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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is CSO of Linchpin People and SQLPeople, an SSIS Trainer, Consultant, and developer; a Business Intelligence Markup Language (Biml) developer; SQL Server database and data warehouse developer, community mentor, engineer, and farmer. He is a co-author of SQL Server 2012 Integration Services Design Patterns. His background includes web application architecture and development, VB, and ASP. Andy loves the SQL Server Community!
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QwikTalk and SQLPeople™ Announce Free SQL Help by Phone!

Introduction

I received some awesome responses from I Am Here To Help™! One of them was an email from Josh Breinlinger, founder of QwikTalk.com. Josh and I spoke on the phone later that day to discuss using QwikTalk’s platform to provide free support to folks with SQL Server-related questions.

It’s Like #SQLHelp on the Phone!

QwikTalk connects people with questions to people with answers. Here’s how it works (my version, anyway – see the link for Josh’s version):

  1. You have a question about SQL Server.
  2. You remember reading a blog post (this one!) about getting SQL Server help on the phone, find it, and connect to QwikTalk.com.
  3. You select “SQL” from the Categories list:
  4. When you arrive at the SQL Help – Free Phone Consultations page, you type your question and click the Ask a Question button:
  5. (Some magic happens)
  6. You phone rings a few minutes later, connecting you with someone who answers your question.

How cool is that?

And it’s free!

The Magic

The magic actually starts when willing people sign up to be experts. I did this and the process is very smooth. I entered my information, including my cell number. I got a text from the QwikTalk number requesting a reply. I replied. I was in the system. I got another text with instructions on how to set my availability On and Off. Josh and I tested it.

Think of it as a live forum. Experienced SQL Server DBAs and developers with some time can set their Availability to On, help out some folks SQL Server questions, and then set their Availability to Off when they have something else to do.

It. just. rocks.

“What Does QwikTalk and SQLPeople Get Out Of This, Andy?”

Excellent question – I’m glad you asked! We get the best thing ever: we get to help. We get to see the SQL Server Community – already vibrant on social media – become even more connected.

Conclusion

Did I mention the cost? It’s free! Check out the QwikTalk SQL page today!

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Published Monday, August 29, 2011 11:30 AM by andyleonard

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Comments

 

Eric Humphrey said:

Pretty cool Andy. Maybe when I have a little more free time, I'll sign up.

August 29, 2011 10:36 AM
 

Adam Machanic said:

Sorry, but the telephone is not social media. One of the things that's so great about social media is that it's reusable content. Help someone on a message board, that thread can be read by hundreds or thousands of subsequent people. Help someone with #sqlhelp, maybe a smaller number of people can benefit, but it's still scaling to more than one. Give someone a phone call? You're not connecting people. You're giving one-on-one free consulting services. Perhaps gaining a new customer in the process. But not building a community.

August 29, 2011 12:02 PM
 

andyleonard said:

Hi Adam,

  With respect, I've re-read the post searching for where I called this endeavor social media.

  The closest thing I see is a comparison to a "live forum". And you're right, this is not the same thing.

  People sometimes use forums - correctly or not - to get answers quickly. I've heard regular forum experts complain when users want immediate help in a forum, and I understand that sentiment. QwikTalk has the potential to provide immediate help.

You're welcome,

Andy

August 29, 2011 12:49 PM
 

Peter Schott said:

Interesting idea, but I'd be a bit concerned about the quality of answers. From you, I would expect great advice on SSIS. I probably wouldn't get as deep an answer on Service Broker or setting up a lab for the MS BI stack.

Definitely an interesting idea and one for which I may have a use at some point, but I guess I'd have to see how it plays out.

August 29, 2011 1:13 PM
 

andyleonard said:

Hi Paschott,

  Agreed. The model works if there are people with experience in many facets of SQL Server available and willing to help. Josh tells me a category succeeds with about 10 experts willing to provide answers.

  When a question comes in I don't have to take it. I can pass on it and another available person is notified of the question.

Andy

August 29, 2011 1:22 PM
 

Frederick Wright said:

I would normally do anything to avoid talking to someone on the phone, since I find it very disruptive and most of my office spaces lack any semblance of privacy.  Virtually all of my work, research, learning, personal finance, shopping, retirement planning, vacation planning, etc is done by email or web.

But in this case, I can see the value of discussing a SQL question with someone by telephone since there are often so many environment-specific variables, leading to forum threads which stretch on to many pages just trying to spell out the actual problem, with many back-and-forth questions.  Sometimes the person asking the question doesn't even know how to put it in terms the expert can understand.  

I imagine the 'cost' associated with such a service could be that the question asker must write up a concise summary of the problem and the solution after it has been reached, and post this article for public reference.

August 29, 2011 1:40 PM
 

Adam Machanic said:

Hi Andy:

"We get to see the SQL Server Community – already vibrant on social media – become even more connected."

This sentence, as I read it, implies that this is yet another form of social media.

Experts complain when people want immediate answers because experts realize that they're giving away their time for FREE to help others, and they have no responsibility to provide free real-time support. Setting up a phone system like this doesn't help with that problem; rather, it exacerbates it by setting expectations that you WILL get free real-time support and an immediate answer.

Just my opinion, of course. But I don't see any actual community impact here. Frederick's suggestion--making the "callee" write up a summary of the problem and solution--is a very interesting idea that could drive this into being a viable thing from a reuse perspective.

August 29, 2011 2:05 PM
 

andyleonard said:

Hi Adam,

  I can see how one could read that sentence that way. To me, it means this is another way for the SQL Server community to connect. I concede it's one-on-one, and that's different from the connections we make via social media (which was my point in including the phrase "already vibrant on social media").

  I also understand your point about free consulting, and appreciate your perspective. I see QwikTalk's SQL category as an opportunity to help and believe - perhaps naively - that this is good and enough.

  I concur and like Frederick's suggestion. But I believe it's cool to help others solve SQL Server issues and do not wish to downplay this aspect. QwikTalk *is* different. It's a cool mechanism, executed well. I like the concept and the potential to help folks - a lot.

Andy

August 29, 2011 2:26 PM
 

Josh Breinlinger said:

Hey All,

Josh here from QwikTalk.  Thanks for the comments and feedback.  @Frederick - interesting idea indeed about the "problem write-up".  We do have the capability to record a transcript fairly easily, but that does take away the privacy component of a phone call.  In this case for the SQL community, I'm sure that's probably not a big concern but it is in some other categories. What do you think? Would just have to add one of those "this call will be recorded.." messages.

We'll have to think about how to build ongoing value for the community from the phone conversations.  If you poke around the site, you'll notice quickly that this is the first "free help" category - so definitely open to new ideas.

-Josh

August 29, 2011 2:53 PM
 

Michael Codanti said:

I like the idea of this, and wish I had more time available to answer questions.  What kind of criteria is going to be used to vet a person singing up as an Expert?

Being the first free category I can understand why things might need to develop over time.

I agree with Frederick, since this is free I think the answer, or summary of the answer should be available to everyone. Who is responsible for that, I don't know, but I think a recorded transcript might be too much, especially if something confidential gets said.

August 29, 2011 4:34 PM
 

Manjot said:

Hi Andy,

I am in New Zealand, If i use qwiktalk to ask a question, will It cost me anything?

I don't have a toll free number.

Regards

Manjot

August 31, 2011 9:45 PM

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