In my previous post I mentioned I'd post a detailed story related to "Community," and here it is.

About two years ago my good friend and colleague Brady Gaster accompanied me to a meeting of the Enterprise Developer's Guild.  Brian Hitney was presenting on ASP.NET MVC.  This was the first users group I had ever attended.  For realsies.

I'm not a terribly social bird in these situations.  It's not that I'm afraid or antisocial, I just don't really know how to engage someone I don't know anything about.  But Brady seemed to know just about everyone, and everyone seemed to know him.  It was amazing to watch him flow in and out of conversations, as if he were simply the breeze that carried the discussion.  So I took a deep breath and started to look around the room for someone to talk to. 

That's when Brady scolded me: "Don't do that."

"What dude?" I replied.

Brady refit his baseball cap and said, "You're being a dick."

I was dumbfounded.  I remember feeling like I had broken some unwritten code of user group geek etiquette by rubbernecking for a familiar face.  "What did I do?"

Brady: "You're scanning the pond."

Me: *blink*

Brady followed on, "You're looking around the room trying to see if you're a shark or a fish.  That's a dick thing to do.  Don't do that."

I eeked out of Brady that he thought I was visually guesstimating my mental abilities against the others in the room.  This is one of his pet peeves, if you didn't know already.  I don't think that's what I was doing, but that's outside the real issue.  I want to focus on Brady's intent...

Pigeon-holeing an idea or belittling a person is easy.  Unfortunately it says more about you than it does the other person.  If you chose to act this way around your peers, you're a dick.  No one wants to work with you or have you around because you make them feel devalued.

Building someone up or enabling them to succeed is hard.  Fortunately it says as much about you as it does the other person.  People will be comfortable with you, maybe even look forward to your involvement with things.

It's a Community.  We're all fish here, and regardless of the state of your self-esteem, there is always a bigger fish.