Tuesday, May 8, 2012

T-SQL Tuesday #30 TOP 5 Rules for the SQL Community *Screw Ethics

Chris Shaw (@SQLShaw|Blog) is hosting T-SQL Tuesday this month.  It has been a while since I participated and this month sounded really interesting.  So time to dust off the keyboard and get back in!  So Chris What are we writing on?

For this month’s t-sql Tuesday question I wanted to highlight the need for Ethics in our industry.  Don’t consumers and business owners have to trust someone at some time with their data?  This month, take time to participate by talking about DBA ethics.  I really hope to see someone address topics such as:
·         Should we have an ethics statement?
·         Have ethics issues impacted you? What did you do about it?
·         Security Audits: how do you police what you and others are doing in the database?
·         Does a Code of Ethics mean anything to anyone? How do we as a community enforce a Code of Ethics?
·         Do you have an issue with this Code of Ethics?
·         What do you believe our Code of Ethics should say if we the SQL Server Community have one?

I think this is a good topic, and should produce a lot of interesting reading.  But Dear Reader allow me to begin with a bit of a Rant.


Screw Business Ethics.

“Balls,” you say, “SCREW ETHICS?!?!?”

I understand your outrage Dear Reader, allow me to explain.

 I think Ethics may be an over-used word.  We all want something deep reaching and soul searching that will put us on the same level.  That will guide us to say this is right and this is wrong, but Ethics has begun to mean “A corporations way of covering it’s @$$ in the event of a lawsuit by telling employee’s don’t do these stupid obvious things so when you do this (or something else like it) we are covered because we have a sheet of paper that says we are ethical”. 

Ethics are supposed to be convictions, things that you hold so true that if something goes counter to them, they should sway your argument.  Ethics should go to the core of our beliefs.  Being Ethical should be a deeply individualistic kind of thing, not a group thing.  They should define YOU, they should help YOU through troubled times, and only in times of great crisis do YOU question them. 

Instead Ethics are just another tool of doing business and advertising.  Buy from this car company because we didn’t take money in the Government bail-out look at how we didn’t partake of a politically unpopular decision our Ethics.  Our Bank has been around for 130 years because we got lucky and didn’t jump when all the others did of our Ethics.  We are focused on our customers because it is really popular right now, and we are fighting tooth and nail not to lose market share of our Ethics.

Ahhh Ethics.  Ethics, Ethics, Ethics.  Ethics are important there is no denying that.  I like ethics, as a father with a whole bunch of kids I hope I’m bringing them up to be ethical and to live good lives in the future.  As a U.S. Citizen that has held positions in working with our Government that required a high level of Security Clearance I think they are essential in our work force.  As a private citizen I’ve also watched corporations use shotgun Ethics training to lighten their liability from law suits, watch as high ranking government leaders committed all kinds of unspeakable acts, and watch as religious leaders did the same or worse.

Ethics should be a deep part of you.  Ethics should be important to you, but they should not be something that a business can identify on a sheet of paper.  There are people out there that probably have the same ethics I do, but have a personality that would grate on my nerves.  We might not work well on a team together, even though we may vote in the same block.  Using a sheet of paper to pair me up with these folks would probably be bad.  To be honest,  I would like to see companies drop the pretend focus on Ethics. 

And as much as I would love to say that everyone involved with PASS and myself shares the same Ethics we probably do not, and I wouldn’t want to force mine on others.  I would hope that we are not so simple that a piece of paper would capture all of our Ethics either.  We probably have some core beliefs we share, but there is nothing about our job that Ethics would instill, that simply following the RULES wouldn’t put in place as well. 

It is not a great leap of faith to think that destroying data, hurting your company’s ability to do business, or risking national security is against the rules.  When I see IT individuals that burn the barn down on the way out of town I think WHY?  Why!  

I’m pretty sure they signed the Ethics form for their company.  I guess that piece of paper didn’t stop them.  Most were with their companies for years.  Striking out and getting revenge in IT is no different from doing so in real life.  If somebody makes a car accident happen because they were driving like a fool, and I get out of my car and decide to get revenge I’m probably going to jail.  There are rules against this, AHEM *assault* AHEM, just like there are Rules against malicious hacking, data theft, and Identity Theft.
So forgive me for the rant, but I don't like buzz words that should mean something.

