-L, like any social medium, will rise and fall with the times. Other forums with other formats may provide better information or be easier to use or have a different social vibe and thus attract users. SAS-L may experience fewer posters; it may experience additional posters. Whatever the case, since SAS-L is the most fun a person can have while sitting down, I will be one of the final posters to turn out the lights when the time finally comes:-)
Best of luck in all your SAS endeavors!
I hope that this suggestion proves helpful now, and in the future!
Of course, all of these opinions and insights are my own, and do not reflect those of my organization or my associates. All SAS code and/or methodologies specified in this posting are for illustrative purposes only and no warranty is stated or implied as to their accuracy or applicability. People deciding to use information in this posting do so at their own risk.
Michael A. Raithel
"The man who wrote the book on performance"
Author: Tuning SAS Applications in the MVS Environment
Author: Tuning SAS Applications in the OS/390 and z/OS Environments, Second Edition
Author: The Complete Guide to SAS Indexes
There must be some kind of way out of here,
Said the joker to the theif,
There is too much confusion,
I can't get no relief. - Jimi Hendrix, All Along the Watchtower