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The Rational Guide to Building Technical User Communities (Rational Guides) Paperback – August 13, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Rational Guides
  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Rational Press (August 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932577327
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932577327
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,156,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Short Review : A Great, one-of-its-kind book for everybody who is interested in building technical user community. There is no other book written on this subject but after this comprehensive book no further reading will be required.

Detailed Review :
This is for the first time in my book review, instead of talking about the book or author, I will introduce myself in a couple of lines to explain why and how this book is helpful to those interested in building community. [...]. I am actively involved with Technical User Group Community all over the world and have been helping many user groups to start, grow and continuously expand successfully. I am helping user groups in capacity of their mentor to overcome any obstacles they face while running the user group.

Author Greg Low is the most experienced person when it comes to community and people. He is a Microsoft Regional Director as well as mentor for Solid Quality Australia. For over a decade, he organized several Queensland User Groups. Greg is looked upon for guidance when User Groups are in need of the most appropriate advice. He is a very renowned person in technical community and does not need any further introduction.

This book focuses on the most important lessons learned by Greg over decades of involvement in technical communities. It provides practical advice on establishing, sustaining and growing these communities. This books is focused on helping user group leaders to deal with any potential pitfalls and contains workaround as well. The book is not limited to only user group leaders. In fact, this book is for everybody who is interested in community. If you are already a member of a community, this book is a perfect guide to help you get the most out of your membership.
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Format: Paperback
Greg Low has been involved with technical user communities for some time. He is well known in Australian developer circles (and further afield) and is a frequent speaker at conferences as well as a Microsoft regional director. I'm currently helping to run the Perth .NET user group, so I was glad to receive a review copy of this book from Greg, curious to see if there was something we could be doing, but currently were not.

The writing style is conversational, easy to read and interspersed with recounted stories. The book is divided into the following chapters:

People, Not Technology
Something for Everyone
Finding Speakers
Tried and True
Pizza Does Not Define a User Group
Don't Reinvent the Wheel
Recruiting Members
Content and Handouts
Using Technology
Recruiting Volunteers
Conducting Meetings
Tips for Presenters
The Fine Print
Funding

The book makes it clear from Chapter 1 that "Communities, whether technical or not, are about people" and the reasons why people are motivated to get involved with a user group are examined.

In Chapter 2, "Something for Everyone", Greg describes his strategies for making meetings have relevance to all attendees:

- Avoid Single Topic Meetings
- Avoid Increasing Depth
- Some Repetition is OK

This advice might seem to fly in the face of how many user groups are organised but his explanations make good sense. I think this chapter could be summed up by the following quotes, which in other settings might seem cliché or hackneyed: "Participation is very important" and "Everyone wants to feel valued".

I think Greg did a good job of keeping the book short and easy going; I read it in 2 sessions over 3 nights.
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Format: Paperback
This book does a good job of covering a variety of topics related to starting and maintaining technical user communities. The author's opinions come from years of working with user groups in various capacities, and all his opinions are backed up with stories from his own experiences. His ideas seem to be mostly common sense, but it is helpful to have all the information aggregated in one location.

The book is easy to read and is a good length. I found the discussion of recruiting volunteers to be very helpful. The one point on which I disagree with the author is his opinion that meetings should always have two topics. I certainly don't have the experience that the author has, but I have found that there is just not enough time to allow for disussion, handle group business and giveaways, and cover two topics in a reasonable amount of time.

Overall, I was very pleased with the book and will be passing it around to the rest of the leadership of our user group.
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