SDN very recently unveiled the Business Card concept rather quietly. I just updated my Business Card a little over a week ago. It thought I might write a short weblog for those who haven’t seen the Business Card yet and to give my impressions after a short time with it.
What is the Business Card?
You might be asking yourself – what is this Business Card? That is easy to answer. You should notice at the top of any weblog a new link under the author’s Name. This link will take you to the author’s Business Card.
But the Business Card isn’t just available from weblogs. From anywhere you can reach information about another member, there is also a new link to the business card. For instance in the following screen shot I have clicked on a member’s name from within a forum posting.
Ready to Post your own information?
If you are ready to post your own information, it is really quite simple. From the SDN Main top navigation bar you choose Profile Management->Update Profile. The business card information is now integrated into your SDN profile.
But the really nice thing about the business card is that you can decide what information you want to expose. In the following screen shot you can see that I choose to expose my email address, but not my cell phone number.
By not selecting the checkbox next to the field, my business card won’t even display that field.
Like I said before, my information has only been on the Business Card for a little over a week now. However I can already tell that people are using it. I have seen a definite increase in the number of emails that I receive with SDN related questions. What is interesting is looking at the pattern that is beginning to form.
Of the 20-30 emails I have received that I suspect came because of the public information in the Business Card; there seems to be three different categories. The first is the – I have a dumb question category. These emails usually start off something like this: “I have a question that you will probably think is stupid. I was afraid to post it on SDN so I hope you don’t mind that I sent it to you directly”. Now the key to this category is that none of the questions I have received have been dumb questions. In fact they have been really good ones. I think some people just might feel intimated to ask a question in a weblog posting or forum at the risk of sounding like a beginner in front of the whole community. The thing is that the SDN community seems to me to be quite friendly. Very rarely have I seen anyone get “smacked down” for asking a beginner question or even for asking a question that had already been answered several times before. However if people feel more comfortable sending a question in Email, I’m glad that they now have an outlet to do so. Just keep in mind that community often benefits from a questions asked. By doing so via email, the SDN community misses out on that.
The second category is people who are wanting to request weblog content on a particular subject. An example of this was something I received the other day. The person had read one of my weblogs on WebServices and was asking me to write a future weblog on a very specific subtopic related to WebServices. Of course you can always post to the comments section of any Weblog and most any author will see that. However some people might once again feel more comfortable sending an email directly to the author. I might warn people with such requests that if most weblog writers on SDN are like me, their weblog work is a little backlogged. I know that right now I have about 12 draft weblogs in my account.
The final category is the email with a direct technical question, however this question is also been posted to the forums on SDN. This has happened to me several times. I answer a question via email, only to be reading the SDN forums later that day and see the same question. I’m not sure this one really adds much value. If someone answers your question directly via email, but that answer isn’t also posted to the forum; the other readers in the forum are only seeing part of the picture. Also this may cause someone else to have to answer the question that has already been answered. I was a little irritated by this kind of email until the other day. A person sent me a question directly through email. However they told me that they had posted it in the forum (and even gave me a link to the posting). They went on to say that they had seen my answers in the past and had hoped that I might read the forum posting. Now this kind of email I understand. In fact I might have missed this particular posting based upon the title. So in the end I was happy to have received the email. If you are going to send a direct email question to a fellow SDN member, I encourage you to do as this person did.