PSQL Phriday: A Monthly Blog Event for the PostgreSQL Community

Not quite a year ago, I had the opportunity to give a keynote address at PGConf NYC 2021 as part of Timescale’s sponsorship. Thankfully the leadership at Timescale supported me addressing the topic of community and how, particularly in light of the upward trend of PostgreSQL adoption, investing in the growing community can help everyone involved.

In that talk, I drew on a few of my experiences as a SQL Server developer, specifically within the PASS and #sqlfamily community. Although I understand that each community has its ethos, I wondered aloud if some of the initiatives that had drawn me further into the SQL Server community could provide ideas on ways to engage the growing PostgreSQL user base.

One of those initiatives was focused on the monthly T-SQL Tuesday blogging event started by community members more than a decade ago. The long-running event is simple.

Each month a community member volunteers to host the event. They select a topic and “invite” anyone to participate through a short blog post addressing the topic. Then, on the first Tuesday of each month, anyone in the community can post their own blog about the topic, linking back to the original invitation blog. The main purpose of the monthly event is to provide a safe, open opportunity for anyone to blog with a group of community members. For many people, the biggest hurdle to writing down and sharing their experience with a specific technology is selecting topics… and believing that anyone cares about what they have to say. T-SQL Tuesday has started many successful blogs over the years because someone had a good prompt and others received encouraging feedback about what they shared. 

As more people got involved, the community grew, spreading the knowledge and support of the community across a larger, more close-knit group.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds 🔥!

What does the PostgreSQL community think?

In the 2022 State of PostgreSQL survey, short and long-form blog posts were among the top three ways users prefer to learn about PostgreSQL! Users want to learn from the experiences of others and how they overcome technical obstacles with PostgreSQL. This seems to echo a recent blog from SQL Server consultant Erik Darling about his frustration with technical books, specifically regarding readability and code examples. Blogs (and other online forums) often have the least amount of friction in unlocking reader engagement.

In short, there are a lot of people in the PostgreSQL community that are looking for the knowledge and experience you have. It just has to be written down and published. Most of us (or at least me) need that consistent prompt to keep going.

The Key Ingredient: Volunteer Hosts

Very little coordination is needed to run a monthly event like this. Folks in the community can contribute a blog post when they’re able and there’s no penalty for missing a month. If someone posts a few hours early or late, that’s OK. The desire is to foster and encourage more participation because we believe it will strengthen the PostgreSQL community.

The only thing the initiative needs is a volunteer host that changes each from an individual in the community.

The responsibilities of the host are pretty simple:

  • Host blogs must be “syndicated” through Planet PostgreSQL. If it is not, follow the process a few weeks ahead of time and reach out with any questions!
  • Choose the topic for the month and write a short invitation blog post about it.
  • On the Monday before the first Friday of the month (which is sometimes the end of the prior month!), publish your blog post which should publish it through Planet PostgreSQL. Additionally, please send a reminder on social platforms that link to the invitation and include the #psqlphriday hashtag.
    • At a minimum, post to Twitter, PostgreSQL Slack, and the `psql-general` email list
  • Within a few days of the monthly blog event (~the following Monday or Tuesday), compile links and brief reviews of the “submissions” and post the summary to your blog.
  • Ensure there is a new volunteer host for the following month.

The topics can cover anything about, or related to, PostgreSQL. Hosts might often prompt with technical topics, sometimes more general database/data questions, and still other prompts might focus on soft skills for a successful technology career. Example invite posts might include some of the following ideas:

Technical:

  • “Why you love extension x”
  • “Your favorite feature of PG15 and why”
  • “How logical replication saved your bacon”

General PostgreSQL/database:

  • “What is your favorite tool that’s not psql and why?”
  • “What are your favorite queries for monitoring database performance?”
  • “What feature did you learn about reading the documentation that changed your approach?”

Soft topics:

  • “How have you contributed to building the PostgreSQL community this past year?”
  • “What’s one skill every PostgreSQL developer should know or grow in this coming year?”
  • “What was the first talk you gave about PostgreSQL and what did you learn that would encourage others to give talks too?”

That doesn’t look too hard, does it? Do you think you’d be interested in participating or hosting?

Could the PostgreSQL community try #PSQLPhriday?

What are we waiting for?

When I brought this idea up at PGConf NYC last year, several folks jumped on board with the idea. The fact that it’s taken almost a year for me to create this post and get the ball rolling is mostly due to large doses of imposter syndrome. (Sigh…)

But I’m more bullish on the PostgreSQL community than ever, and I’m ready to dig in and see how I can help more.

Therefore, I’m proposing that we start with the first blog event on Friday, October 7, 2022. This falls between PGConf US and PGConf EU, and hopefully, within a week or two of when PostgreSQL 15 is officially released.

The basic ground rules we’ll encourage everyone to follow are minimal:

  1. For the best audience reach, work to get your blog listed at Planet Postgres before posting your first PostgreSQL blog. Ensure your PostgreSQL blog adheres to the policies and then follow these steps.
  2. Post your blog any time on the first Friday of the month and link back to the host’s topic announcement blog post for reference. We’ll create a logo you can include and link back to the host post. More to come. (wink)
  3. Using your social platform of choice, mention your post and include the #psqlphriday hashtag. If the host misses your post in their wrap-up, assume that it simply got lost in the social media deluge and just reach out and give them a link and thank them for hosting! (smile)
  4. Be encouraging and respond in kind to other folks that contribute posts to the event!

Pretty easy… right?!

Ready… Set… Blog!

The volunteer hosts for the first few months are already lined up and listed below, along with names of community leaders that have agreed to host starting in 2023. If you’d like to lead a month in the future, reach out to me through Twitter, the PostgreSQL Slack, or email. I’ll do my best to keep things flowing as we get this party started!

DateHostProposed Topic
October 7, 2022Ryan BoozWhy PostgreSQL?
November 4, 2022Andreas Scherbaum Upgrade PostgreSQL
December 2, 2022Pat Wright
January 6, 2022Henrietta Dombrovskaya
Initial hosts for the first four PSQL Phriday events!

Upcoming hosts: Ryan Lambert, Grant Fritchey, Michael Christofides

Be on the lookout for the first intro post on October 2! Until then – #LongLivePostgres 🐘

P.S. A special shoutout

Before signing off I wanted to make sure that I gave a shoutout to Shaun Thomas from EDB. When a few community members came up with the “PSQL Phriday” name, we didn’t know that Shaun had already been blogging for a few years with a similar heading, “PG Phriday”. When I reached out to see how he would feel about us using the name, he was quick to say, “No problem! I’ll probably join in.”

Thanks for your willingness to let us try to grow this a little bit more, Shaun, and get more of the community involved.

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