The discussion around #devrel has to move beyond "What is dev rel?" and "How is dev rel different compared to marketing?".
He's got a point! After all, there are 3 separate posts this week alone that are some version of "My experience with DevRel."
But the thing is, we still don't have an industry-wide accepted definition of DevRel, which means this question is going to keep coming up and people are still going to write about what their unique experience has been... and they should! Without their voices being heard, the confusion and misunderstandings will continue. The fact that we have as many people as we do in the DevRel industry these days is a testament to blogposts exactly like these.
However, as I said in response to Matthew:
That being said, this is one of the main things motivating my consulting business: I want to drive the DevRel industry forward so there's an accepted definition & understanding of who we are, what we do, and why it's valuable. That's why books like mine & Brandon West's are so important!
This whole conversation has sparked a lot of other tweets and peripheral conversations. What are your thoughts? What do we need to be focusing on first and foremost in order to move the industry forward? What are the questions that you get on a regular basis and how do you answer them? Hit reply and let me know!
In the professional tech bubble in San Francisco, there’s a wide variety of hair colors, piercings, and clothing choices. But as Heidi Waterhouse points out
[there’s a] level of mindfulness to being visible/active online, and to representing a company.
Her pink hair makes her stand out, sure, but it’s also a statement of defiance... of fierceness... of being both boldly female and incredibly capable in a technical role.
I have a go-to list of job titles that I use to give people an idea of what DevRel is on a day-to-day basis: journalist, liaison, mediator, etc. After reading this article from Lou Woodley, I'll be adding "sherpa" to the list.
Lou talks about the metaphor of communities of practice as hills or mountains of expertise within a landscape:
The mountains can vary in height, depending on the amount of knowledge contained, and the slope of the mountain indicates the gradient of learning or the curriculum that a new member of the community would need to follow in order to progress up the mountain to expert level. A steep slope indicates that it’s harder to master the knowledge in that community, whereas a more gentle gradient allows for working more leisurely within the learner’s comfort zone.
In short, we as community managers provide the right tools, the necessary gear, and the introductions that enable our community members to reach the summit.
Looking for a concise article that explains why any developer-facing product needs a Developer Relations team that isn't focused on sales numbers? This recent article from Vanilla Forums might do the trick.
I came across a fascinating exercise this week thanks to Carl Carrie. Created by Nicky Case, The Wisdom and/or Mandess of Crowds is an interactive explanation of how the people around us influence the perceptions that we have of the world.
As we build and engage with various communities, the principles that you walk through in this exercise are important to remember. Are we existing in an echo chamber? What don't we know? Are we researching the non-active members? It can often be beneficial for us to explore the channels we don't know rather than focusing on the areas that we're most comfortable with.
Two pieces of industry news for you this week... one that's specific to tech companies & tooling and one that, well, isn't.
Let's start with the simple one:
On Thursday of last week, Atlassian announced that they're discontinuing Hipchat/Stride. Want the bullet point version? Check out this tweet thread from Slack CEO Steward Butterfield.
And now on to the not-so-simple:
Also on Thursday, President Trump tweeted that Twitter is "shadow banning" prominent Republicans. While not illegal, many people view shadow banning as an unethical practice. As Patrick O'Keefe says in this recent article,
...it goes to the core of community management, and the ability to block people and content in the manner that you deem appropriate for the community that you are responsible for.
He gives a fairly concise summary on Twitter as well, stating
[President Trump's statement] is a pretty direct threat to online communities. One of the greatest dangers to our work is clueless people who are not only grandstanding, but have the power to affect policy in a shortsighted way.
No matter your political views, there's good reason to think that President Trump's statement implies an attack on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which could change how community management, especially online forums and groups hosted on social media sites, is structured.
Research from The Community Roundtable has shown that a majority of executives are supportive of community strategies and DevRel teams. However, it's up to those of us who are involved in these initiatives on a day-to-day basis to engage those stakeholders, helping them understand the value of what we're doing and the reason why our work is integral to the company's success.
As Feverbee points out, without a strategy,
You’re making it impossible for your boss and her boss to know what resources you’ll need and when you will need them.
They often want to be involved, but simply don't know how. It's up to us to show them.