While I find my full-time job constantly challenging, its also like any job: limited to the current projects and development. This is not a downside, just a fact that what you do in your job will be limited by the scope of your work. Sure there’s daily study, and home projects, things you choose to challenge/entertain you. They keep your mind productive, and help you learn new skills.

Another thing I like to do is help other people with their SQL problems in online forums. Everyone is at a different level with SQL, and sometimes you’ll be answering what to you is a simple question. Other times someone will have a question that will really stump you. Somethings you just wont be able to answer, and might watch to see if anyone else can answer.

I think probably the biggest reason to contribute to these forums is it constantly makes you think outside your own development world. There are senarios you will never see first-hand, problems you’ve already solved, and things that you’re planning to implement in the future. For as much as I put in, I always feel I’m getting more out of it in terms of experience and knowledge.

There seems to be no end of places you can join online to help other SQL developers/dbas. Each of the websites have a slightly different focus. Most of them break down SQL into sub-forums like DTS, T-SQL, Analysis Services, etc.

If you’re looking for a new way to challenge yourself, or some help from other developers/dbas, checkout some of these websites:

  • SQL Server Central: Focused on SQL Server, lots of forums and a daily digest email. Free to join and use.
  • Microsoft Technical Forums – SQL Server: This section is all about SQL Server, but most other Microsoft technologies have a forum on this site too. There’s a lot more people here than in the newsgroups, plus you can recieve alerts to email / messenger when topics are updated. Free to join and use. You’ll need a MS Passport, which is also free.
  • Lazy DBA: Email based, with a web archive. The name says it all really. Email your problem, and wait for other dbas to answer it. Oracle and DB2 lists are also available. Might require some sort of subscription.
  • Australian SQL Server Users Group: These ones are quiet, but if you’re looking for local Aussie help, this is the place. Free to join and use. Don’t forget to attend local meetings where you’ll meet some MVPs.