 I like Rules.  Rules are simple; people can have philosophical battles on Ethics.  What is right what is wrong, what is perspective, blah blah blah.  Rules you can follow, like them or dislike them you know what they are.  “Don’t jump on the bed”-Don’t like it, but I make the kids follow it…on occasion.  “Eat your dinner before dessert” – Didn’t used to be a fan of this but 13 years and 4 kids later you don’t get dessert unless you eat your dinner. Football has rules, Baseball has rules, Heck DODGEBALL has rules.

And let us not forget Businesses are all run by Individuals.  Let the Individuals be ethical, and the business with follow, and we start by following the rules.

What we should be looking for are people that use the same Rules to govern themselves with that we use for us.  Personalities may still conflict, but as a Rule I believe in rewarding hard work and respecting intelligence.  We might not have Christmas at the family Casa together, but if we believe in the same things we can work together just fine.

And while I would love to say that there should be a common DBA or Data Personnel form of Ethics, (complete with a pledge, secret decoder ring, and Top Secret membership into our club of sorts), I would much rather have a couple rules to follow.  And I’m pretty sure anybody breaking these isn’t in the club, and gets their decoder ring taken away.


Blog after blog has been stolen, and the SQL people that you would have to face are legion.  You want to see a ravenous Twitter feeding, watch for the next time some IDIOT, steals a blog post, and then attempts to defend it.  You'll hear me say it again and again, the SQL Community as vast as it seems is a small one.  Blog posts take time and effort, and it is a terrible way to get your name known.


If you read a post and get an idea from it, make sure to give the credit where it is due.  The good folks over at SQLSkills.com are constantly doing things that I love. 

Jonathan Kehayias (@SQLPoolBoy|Blog), Joe Sack (@JosephSack|Blog), Glenn Berry (@GlennalanBerry | Blog), Paul Randal (@PaulRandal|Blog), and Kimberly Tripp (@KimberlyLTripp|Blog), in the last month I’ve used great scripts from every single one of them.  When I do I send people to their site. 

I post links to the MCM videos, MCM Videos You Should Be Watching These, I get ideas I work up a demo I put a link in the header of the script, as well as the name of the blog post, and I cite the author.  I appreciate what they do, and I use it to learn.  And I would never, ever want credit that doesn’t belong to me.  And besides see Rule 1.


I have met so many people in the SQL Community that are just really nice people.  They make time for phone calls, they reply to emails promptly, and I’ve never met one that isn’t incredibly polite.  The SQL Community is not a large one.  There are several hundred people that you see over and over again.  And you will be amazed how polite each and every one of them are.

Maybe it is my background in sports, but being humble is something I need to work on.  My wife has been working on me for years.  I get too prideful at times, I like to compete and I like to win.  Everyone has their moment good and bad.  If you’re like me just do your best, and it will shine through.


This will do nothing but hurt you and your credibility.  Remember small community, eventually we all come in contact with one another. 
Everybody starts out somewhere.  You do not need to impress anyone.  You need to be yourself.  You don’t have a certification in SQL 2003, you don’t have a MCITP in PHP, and none of us are perfect. 

I’ve locked out the production SQL Server Service account before…during the middle of the day,  as a Jr DBA I ran a profiler trace from the GUI against production (if you don’t know why this is bad, google SQL Server Side Traces and start using them), and I once crashed a cluster that….ask me and I’ll tell you in person.  The point is we’ve all done things wrong.  A lot of them taught us things that defined our careers as DBA’s.  The scratches are war wounds, and if you haven’t screwed up don’t feel like you have to invent a story to fit in.  Just remember rule #3, because one day you will screw up.


Every rule so far has been a DON’T, I wanted one that was a DO! One of the great things about the SQL Community is that we love to help, we love to share knowledge, and we love to learn.  Depending on how long you’ve been in the game or how much you’ve been participating you will help and contribute somewhere and in some way.  You could be a community evangelist, you could be a forum moderator, you could just be the member that posts occasionally when they have time, you could be a SQL Saturday volunteer, or a conference attendee.  What you do matters, and it is what makes us a #SQLCommunity.


Thank You for stopping by Dear Reader and putting up with my rant on Ethics.  The ones that have the most substance are the ones that you already thought were important.  Now let’s all follow the Rules and get on with the community!

Thanks Again,


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